2018 Honda Accord Hybrid First Look: Middle Class
A full range of trims and smart pricing means the Accord Hybrid has broader appeal for thrifty Honda fans
The new 2018 Honda Accord arrived with much fanfare and acclaim with sweeping changes to its powertrain lineup, dropping the traditional engine lineup in favor of two turbocharged four cylinders. The Hybrid gained all of the underlying engineering changes, but its powertrain remains mostly intact. The biggest change might be the major cut in price across a wider range of models. Like its predecessor, the 2018 model features a 2.0-liter Atkinson cycle four cylinder paired with a two-motor system that eliminates the need for a transmission.
The gas engine contributes 143 hp and 129 lb-ft of torque, and the electric drive motor tops that with 181 hp and 232 lb-ft of torque. Add them up and you get a maximum of 212 hp, which is good to claim best in class. The Accord is notably lighter than its chief rival, the Toyota Camry Hybrid, so it should be a step or two quicker if that’s what you’re looking for in your hybrid sedan. However, the added power means the Accord Hybrid gives up some efficiency claims, rated at 47 mpg in city, highway, or combined driving cycles. The Camry Hybrid LE trim manages 51/53/52, though higher SE and XLE trims of the Camry Hybrid dip to 44/47/46 as they swap the lithium-ion battery for old-fashioned Nickel-Metal Hydride (Ni-MH).
All trims of the Accord hybrid feature a lithium-ion battery. The Accord Hybrid has driving modes unique from the Accord Sport, with EV, Hybrid, and Engine drive modes. The names are fairly self explanatory and, as implied, the Accord Hybrid can travel on electric power alone in EV mode. But because the Accord Hybrid is not a plug-in, the EV Drive is only for very short distances. Another hybrid specific feature is the Deceleration Selector, which increases or decreases the regenerative braking by flicking the paddle shifters, allowing you to recapture more energy on the go.
Honda hasn’t specified the exact size of the new lithium-ion battery, but it’s clear that its goal was to minimize the size and preserve the Accord’s generous cargo space rather than provide extensive electric range. Honda accomplished this by tucking the battery under the rear seats so that the Accord Hybrid offers the same 16.7 cubic feet of cargo capacity as the standard Accords, plus rear seats have the same 60/40 split-folding capabilities for an added measure of practicality. The Hybrid also shares the same dimensions as the rest of the Accord lineup, with two more inches of wheelbase over the previous generation stretching it to 111.4 and an even more spacious back seat with over 40 inches of legroom, all without adding to its overall length.
As mentioned, the big news for this new generation of Accord Hybrid is the pricing and trims. The Accord Hybrid matches the 1.5T powertrain’s trims step for step, without offering a Sport. In fact, it’s more like a simple powertrain option on most of the existing lineup, available now with the EX and EX-L Navi trims in addition to the base, EX-L, and Touring, and costs about the same as the upgrade to the 2.0L turbo, which is only available on higher trims. Although the base price of the Hybrid model has dropped by over $4,000, it benefits from the generous standard equipment list of even the most basic Accord.
At $25,990, the feature list already includes dual-zone automatic climate, push-button start, back-up camera, LED headlights and DRLs with automatic on/off and high beams, 7-inch LCD screen, 17-inch Alloy Wheels, Bluetooth and USB connectivity. One of the really great values for a base model is the “Honda Sensing” suite of advanced safety systems and driver-assistance perks, bundling Adaptive Cruise with Low-Speed Follow, Collision Mitigation Braking, Road Departure Mitigation, Lane Departure Warning, and Traffic Sign Recognition.
The EX jumps to $29,780, adding power moonroof, high-resolution 8-inch touchscreen, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, LED fog lights, 12-way power driver’s seat, heated front seats, two 2.5-Amp USB charging ports instead of one 1.0-Amp, an audio upgrade from 160 to 180-watts and from four to eight speakers, plus Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. EX-L Models get the really good stereo, with 450 watts of power and 10 speakers including a subwoofer, plus leather seats and trim, power-adjustable front passenger seat, to memory positions for the driver’s seat, Homelink built-in garage door opener, and heated mirrors with integrated turn signals, all for $32,330.
For an extra thousand you can make it the EX-L Navi, adding a built-in satellite-linked navigation system. The Touring trim piles on even more tech for $35,600, and all prices mentioned include the $880 destination fees Honda charges. Touring feature highlights are the adaptive damping system, mobile hotspot, wireless charging, NFC compatibility, head-up display with extensive information, rain-sensing wipers, chrome door handles, and the best feature of all, ventilated seats. The new Accord Hybrid is the perfect middle option between the base 1.5T engine and the powerful 2.0T
It offers a good boost of power from the hybrid system over the base powertrain, with pricing just under the top engine, and more efficient than either gas option. With a broader range of trims, it’s even more so a typical Accord with all the usual, familiar options, simplifying the buying experience for a consumer. While this is an excellent vehicle in its own right, Honda has begun selling a CR-V Hybrid in other markets, and that crossover is undoubtedly what consumers want. Just look at the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid that’s doubling Camry Hybrid sales and is just a few hundred units off the pace of the bestselling-hybrid Prius.
With the market so tough for cars right now, there are surely great deals to be had already on the Accord Hybrid as there are on the regular models, making it an even better value up front and over the long haul.