by Roger Biermann
What’s not to like about a Honda Accord - already a leader in its class - that achieves 48 miles to the gallon? That’s the Accord Hybrid in a nutshell as it looks to conquer the hybrid midsize segment against stiff competition from the Camry Hybrid, Fusion Hybrid, and Sonata Hybrid. Four trims, priced between $25,320 and $34,990 are available, all of which are powered by a 212 horsepower combination of a 2.0-liter naturally aspirated engine and two electric motors, driving the front wheels through a CVT gearbox. High levels of safety are standard with Honda Sensing while the useful EV Drive mode aids fuel economy without the need for the extra price and heft of a plug-in system. But in a segment where long-standing nameplates do electrified battle at the highest levels of quality, and where most of them are exceptional, the Accord Hybrid, based on the astoundingly good turbocharged Accord sedan, needs to be as good here as it is in the conventional class if it wants to be a top-seller for Honda.
Introduced new for 2018 with the standard Accord, the Accord Hybrid enters its second model year completely unchanged from last year’s model aside from a minor price increase with the base Hybrid now $220 more expensive than last year.
You’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference between the standard Accord and its hybrid sibling at first glance. Honda hasn’t gone to extremes to differentiate the two, save for some special aerodynamically efficient 17-inch alloy wheels on all trims and a handful of hybrid badges, keeping things understated and letting the drive do the talking.
You still get LED headlights, LED daytime running lights, and LED fog lights from the EX trim up to Touring Hybrid. The rear of the Accord Hybrid is the same as all other models with one notable difference, featuring chrome trim on the lower bumper rather than the chrome tailpipes you’d find on the standard model.
The 2019 Honda Accord Hybrid rides on the same 111.4-inch wheelbase as non-hybrid models, with an overall body length of 192.2 inches, giving it typical proportions for the midsize sedan segment. The overall height of 57.1 inches is paired with a width of 73.3 inches across all trims, while the track width measures at 63/63.4 inches front/rear. With curb weights ranging from 3,327 lbs to 3,415 lbs, the range-topping trim weighs less than its combustion counterpart, while lower trims are nearly 200 lbs heavier.
The Honda Accord Hybrid features a color palette consisting of seven hues, down from the nine offered on the standard model. All are shared with the regular Accord, with a palette of Platinum White Pearl, Lunar Silver Metallic, Modern Steel Metallic, Crystal Black Pearl, Champagne Frost Pearl, Obsidian Blue Pearl, and Radiant Red Metallic.
The colors shod from the standard Accord are the two Sport-specific hues of San Marino Red and Still Night Pearl.
Despite not having a turbocharger and only being front-wheel drive - like most in this midsize hybrid arena - the Accord Hybrid manages a fairly rapid 0-60 mph sprint of 6.5 seconds in any one of the Hybrid trims available. It’s the electric torque boost low down that compensates for the lack of a turbocharger, while the torque-fill between gearshifts keeps the surge going, enabling the Accord Hybrid to make the mark not too far behind the standard derivative. It’s sprint time is also markedly quicker than the likes of the Chevrolet Malibu and Toyota Camry Hybrids who take well into the seven-second range to reach the same speed. Top speed meanwhile is limited to just beneath 120 mph.
Honda ditches the turbochargers for the Accord Hybrid, instead opting for an economically efficient, naturally aspirated Atkinson cycle four-cylinder with a 2.0-liter displacement. On its own, the engine develops 143 horsepower and 129 lb-ft of torque, but it’s supplemented by two electric motors with nearly double the torque that bolsters the combined system output to a decent 212 horsepower. The system is mated to an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission, or E-CVT, which is a standard setup for hybrid vehicles.
The system is noisier than the powertrains of the standard Accord, with a persistent drone at all speeds. You learn to live with it as a minor annoyance. Performance-wise, the electric assistance ensures the Accord Hybrid is capable of motoring about town quite quickly, and while it’s not setting any land-speed records, it’ll safely get up to highway speeds before you need to merge into flowing traffic. It seems a little gutless in the upper ranges, but it’s a livable compromise and is something not exclusive to the Accord. The Camry Hybrid is perhaps the only hybrid better in this aspect, while Hyundai’s standard six-speed automatic transmission feels more natural to drive. But the Accord Hybrid strikes a good balance between driveability and economy.
Handling is one of the standard Accord’s strongest suits, and the Hybrid is endowed with the same endearing chassis. That means it responds well to vigorous driving and communicates well with the driver in all areas barring the lack of steering feel - by no means a deal breaker. However, there’s more weight to the Hybrid, approximately 250 pounds more, which means it feels more planted at speed, but slightly more lethargic low down. The low-rolling-resistance tires have less grip than the standard ones, so you can’t quite push as hard, and they do make more noise at highway speeds, but they don’t compromise on the ride quality, which continues to be exemplary in all aspects. The Accord Hybrid soaks up potholes and pockmarked surfaces with ease, even more so when equipped with the Hybrid trim’s adaptive damper technology.
But the hybrid does lose out in one key area compared to the standard model. The brakes generally tend to work quite well, blending multiple stages of brake regeneration with friction braking. Under emergency braking scenarios, however, the system seems unable to blend the two and the pedal goes limp while the Accord takes far longer to stop than the emergency might necessitate.
Fuel economy is one of the Accord Hybrid’s strongest selling points, with all trims achieving phenomenal figures of 48/48/48 mpg on the city/highway/combined cycles according to the EPA. Only one hybrid offering in this segment scores better than the Accord Hybrid, that being the base Camry Hybrid LE with its 51/53/52 mpg figures. But that’s just the base model, and higher trims fall behind the Accord with 44/47 mpg city/highway estimates. The consistency across the range for the Accord is impressive, and buyers can expect consistent range on a single tank of gas whether they spend most of their time in the city or on the open road. Regardless of where you drive, city or highway, a 12.8-gallon tank of gasoline will get you approximately 614 miles of range.
Seating for five in a luxurious cabin that borders on full-size in both dimensions and its airy nature, the Accord Hybrid retains the strong interior from the basic combustion Accord. A wide range of seating adjustments (12-way power adjustment with lumbar support on some trims) and a tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel ensure a comfortable driving position, while other passengers can look forward to available heating front and rear, with ventilated front seats on the Touring model. The seats are supportive, front and rear, and the rear bench gets two sets of easy to access LATCH anchors. The main drawcards for the Accord Hybrid’s interior are a user-friendly infotainment system and the huge accommodation that sees enough headroom and legroom for all passengers, even adults sitting in the rear of the cabin. Cloth upholstery is standard, with leather on higher trims.
The Accord Hybrid, despite housing its battery beneath the rear passengers, doesn’t make any compromises on interior space over the standard model. The interior is as cavernous as ever with EPA-rated volumes that would see it in the full-size segment, despite it being a midsize rival. The seats are comfortable and neither front nor rear passengers should be wanting for head- or legroom. The visibility is great and, despite a slightly low seating position to start with, it’s easy to find a good seating position thanks to available 12-way power driver’s seat adjustment with four-way lumbar adjustment. While the cloth is standard on the two lower trims, higher models get leather upholstery, heated front and rear seats, and ventilated front buckets.
The Hybrid mirrors the interior materials of the standard Accord, with wood-look dash inserts and a dark-colored upper dash, as well as a leather-clad steering wheel from the EX model. On the base and EX, seats are upholstered in cloth, with a choice between gray, black, or beige depending on exterior color. The choice of upholstery coincides with lower dash coloring and door panels in the same shade. By upgrading to the EX-L or Touring models, buyers avail themselves to perforated leather, once again available in either beige, gray, or black. Regardless of whether you have cloth or leather, the materials feel strong and supple.
Hybrids generally lose out when it comes to cargo volumes as their batteries tend to get stored under the cargo floor, either reducing the depth or taking out an awkward chunk of space near the rear of the trunk. The Accord Hybrid suffers from neither affliction and boasts 16.7 cubic feet - identical to that of the non-hybrid Accord model. The Camry Hybrid also doesn’t lose out, but at 15.1 cubic feet, it’s noticeably smaller than the Accord’s trunk, while the Sonata Hybrid trails behind at 13.3 cubic feet. The trunk lid opens tall on the Accord Hybrid, which makes it easy to maneuver large items in, but the lower opening is narrow which means it might be tricky loading heavy items with a high liftover height. The rear seats split and fold in a 60/40 ratio to increase the available storage volume available in this already class-leading hybrid sedan.
While the interior of the Accord Hybrid is cavernous, Honda hasn’t jam-packed it with the usual abundance of storage options. That doesn’t mean it can’t cater to items needing to be stored, and the center console armrest storage is generous in size, while the front charge ports and wireless charging pad have their own cubby with space for multiple phones. The door pockets are decently sized and feature space for water bottles, while the anti-tip design cupholders are large enough for most travel mugs. The glove box is a little on the shallow side, and a driver’s seatback pocket isn’t available on the base model.
Yet another drawcard to the Accord Hybrid is the standard levels of specification it shares with its full-combustion counterparts. Standard comfort and convenience features include a power sunroof, dual-zone climate control, power windows with auto up/down functionality, keyless entry with push-button start, available remote start, power driver and front passenger adjustment including up to 12-way adjustment on the driver’s seat on some trims, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. A wireless charging pad is standard on the Touring and optional on lower trims, while there’s also availability for ventilated front seats, and heating for both the front and rear seats. The Touring model gets the added benefit of a head-up driver display.
Unlike some rivals, the Accord Hybrid doesn’t offer Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, SiriusXM satellite radio, or HD radio on the base model. Instead, it features a basic seven-inch touchscreen with four speakers, AM/FM/MP3 functionality, and a single USB port. The offering improves substantially on higher trims, with the EX boasting an eight-inch screen with eight speakers, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto functionality, dual-front USB ports, and SiriusXM/HD radio functionality. The EX-L and Touring models get upgraded audio quality with a ten-speaker premium sound system including a subwoofer, while navigation, a wireless charging pad, mobile Wi-Fi hotspot, and NFC (near field communication) are standard on the Touring model. The wireless charging pad is an available option on all models, and all can be equipped with two rear USB charging ports.
Compared to the standard Accord sedan which has had numerous complaints of dash rattles and loose trim pieces, the Accord Hybrid has had surprisingly few. J.D. Power has yet to provide reliability or overall reliability scores for the Hybrid model, but the standard Accord scored as one of the most reliable cars in its class, a class renowned for high levels of reliability across the board. Honda has a history of reliability, and this Accord Hybrid should be no different. Honda covers the battery under an eight-year limited warranty.
The Honda Accord is one of the safest midsize hybrids around, scoring overall marks of five stars out of five from the NHTSA. The IIHS hasn’t posted Hybrid-specific remarks, but the standard Accord was named a 2019 Top Safety Pick and shares its abundance of safety technology with its hybrid counterpart.
Honda gives the Accord a total of eight airbags, while many in this segment only offer seven. They are dual front airbags, front side airbags, side curtain airbags, and dual front knee airbags. The Accord boasts generous safety across the range, with standard Honda Sensing comprising lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control with low speed follow function, traffic sign recognition, road departure mitigation, and forward collision warning with collision mitigation braking. Higher trims receive blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.
The standard Accord is exceptional, at the top of its class, and thankfully the Accord Hybrid continues in the same vein. While you might be compromising on some performance, it still performs admirably, all while giving 48 mpg - beaten only by the Camry Hybrid. All the best bits from the standard Accord remain in the Hybrid, including the cavernous cabin, exceptionally well-appointed interior, high levels of safety and standard specification, and importantly for hybrids, no compromise on the size of the trunk. Some concessions are made, particularly the additional noise of the powertrain, additional weight, and the potentially worrisome panic braking, but otherwise the Accord Hybrid once again remains one of the front-runners among its peers. Perhaps the only rival to run the Accord Hybrid close would be the Toyota Camry Hybrid, but it’s not a cut-and-dried decision and both are worth a look if you’re in the market.
Honda offers the Accord Hybrid effectively as a sub-model/drivetrain option within the Accord line-up, mimicking four of the trim and specification levels. Pricing starts at $25,320 for the base Accord Hybrid. The EX Accord Hybrid carries a base MSRP of $29,220 while the EX-L sets you back $31,720 before optional extras, taxes, registration, and a destination charge. The fully loaded Touring tops the range and undercuts the comparable combustion model by a small amount at $34,990.
Honda retains an almost identical trim line-up for the Hybrid as they do the standard Accord, with only the Sport trim removed from the offering. Four trims remain: base, EX, EX-L, and Touring, all powered by the same combination of a 2.0-liter engine and dual-electric motor generating a combined 212 horsepower and paired with a CVT transmission.
The base model mimics the Accord LX with cloth upholstery, the base seven-inch audio system, LED headlights, 17-inch alloys, and dual-zone climate control.
The EX Hybrid comes equipped with an eight-inch infotainment system with eight speakers and full smartphone integration, a power sunroof, keyless entry with push-button start, blind spot monitoring, and heated front seats.
Leather upholstery is included on the EX-L, along with a standard auto-dimming rearview mirror, power passenger seat adjustment, driver memory function, a ten-speaker premium audio system, and available navigation.
The Accord Hybrid Touring represents the top rung of the Accord Hybrid line-up. Standard features include adaptive dampers, front and rear parking sensors, a head-up driver display, heated rear seats, ventilated front seats, a Wi-Fi hotspot, and wireless device charging.
|Hybrid||2.0-liter Inline-4 Hybrid||Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)||Front Wheel Drive||$23,169||$25,320|
|Hybrid EX||2.0-liter Inline-4 Hybrid||Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)||Front Wheel Drive||$26,727||$29,220|
|Hybrid EX-L||2.0-liter Inline-4 Hybrid||Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)||Front Wheel Drive||$29,007||$31,720|
|Hybrid Touring||2.0-liter Inline-4 Hybrid||Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)||Front Wheel Drive||$31,989||$34,990|
As the range here follows that of the standard model, once again there are no options packages available, but rather individual options. All models feature standard 17-inch alloys but they can be optioned up to 19-inch alloys ($2,770 - $3,174), while exterior items like a decklid spoiler and body side molding can be equipped for $349 and $225 respectively. The base and EX models can be equipped with the optional auto-dimming mirror at $409, while this comes standard on the EX-L and Touring trims. Wireless device charging, standard on the Touring model, can be added to any of the models in the line-up for $300, and all models are able to have a dual rear USB charge port installed for an additional $120. Unlike the combustion model, there are no optional engine upgrades.
Without a Sport trim and manual gearbox as offered in the standard Accord, we recommend going right for the top-tier Accord Hybrid Touring. Not only is it packed to the hilt with standard comfort, convenience, and safety features, but it’s a truly premium experience and it costs less than the combustion-only model. If it seems expensive, just remember that 48 mpg will save you a bundle on fuel in the long run, so the extra cost just about pays for itself.
The Sonata Hybrid is nowhere near as complete a vehicle as the Accord Hybrid, despite being more expensive. The Accord offers a far better driving experience, a more entertaining chassis, and crucially, a much bigger interior and an uncompromised trunk size. The Accord also provides better gas mileage by 7 mpg. Where the Hyundai claws back is in the wealth of safety features and the standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capabilities equipped on all models as well as offering a plug-in hybrid variant albeit at an extra cost. The Accord is better, though, plain and simple.
The Camry Hybrid is the Accord Hybrid’s strongest rival in the segment, running it closest on a number of traits, including compelling driving dynamics, a high-quality cabin, impressive safety features, and gas mileage. On the latter front, the Camry has the Accord beaten, with a combined estimate of 52 mpg for the Toyota to the 48 mpg offered by the Accord Hybrid. The Toyota’s powertrain also gives marginally better performance and refinement with less noise and peppier responses, while both handle equally well. Both models are highly equipped, but the Camry feels marginally more upmarket. Where the Honda has it beaten is on cargo volume and price, losing nothing for the addition of a battery and priced about $3,000 cheaper in base trim. The Camry Hybrid is marginally better, but the difference isn’t big by any means.