The 2020 Wards 10 Best Engines & Propulsion Systems are being revealed, in random, non-alphabetical order, one a day until Dec. 20. This is the fourth winner profile.
The hybrid label used to be a turnoff to driving enthusiasts, but the Honda Accord Hybrid won us over for the second year in a row with its great blend of performance, efficiency and value.
Like the model we tested last year, the ’19 is powered by the third generation of Honda's innovative 2-motor hybrid-electric powertrain, with a slightly improved EPA fuel economy rating of 48 mpg (4.9 L/100 km).
The propulsion system features an electric generator/motor and an electric propulsion motor mated with one of the most-efficient internal combustion engines available: a 2.0L DOHC iVTEC Atkinson-cycle 4-cyl. boasting 40% thermal efficiency. Working together, the ICE and traction motor produce a total system output of 232 lb.-ft. (315 Nm) of torque and 212 horsepower.
“This is highly relevant technology and where the industry is headed before it can leap to EVs,” says editor James Amend.
Most of the time, the propulsion system works like a serial hybrid, with the gasoline engine spinning a motor/generator that produces electricity that powers the front wheels.
But at highway speeds a lock-up clutch connects the ICE directly to the front wheels and uses the generator to recharge the battery. The system also can propel the car in pure EV mode for short distances.
It sounds complicated, but the result is a smooth flow of power to the wheels that is so seamless it doesn’t feel – or sound – like a hybrid. “Most un-hybrid feel of any hybrid. So that’s a big plus,” editor Dave Zoia writes on his scoresheet.
The EPA rates the ’19 car we tested this year at an impressive 48 mpg in both city and highway driving. That’s up from 47 mpg (5.0L/100 km) last year. And even in below-freezing temperatures with a bunch of lead-foot drivers, we averaged about 37 mpg (6.4L/100 km) during 10 days of testing.
That’s terrific efficiency for a roomy midsize sedan like the Accord. What’s also terrific is the base price for this big, beautiful 4-door is just $26,400, including a $930 destination fee, making it one of the most-affordable vehicles on our 2020 list.
If electrification is going to truly take hold, it must be affordable, efficient and fun to drive. The Honda Accord Hybrid checks all three boxes.