Auto123 reviews the 2021 Honda Accord Hybrid.
The Honda Accord is in a bit of a tough spot in that it sits in a segment that is both on the wane and has historically been one of the less-exciting segments, that of non-luxury mid-size sedans. So for it to be part of Honda’s canon, one that has been known for including exciting, affordable cars over the years means it has a bit of a hill to climb. The “Hybrid” moniker attached to the car you see here, meanwhile, doesn’t exactly ratchet up the “driving fun meter”, now does it?
Maybe not, but there is something…
For starters just from looking at it, you can see that there may be something special about this particular hybrid sedan. The Accord’s shape is much more fastback in profile – almost Audi A7-esque – than you’ll typically find at this level. The rear window is steeply raked and while there is a traditional trunk, it’s short to the point you’d never know it was there until you plipped the keyfob.
From the front, meanwhile, the Accord looks the opposite of plain; in fact, with its big chrome “unibrow” and nine-bulb headlights (as well as blue-hued Honda logo), it bears one of the most unique looks not just among other mid-size sedans, but in the passenger car world in general. It’s a bit controversial, to be sure, but you can’t say it’s not futuristic and that’s what one should expect from a hybrid like this. Further, now that the similarly-sized and even weirder looking Clarity is no longer, the Accord is kind of a bit of a torchbearer when it comes to futuristic Hondas.
Inside, however, I’d say it’s more classy than futuristic. The lines are fairly straightforward, the shape of the vents is traditional and even the infotainment display – sharp and colourful as it is – seems a little tacked-on in the way it sticks up from the dash instead of being integrated within like most vehicles today.
It does have a push-button transmission, however, which is an advanced system found in only a handful of vehicles, and while it is getting more prominent, Honda was one of the first to do it in recent years – recent decades, actually – and no, the Edsel does not count. What this configuration does is help reduce cabin clutter and make it so there’s nothing to snag your duffel bag on as you hoist it into the seat beside you.
Coupled with the red-hued push-button starter, the dash is minimalist (in revenge, the steering wheel is a bit busy) and it makes for a very airy place to sit, actually, even in the dark environs of my top-spec Touring tester.
That Touring trim adds, among other things: leather seating, ventilated front seats with driver position memory, heated steering wheel, adaptive dampers, heads-up display, 19-inch wheels, blind spot system and power front passenger seats. All that comes in addition to a 7-inch infotainment display, multi-angle backup camera, remote engine start, wireless charging and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility. There’s a lot of luxury to be had here, and it really does feel upper class once you’re inside.
Not only that, but the front seat is nice and roomy and the driver’s seating position is spot-on, as is often the case with Hondas. So you get a perfect steering wheel angle and a supportive seatback (although the seats are just a little on the flat side, which coupled with the leather upholstery can make for a slippery affair), and all the controls fall easily to hand.
With such an aggressive roofline, however, you will be sacrificing a little back-seat room, and the Accord does trail the likes of the Toyota Camry and Hyundai Sonata hybrids in terms of rear headroom (though the Accord does have more rear legroom than does the Hyundai).
Happily, however, the addition of a hybrid powertrain somehow hasn’t cost anything in the way of trunk space and the Hybrid still gets a 60/40 split folding rear seat. At 473 litres, meanwhile, the trunk is generous but that short rear deck does mean the opening’s a little on the small side.
Power from the combined forces of the Accord’s 2.0L 4-cylinder plus EV motor is rated at 212 hp and 232 lb-ft of torque and while the Hybrid does tip the scales at 1,567 kg, the get-up-and-go is decent enough. As a side note: that curb weight isn’t actually all that much higher than the non-Hybrid Accord Touring. That’s some smart packaging by Honda.
While the power is good, chances are you’re not buying a hybrid sedan like this looking for an all-hand-on-deck driving experience. Likely, fuel economy is higher on your punch list and the Accord Hybrid does deliver on that front, even if I wasn’t able to achieve the 5.0L/100 km figure the manufacturer claims for the combined cycle.
Instead, I saw between 5.2L and 5.6L/100 km during two separate 107-km drives; the former was achieved while doing a bit of slight “hypermiling” as I had no air conditioning on and kept the windows closed on the highway. I also had the car’s brake-regen system set to max, achieved by flipping the right-hand-side paddle normally used for changing gears. That increases drag, so be ready for some pretty severe slowdown as soon as you release the throttle.
The 5.6L per figure is the more notable one in that it was achieved when driving normally, over the same distance in similar conditions except I did use a/c for that stint. A small 0.4 jump in the fuel economy rating is obviously not something to really be all that concerned about, especially if it means you’ll be driving in comfort – which, of course, should be the goal.
Adding to the comfort promised by the seats and quiet powertrain is the ride, which makes fantastic use of those adaptive dampers to ensure the ride is almost as luxurious as the interior appointments. Most common everyday bumps are easily absorbed by the chassis, but the handling is somehow as sharp as you’d expect from a Honda.
Honda’s Acura luxury division doesn’t have all that many cars to choose from – its crossovers outsell the sedans by a country mile – but the Accord Touring is so darn good that you can kind of see why that may be. If you want a fast, luxurious, eco-friendly sedan from Honda/Acura…get the Accord Touring.
Airy, no-nonsense interior
We like less
Rear seat headroom
Transition from hybrid to gas-only power slightly jarring
Hyundai Sonata hybrid
Toyota Camry hybrid