There’s an old saying that absence makes the heart grow fonder. Well, the Honda Accord Hybrid was gone for a year. Did you miss it? We certainly did, as it’s one of the few genuinely enjoyable hybrid sedans on the market. But there was already so much to like about this midsize hybrid that it hardly needed to go on vacation for us to recommend it.
Honda pressed pause on the Accord Hybrid after 2015 due to a shift in production to Japan (regular Accords are still being built in Ohio). In the process, the 2017 Hybrid gained a variety of updates that should bolster the car’s appeal. The revised gasoline-electric powertrain now generates a healthy 212 horsepower (an increase of 16 hp) and returns slightly better fuel economy, too, checking in at an estimated 48 mpg combined despite more stringent EPA guidelines for 2017. There’s also a physically smaller battery pack this year that takes up less space in the trunk without compromising performance.
The 2017 Accord Hybrid further benefits from the updates Honda made to the regular Accord last year, including updated exterior styling, revised suspension tuning, new interior trim and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration for the optional touchscreen interface. Notably, all Hybrids come standard with the Accord’s Honda Sensing package that includes a variety of driver assistance and safety features, such as lane departure intervention and automatic emergency braking. You do pay more for the Hybrid compared to a regular Accord, but if getting a car with a low carbon footprint is a priority, it’s definitely a top choice.
Of course, it’s not your only choice if you’re shopping for a hybrid midsize sedan. The Hyundai Sonata Hybrid and Toyota Camry Hybrid ride a bit more comfortably than the Accord does, and the Ford Fusion Hybrid is pretty similar to the Accord in the way it emphasizes sport and style. The reinvented Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid is another strong contender. These rivals typically have lower prices, too. All things considered, though, we think the Accord Hybrid is the most desirable hybrid midsize sedan this year. If your heart has grown fonder, we don’t blame you.
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The 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid sedan comes in three trim levels: base, EX-L and Touring.
Standard equipment for the base Hybrid includes 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, LED taillights, keyless ignition and entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, cruise control, an eight-way power driver seat (with two-way power lumbar), a 7.7-inch central dashboard infotainment display, active noise cancellation, Bluetooth, a rearview camera and a six-speaker sound system with a USB media interface, Pandora integration and an auxiliary audio jack. Additional safety-oriented features are noted in our review’s Safety section.
Move up to the EX-L and you’ll get an auto-dimming rearview mirror, driver memory settings, a four-way power front passenger seat, heated front seats and leather upholstery. On the tech front, this trim level also gains a 7-inch touchscreen (in addition to 7.7-inch infotainment display), robust smartphone integration (via Honda Link, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto) and an upgraded sound system with seven speakers, satellite and HD radio and an additional USB port.
Lastly, the Touring adds LED headlights (with automatic high-beam control), a sunroof, front and rear parking sensors, heated rear seats and a navigation system.
Powering every 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine hitched up to a pair of electric motors that are fed by a trunk-mounted lithium-ion battery pack. Total system output is 212 horsepower, and it’s delivered to the front wheels through a continuously variable transmission.
Official EPA estimates for the Hybrid weren’t available as of this writing, but Honda says to expect 48 mpg in combined driving (49 mpg city/47 mpg highway).
We’ve yet to put the Accord Hybrid through its paces at our test track. Our educated guess is that it will accelerate from zero to 60 mph in the low-to-mid 7-second range, which would make it notably quicker than most rival hybrid sedans.
Every 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid comes with antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, active front head restraints, front seat side airbags and side curtain airbags. A rearview camera is also standard across the board.
Also standard on all Hybrids is passenger-side blind-spot monitoring (LaneWatch, which switches the 7.7-inch screen’s display to a low and wide view of the car’s passenger side when the right turn signal is engaged), lane departure warning, lane and road departure intervention, forward collision warning and forward collision intervention with automatic braking. Although the availability of these features across the lineup is rare and laudable, the systems themselves aren’t as good as those of some rivals. The forward collision alert is hypersensitive, annoyingly and frequently setting off its “Brake!” alarm in instances where other such systems would not cry wolf. The adaptive cruise control is also too quick to apply the brakes, too slow to speed back up again and not the best at maintaining a constant speed.
In government crash testing, the Accord Hybrid received five out of five stars for overall protection, with four stars for total frontal impact safety and five stars for total side-impact safety. The coupe earned five stars across the board. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety hasn’t specifically tested the Hybrid, but the regular Accord earned a best possible rating of “Good” in the moderate-overlap and small-overlap frontal-offset impact tests, as well as a “Good” rating in the side-impact, roof-strength and seat/head restraint (whiplash protection) tests. The Accord’s frontal collision intervention system also earned a top IIHS rating of “Superior” for its effectiveness.
With few exceptions, the materials in the 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid have a high-quality look and feel. The overall design is elegant in its simplicity, and build quality is expectedly tight and professional. At the top of the dash is a large and clear 7.7-inch display. What you get below that depends on the model. The base trim has straightforward physical audio controls, while the EX-L and Touring have a touchscreen interface in that location instead, nixing familiar interface elements like the volume knob. The touchscreen is sleek-looking, but its menu structure is sometimes confusing or needlessly complicated, and the virtual buttons can be challenging to operate while driving. You can offset some of this by using the buttons on the steering wheel, but overall we prefer the infotainment systems found in rival sedans.
Both front and rear occupants will find plenty of legroom and shoulder room. The sedan’s backseat is one of the best in this class, thanks to generous passenger space and a high bottom cushion. Road and tire noise is held to satisfactory levels. We’re also fond of the clear outward visibility afforded by the fairly low beltline, relatively slim roof pillars and generous amount of glass, all of which are increasingly rare in modern automobiles. As a downside, though, we’ve found the Accord’s front seats less comfortable on long drives than others in this segment.
The trunk can hold 13.5 cubic feet of luggage, which is bigger than average for this class. Unfortunately, there’s no fold-down or pass-through functionality built into the rear seat. If you think you’ll have to frequently carry long cargo items, other hybrid sedans might be better choices because of their folding rear seats.
With its strong electric motor and gasoline engine working together, the 2017 Accord Hybrid accelerates briskly. Mash the gas pedal for a pass on the highway and this sizable sedan shoots forward with authority. At times, the Accord Hybrid’s gasoline engine makes more noticeable noises than rival engines, but overall it’s hard to complain considering the impressive power and fuel economy it provides.
In general, we admire how the Accord Hybrid goes down the road. Honda tuned the 2017 model to be sportier than before, and the result is a pretty enjoyable hybrid to drive around turns. You’ll like that it feels stable, secure and responsive to your steering inputs. Fortunately, this sportiness doesn’t come at the expense of too much comfort. There’s some firmness to the suspension tuning that makes rough pavement a bit more apparent than in comfort-tuned sedans like the Toyota Camry Hybrid, but overall we think it strikes a very appealing balance between a supple ride and engaging handling.