2023 Honda Accord Hybrid

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2023 Honda Accord Hybrid First Drive: Leveling Up The Commuter Class

You'll be hard-pressed to come up with a bad generation of the Honda Accord, despite it being around for 47 years; we're now heading into the 11th generation with the most popular sedan in America, and it's not slowing down. Despite the rise of the crossover, the Accord still sells well, and Honda retains its enthusiasm for building a family sedan to keep pushing the segment forward. The 11th generation builds on what we're already familiar with, so it's not exactly new underneath. However, the improvements are substantial: the chassis is enhanced, the technology is cranked up, the bodywork is sleeker, the stance is wider, and there are four hybrid-electric trims available for 2023 - all using Honda's new 4th-generation two-motor hybrid system. The 2.0-liter Atkinson cycle four-cylinder is paired with two electric motors, mounted side-by-side to make a combined 204 horsepower and 247 lb-ft of torque, with expected gas mileage ranging from 44 to 48 mpg combined, depending on trim.

We took ourselves to San Diego to check out the Accord Hybrid, with Honda promising us a smoother, more powerful car packed with tech such as an active shutter grille, Honda's first integration of Google built-in, and more advanced safety systems.

Is the 2023 Honda Accord a good car?

  • Exterior Design 8 /10
  • Performance 8 /10
  • Fuel Economy 9 /10
  • Interior & Cargo 9 /10
  • Infotainment & Features 9 /10
  • Reliability 9 /10
  • Safety 10 /10
  • Value For Money 8 /10
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2023 Honda Accord Hybrid Models

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
Hybrid Sport
2.0L Inline-4 Hybrid
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
Hybrid EX-L
2.0L Inline-4 Hybrid
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
Hybrid Sport-L
2.0L Inline-4 Hybrid
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
Hybrid Touring
2.0L Inline-4 Hybrid
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive

See all Trims and Specs

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Stying: Wide And Sleek

For 2023, the Honda Accord's silhouette largely stays the same, but it has been smoothed out in some key areas. While the outgoing model has lots of creases to help stylize the shape, the new one feels much sleeker and more rounded. There's still a prominent crease along the side that highlights the increased length (an extra 2.7 inches), but Honda went to the extreme of using laser brazing technology to remove the need for roof molding. The hood is longer, but doesn't quite even out the off-kilter proportion created by the height of the roof needed for that coupe-like slope at the back.

The new upright, active shutter grill is smaller than the previous grille, closing completely when the car is parked and flanked by air curtain inlets that flow out around the front wheels to improve aerodynamics. While driving, the four shutters in the grill vary to allow appropriate airflow while being as closed as possible for aerodynamics.

Blacked-out LED headlights are standard across the range, and the horizontal LED taillights draw attention to the wider stance of the new model; the rear track is 0.4 inches wider for more stability and a more planted stance. There are some new colors for the exterior palette, too, and wheels range in size from 17 inches to 19 inches, depending on trim.

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Inside the new Honda Accord, the designers have done a great job minimizing clutter and focusing on making the switchgear feel more premium. The dashboard's metal mesh accent is now a consistent design motif through Honda's range, and is given a more sophisticated feel for the Accord. Unfortunately, there's black piano trim in most trim levels, which looks great to start with, but we know from experience collects dust and fingerprints and ages poorly.

Rear legroom is now 40.8 inches, which is getting into large crossover territory and allows the tallest of passengers to relax. The large front window is excellent for visibility, and the new Body Stabilizing front seats kept us comfortable for hours of driving; these have been designed to reduce fatigue, according to the automaker. The upper trims get these heated, and ventilation is added to the very top trim.

It's worth noting that Honda has done a lot to reduce noise intrusion into the cabin on the latest model, including new insulation, acoustic glass on certain trims, active noise control, and active sound control, the latter being standard on all hybrids. Overall, Honda has refined the interior to something near perfection for what we expect of an Accord. It just needs to lose the piano black trim.

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Infotainment: Honda Levels Up

All hybrid Accord models come with a 12.3-inch color touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility as standard. The system is snappy, thanks to a faster processor, and at its easiest to use in this form with bold icons and a logical menu system. There's also a 10.2-inch digital instrument panel as standard that varies what and how information is displayed depending on the powertrain, which we will get into later.

To get to the excellent Google built-in feature, you'll have to opt for the top Touring trim, which is a shame as it won't be the version most people will buy. As well as all the usual Google goodness like voice control of media apps and vehicle functions such as the air-conditioning system is a slick addition that worked well for us. You don't need to be in the Google ecosystem to use apps built in like Maps and voice control of the car, meaning you aren't reliant on connecting a phone to the car to go about typical business.

The Touring trim also adds Concert Quality Bose Audio, which is, well, a Bose system. We haven't met one that has delivered as a premium system, let alone with "Concert Quality." That hasn't changed with the Accord. It's a step up from standard, but not enough.

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Drivetrain: All The MPGs

This isn't the first hybrid Accord, but it's the most important and most advanced system yet. The 2.0-liter Atkinson-Cycle engine has been refined, using the new two-motor system already featured on the new CR-V. Total horsepower is 204 horsepower, backed up with 247 lb-ft of torque.

Honda is particularly proud of its redesigned Power Control Unit (PCU), which is now smaller, more powerful, quieter, and weighs less. A huge amount of work has gone into the drivetrain, and the result is smoother, and quieter than the previous version. It's immediately noticeable, although we wouldn't send anyone that's just bought a 2022 model back to the dealer - the last generation was already quiet and smooth. Power is reasonable off the line and accelerating from highway to freeway speeds, but if you're looking for fast, this isn't it.

Instead of exciting power, you get miles per gallon. Three of the four hybrid trims, Sport, Sport-L, and Touring, get 46/41/44 mpg city/highway/combined, while the EX-L trim is the most fuel-efficient at 51/44/48 mpg. While these aren't quite Toyota Prius numbers, the Accord isn't making compromises on power, size, handling, or style to achieve this. It's a real family sedan in this sense.

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On The Road: The Accord+

We took the Touring trim out first for a long drive across San Diego, moving through traffic from the beachfront to get onto the freeway and head inland. There was an instant familiarity from driving many Accord models over the years, but it felt better as a whole. The ride is smoother, most notably in the high-frequency damping from the suspension - something driving on a badly maintained California freeway at 70 mph shows immediately. The steering system is new, but we didn't even notice as it just reacts perfectly for a daily-driver sedan on the road and in parking lots.

What was immediately noticeable on the freeway was the lack of road noise making its way into the cabin. Tire noise has long been one of the few criticisms we've been able to level at the car over the years, but it appears those days are gone. Together with the work done on cabin insulation, the new wheel designs are noise-reducing, with a resonator and resin molding applied to the inside rim to lessen audible responses over road abrasions.

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The most curious thing we found was that on the hybrid models, the tachometer that normally shows engine RPM is swapped for a power dial. The dial moves like a rev counter, but it shows between zero and 100 percent but is completely disconnected from the revs. As the dial hits 100 percent at wide-open throttle, though, the Linear Shift Control system kicks in and fakes a gear change.

The one downside we found moving to the Sport L trim is that it lacks the gutsy athleticism of past models like those featuring Honda's V6. On twisty roads, Honda's enthusiasm for inserting driving dynamics that make a car fun to push around shows through. Still, it's clear the new hyper-mature approach to the Accord swings the balance even more towards being a car that puts comfort and convenience first - even with Sport mode engaged to improve throttle response and pipe in extra engine noise. While that's personally disappointing to reviewers like us, it makes for a better car for the vast majority of people shopping for a family car.

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In Conclusion: +++ Would Drive Again

We couldn't find much to excite us about the new Accord Hybrid, but we found a lot to be impressed with. Having spent a full day driving different trims, we would already happily recommend one of the four trims for a commuter car that also has to be a family car. The increase in rear legroom is a big deal. Kids won't outgrow the back seat in a hurry, while colleagues and co-workers won't complain if you find yourself on driving detail. The infotainment system now feels properly sorted, and we couldn't find a pain point. While the Google built-in feature is great, it's far from necessary, so don't feel you're missing too much by not going for the Touring trim; the starting MSRP for the Touring is $37,890.

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The Accord starts at $27,295 for the 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder gas-powered LX trim and is followed by the $29,610 EX trim before you get to the hybrid models. The Sport starts at $31,895 with all the EX trim's features plus things like the large touchscreen, but with cloth seats, which we love for hot climates.

There's no doubt, and rightly so, that the $33,540 and $33,875 EX-L and Sport-L models, respectively, will be the bulk sellers. The EX-L appears to be the sweet spot for a balance of cost and premium features - and it's the most fuel-efficient hybrid model, to boot. We'll spend more time with the hybrid Accord for a full test drive review, but for now, we can confidently say that the latest accord, especially in EX-L trim, should be the best all-around Accord yet. And that's no mean feat.

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