Review of: 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid 4dr Sdn Touring
2017 Honda Accord Hybrid: A very good hybrid, but not the best Accord
By Chris Chase
Dec. 22, 2016
In 2010, Honda rolled out a hybrid model called the Insight. It was the second Honda to wear that name, but unlike the original — a charming and tiny two-door that gained a cult fanbase — this one was a lacklustre four-door that lacked the refinement and technological sophistication to challenge the Toyota Prius‘s domination in the hybrid segment.
Honda tried again in 2011 with the CR-Z, a spiritual successor to the original Insight, but it was clear consumers were not buying the brand’s nearly decade-old hybrid technology.
Honda’s turnaround began in 2013, with an excellent ninth-generation Accord that spawned an equally good hybrid variant in 2014.
Pros & Cons
- + Comfortable, spacious interior
- + Advanced safety features
- + Usable technology
- - Trunk space
- - Engine noise
- - Value for money
Last year, Honda refreshed the Accord with subtle exterior styling changes and an updated interior that includes an infotainment system that reviewers and consumers alike love to hate.
Like many mid-cycle refreshes, you have to look at pre- and post-update cars side-by-side to pick out the differences. Inside, there’s a bit less silver plastic trim on the dash, replaced here and there with a classier-looking glossy black material.
In our Touring-trimmed tester, Honda also streamlined the stack by eliminating a dial-and-buttons control set for the navigation system. That means the infotainment system works purely via touch controls, including a hateful sound system volume control that’s nearly impossible to use when the car is in motion. Honda has reinstated a proper volume knob in the 2017 CR-V crossover, and we hope that change migrates to the rest of the Honda line sooner rather than later.
Otherwise, as before, there’s a lot to like about the Accord’s cabin. The front seats are wide and comfortable, and the rear seat offers lots of legroom; a too-low bottom cushion that lacks support for long legs is the only serious knock against the car’s seating.
From a practical point of view, the hybrid system’s battery cuts trunk space to 382 litres; that’s compact sedan territory, next to the non-hybrid Accord’s 439 litres. The battery’s home — right up against the rear seatback — also means those seats can’t be folded for extra space. Hyundai nails this problem in its Sonata Hybrid with a more compact and power-dense battery that fits under the trunk floor.
Honda’s pretty generous with its active safety kit and driver aids in the Accord; only two of seven gas-powered versions come standard with everything, and in one of those, what’s not automatically included is optional. Hybrid models, however, come with a full load: collision mitigation braking with forward collision warning, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist and road departure mitigation, adaptive cruise control and blind spot display make the Accord Hybrid a tech-intensive sedan. Safety-wise, all that our Touring model gets that’s not included in the base Hybrid is automatic high beams.
There’s also a seven-speaker stereo with a subwoofer in all Hybrid models, and the Touring adds satellite radio, auto-dimming rearview mirror, navigation, garage door opener, front and rear parking sensors and wireless smartphone charging.
The Accord Hybrid offers road feel similar to that of a regular four-cylinder Accord, with a firm ride and flat handling. The real difference comes from the Hybrid’s powertrain, which replaces the entry-level Accord’s 2.4-litre engine with a 2.0-litre matched with an electric motor. Honda says the Hybrid makes 212 hp, or 27 more than the standard four-cylinder model.
With a decent charge in the battery, the Accord Hybrid will move away on electricity alone, but that takes a very light touch of the gas pedal. Honda cites fuel consumption estimates of 4.9/5.1 L/100 km (city/highway), but in a week of city driving, my tester returned 6.4 L/100 km. You can do better than that if you’re willing to change your driving style to adapt to a hybrid’s strengths, but that result is still better than the 10.2 L/100 km I saw in a four-cylinder Accord shortly after that car’s 2013 launch.
Where the four-cylinder Accord’s continuously variable automatic (CVT) does a good job of mimicking a more traditional transmission with fixed ratios, the hybrid’s CVT makes no such pretense. Acceleration brings a droning engine note as it works together with the electric motor to get the car up to speed. That’s nothing new to drivers who have spent time in hybrids before, but if this is your first gas-electric model, it’s something you’ll have to get used to. Again, Hyundai (and Kia) has the fix for that: they use a six-speed automatic transmission in the Sonata Hybrid, which provides a more conventional driving feel.
Honda did a better job making the Accord Hybrid’s brakes feel like those in a conventional car: there’s little of the grabbiness that was more prominent in the regenerative braking systems used in earlier hybrids.
Like other Honda models, the Accord’s steering has a very narrow on-centre “dead” spot that means you’ll be making lots of small course adjustments at highway speeds.
The price difference between a four-cylinder Accord Touring and the similarly-trimmed Accord Hybrid ($37,300) is a bit less than $4,000, a premium you won’t recover until you’ve owned the car for three or four years, depending on how much you drive.
A Toyota Camry Hybrid rings in at $36,450 in XLE trim, while a Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is a $37,499 car in Ultimate trim. Both of those nearly match the Accord’s standard features list, but neither has a lane keep assist system (they both have lane departure alert) and Hyundai doesn’t offer wireless smartphone charging.
Ford’s Fusion Hybrid in Titanium trim comes in a bit cheaper at a shade under $35,000, but that doesn’t include blind spot monitoring or lane keeping assist. Those require the driver assist package, which bundles them with automatic high beams and rain-sensing wipers for $1,950, and adaptive cruise with pre-collision assist adds another $1,500, for about $38,500. You can get all that stuff standard in a Platinum trim model, but you’ll pay $42,000 for it. Kia’s Optima Hybrid is available in three trims, but the only one that matches the features of the other cars discussed costs $39,100. If you’re willing to spend a bit more to get a sedan with some electric-only driving range, both the Fusion and Sonata are available as plug-in hybrid models.
The Accord Hybrid is very good at what it does, but I don’t think it’s the best version of this family sedan. I lay that title at the tires of the regular four-cylinder model, which is more fun to drive, returns solid fuel economy and can be had with many of my tester’s advanced safety features for less than $30,000. Electrification may well be the future of driving, but for now, simpler is better in a family sedan.