We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again. The sedan is not dead. Sure, SUVs and Crossovers are the big biz these days, but there are a lot of folks who like sedans. And there are some areas where those SUV’s and Crossovers are still falling short.
Take Fuel Economy
When it comes to efficiency, a crossover or SUV with its bigger body, poorer aerodynamics and greater weight, is going to be challenged. Yes, they’re getting better, but they’re not there yet. Also, sedans are fighting back with technology from hybrid, to plug-in hybrid, to EV.
Take for example, the Honda Accord Hybrid
Recently introduced, the new Accord wowed us – great looks, beautiful interior, a great drive –our recent Accord Touring even had a detuned version of the monster Civic Type R’s 2.0-liter turbo engine. What’s not to love?
Honda, smart marketer that they are, knows that not everyone wants a Civic Type R wolf in Accord sheep’s clothing, so on the other end of the spectrum, they’ve introduced the Accord Hybrid. And it may be our favorite Accord of all models.
You might not know you’re looking at a Hybrid version of the Accord. That’s a good thing, as the new Accord is one of the most handsome sedans of the moment. There’s strong undertones of Audi A5 here, which probably makes those in Ingolstadt pretty unhappy, but will make you smile when your friends think you laid out the big bucks.
Helping the cause, the Hybrid is offered in many trims, including upscale EX, EX-L (L is for leather) and top of the line Touring, like our tester. Like any other Touring, that means you get handsome gunmetal 19-inch alloys, and sparkly, full LED lights. Outside of a few badges, you’d never know it was the hybrid. Finished in a rich Modern Steel, our tester looked upscale and expensive. The days of hybrids running on skinny tires with bare-bones equipment are long gone. You won’t be missed…
No, not the delicious In ‘n Out burger, just our way of saying like the exterior, there’s little to tell you’re in the Hybrid model. When the Accord was redone, it got a nice Audi-like interior to go along with the Audi-like exterior.
The biggest difference from other Accords is the 7-inch Driver Information Interface with digital in-dash display with special hybrid-based info, like power flow, etc. There’s also the 8-inch color tablet in the center of the dash – we’ll continue to sing the praise to Honda for including a volume knob – and luxuries including supportive leather seats, and standard Apple CarPlay and Android auto.
Honda shows their attention to detail, too. The keyless remote not only lets you in, but you can code it to auto-lock the doors when you walk away. Smart. We also were impressed by the spacious trunk and large cargo hold when the rear seats were folded – there’s no space penalty for opting for the hybrid, the battery is slim and tucked out of the way. Who needs an SUV?
While many of the above come on lesser trims, temptation is strong to go for the full-boat Touring, which adds tech goods like head-up display, ventilated front seats, wireless phone charger, mobile hotspot capability, navigation, heated rear seats, and ambient interior lighting. All of this just feels so right when combined with a modern power system. Heck you’ll be saving on gas, why not splurge?
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Glide.
Honda makes it easy to remember the estimated MPG for the Hybrid. 47 mpg city, 47 highway and 47, combined. And we got….35. We have no complaints, we were gunning the Hybrid in a somewhat socially irresponsible way. Why? Well the power comes from a 143 hp, 2.0 liter, 4-cylinder with an OK 129 lb-ft of torque. But add in the permanent-magnet synchronous AC motor and you get a combined 212 hp and a tasty 232 lb-ft of torque at very low rpm.
If you’re hyper-cruising around town, you really appreciate how solid the new Accord is – the vault-like the construction makes this feel like a luxo limo. And that 47 mpg is probably attainable. You have a choice of 4 regenerative braking modes accessed from the paddle shifter that will help keep the Accord juiced, maximizing your EV time. And that time is especially comfy with all the nice luxuries the Touring model gives you to enjoy.
Well, hello, Dr. Jekyll.
And then we found the Sport Mode button – and that rich torque comes along with a surprisingly throaty growl from the 4-cylinder engine. It’s a special kind of fun, enjoyed most in the stop and go traffic where the torque punches you ahead of the masses. Best of all, it’s being served up in a vehicle that’s supposed to be the kale salad of Accords, and yet it turns out to be a jar of spicy salsa.
At higher speeds, the Hybrid is a bit of a mixed bag, the 4-cylinder kicking in when needed, but it’s so quiet in full EV mode – even on the freeway – that the gas engine feels a little intrusive.
The new chassis in the Accord is wonderful. The ride is smooth and refined, and the handling is progressive and crisp. We know this isn’t the aggressive Sport model, but it’s plenty of fun to drive. Especially for kale.
Speaking of green stuff
How much for this wonderful blend? Your most affordable Accord Hybrid starts at $25,100, and it’s impressive value – Honda Sensing safety suite, Dual-Zone Automatic Climate Control, Push Button Start, Multi-Angle Rearview Camera, a 7-inch LCD screen, Bluetooth, LED Running lights and 17-inch alloys.
The EX Hybrid starts at $27,470, and is the sweet spot in the range, adding goodies like Moonroof, Heated Front Seats, 8-inch display, Blind Spot Information System, and Cross Traffic Monitor. There’s also Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, remote engine start, heated mirrors and split/fold rear seats. Plump for the EX-L at $29,970 and you’ll add Leather with driver’s memory system, navigation and a 450-Watt Premium Audio System with 10 Speakers.
Our top of the line Touring model ladled on a Head-Up Display, Ventilated Front Seats, Wireless Phone Charger, Mobile Hotspot Capability, LED Headlights with Auto-On/Off, Interior Ambient Lighting, Heated Rear Seats and more. Yours for $34,710. Add in Destination and we carried a sticker price of $35,505.
Over at Toyota, the Camry Hybrid starts at $28,150, a fully loaded model $37,295. The Camry feels like a larger car, the Accord more a sleek European. Drive both and buy what you like – either is a fine choice.
Building on the all-new model, the 2018 Accord Hybrid is a beautiful blend of style, technology, performance and practicality.
Long live the sedan!
Ben Lewis grew up in Chicago, and after spending his formative years driving sideways in the winter – often intentionally – moved to sunny Southern California. He now enjoys sunny weather year-round — whether it is autocross driving, aerobatics, and learning to surf.