There's an asterisk next to the horsepower rating.
Those who've paid special attention to the reveal of the new Honda Accord's hybrid powertrain - touted by Honda as its most powerful ever - will have noticed that this claim stands at odds with an eight-horsepower deficit compared to the outgoing Accord Hybrid. But all is not what it seems, and the new Accord hasn't actually lost power compared to the old car.
Before we explain in detail, it's worth revisiting the revised trim structure. Base models retain a carryover (albeit refined version) of the 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. But Honda has ditched the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder from 2022 and given the top trims a fourth-gen hybrid system with two electric motors producing 204 horsepower and 247 lb-ft of torque. So why is the new one less powerful?
"We now use new ISO standard to calculate total system horsepower," Carl Pulley, Honda Public Relations, told CarBuzz. "It looks like we have gone down in power, but it's actually up. The old [Accord Hybrid] was 201 hp on ISO (212 on the old system), and [the] new one is 204 hp."
"[The] propulsion motor has more power and the Atkinson cycle engine has more torque," Pulley went on to explain (torque is up by 15 lb-ft compared to the outgoing car). "The new evolution of the hybrid drivetrain has the electric motors positioned differently, increasing torque while improving fuel economy."
The Accord follows the same trim structure as the CR-V, prioritizing hybrid sales as Honda pushes for 50% sales volume of those two model lines to be electrified. "Instead of going with two parallel trim structures, we went to one structure with the hybrids at the top," Pulley said. "It was important to encourage people to opt for the hybrid [powertrain], while still providing people with a lower-cost entry into the lineup with the 1.5-liter option."
That 50% hybrid volume for Accord and CR-V will eventually pave the way for Honda to usher customers into its upcoming fully-electric SUV called the Prologue. "In ZEV states, we have a shorter two-year lease offer for CR-V Hybrid to encourage people (with possible additional incentives) into Prologue," Pulley tells us. Honda believes that CR-V Hybrid customers are the perfect target audience for the Prologue, having already sampled the company's electrification technologies in an SUV.
As for the Accord, it will target a slightly different audience. "We promote SUVs for people with active lifestyles. People who are driving enthusiasts prefer our sedans," he told us. "The general market is around 80% SUV, but we are around 68%." So although many automakers are ditching the sedan segment, Honda is committed to it.