Car Reviews First Tests

2018 Honda Accord Hybrid First Test: High Expectations Exceeded

Who said hybrids have to be slow?

Who said hybrids have to be slow?

After multiple tests, we’ve concluded that the Honda Accord is the best car in its class. So needless to say we had high expectations for the hybrid version. In many ways, it adds to the Accord’s appeal as a practical sedan, offering a claimed 47 mpg (5 L/100km) combined (we’ll get to that later) and identical cargo space and passenger volume. And although it’s not as quick as the regular gas model, the Accord Hybrid isn’t wanting for power.

For 2018, Honda has updated the hybrid system. The 2.0-liter inline-four, paired with two electric motors, now offers improved thermal efficiency. The power unit, containing the battery pack and its control systems, is more compact and is now located under the rear floor instead of in the trunk. Output remains 212 hp, which is routed through a smooth CVT.

Like a 2017 model we tested, our new Accord Hybrid managed to hit 60 mph in 6.7 seconds. That’s significantly quicker than two major competitors: the Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid and Toyota Camry Hybrid. Chevy’s hybrid midsizer took 7.5 seconds to hit the mark in our tests, and Toyota’s entry was little better at 7.4 seconds.

The Accord Hybrid also impressed in the quarter mile, hitting 15.4 seconds at 89.3 mph. The Malibu Hybrid managed 15.8 seconds at 87.3 mph (140.5 km/h),  and the Camry Hybrid managed 15.6 seconds at 92.6 mph (149 km/h). It only took the Accord Hybrid 120 feet to come to a complete stop from 60 mph, ahead of the Malibu Hybrid’s 121 feet and the Camry Hybrid’s 125 feet.

The Bow Tie hybrid squeezed ahead of the Accord Hybrid in the figure eight with a time of 27.1 seconds at 0.63 g, compared to the Honda’s 27.5 seconds at 0.61 g. The Camry Hybrid came in at 27.8 seconds at 0.62 g.

The Accord Hybrid offers the immediate pickup that you need when merging onto the freeway. It even accelerates on point in Econ mode. Some tire noise seeps through at 65 mph (105 km/h), so it’s not exceptionally quiet. It suctions to the road when you take a corner quickly, eliciting a smile, mostly because it’s surprising that a midsize hybrid is capable of such fun. Steering feels tauter than I remember on our old 2014 Accord Hybrid long-termer, tight enough to satisfy all but the most sport-minded customers. But that doesn’t mean it’s a sporty sedan. When making three-point turns, you get a sense of the car’s limits.

All trim levels of the Accord Hybrid can achieve 47/47 mpg (5/5 L/100km) city/highway. At least that’s according to the EPA. Our own test numbers reveal much better fuel economy: 53.3/49 mpg (4.4/4.8 L/100km). For the math-inclined, that’s a 13 percent improvement in the city and a 4 percent improvement on the highway, compared to the EPA numbers.

The interior isn’t luxurious, but it makes you feel at home with pleasant trim and a responsive infotainment system. The seats are a bit stiff for my liking, at least during longer drives. There is plenty to satisfy your inner geek. Inside the cabin, a number of gauges will stress you out by showing you your power usage in real time. One is a graphic of the vehicle showing lines going to the battery and engine depending on how the system is using energy. The new head-up display also shows power flow information. This unit can be height adjusted easily with a button on the left side of the dash.

Midsize hybrid sedans may not be the most popular choice on the market right now, but we think the Accord Hybrid deserves some attention. It offers more than it promises. Not only is it spacious and fuel efficient, it also delivers a pleasurable driving experience with strong acceleration and cornering. What crossover can give you all of that?

2018 Honda Accord Touring Hybrid
BASE PRICE $35,605
PRICE AS TESTED $35,605
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan
ENGINE 2.0L/143-hp/129-lb-ft DOHC 16-valve I-4; plus 181-hp/129-lb-ft electric motor, 212-hp combined
TRANSMISSION Cont variable auto
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 3,305 lb (62/38%)
WHEELBASE 111.4 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 192.2 x 73.3 x 57.1 in
0-60 MPH 6.7 sec
QUARTER MILE 15.4 sec @ 89.3 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 120 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.86 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 27.5 sec @ 0.61 g (avg)
REAL MPG, CITY/HWY/COMB 53.3/49/51.3 mpg
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 47/47/47 mpg
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 72/72 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.41 lb/mile