2017 Honda Accord Hybrid TouringPosted on December 21st, 2016
Upgraded drivetrain boosts power and efficiency
By Nina Russin
Longevity has its benefits. Years before Hyundai, Kia, Ford, Chevrolet and Volkswagen entered the hybrid market, there was only one: the original Honda Insight. The Insight arrived in the US in 1999, a year ahead of the Toyota Prius. Since then Honda enhanced technology, in exclusive hybrid models such as the Insight as well as gasoline/electric versions of its popular sedans.
For Honda, hybrids aren’t a marketing gimmick or a way to comply with increasingly strict fuel economy standards. The company’s green focus is authentic, as evidenced by its leadership in the development of other alternative fuel technologies including fuel cells.
For 2017, Honda introduces a new hybrid version of the current Accord that is, in a sense, the automaker’s green car flagship. The powertrain couples a two-liter Atkinson cycle iVTEC engine with two electric motors and a lithium-ion battery pack. One electric motor drives the wheels while the second generator motor produces electricity. The system produces 212 net horsepower and 232 pound-feet of peak torque available at very low speeds.
Buyers can choose from three grades, of which the Touring model is the most upscale. Base price is $35,955 excluding the $835 destination charge. Rather than packaging options, Honda sells the Touring model fully loaded, with convenience features including keyless entry and start, power leather seats with seat heaters, a seven-inch touchscreen with multi-view rearview camera, Bluetooth, Pandora, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, SMS text messaging, USB interface, dual-zone automatic climate control, tilt-and-telescoping steering column, premium audio system and Honda Sensing active safety features. Final MSRP is $36,790.
Test drive in Southern Arizona
This week I drove the Accord Hybrid around Phoenix, Arizona’s east valley, through the foothills of the Superstition Mountains to the east and San Tan Mountains to the south of town. I was curious to see how the newest iteration of Honda’s hybrid technology would handle elevation gain, typical urban traffic and two-lane rural thoroughfares.
Fuel economy on flatter sections of the test drive was in line with the EPA 48 mile-per-gallon estimate, but climbing brought the numbers down significantly. Driving up Beeline Highway towards Payson, it dropped to 36 miles-per-gallon. At the end of my 150-mile test drive my average was 42 miles-per-gallon.
Although not quite as thrifty as promised, the powertrain delivered satisfying performance throughout, with excellent acceleration off the line and plenty on the high end for passing slower vehicles at speed.
A continuously variable automatic transmission works quite well with the gasoline engine and electric motors, with smooth progression and none of the rubber band feel that can be the bane of these systems. A sport mode gives drivers quicker throttle response for more aggressive performance.
While lots of new cars come with rearview camera’s Honda’s is exceptionally good, offering drivers three different views to the back. Honda LaneWatch automatically projects a view to the right of the vehicle when the driver signals. As a cyclist concerned about my visibility to drivers I share the road with, it’s my favorite active safety technology feature on the market.
LED headlamps provide bright beams at night that are closer to daylight than halogen with less battery drain.
A four-wheel independent suspension consisting of MacPherson struts up front and multi-links in the rear delivers a smooth ride. The sedan feels well balanced front-to-rear, despite weight gain from the battery pack. The electric power steering system provides plenty of assist on the low end with a pleasantly heavy feel at speed, although there is a slight lag in on-center response.
Engineers did a good job of minimizing, wind, engine and road noise intrusion to the interior so occupants in both rows can converse on the highway or enjoy the premium audio system.
Although the Accord is classified as a midsize sedan, interior space comes close to many full-size competitors, giving both rows of occupants plenty of head, hip and legroom. I found the power driver’s seat easy to adjust for a clear forward view, with plenty of lower lumbar support for longer drives.
Dual-zone climate controls keep front-row occupants comfortable in temperature extremes, while vents behind the center console circulate air through the back of the cabin.
There is plenty of storage inside the cabin, including a locking glove box and spacious center console bin. The trunk has plenty of room for luggage, groceries and golf bags. Cyclists will need to add a rear hitch or opt for one of Honda’s crossover vehicles.
I found both center stack screens and the gauge cluster easy to read in bright sunlight and after dark. Honda’s navigation system is one of the best on the market, with the ability to calculate and recalculate routes quickly.
The Honda Accord comes with six airbags, daytime running lamps, antilock brakes, traction control, stability control and tire pressure monitoring.
Honda Sensing active safety technology incudes collision mitigation, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, forward collision warning and road departure mitigation.
The Honda Accord Hybrid received a five-star crash test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Like: A solid, spacious midsize sedan with excellent fuel economy, power and performance.
Model: Accord Hybrid Touring
Base price: $35,955
As tested: $36,790
Horsepower (total system net): 212 Hp @ 6200 rpm
Torque: 232 lbs.-ft. @ 0-2000 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: No
Fuel economy: 49/47 mpg city/highway