The Honda Accord has been one of the best-selling midsize sedans in the US for five decades. Although the segment has been declining over the past decade, Honda has continued developing the Accord into its 11th-generation. The 2023 Accord is available in six models ranging from the LX ($27,875) to the Touring Hybrid ($38,190). Honda also reshuffled the powertrain mix: only the entry-level Accord LX and EX are gas-powered, all other models are gas-electric hybrids.
We tested the Accord Touring Hybrid, equipped with nearly every option available in lesser Accords. The sole option was the black Touring emblem ($50). Including the $1,095 destination fee added up to an MSRP of $39,285. Significant standard equipment includes a 10.2-in. digital gauge cluster, head-up display, 12.3-in touchscreen display, Google Built-In infotainment, 12-speaker Bose(R) audio system, Apple CarPlay(R), Android Auto(R), Wi-Fi hotspot, Qi wireless phone charger, leather seats (heated and ventilated in front), heated rear seats, rearview camera, 10-way power driver's and 4-way passenger seats, and power moonroof. Some of the standard active safety technologies include collision mitigation braking system, road departure mitigation system, forward collision warning, and lane keeping assist.
Replacing the optional 2.0L turbo four in the previous Accord is a new Atkinson-cycle hybrid powertrain (Sport, EX-L, Sport-L, Touring) with VTC (Variable Timing Control). A 1.5L VTEC turbo four (192-hp/192 lb.-ft.) powers the LX and EX models. Almost exclusively adopted in hybrid powertrains, an Atkinson-cycle engine has higher efficiency, but also develops less power and torque than an equivalent Otto-cycle engine used most other gas engines. The Accord's Atkinson-cycle DOHC 2.0L develops 161-hp @ 6,100 RPM and 134 lb.-ft. @ 4,500 RPM. Complementing the gas engine is an AC motor rated at 181-hp @ 5,000-8,000 RPM and 247 lb.-ft. @ 0-2,000 RPM. Total system horsepower totals up to 204-hp (RPM unspecified). Under most conditions the system operates as a series hybrid, delivering power via a gearbox to the front wheels. The gas engine can drive a generator/starter motor to charge the battery (in series hybrid mode) or drive the wheels as a parallel hybrid system with the electric motors. Three powertrain modes are available: EV Drive Mode (electric motor only), Hybrid Drive Mode (electric motor plus gas engine), and Engine Drive Mode (gas engine only). The benefits of the hybrid powertrain are reflected in the EPA fuel consumption rating of 46/41 MPG (city/hwy.). We averaged around 40-42 MPG in mixed urban and highway driving.
The Accord continues to use a MacPherson strut front suspension with a stabilizer bar. At the rear is a multi-link design, coil springs and stabilizer bar. Brakes are all-disc: 12.3-in. dia. rotors (front) and 11.1 dia. rotors (rear). Accord Sport and Touring models are fitted with 19-in. alloy wheels and 235/40R19 Michelin Primacy MXM all-season tires. Other Accords get smaller 17-in. alloy wheels and 225/50R17 all-season tires. An electrically-assisted rack-and-pinion steering system is geared for 2.7 turns lock-to-lock. Curb weight ranges from 3,239 lbs. (LX) to 3,532 lbs. (Touring).
Honda continues to set the bar for midsize sedan interiors; superb materials and build quality separate the Accord from its competition. Gloss black plastic and matte aluminum trim add contemporary flair. A diamond-patterned aluminum grille spans the dashboard, seamlessly integrating the HVAC vents. The electronic instrument cluster displays a familiar analog-style speedometer and power/charge meter. At the outer edge of the cluster are bar graph fuel and coolant temperature indicators. Various infotainment and vehicle status items can be displayed on the cluster. The leather-wrapped steering wheel has integrated audio and cruise control settings. A dash-mounted touchscreen display controls most infotainment functions, but Honda did include a discrete volume knob. Google's familiar user interface manages all navigation and infotainment services. Below the center vents are the readily accessible climate control knobs and buttons. Dual USB-C ports and a wireless charging pad enable convenient mobile device charging. A 12V outlet is hidden in the center console bin. Behind the shifter is a drive mode switch to adjust powertrain settings (Econ, Normal, Sport and Individual).
Only the Accord Touring has heated/ventilated front seats, but all models except the base LX get a 10-way power adjustable driver's seat. A 4-way power passenger's seat is standard on EX and higher models. The front seats have excellent lateral support and overall comfort, but are sculpted to fit slimmer occupants. Front headroom is acceptable for those up to 6 ft. tall. Rear seat comfort is above average, and even the center position is more usable than expected. A rearward sloping roofline limits headroom to passengers about 5'-10" height, but legroom is remarkably generous. Dual USB-C ports behind the center console allow mobile device charging.
The Accord's solid build and rigid platform are immediately obvious; the body structure barely quivers over the patched roads in Michigan. Honda's chassis engineers tuned the suspension for a firm, tightly damped ride, yet the Accord glides over frost heaves and uneven pavement. Around curves, the suspension exhibits the minimal body roll and understeer we would expect from a sport sedan. Torque steer is also nonexistent, surprising since electric motors develop maximum torque at low speeds. Cruising on the highway, the Accord tracks accurately and has excellent stability at 80+ MPH. Wind and tire noise are appropriately subdued for a sedan intended for extended road trips.
Honda's 4th generation gas/electric powertrain balances power output vs. fuel efficiency more effectively than most other hybrid competitors. Although the inline-4 is audible on startup, engine vibrations are so effectively damped as to be almost imperceptible. The electric powertrain delivers seamless low speed torque and acceleration in urban driving. At highway speeds, the hybrid system performs similarly to other 4-cylinder powerplants in midsize sedans. When braking or coasting, the electric motor/generator recovers energy to charge the battery pack. The regenerative braking system didn't affect normal braking response or cause excessive deceleration. The gas engine shuts off automatically at low speeds to reduce fuel consumption and restarts as needed. Of the four powertrain modes, we mostly used Normal or Sport. We also tried the Econ mode, but it behaves similarly to the Normal mode. In Sport mode, the gas engine engages more frequently, especially when accelerating at highway speeds. Cruising in Normal and Econ mode, the electric motors deliver the power to the front wheels as the powertrain operates as a series-hybrid. All the powertrain modes changes are managed flawlessly by the Honda's sophisticated powertrain controls, requiring no driver input.
Driven by government regulations, most car companies have committed to developing a range of battery-electric vehicles. Some brands have abandoned hybrids completely in the rush to achieve a fully electric model range. Japanese automakers such as Honda recognize that hybrids are an essential element in their lineup. Vehicles like the Accord Hybrid deliver on the promise of impressive fuel efficiency and low carbon dioxide emissions, all in a practical midsize sedan.