2023 Honda Accord Hybrid: Who Says Sedans Are Dead?

Honda’s 11th-generation Accord in hybrid form is powered by the automaker’s 4th-generation gas-electric propulsion system, yielding improvements in power delivery and fuel efficiency over an already impressive previous-gen powertrain.

Gary Witzenburg, Correspondent

July 11, 2023

5 Min Read
2023 Honda Accord Touring
Accord Touring Hybrid posted 42 mpg in our testing.Honda

ACCORD, NY – Most U.S. automakers are giving up on passenger cars in favor of more profitable CUVs, SUVs and trucks, but don’t try to sell that surrender to their Asian and European competitors, many of whom still field a nice variety of sedans and hatchbacks in North America.

Case in point: the perennially popular Honda Accord – America’s top-selling car over the past 50 years, Honda points out – today ranks second to Toyota’s Camry in U.S. midsize car sales while offering increasingly satisfying hybrid versions across its top trims.

With 154,612 Accords delivered in 2022, Honda’s 10th-generation midsize family car accounted for nearly 25% of sales in that still-vital segment while Accord Hybrids set annual U.S. sales records in 2022. And the Honda Civic remains a strong seller at No.2 in its compact segment.

The’23 11th-generation Accord gets a handsome new look and a high-tech new interior boasting Honda's largest-ever touchscreen and, in Touring trim, its first integration of Google built-in with a complimentary 3-year unlimited data plan.

Lower trims (LX and EX) get by with an adequate 192-hp 1.5L turbo 4-cyl., while its top four (Sport, EX-L, Sport L and Touring) are much better motivated by the Japanese automaker’s latest two-motor gas-electric hybrid system. We detailed the debut of that propulsion system in our test drive of the ’23 Honda CR-V (Honda Packs More Power, Driving Fun Into ’23 CR-V Hybrid).

As we reported then, the fourth-generation hybrid system (pictured, below) is smaller, lighter, more powerful and more efficient than the one it replaces. Most significantly, its two electric motors (generator and propulsion) are positioned side-by-side instead of in line, which allows a larger, more powerful propulsion motor. 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.2023 Honda Accord Hybrid Powertrain

31 2023 Honda Accord Hybrid Powertrain cropped_0

Its 146-hp 2.0L Atkinson-cycle DOHC i-VTEC direct-injected I-4 combines with the 181-hp electric-drive motor for a total system output of 204 hp and 247 lb.-ft. (335 Nm) of torque (up 2 hp and 15 lb.-ft. [20 Nm]) from the previous system. The Accord Hybrid EX-L is EPA-rated at 51/44 mpg (4.6-5.3 L/100 km) city/highway, while the better-equipped Sport, Sport L and Touring trims deliver 46/41 mpg (5.1-5.7 L/100 km). By comparison, ’23 1.5L turbo non-hybrid Accords are rated at 29/37 mpg (8.1-6.4 L/100 km).

Interior and UX

Piano black instrument panel and console trim is set off by a metal mesh accent that stretches across the dash, dividing the infotainment display from the climate controls and neatly concealing the air vents.

The center console’s large storage compartment is covered by a padded flip-up armrest, and there’s a convenient smartphone tray ahead of the shifter. Our test Sport model had black cloth upholstery, aluminum pedals and leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, while EX-L and Sport-L offer leather and a 4-way power passenger seat. Top-of-the-line Touring (pictured, below) adds ventilated front seats, a head-up display and heated rear seats.2023 Honda Accord Touring interior

23.1 2023 Honda Accord Tourning interior

A 10.2-in. (25.9-cm) digital instrument panel and 7-in. (17.8-cm) Apple CarPlay- and Android Auto-compatible color touchscreen are standard. The latter is replaced in hybrids by a 12.3-in.  (31.2-cm) high-definition screen with wireless compatibility, Wi-Fi hotspot capability and Alexa Built-In – but no Sirus/XM satellite radio compatibility, which is common in most modern vehicles.

The larger screen comes with a physical volume knob but unfortunately lacks a second one for tuning and scrolling, while the smaller and less-expensive screen happily offers both.

Expanded HondaLink service provides remote vehicle locking/unlocking and engine start, last-parked location and stolen-vehicle locator and enables Over-the-Air software updates. Touring models also get wireless phone charging and 12-speaker Bose premium audio.

Driving Impressions

We found our test Accord Sport’s cabin as comfortably quiet as it is surprisingly roomy front and rear. It boasts premium fits and materials, fatigue-reducing “Body Stabilizing” front seats, interior space, rear legroom and cargo volume that Honda says is “class-leading,” outstanding outward visibility and high-quality switchgear – improvements in all areas over the already excellent previous-gen Accord’s interior. It could use a few more hard buttons to reduce the need to poke the central touchscreen.

Among other measures, Active Noise Control (ANC) reduces booming noise, while the hybrids’ Active Sound Control (ASC) enhances the engine’s roar in Sport mode. It really sounds off at full throttle…maybe a tad much for our taste.

Most impressive is this Gen IV hybrid system’s very un-hybrid-like performance and response. It accelerates strongly and seamlessly from any speed, artfully disguises its continuously variable transmission as a conventional automatic and provides selectable levels of lift-throttle regenerative braking via steering wheel paddles that feel like downshifts when activated.

As family midsizers go, Accords have always been nimble handlers, and this new one is no exception. Yet its well-damped suspension remains pleasingly smooth when the road gets bumpy. Steering is linear and responsive, as is braking with no noticeable regen-to-friction transition.

Our $33,445 Sport test car did not have built-in nav, wireless charging or a head-up display – the Touring model we later tested did – and offered just two front USB-C ports. HVAC controls are a nice array of knobs and buttons, but virtually everything else is controlled through the touchscreen or by voice commands, which we found worked well.

On the fuel economy front, we averaged an impressive 45 mpg (5.2 L/100 km) on our 100-plus-mile (161-km) first day’s test drive, and our semi-aggressive test drive of the Touring later that day yielded a still notable 42 mpg (5.6 L/100 km). Back in the Sport for another 106-mile (171-km) drive, we logged just 29 mpg (8.1 L/100 km) pushing fairly hard on curvy two-lanes. When we switched to Econ mode for freeway driving, that average increased to 41 mpg (5.7 L/100 km) over the remaining two-thirds of that trip. All good.

Honda predicts continuing strong sales with this all-new Accord and that fully half of all ’23 Accords sold here will be hybrids, and we don’t doubt either prediction. Such highly appealing passenger cars are still very much alive and well in North America.

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