This one kind of flew in under the radar. There have been hybrid versions of the Accord since 2003 – three years before the rival Toyota Camry – but their presence has tended to be intermittent and discreet.
In keeping with that tradition, the latest Accord Hybrid slipped in quietly through a side door last April, about six months after the rest of the 2018 North-American-Car-of-the-Year Accord generation made its debut. Little fanfare was made.
The latest edition remains a full-hybrid, featuring the third generation of Honda’s version of hybridism that actually debuted in the 2017 Accord. A hyperefficient 2.0-litre Atkinson-cycle gasoline engine is paired with a 181-hp electric motor to relay a combined 212 horsepower to the front wheels through a continuously-variable transmission.
The shrinking of the 1.3-kWh battery pack let Honda move it from the trunk to beneath the rear seat, so now the Hybrid retains the same fold-down seats, and generous trunk space, as other Accords.
In Canada the Hybrid is offered in base and Touring Trims for $33,490 and $40,190 respectively. Even the lower trim is decently well equipped, with LED (low-beam) headlights, dual-zone climate control, Smart entry with push-button start, a multiangle rear-view camera, 12-way power driver’s seat, 10-speaker premium audio and the comprehensive Honda Sensingâ suite of advanced safety and driver-assist technologies.
Nonhybrid Accord pricing starts at $28,190 for the LX, which makes the hybrid premium roughly $5,000 – rather steep, though the latter does include some extra amenities including remote engine start (shame on you if you use it) and a better, more-speaker audio than the LX.
Like most hybrids the fuel consumption advantage is greater in city than highway driving. Official figures credit the electrified Accord with a stingy 5.0 L/100 km in both modes, versus 7.9 city (58 per cent thirstier) and 6.3 highway (26 per cent thirstier) for the most economical non-Hybrid Accord. The Honda’s 5.0 L/100 km combined is also right in there with the Toyota Camry Hybrid, which incidentally starts about $2,000 lower.
Based on the official combined fuel-consumption, and assuming gas at $1.20 per litre, the Hybrid would save roughly $500 over a 20,000-kilometre driving year. Higher gas prices and/or higher annual mileages would obviously accelerate the payback. Or vice versa.
We had the Accord for a not-unusually-cold week in February, and even given that our driving was almost entirely on freeways, we expected better than the overall 6.8 L/100 km we measured (though that was still better than the 7.0 L/100 km reported by the trip computer). Even at freeway speeds the powertrain regularly slipped into EV mode, which makes the overall fuel-consumption all the more surprising.
Perhaps more representative was the 5.9 L/100 km we saw over one 150-km day of suburban, rural and highway driving. Certainly, more city driving would have better showcased the Hybrid’s frugality advantage
But even our mostly-highway 6.8 average over the full week was significantly thriftier than you’d expect of a mid-size sedan in mid-winter. Combine that economy with the hybrid’s sweet powertrain refinement and quicker-than-most four-cylinder acceleration, plus all the other assets that made the Accord a worthy 2018 North American Car of the Year, and you have quite a compelling package.
Base price/As tested: $33,490-$40,190
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder/181-hp electric motor
Fuel consumption (litres/100 km): 5.0 city/5.0 hwy.
Alternatives: Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid, Ford Fusion Hybrid, Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, Kia Optima Hybrid, Toyota Camry Hybrid, Toyota Prius
We think the Accord is one great-looking sedan, and the hybrid is little different. A fastback profile is standard wear for mid-size sedans these days, but the Accord’s interesting rear-pillar treatment sets it apart.
As long as you don’t mind a somewhat low-slung driving position – or can tolerate less thigh support if you need to set the 12-way seat high – the inside story is all good. Sightlines are unobstructed, the gauges are bright and crisp, and secondary controls are logically shared between hard buttons and knobs and the 8-inch touch-screen, all positioned for easy access and minimal diversion of your attention from the road. And the rear seat is as comfortable as it is roomy – very, on both counts.
Like most hybrids the Accord has one of those continuously-variable transmissions that can cause unexpected random surges of engine revs in routine driving, and pegs the engine at a constant high-rpm frenzy on wide-open throttle. In this case, however, the annoyance factor is minimized because the gas engine is so exceptionally refined – even when it is running, which some of the time it isn’t. Maximum-effort acceleration delivers the 0-100-km/h benchmark in the mid-7-seconds range – quicker than most four-cylinder mid-size sedans, and in the ballpark with its own 1.5T sibling (though emphatically outrun by the 2.0T). And even on winter tires the Hybrid preserves a large measure of the athletic handling that makes the Accord our favourite midsizer.
The standard Honda Sensing driver-aids suite includes forward collision warning, collision-mitigation braking, lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow, LaneWatch and traffic-sign recognition. The 8-inch display audio includes both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Pandora, SMS Text Messaging, HondaLink telematics and a multiangle rear-view camera. The Touring adds, among other items, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic monitoring, navigation, head-up display, HD Radio, Sirius XM and a Wi-Fi hot spot.
The 16.7-cu.-ft trunk is cavernous, though the cavity itself, and the pass-through aperture, are somewhat irregular in shape.
The verdict: 8.5
Never mind the hybrid part – this is simply a very fine sedan whichever way you look at it.
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