The refreshed 2017 Accord Hybrid is among the few hybrids that are truly satisfying to drive.
What is it?
Like the rest of the Accord line, the Accord Hybrid enters model year 2017 with a host of changes, all aimed to keep the best-selling sedan in the US at the top of its game. Revisions include a more complex face with LED running lights, with LED headlights for the top Touring trim, shown here.
Pricing and trims
The 2017 Accord Hybrid comes in three trim levels – Hybrid, EX-L and Touring – and prices after the $835 delivery charge is added start at $30,440.
That’s more expensive than the cheapest versions of the Toyota Camry Hybrid and Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, but as we’ll see in the Safety section below, you can end up spending a lot more for the Accord Hybrid’s competitors if you want active safety features.
The test car was the top Touring trim, and with no options, it checked out at $36,790.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rates the Accord as a Top Safety Pick Plus. It doesn’t get much better than that.
It’s great that Honda makes its Honda Sensing active safety suite standard on all three Accord Hybrid trims. The aforementioned Camry Hybrid and Sonata Hybrid can be purchased at lower MSRPs, but to get active safety on a Camry Hybrid, you’re limited to the top XLE trim, and then you have to spend $3,735 for an option package that includes a moonroof and other unrelated items.
On the Sonata Hybrid, active safety can be had only on the top Limited trim, and then you must spend a whopping $4,400 for the Ultimate Package for Limited. So the minimum price for active safety in a Camry Hybrid is $34,740, and the Sonata Hybrid’s lowest is $35,335. In this light, the $30,440 base Accord Hybrid with standard Honda Sensing looks to be a bargain.
The Accord Hybrid’s gas engine is a 2.0-liter four, and the total hybrid system output adds up to 212 horsepower. That’s 16 horses over the 2015’s rating, and Honda claims it to be the highest among its competitors – it’s 12 more than the Camry Hybrid and 19 more than the Sonata Hybrid.
And yep, the Accord Hybrid feels peppy, with good scoot off the line and a generally smooth and quiet demeanor.
The Accord Hybrid Touring’s 48 mpg EPA overall rating is heads and shoulders above the Camry’s 38 mpg and the Sonata Hybrid Limited’s 42 mpg.
The transmission is a CVT with a couple of useful features. First is the B shift selection, which lugs the Accord Hybrid in battery mode until the load demands that the gas engine be engaged.
Then there’s the Sport button, which convincingly alters this car’s personality from likable hybrid to a fun car to drive. Before pushing the Accord Hybrid’s Sport button, I disliked the CVT’s ballooning response on steep hills, but that became minimized in Sport mode, because there’s a much sharper reaction to the throttle at lower speeds.
In Sport, there was little need to ask for more power, because the initial kick was so much stronger. This led to an uncommon feeling of driving confidence for a hybrid.
Ride and handling
The Accord Hybrid rides on its own unique 17-inch wheels, but the Accord handling dynamics we know and love are here. Honda says the 2017 Accord’s structure has been strengthened, and the test car did indeed feel tight. Steering was firm and communicative, and the brakes were remarkably direct despite the regenerative function.
Hybrid or no, the test car reminded us that pretty much every Accord we’ve driven feels ready to hustle.
The Accord Hybrid Touring’s leather-faced front seats are supportive and comfortable, with a lower cushion that tips up for long thighs, and the lumbar support that hit your writer’s back just right.
Visibility, which can be hindered by the fastback lines in some of the Accord Hybrid’s competitors, feels wide-open.
The Accord Hybrid’s rear seats are heated in the the Touring trim. They’re spacious, with an expansive 38.5 inches of legroom.
Honda claims the battery pack that eats up trunk space in the Accord Hybrid has been shrunk for 2017, giving it a class-leading 13.5 cubic feet of space. It’s a close race, though – the Camry Hybrid’s trunk is 0.4 cubic feet off, and the Sonata Hybrid is short only 0.2 cubic feet.
We’re sorry to see that Honda continues to exclude a pull-down handle inside the trunk lid, which will certainly result in a lot of grubby fingerprints on the trunk lid’s lip.
Infotainment and controls
The Accord Hybrid Touring gives you two screens – a seven-inch touchscreen, and a 7.7-inch screen set further back into the panel. Both work well, with quick response times for the touchscreen and crisp displays for both.
Only the EX-L and Touring Accord Hybrids can have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and unfortunately none can be had with a volume knob near the touchscreen. The steering wheel’s audio controls help you learn to live without it, but it would still be a nice-to-have.
The freshened Accord Hybrid enters 2017 with virtues that don’t come with every hybrid; the fact that Honda packed so much responsiveness under the Accord Hybrid’s Sport button makes this hybrid one of the few exceptionally efficient mid-sized sedans that’s genuinely fun to drive.
You could say that the Accord Hybrid’s styling, even with its new alterations, has become commonplace. And, we’d sort out some very minor details that other competitors have in hand.
But otherwise, if we had to go hybrid, the Honda Accord Hybrid would be the first we’d drive.
2017 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring
Base price: $35,955
Price as tested, including $835 destination charge: $36,970
- Responsive powertrain
- Nimble handling
- Standard Honda Sensing active safety in all three Accord Hybrid trims
- Familiar styling
- No audio system volume knob
- No inside trunk pull-down handle