2021 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring: Overview
Unlike hybrid vehicles from the last decade, modern electric and hybrid cars don’t have to look ugly and boring. In fact, nowadays it is very hard to distinguish hybrid versus gasoline, as manufacturers try to normalize hybrid vehicles in their model lineup. Honda has been known as one of the early adopters in terms of hybrid implementation, and with the latest Honda Accord Hybrid, they seem like they find a way to create a proper mid-size hybrid sedan that has no compromises.
Exterior and Interior
So it is obvious that this generation Honda Accord has been on sale for the last few years, so it is not the latest and freshest entry. However, I still think it is one of the best-looking mid-size sedans. The front end has a huge chrome grille in the front that is integrated with the front headlights, which is a distinctive Honda design language that is also used in other modern Hondas. The headlights are LED and they look amazing, and it comes with a big grille under the chrome piece.
When this generation Accord was first released, I personally wasn’t a fan of the rear design, especially the headlights that look like boomerang shape, but over the years it really grew on me. The overall shape of the car looks more like a liftback, as there is a slope in the C-pillar, it makes it look sportier. Some contours come from the front and merge with the taillight. Overall it still looks very good, at least it is not a boring design from any angle, and it still has traditional Honda design elements.
2021 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring comes with the same rims on the gasoline Touring version, but personally, I am not a fan of two-colour star-shaped rims. Previous generation rims were looking much better and it was a better match with the overall design of the current generation Accord. If you choose the base Hybrid trim, it comes with different wheels with smaller sizes, meaning it may offer a little bit comfier ride as well as better fuel efficiency.
There are no significant changes since it is first released, but to be honest, it is a great interior that has everything where it should be, and the overall interior space is amazing for a mid-size sedan. Accord Hybrids come with shift buttons instead of a lever, if you are a person who likes to put his/her hand on to the lever, you may need to find a place to put your hand. I wish there is a hand rest like some Acura models.
Other than the shifter buttons, everything is laid out in a user-friendly way. All air-condition buttons are physical and it has its own dedicated small screen, so you don’t have to go through the infotainment system to adjust it. Speaking of infotainment, it may look the same, but is the updated version that comes with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It is easy to go through the menu if you are not using your phone interface (CarPlay or Android Auto), there is a little bit of lag.
2021 Honda Accord comes with a gauge cluster that can be customizable in few different ways. First of all, the speedometer is fully analogue, so you can’t change anything about it. You can change the RPM gauge with fuel economy, audio, ECO gauge and so on. It is impressive how Honda implemented electric/hybrid animations to what they currently have with the gasoline-only models. Overall it is very easy to read and understand what’s going on.
The rear seats are as comfortable as the front ones, but where the 2021 Honda Accord shines is the overall legroom space. It almost has a full-size sedan level of rear legroom. Our tester, the hybrid version has the same amount of legroom in the back, as the battery is located right under the rear seat cushions, there is no compromise in terms of overall space. However, due to its sporty silhouette and slope in the C-pillar, the overall headroom isn’t class-leading like the rear legroom.
2021 Honda Accord has a generous amount of cargo space, which is 16.7 cubic feet (473 lt) and the Hybrid version is exactly the same. This was one of the biggest flaws in the previous generation Accord, but that’s not the case anymore with the current-gen. As the battery is located under the rear seats, you can fold down the rear seats like the gasoline version, and use the whole rear seat area and trunk for carrying big or tall items.
Engine and Drivetrain
Accord Hybrid comes with only one engine and transmission option, which is a 2.0 litre 4 cylinder naturally aspirated engine that produces 143 horsepower and 129 lb-ft of torque. The number seems very low, but it is matched with an electric motor that produces 181 horsepower and 232 lb-ft of torque. Combined horsepower is rated at 212 hp and 232 lb-ft of torque.
Although the engine is connected to the wheels directly, there is a clutch system that adjusts the amount of power sent to the wheels or to the electric generator. That generator sends power either to the electric motor or to the Li-Ion battery. Most of the time, the engine acts as a charger to the generator, therefore it helps to charge the battery for better fuel mileage. Most of the time, the engine and electric motor don’t send power to the wheels at the same time, meaning you will only get 212 horsepower in certain circumstances (mostly high-speed acceleration).
The only transmission option is actually, no transmission. Though most manufacturers advertise it as continuously variable transmission, and Honda calls it eCVT. Granted, it feels like a CVT as there are no actual gears, but the 2021 Honda Accord Hybrid comes with 2 motor Hybrid system that acts as a transmission, so there is no belt and pulleys inside the transmission case. The more you push to the gas pedal, the faster the electric motor spins, therefore you accelerate. Simple as that.
I was very skeptical in terms of driving dynamics before I drove the Accord Hybrid, but it totally changed my mind about hybrid vehicles. It is not as fast as the 2.0-litre turbocharged version, but the additional torque that the electric motor adds feels much faster than it actually is. Unlike many manufacturers, Honda has a different approach in terms of their hybrid engine layout, meaning they use a bigger electric motor and use the gasoline engine as a power generator. This means it is easier to develop a plug-in hybrid platform with fewer components to replace for future models.
Let’s get back to the 2021 Accord Hybrid Touring: You can use it in EV mode, but due to the overall size of the battery you can only get less than 2 kilometres range, which is not surprising for a hybrid vehicle. Honda tuned the battery management to keep the charge between 90% and 25%, and the gasoline engine starts to work if it gets less than 25%. Most of the time, with careful driving and using the brakes efficiently, you can charge the battery pretty easily. Speaking of careful driving, our fuel consumption was 5.1L / 100km, which is very impressive for this size of a vehicle.
The drivetrain features aside, it is not really different to drive the Accord Hybrid compared to gasoline-only version. You get the same driving position, same steering feeling and similar ride comfort. The current generation Accord is a very comfortable vehicle, despite having huge wheels in the Touring trim. Honda decided to stiffen up the rear suspension with the Hybrid version because of the weight difference, and it is noticeable over the big bumps. However, the Adaptive Damper System that comes only with the Touring trim is very good at absorbing road imperfections.
As it is the top trim, it has all the features that are available in an Accord. In Canada, there are only two Hybrid models, base and Touring. Don’t let the “base” word fool you, it is very similar to EX trim if you choose a gas-only model. Both trims come with very important features such as Adaptive Cruise with Lane Keeping Assist, Blind Spot Info, Active Noise Cancellation, Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Wireless Charging and so on. If you don’t need leather seats with memory function, as well as a head-up display, you can also choose the base trim and save some money, which looks like a better value than the top trim.
Pricing and the Verdict
Regardless of the engine choice, the current-generation Honda Accord has been my favourite non-premium mid-size sedan, as it offers the best balance of good design, large interior space, good driving dynamics as well as multiple drivetrain options for your needs. Now, with the Accord Hybrid, Honda took it to another level for people who are prioritizing fuel economy with no compromises.
Yes, you heard it right. It has no compromises. The interior space is the same, riding quality is the same, build quality -of course- is the same, you can easily get 700+ km in a tank, and most importantly you cannot differentiate the looks if you remove the hybrid badges. If you are prioritizing performance, you should definitely choose the turbocharged 2.0L engine, but the Hybrid is almost as fast, definitely faster than the base 1.5L engine. I see no reason to choose a 1.5L engine over this one, even it is slightly more expensive.
There is no doubt that this generation Accord is getting old, but somehow it still doesn’t feel that old. It is a very solid platform even today it can keep up with the newer models. Aside from numb brake feeling which is typical for hybrid drivetrains, limited rear-seat headroom, and ugly wheels that come with Touring trim, I think this is one of the best daily drivers on the market if you are not into the SUVs or Crossovers like me.
2021 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring starts at $37.936 with the base trim and if you must get the adaptive dampers, bigger wheels, leather upholstery, memory seats and head-up display, you need to choose the top trim which is priced at $44,636 CAD. Top-of-the-line trims are usually not the value choice, and this is no exception with the Accord Hybrid. I believe base Hybrid trim is definitely a better bang for the buck as it is only missing few features but you can save almost $7000.
For more details, please visit www.honda.ca
Article and Photos by Dan Gunay