2021 HONDA ACCORD HYBRID TEST DRIVE
2021 HONDA ACCORD HYBRID TEST DRIVE BY CAR CRITIC STEVE HAMMES
For those who haven’t matriculated to SUV ownership, there are some excellent alternatives just waiting for a test drive, particularly in the segment that used to define a brand’s success; midsize sedans.
And Honda’s refresh of the Accord has it looking better than ever at a very affordable price point.
The average high temperature right now is below freezing and that has a very significant impact on fuel economy, particularly so for hybrids. In these types of conditions fuel economy can drop over 30%; even more so on short trips.
There are a number of factors to blame for this not the least of which is a decrease in battery performance. So that’s the backdrop for my week with the updated 2021 Accord Hybrid.
New this year, Honda’s unique 3rd gen 2-motor system has had its control unit recoded to provide more direct and immediate throttle response and a feeling of more natural acceleration, i.e. the eCVT is more in step with your right foot. Combined with an immediate 232 pound-feet of torque from the electric motor, this Accord definitely feels reactive in a way that only electrified cars can.
That prowess is best on display in Sport mode which heightens the hybrid’s performance characteristics and imbues this car with sports sedan attitude. That’s even more evident on this Touring model which is the only Hybrid trim to receive the Adaptive Damper System which in normal driving automatically adjusts the suspension to the road conditions and in Sport mode puts the car on lock down. With a starting price of $37,435 this is the loftiest Hybrid model and new for this year it comes standard with bigger19” wheels – the same size found on the gas-powered Sport and Touring trims.
They come fitted with Goodyear Eagle Touring all-season, sport performance tires for enhanced handling and responsiveness replacing the standard 17” Energy Saver tires found on the other Accord Hybrid models.
Here’s the problem. The top of the line Touring trim with its new 19” wheels looks great but takes a significant MPG hit over the other models and, just like my previous 2 Accord Hybrid tests, I’m getting nowhere near the 43mpg rating. Of course, it’s cold and snowy but my numbers are off by about 10mpg which makes the hybrid not worth it. And even though this is the only trim that receives the Adaptive Damper System, the ride is noisy and too stiff.
Whereas the other Accord Hybrids are rated at 48mpg this one takes an over 10% hit so if you’re shopping the Touring be cognizant of this. The hybrid system itself is excellent though providing more pure EV driving, even at speed, than expected with nearly seamless transitions between EV, Hybrid and Engine drive.
In Sport, it’s also a fun car to drive. In addition to the 19s the Touring also adds ventilated front seats and a head-up display. MSRP of this Radiant Red beauty with its restyled grille and new headlights is $37,830. It’s a sharp looking car evocative of the Audi A7.
This piece of hard plastic takes its toll on my knee after a while and the seats lack cushioning and height adjustability on the passenger side. But new this year, there’s wireless CarPlay and Android Auto – ironically something missing from the new Acura TLX.
With large car interior dimensions and the biggest trunk money can buy, which by the way isn’t diminished by the presence of the lithium-ion battery, the Accord Hybrid makes for a very accommodating family car.
Features such as heated rear seats, remote start on the fob, a conveniently located wireless charger, complete and easy to use touchscreen infotainment with a neat energy monitor, rear USB ports, and a wide array of driver assistance features make the Accord Touring very well stocked for under $40,000.
So if you live north of the Mason Dixon line the Hybrid probably isn’t the best Accord to choose. And the Hybrid Touring even more so.
But for those who want an added dose of sportiness and a little bling to go with their Hybrid, it’s worth a test drive.