The Car Connection Honda Accord Hybrid Overview
The Honda Accord Hybrid is the gas-electric version of the Japanese automaker's best-selling sedan.
With the Accord Hybrid, Honda hit the pause button for the 2016 model year, after selling American-made copies in the 2014 and 2015 model years. For 2017 the Accord Hybrid came back, though Honda sources it now from Japan.
Today's Accord Hybrid is Honda's second try at creating a hybrid version of its core mid-size sedan. Unlike the first performance-focused and unsuccessful iteration from 2004 through 2007, the recent hybrid Accord gets excellent gas-mileage ratings and strong reviews. (The very low-volume 2014 Accord Plug-In Hybrid is no longer in the lineup.)
Our editors were so impressed with the Accord Hybrid it was named Green Car Reports' Best Car To Buy 2014. The latest Accord Hybrid returned for 2017 with all the updates applied to conventional Accords for 2016, plus an improved hybrid powertrain that delivers slightly higher EPA fuel-efficiency ratings. It competes with hybrid versions of the Toyota Camry, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima, and Ford Fusion.
MORE: Read our 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid review
With the exception of the grille, headlights, taillights, and a few add-on aerodynamic trim items, hybrid Accords look just like high-end versions of the conventional Accord four-door sedan. We like the lines, which are crisp for such a large sedan but neither overly curvaceous nor too aggressive. Inside, the hybrids use the same high-quality interior materials as the regular Accord; because the hybrids come in at the high end of the Accord range, they have most of the bells and whistles that are extra-cost options on gasoline-only Accord models. Honda has added extra energy-use graphics and power displays to the instrument panel and center display screen for the hybrid models as well, allowing drivers to monitor their green-leaning progress.
It's the powertrain that sets the new Accord hybrids apart, of course. Honda has created a new two-motor full hybrid system for these models (and more to come in the future) that's entirely different from the Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) system offered on various smaller Hondas since 1999. The company concluded that a more powerful hybrid system was needed for larger vehicles, and Honda has put many years and much development work into the new system.
All Accord hybrids use a direct-injected 2.0-liter, four-cylinder gas engine. It powers the front wheels through a transmission that features a pair of electric motors. Just one of those electric motors powers the wheels, now able to supply 135 kW (181 hp), which is more than the motors of other gas-electric vehicles. The combined output from the engine and motor together is 212 hp.
Despite the weight penalty compared to the non-hybrid Accord models, the gas-electric Accord handles decently, with a solid overall feeling and comfortable steering.
At speeds up to 30 or 40 mph and under moderate loads, the hybrid Accord can run solely on electric power. At the highest cruising speeds, only the engine powers the car. In between, the new hybrid system can power the car with blended torque provided by both the engine and the motor. It also has an additional 'series hybrid' capability, in which the engine turns one of the motors that acts as a generator to recharge the battery while the battery simultaneously powers the other motor to run the car—but the engine is not mechanically driving the wheels. The system switches seamlessly among these modes to maximize fuel efficiency and respond to driver demands.
Overall, Honda's new hybrid system is clever, compact, and flexible, and it delivers a smooth driving experience with enough power that drivers can forget they're behind the wheel of a hybrid and simply drive as they always would.
Honda expects the latest Accord Hybrid to earn top safety ratings from both the NHTSA and IIHS, as the very similar conventional Accord has already done. That model is deemed a Top Safety Pick+ by the IIHS, and earns five stars overall from the NHTSA.
The Honda Accord Hybrid range offers three trim levels: base Hybrid, Hybrid EX-L, and Hybrid Touring.
Early Accord Hybrid history
The earlier Honda Accord Hybrid, sold from 2004 through 2007, used the company's mild-hybrid system. Its aim was not better fuel economy but to deliver improved acceleration and performance. Ten years ago, with far fewer hybrids on the market, that was a confusing message. It used a 3.0-liter V-6 paired with an electric motor to provide lots of output and fuel economy that was only marginally better than that of a four-cylinder model.
The first-generation Accord Hybrid performed about as well as the standard Accord V-6, but was less smooth under some driving conditions--and didn't deliver the stellar gas mileage most buyers associated with hybrids. It didn't do well and was withdrawn after initially good sales plummeted.