Sedans – which used to be the best-selling vehicles – have become a harder sell since the early 2000s, chiefly because crossovers (and SUVs) offer the roominess and practicality that used to sell sedans, plus the usually available AWD or 4WD that makes crossovers and SUVs better able to deal with poor weather.
So Honda decided to sell something most of crossover and SUVs lack.
Phenomenal gas mileage.
Plus something every EV lacks.
The just redesigned Accord hybrid (which is now most Accords; stay tuned) goes more than 50 miles on a gallon of gas in city driving – and can take you almost 700 miles before it needs more gas.
Good luck finding a crossover or SUV – much less an EV – that can do that.
On top of that, it also has a roomy trunk (and plenty of room in back).
What It Is
The Accord is Honda’s mid-sized sedan. It – and primary rival Toyota Corolla – were for many years the most popular, best-selling cars on the market.
Until crossovers and SUVs ate into their sales.
Unlike the Camry – which you can still get with a V6 – the Accord is now only available with four cylinder engines. One of them is combo’d up with a hybrid drivetrain – and that’s the one that can go more than 50 miles on a gallon of gas (and more than 650 miles on a tank).
The Camry also offers a hybrid drivetrain and it also goes more than 50 miles on a gallon – but Toyota only offers the hybrid set-up in one (“hybrid”) trim that isn’t very sporty.
Honda offers its hybrid drivetrain in four different Accord trims, each with its own character.
The $32,990 EX-L hybrid reverts to 17 inch wheels (for maximum mileage; stay tuned for that) and gets leather-covered heated front seats.
The $33,325 Sport-L combines the Sport’s 19 inch wheel/tire package with the EX-L’s heated leather seats.
A top-of-the-line Touring trim also has the more aggressive 19-inch wheels and shorter-sidewall tires plus heated rear seats, coolers for the front seats, a premium 12 speaker audio system, rain-sensing wipers and Google voice-assistant.
It stickers for $37,890.
What’s New For 2023
The Accord is heavily updated – and the hybrid lineup expanded. In fact, only two of the Accord’s six available trims – the base LX and the next-up EX- aren’t hybrids. Part of the reason for this has to do with federal fuel economy standards, which are slated to increase to . . . just shy of 50 MPG by 2026.
Goes very far on a gallon – and very long in between refills.
Significantly more backseat legroom than Camry hybrid.
Quicker than Camry hybrid.
What’s Not So Good
Much pricier than Camry hybrid, which starts at just $28,655.
The Accord used to be available with either a (standard) four cylinder engine or (optionally) a V6 engine. It is currently available with your pick of four cylinder engines.
You can thank the government for that (see that bit above about the feds demanding every new car average nearly 50 MPG by 2026; you can’t do that with a V6).
The standard 1.5 liter (turbocharged) four makes 192 horsepower and the same 192 ft.-lbs. of torque. It’s paired with a CVT automatic and the combo touts 29 miles-per-gallon in city driving and 32 on the highway. This is the standard – and only – combination available in the base LX and next-up EX trims.
All the other Accord trims (Sport, EX-L, Sport-L and Touring) come standard with larger 2.0 liter four – not turbocharged – that’s paired with a dual-motor hybrid system for a combined peak output of 204 horsepower, which interestingly – is almost exactly the same power made by the 1.5 liter turbocharged four that powers the high-performance version of the Honda Civic Si.
It’s interesting – because the Accord hybrid’s powertrain enables the larger (mid-sized) Accord to go 51 miles (in city driving; 44 on the highway) on a gallon of gas whereas the smaller (compact-sized Civic Si only goes 27 miles on a gallon in city driving (37 on the highway).
Of course, the Civic Si is quick – being focused on quickness. It gets to 60 in about 6.6 seconds; but you might be interested to discover that the mid-sized Accord hybrid gets to 60 just as quickly.
And it goes a lot farther.
On a full tank of just 13 gallons of gas, the hybrid Accord can go 652 miles (in city driving; 563 on the highway) before it needs more gas. The typical driver might only need to get gas twice a month.
This is also much farther than any available EV can go before it needs more charge.
And it’s also more than that – in that while hybrids (like EVs) have a battery pack, a hybrid’s battery pack leads an easier life because it is never heavily discharged; the gas engine serves the dual purpose of propelling the vehicle and generating electricity as-you-drive, to power up the battery pack. And because it isn’t solely responsible for powering the vehicle. That’s why hybrid battery packs rarely begin to lose their capacity to retain charge until the hybrid has been on the road for 12-15 years or even longer – while EV battery packs tend to lose their charge-holding capacity sooner unless you avoid discharging them heavily, regularly. Of course, that greatly limits the useful driving range of the EV, which hasn’t got that much range to start with.
Catch meet 22.
The only hair in the soup is that the hybrid Accord’s engine is optimized to burn 91 octane premium fuel, due to its high (13.9:1) compression ratio. This adds 30-40 cents to the cost of a gallon of gas.
Driving the hybrid Accord is such a contrast vs. driving the electric Genesis GV60 I was driving the week prior (more here) in that I wasn’t able to drive the GV60 much – or far – because it rapidly ran out of range and because it took a long time to charge (in part because I was unable to “fast” charge it).
I’ve been driving the Accord for going on a week now – and it still has several hundred miles of range left. A round-trip drive of 60 miles – which for me is into town and back home – consumes less than two gallons of gas. You have 13 gallons of gas if the tank’s full to start with.
That works out to so much range you rarely have to think about stopping to get more. Or worrying that you won’t be able to get it when you need it.
And yet it drives a lot like an EV in that it is extremely quiet – until you decide to make some noise. The kind EVs can’t make – at least, not naturally. The sound of an engine revving, when you floor the accelerator. Honda knows how to make engines that sound great when they’re revving – and that’s the case here. Much more so than is the case with the hybrid version of Toyota’s Camry, which goes farther on a gallon (51 city, 53 highway) but takes a full second longer to get to 60 and which doesn’t seem especially enthusiastic about getting you there.
The only downside – as regards the Accord – is you don’t get a tach to watch the progression of the the revving. Instead, there’s a tach-emulating power-charge gauge in place of the tach, to the left of the speedometer. There’s also a novel take on the gas gauge that’s to the right of the speedometer: To the left of the power-charge gauge is a battery-charge gauge – though it’s kind of superfluous in that the Accord’s hybrid battery never reaches empty.
But you can see how close to full it is.
One misses the V6 that used to be available optionally in the Accord (and which is still available in the Camry, optionally) but the overall package is still appealing because it’s different. Economical – and sporty.
The Camry hybrid’s economical.
The Accord is still considered a mid-sized sedan but it’s a few inches closer to being full-sized now. The prior model was 192.2 inches long. The ’23 is 195.7 inches long. That’s also several inches longer than the Camry (192.1 inches) and another contender in the class, the Kia K5 sedan (193.1 inches).
The additional length makes the Accord look like the larger car it is – and looks are more than just skin deep, too.
The Accord has the most rearseat legroom (40.8 inches) of the three and (once again) by several inches. The Camry’s got 38 inches of rearseat legroom and the K5 – which isn’t available as a hybrid – only has 35.2 inches.
Another practical attribute the Honda boasts is a 16 cubic foot trunk – vs. the Camry’s slightly smaller 15.1 cubic foot trunk.
The fact that the Accord is roomier – and so more practical – than the Camry is an interesting historical turnabout in that, historically, the Camry has until recently been the more practical (and less of a looker) model in the class. It’s now more of a looker. But you may not like its more aggressive look – and by the numbers, it’s no longer the most practical model in the class.
With its family-friendlier back seats and trunk, that honor goes to the new Accord.
Other practical things about the Accord that deserve to be mentioned include the retention of physical (knob) controls to allow the adjustment of AC/heat and fan speed by feel, without needing to take one’s eyes off the road to scroll through a menu or find the right spot on a touchscreen to tap. There is a touchscreen, but it’s mostly informational. The things you regularly need to do while you’re driving don’t need to be done via the touchscreen.
Another small but functionally important thing is the way the vents are designed. It’s an interesting design, too.
Instead of the usual vertical/horizontal “box” type vents that let you direct airflow to the left or the right or up and down (but almost never both, due to the mechanical limitations of the “box” type design) you get an aircraft-type ball design, without the ball. The airflow vent extends most of the length of the dash and along the way there are small adjustment toggles protruding that you can use to fine-tune the airflow in any direction you like.
It is small but significant details such as these that make the Accord a very pleasant place to spend time in, whether you’re behind the wheel or sitting in back.
One thing Honda might have done but decided not to – at least for now – is to offer a lower-cost version of the hybrid Accord. As things stand, you get more performance (vs. Camry hybrid) for your money, along with phenomenal economy. But Camry has the advantage when it comes to economy – because it’s significantly more affordable.
It is even more so when you take into account the fact that the least-expensive version of the Accord hybrid – the $31,345 Sport H – isn’t the most economical version of the Accord hybrid – probably because it comes standard with larger (19 inch) wheels and tires that weigh more and add rolling resistance. This version of the Accord hybrid only returns 46 MPG in city driving and 41 on the highway.
To get an Accord hybrid that rates 51 city/44 highway, it is necessary to buy at least an EX-L trim, which stickers for $32,990 to start. That amounts to a difference of $4,335 vs. the cost o a Camry hybrid ($28,655).
The other thing Honda hasn’t done – yet – is to offer all-wheel-drive, which both the Camry and the Kia K5 do. The Kia also offers a much more powerful (290 horsepower) engine as an option; the Camry still offers an even more powerful (301 horsepower) V6 – although that engine is not available with AWD.
The Bottom Line
Honda knows what’s coming – and has already gotten ready for it. Come 2026, the federal government will require all new vehicles to average close to 50 MPG.
The ’23 Accord already does.
. . .
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