Honda Accord Hybrid — No compromise frugality

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Moving forward in this age of electrification it seems the hybrid — vehicles with both an electric motor and a gas engine — are becoming the preferred method of transportation until all-electric becomes more viable for all driving conditions. The good news is there's a hybrid variant of many crossover SUVs and sedans offering all the attributes of the gas-engine models.

A prime example is the mid-sized Honda Accord, which was all new for 2018 and has garnered numerous awards over the past two years. A quick walk-around the new ’19 Accord may actually elicit some emotional appeal. With the new model it seems designers have taken a new direction with a more fashionable-looking car. The Accord now features a fastback-like roofline, which combines with a pronounced curving character line just below the beltline from the headlights to the taillights giving the car a more athletic appearance. This is a handsome car.

The base engine and the most popular is the 1.5-liter turbo four making 192 horsepower and 192 pound-feet of torque capable of 0-to-60 in 7.3 seconds. Gas mileage is above average for an engine with this output, EPA-rated at 29 mpg city, 38 highway and 33 overall with a continuously variable transmission. A manual is also available for those who like to shift for themselves.

But here's the thing — on average, through the trim levels, the hybrid appears to be about $2,000 more than its gas engine cousin and it’s worth it. The Accord hybrid version has an eye-popping EPA gas mileage estimate of 48 city, 48 highway and 48 combined on regular gas. Propelling the hybrid edition is a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine and two electric motors fed by a lithium-ion battery pack making total horsepower of 212 (143 hp from the gas engine). We realized — with no complains — 42 mpg overall during our usual aggressive pedal-to-the-metal driving.

We found the high-mileage Accord on equal footing with the standard-engine model in passing and merging. And 0-to-60 testing backs up our seat-of-of-the-pants estimation. The 1.5-liter engine has a very acceptable 0-to-60 time of 7.3 seconds while the hybrid came in at 7.1 seconds. We were impressed the hybrid handled and drove like the gas-engine model. That's good because the Accord is as close to a sports sedan as any mainstream family car built today, smooth and composed when you want it to be, but ready and willing to take on a rural winding road.

A couple of caveats — while the brakes exhibited none of the inconsistent feel of some hybrids of the past, they seemed to require a bit more time to come down from speed; and there is some elevated engine noise under hard acceleration.

The interior offers a modern, stylish design with user-friendly controls and an infotainment system that is easy to use with an easy-to-navigate screen. And we are happy that Honda has returned to good old-fashioned knobs for audio tuning and volume. Perhaps unimportant to many — but important to us — the Honda system has the best XMSirius satellite radio readout in the business displaying lots of information in large, easy-to-read fonts.

Android Auto and Apple CarPlay work well and are integrated with the infotainment system. The smartphone navigation appears on the head-up display and music on the media screen.

The front seats are comfortable and we found it easy to obtain a just-right driving position with the tilt and telescoping steering wheel. Rear seats are equally comfortable, and legroom is abundant.

The 2019 Accord has one of the biggest trunks in the segment with a volume of 16.7 cubic feet, and there is no loss of trunk space in the hybrid because of the battery pack. And there is space for long items because of the 60/40-split folding rear seatbacks.

Our top-of-the-the line Touring test car was loaded with the latest in safety equipment called Honda Sensing. It includes adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, lane-keep assist, blind-spot warning with cross traffic alert and rain-sensing wipers.

Our test car carried a bottom line of $35,605 including destination charge and came with nearly every feature Honda has available for the Accord. But it's possible to get a hybrid in base form for $26,240. Standard equipment for the base Hybrid is generous and includes 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, automatic high-beam control, keyless ignition and entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, a 7-inch central display, active noise cancellation, Bluetooth, a rearview camera, a four-speaker sound system with a USB port, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with automatic braking, lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist.

Base price: $26,240; as driven, $35,605
Engine: 2.0-liter 4-cylinder, 2 electric motors
Horsepower: 212 total @ 6,200 rpm
Torque: 232 foot pounds
Transmission: continuously variable
Drive: front wheel
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase: 111.4 inches
Length: 192.2 inches
Curb weight: 3,428 pounds
Turning circle: 38.1 feet
Luggage capacity: 16.7 cubic feet
Fuel capacity: 12.8 gallons (regular)
EPA rating: 48 city, 48 highway, 48 combined
0-60: 7.1 seconds (Car and Driver)
Also consider: Ford Fusion Hybrid, Toyota Camry Hybrid, Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

The Good
• Outstanding gas mileage
• Excellent cargo space
• Spacious interior

The Bad
• Long braking distance

The Ugly
• Engine noise at high speed