By Barbara & Bill Schaffer
As we see our local fuel prices bounce all over the place we have become more appreciative of cars that get good fuel economy. With EPA Fuel Economy Estimates of 49 mpg city, 47 mpg highway and 48 mpg combined, the 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid certainly qualifies as having one of the best fuel economy ratings. That’s especially impressive when you consider it’s such a spacious mid-size sedan.
Few cars have had more impact on the U.S. auto market than the Honda Accord. It was initially imported from Japan starting in 1976, but in 1982 Honda built a plant in Marysville, Ohio.
The Accord has taken many forms over the years — sedan, coupe, wagon, hatchback, hybrid, plug-in hybrid and grown from a compact to one of the larger mid-size cars. But the car that is making one of the most significant impacts on the market, now, is the all-new 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid. After taking a year hiatus, the Hybrid is back and it ranks as the most innovative and advanced cars to ever come out of the Accord catalog.
2016, the Accord received a minor facelift updating the ninth generation of the bestselling sedan with the all-new Generation 2 Hybrid Powertrain. Developed from the conventionally powered Accord, the 2017 Accord Hybrid has only a few distinguishing features that visually identify it as a hybrid. They include blue trim highlights in the grille area, unique headlights and taillights, special wheels and hybrid badging. Inside there are a few changes which mostly enhance usability. The biggest change is improved fuel economy and performance.
The Next Generation Two-Motor Hybrid System uses an ultra-efficient 2.0-liter i-VTEC Atkinson Cycle engine and CVT (continuously variable transmission) to drive the front wheels. Combined with the two electric motors the system produces a combined output of 212 horsepower, making it the most powerful mid-size hybrid sedan in the category. The 0 to 60 mph acceleration time is estimated to be about 7.3 seconds. Although we didn’t quite make the EPA numbers, we did average 44.7 mpg during a week of mixed driving.
The average driver probably could care less about the CVT, but we are not fans. In general, they lack the extra control we like from a transmission. We would prefer the six-speed automatic transmission used in the V-6 version of the Accord system.
That said, we found the Accord CVT to be less vague feeling then some we’ve driven. The Hybrid transmission does have a Sport button that when pushed improves accelerator responsiveness, and makes driving quickly through the corners more enjoyable than when it’s set to the normal mode.
The components of the new hybrid system are 33 percent smaller and 12.8 percent lighter weight than the previous electric system. Even with the hybrid components, the trunk still has a generous 13.5 cubic feet of space.
To improve the charging capabilities, the brake operating system was improved for easier operation while increasing the amount of charge regenerative braking produces. The system transitions between three modes which are activated almost like gear changes as the vehicle speed increases through the EV Drive, Hybrid Drive and Engine Drive to maximize efficiency.
Driving on curvy roads through the mountains near our home, we experience solid and well-controlled handling thanks to new performance Amplitude Reactive dampers and the precise electric power steering system. The car stays flat in the corners, transmits a road feel back to the driver and it goes precisely where pointed. Honda engineers have added several new braces and engine mounts designed to constrain noise. Never the less, the textured surface of most roads in our area produces significant road noise, but that’s probably more a factor of the tires, than the effectiveness of the Honda noise canceling measures.
Honda’s impressive Honda Sensing™ system is now standard equipment on all new Hybrid trim levels. It includes Collision Mitigation Braking System, Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Warning, Lane Keeping Assist System, Road Departure Mitigation and Adaptive Cruise Control.
A big thing for many drivers is good connectivity, and the Accord Hybrid accommodates by including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto™ along with HondaLink Assist and HD Radio®. These expand the functionality of the Hybrid’s infotainment system and allows the driver to easily connect with features like Apple’s Siri and Google’s voice recognition commands so the driver can concentrate on driving.
The 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid is available in three trim levels, the base Hybrid, EX-L, and Touring. All three have the same Second Generation 2-Motor Hybrid Powertrain. The EX-L adds infotainment features, while the Touring version gets extras like navigation, rain-sensing wipers, LED headlights, heated rear seats (outboard) and front and rear parking sensors. Pricing for the three models is $30,440, $33,740 and $36,790 respectively including the delivery charge.
The 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid is an outstanding car, with excellent ergonomics, a comfortable interior and it’s enjoyable to drive with best-in-class hybrid fuel economy. It’s hard to argue when you get all that and nearly 50 miles per gallon.