The Accord still represents a solid portion of Honda sales as well as a core part of their identity.
The all-new 2021 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring is here to show that it’s still on the cutting edge of technology. It feels like the Honda Accord has been on sale in North America since the beginning of time; a car that has been refined to perfection. The latest 10th generation model came out of the gates swinging and won a series of accolades. The Accord has historically been one of Honda’s best sellers, but with the market favoring crossovers, the Accord’s popularity has taken a dive.
The Accord still represents a solid portion of Honda sales as well as a core part of Honda’s identity. Failing to follow the trends by adding an all-wheel-drive model to the lineup has proven detrimental with sales dropping. Both the Toyota Camry and Nissan Altima have followed the trends and now offering all-wheel-drive versions of their traditional front wheel driven sedans. This latest hybrid model should help liven up Honda’s historically successful line-up and keep up with recent trends towards electrification.
Any buyers looking into a hybrid vehicle will prioritize fuel economy first and foremost. Then there is the economical foot print as well; the Accord’s hybrid system is excellent in both regards. Compared to a normal gasoline model, the Accord Hybrid cuts carbon emissions from 168 g/km CO2 to 117 g/km CO2. Fuel economy is rated at 5.0L/100km in both city and highway driving. Our observation was an average of 6.5L/100km.
Such efficiencies are made possible with a 2.0-liter 16 valve Atkinson cycle i-VTEC engine mated to a high output electric motor. The gas engine produces 143 horsepower at 6,200RPM while the electric motor produces up to 181 horsepower from 5,000 to 6,000RPM for a combined output of 212 horsepower. Torque is rated at 129 lb-ft at 3,500RPM from the gas engine while the electric motor generates 232 lb-ft. of torque from nil to 2,000RPM. The result is immediate response in all conditions.
Most buyers expect significant sacrifices in performance when going hybrid, but this Accord proves otherwise. The strong low end torque makes the dull E-CVT transmission a non-issue as well. CVT transmissions are excellent for fuel economy but usually not so great for driving pleasure. However this hybrid powertrain is a match made in heaven, covering each other’s shortcomings and highlighting the strengths.
One major benefit in choosing a hybrid drive train is refinement. When done right, the electric motor significantly reduces NVH. The Accord Touring just wisps around town and quaint streets in silence. Cruising at speed is also much smoother and quieter as the engine is under much lower loads. The absolute quiet and lack of vibration in the operation of the electric motor is eerie at first but an absolute treat, the sensation of gliding on a cloud.
Some hybrid drivetrains muck up the transition between the electric and gasoline motors, with the engine kicking in like a tractor and destroying the ambient experience in an instant. In the Accord Hybrid, Honda has nailed the transition between the two powerplants. Engine noise and vibrations are very well managed. The overall experience elevates the refinement of the Accord into premium sedan levels.
Just like the drivetrain refinement, the Accord’s ride and handling has always been surprisingly good. The Touring model is equipped with 19-inch wheels and adaptive dampers. The low profile tires provide excellent response to steering without penalizing ride quality. The adaptive dampers smooth out the bumps very well and stiffen up for a more lively character when called for. The only complaint is a slight sacrifice in high speed stability with the sensitive steering.
The exterior follows the theme of refined athleticism demonstrated by its driving characteristics. The long hood and short trunk design give off a coupee-like design. The LED head and taillights adds a sharpness to the way the Accord looks.
The interior of the Accord is the best in its class; a great blend of functionality and simple design. All of the controls are logically placed with one touch access to most of the controls needed. The wood accents do a great job in adding luxury to the interior. Even though the interior is not plastered in leather, the high quality soft touch plastics do not take away from the upscale feel. Leather is placed on all major touch points to maintain a level of quality feel. With excellent leg room and shoulder room, the cabin is inviting and relaxing. Rear legroom trumps many high end sedans, and the heated rear seats pamper passengers.
The infotainment system is excellent with large icons and touchscreen interactions. The high resolution screen ensures the cabin does not feel dated by its technology. A seven-inch customizable TFT display in the instrument cluster also presents key telemetry in an eye pleasing manner. The inclusion of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay pretty much future-proofs the infotainment for many years to come.
Safety technology is also in no shortage as expected from any Honda product. Honda Sensing is standard on the Accord and brings with it key features such as forward collision warning, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise and more. The safety net that the Honda Sensing system provides gives drivers a huge sense of confidence for relaxed commuting.
The Honda Accord Hybrid starts at a competitive price of $37,606 with our tester in Touring trim priced at $44,306. The level of refinement this hybrid drivetrain provides makes this a bargain if one is looking for a well-appointed sedan with some luxury, and the Accord is a more engaging drive than the Camry in this form. The added refinement from this drivetrain allows the experience to punch above its weight class.
Competition on the market includes the Toyota Camry Hybrid, and Toyota is better known for their hybrid models thanks to smart marketing and bulletproof technology. The Camry Hybrid is offered in a more stripped down trim starting at $31,550 with the range topping model at $41,350. Despite this price disparity, I feel the Accord is the better choice with better execution for a more cohesive experience. Another option on the market is the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid priced at $40,199, undercutting the Accord with even more lavish interior experience.
The 2021 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring is an absolute joy to drive and own as expected. The most surprising discovery is how refined the vehicle is. Switching over to the hybrid life is no longer a decision based on savings but also the added benefits the drivetrain brings. In the case of this Accord, it changes the way it behaves and elevates its refinement. This is the cherry on top which should keep the Accord relevant and a class leader for years to come.