For the third time in the past five years, the Honda Accord Hybrid is named one of Wards 10 Best Engines and Propulsion Systems. The fourth-generation powertrain combines smoothness, fuel economy and quickness in an affordable package. And that’s not to mention the fun-to-drive factor.
The direct-injected, DOHC 2.0L Atkinson-cycle 4-cyl. is paired with a generator motor and propulsion motor placed side-by-side instead of the inline positioning employed in the first three generations of the hybrid system. The new layout allows Honda engineers to use a larger, more-powerful traction motor that gains 15 lb.-ft. (20 Nm) of torque compared with the previous system.
The system’s combined output is 204 hp – 146 hp from the engine, 181 hp from the motors. Add 247 lb.-ft. (335 Nm) of torque and several Wards judges found themselves comparing the Accord Hybrid’s swift acceleration to that of an electric vehicle. One judge clocked a 0-60 mph (97 km/h) time of 6.6 seconds.
The propulsion motor, connected directly to the drive wheels, uses high-performance, non-rare-earth permanent magnets and a new internal structure to boost motor speed 11.5% to 14,500 rpm. A high-speed lockup clutch allows a reduction in engine rpm at highway speeds, resulting in a more-refined driving feel and overall increased top speed.
In addition, the gasoline engine can be decoupled from the electric motors and, depending on battery charge and other factors, it automatically shuts off during deceleration, at a stop or when operating under battery power.
The result is a torquey low-speed response and an overall smoothness that Wards judges equated with the best of BEV propulsion systems.
Wards judges tested an Accord Hybrid rated at 46 mpg (5.1 L/100 km) highway, 41 mpg (5.7 L/100 km) city. But one judge recorded 51 mpg (4.6 L/100 km) and 44 mpg (5.3 L/100 km). The 4-cyl. further burnishes the 10 Best winner’s green credentials by emitting 22% less nitrogen oxide and 24% less total hydrocarbon.
Speaking of economy, the model that Wards tested was priced just under $39,000 – reasonable by today’s standards.
Honda says it expects the hybrid to account for half of all sales of the Accord, the best-selling car in the U.S. over the past 50 years and currently ranking only behind the Toyota Camry in the still-critical midsize sedan segment.
Judge Drew Winter offers this verdict: “Quibble all you want about lack of all-wheel drive or the fact it isn’t a CUV. The new Honda Accord Hybrid sedan is an absolute home run that is practical, efficient, affordable and incredibly fun to drive.”
The 2023 winners will be honored during the Wards 10 Best Engines & Propulsion Systems award ceremony Oct. 18 on day two of AutoTech: Electrification at the Fort Pontchartrain Hotel in Detroit, MI. Learn more about the event and book your ticket by visiting https://bit.ly/3REayqc. All credentialed media are welcome and qualify for free admittance to both the awards ceremony and AutoTech: Electrification Oct. 17-18.