Want to have your cake and eat it too? That’s what hybrid versions of midsize sedans aim to do, bringing high efficiency with space for five adults.
Which brings us to the 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid: a gas-electric variant the midsize sedan that more American consumers buy than any other model, according to Honda’s figures.
Honda started with an Accord Hybrid in 2005 with a V6 engine and an electric motor and unimpressive fuel economy, even if it was powerful. In 2013, they tried again with a four-cylinder hybrid, but sold just a fraction of them against the hundreds of thousands of gas-only Accords sold every year.
Now, with expanded production in Japan, Honda officials say they want the Accord Hybrid to be among the most popular of midsize sedans.
On the outside, it’s the hybrid-specific wheels, blue-tinged trim and hybrid badges that differentiate this model from mainstream Accords. Which means at first glance, the Accord Hybrid doesn’t stand out. Whether or not that’s a good thing is up to you.
But it hints at the fact the Accord Hybrid is not that different than the standard Accord in practice. At 13.5 cubic feet, even trunk room is still good despite a large battery packing sitting in it. Sure, the Accord Hybrid offers more ways to monitor power distribution and how efficiently you’re driving, but it’s easy to forget that there’s a hybrid powertrain when you start the car and put it in Drive. Well, mostly.
Performance and Fuel Economy
The Accord Hybrid continues with a refinement of the 2014’s powertrain, a 2.0-liter four-cylinder mated to an electric motor. Output is up to 212 horsepower, nearly 30 more horsepower than you get in a four-cylinder 2016 Accord, but still well down from the V6 model.
Performance is more than competent, but short of lively. A Sport mode on the transmission console gets things moving a little faster, but most people will notice a drone from the car when merging onto freeways or passing.
Ease up on the accelerator, however, and things quickly quiet down. The electric motor can assist when cruising and progress is calming. It can also power the car at low, city speeds if there is enough juice left in the pack. An EV mode button controls this.
Buyers in colder climates may appreciate Honda’s attempt to boost exhaust heat recovery, which helps it run in electric mode more often, particularly at start up when temperatures are chilly.
The EPA pegs the Accord Hybrid’s fuel economy at 49/47 mpg city/highway. That puts it ahead of every other midsize hybrid car on the market. It’s well ahead of the top-selling Toyota Camry Hybrid’s 43/40 mpg. It’s also within reach of the Toyota Prius’ 54/50 mpg rating. If you do get the EPA estimated economy in the Accord, the 15.8-gallon fuel tank would be good for trips of at least 700 miles, which is diesel-like.
In roughly 100 miles of driving around Northern California mountain roads and highways, the trip computer never registered much more than 47 mpg. That’s below the Accord Hybrid’s EPA estimates, but certainly nothing to sneeze at. Still, it’s easy to average 30 mpg in a four-cylinder Accord without trying too hard.
Honda Accord Hybrid Pricing
The Accord Hybrid, however, comes at a price. It starts at $29,605, and rises to nearly $36,000 for the fully loaded Touring model. Compare the midrange Hybrid EX-L to an gas-only four-cylinder EX-L and the price disparity is about $3,000, even when you include the Honda Sensing package on the non-hybrid model. The fact that such safety assistance systems like forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist are standard on all of the Accord Hybrids is commendable, but there is a substantial price problem if you’re expecting to recoup the premium in a timely manner.
If you drive many miles, or like operating in near-silence or like to show off your green credentials, the Accord Hybrid is one of the best choices for doing so with little compromise. Those turned off by the Prius’ controversial looks may appreciate the Accord Hybrid’s stellar efficiency without standing out in the crowd.
Above all, though, the Accord Hybrid pulls a nice trick by keeping many of the Accord’s highly desirable driving and practical attributes intact while pursuing as much efficiency as possible. That alone makes it the pick among hybrid midsize sedans.