2017 Honda Accord Hybrid: Almost emission-less, almost transmission-less

Following updates made to the 2016 model year Accord, the 2017 Accord Hybrid returns with updated styling, enhanced performance, and improved fuel economy. Honda estimates it will sell double the number of Accord Hybrids it did in 2014, or about 30,000. Will the changes be enough to keep up with the ever-growing lineup of midsize hybrid sedans? Honda recently brought me out to Napa, CA, to take a first drive and learn more about the car.

The powertrain consists of a 2.0-liter four-cylinder Atkinson cycle engine that alone puts out 143 hp at 6,200 rpm and 129 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm. Under moderate acceleration this gasoline engine is not used, however, as the car relies on the electric hybrid motor to get under way. It produces a maximum of 181 hp from 5,000 to 6,000 rpm and 232 lb-ft of torque instantly until 2,000 rpm. Combined, the system produces a maximum of 212 hp at 6,200 rpm.

Power is fed to the wheels via Honda’s E-CVT, which is not a traditional CVT but more of a direct-drive system. During the drive I conducted an unofficial 0-60 mph test and achieved a time of 8.3 seconds, not whiplash-inducing speed but not to shabby for a car that can get nearly 50 mpg in the city according to the EPA. This was with the use of a stopwatch but nonetheless, the car is quick to get up to speed, thanks to the instant torque from the electrons.

2017 Honda Accord Hybrid

In addition to the gas engine there are two electric motors, one for actual propulsion and another that serves as a generator to produce electricity. In Hybrid Drive mode the gasoline engine drives the generator motor which then supplies electricity to the propulsion motor. Switch to EV mode and the car can drive up to a claimed 40 miles on stored energy from the 1.3 kWh lithium-ion battery pack alone. For those who crave more spirited acceleration there’s a Sport mode that provides a more aggressive throttle response. By putting the battery in the trunk, the Accord Hybrid is well balanced. Steering feel is non-communicative and the weight is fine, but owners will likely not care about either of these things. There is mostly just one thing on shoppers’ minds when looking at this car. 

EPA ratings are 49/47/48 mpg city/highway/combined. Honda was targeting the magic number of 50 mpg city but, due to revised methodology from the EPA, slightly missed it. The Accord Hybrid does manage to best fuel economy estimates for the hybrid versions of the Chevy Malibu, Ford Fusion, Toyota Camry, and Hyundai Sonata, though.

2017 Honda Accord Hybrid

The Accord Hybrid maintains the interior look and feel of the gas-only Accord with a long list of safety, comfort, and infotainment features. Steering wheel mounted controls to control the audio and cruise control systems are standard. A 7.7-inch upper display unit shows trip and audio information, time, and turn-by-turn instructions. Below that is an available seven-inch touchscreen display to control the audio system as well as other functions, such as phone pairing and vehicle settings. There is also wireless charging and a USB port under the display units. Android Auto and Apply CarPlay can also be had on the upgraded EX-L trim level and top-of-the-line Touring models.

Among the list of safety features are lane departure warning with lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, and forward collision warning with emergency braking. The company’s Lane Watch system – a camera mounted in the passenger side mirror that comes one when the right turn signal is used – is meant to eliminate blind spots when turning right or moving into a slower lane.

All in all, the 2017 Accord Hybrid is a strong contender in its class and should sit well with customers who shy away from the polarizing styling of the new Toyota Prius. Check out the video above to see more of the 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid, which is hitting dealerships as we speak.