Anyone who has a child interested in dinosaurs knows that those beasts were highly adapted for their environment – right before they went extinct.
So it is in the automotive world, where the midsize family sedan has never been better, just in time for it to be outcompeted by crossovers. At one point, an Accord would have been a common sight on Canadian highways, outnumbered only by the Civic in terms of Honda-badged vehicles. Now though, Honda sells nearly 10 times as many CR-Vs as Accords.
With next year’s update, Honda will reportedly make the hybrid version of the Accord its top trim both in terms of performance and luxury. Its engineers will have their work cut out for them in terms of improving the car, because even if it isn’t the mainstay it used to be, as a sedan, the 2022 Honda Accord Hybrid is very nearly perfect.
Honda’s taking the design of its vehicles in a slightly more conservative direction, but the Accord was never as wild-looking as the previous generation Civic was. Indeed, this car is handsome, with some discreet chrome and sharp-looking 19-inch wheels.
The big grille treatment isn’t off-putting here despite being so on other applications. What’s perhaps frustrating is the monochromatic colour choices: you can have black or white, but that’s it.
User Friendliness: 9/10
If further proof was needed that hybridization has reached the mainstream, the gas-electric Accord is just about the most normal sedan you could imagine. It offers zero surprises in terms of how you use it, only that it delivers better fuel economy than the standard car.
That ease of use extends to the infotainment, which was never as fussy in the Accord as with some other Honda products. The one mark against the Accord is more about the market segment than its design: it’s simply just a little less easy to get in and out of than a vehicle with a higher ride height – like, say, a crossover.
That ride height is part of the reason crossovers have pushed family sedans like the Accord to the margins, but it’s also a case of consumer convenience. While a four-door car with a big trunk should be among the most practical solutions around, it’s often the edge-case flexibility to perhaps chuck a chair from Ikea in the back that tips the scales in favour of crossovers and the like.
However, Ikea delivers, and the Accord’s back seat qualifies as cavernous. Packaging the batteries under the back seats allowed Honda’s engineers to give this version of the Accord the same cargo-hauling ability as the non-hybrid. If you’re transporting taller kids or adults, it’s a comfortable and useful machine.
Driving Feel: 9/10
Crossovers might be more convenient or practical than sedans, but the Accord drives so much better than almost all of them. If you’re interested in a nimble feeling chassis that drives more like a sporty Civic than a midsize sedan, then the Accord delivers in spades. It’s engaging and interesting.
Even better – especially in this hybrid version – is how the car behaves with more relaxed inputs. The ride is excellent despite those 19-inch wheels and low-profile tires, and the electric motor’s easily accessible torque makes this Accord relaxing to drive even when traffic is bad. It might have the liveliness of a Civic, but it feels far more substantial, and road noise is low. This version’s Touring moniker isn’t just a badge – this trim of the Accord feels built for road trips.
The near-instant shove of the electric motor’s 232 lb-ft of torque provides great off-the-line acceleration. Full throttle application also gets the four-cylinder zinging up into the rev range in proper Honda fashion. On paper, the 2.0L turbocharged version of the Accord is quicker, but in terms of real world performance the Hybrid is just as satisfying – maybe even more so.
More impressive is how well-integrated the hybrid system is. Honda’s past hybridization efforts have been a little less polished in operation than Toyota’s, but the Accord Hybrid is entirely convincing. It’s as smooth as the ride is.
Fuel Economy: 8/10
With a mixed rating that’s a little under 2.0 L/100 km better than the gas-only Accord, this hybrid really makes a case for itself. Even if the driving experience wasn’t quite as good as the standard car – and it is – cutting your fuel bill by nearly a third represents a considerable savings.
In real-world use, which skewed a little more to city driving, the Accord Hybrid hit its target. Noteworthy, though, is that the Touring trim is a little less efficient than the base Accord Hybrid thanks to the wheel and tire package.
With no larger offering in the lineup, as Toyota has with the Avalon, Touring trims of the Accord are effectively Honda’s flagship sedans. Everything you expect is here, including power adjustments for both front seats (memory for the driver’s side), which are also both heated and cooled. The outboard rear seats are heated as well. There’s also a head-up display, built-in navigation, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connections, and wireless phone charging (standard in all Accord Hybrids).
A 10-speaker stereo is also standard on all Accord Hybrid trims, but it won’t be particularly special to audiophiles. A 360-degree parking assist would also be a nice feature to have here.
Equipped with generous legroom front and rear, and a nicely-appointed cabin, the Accord is generally comfortable enough to almost be an Acura product. The cooled front seats were an added boon during this test’s hot temperatures.
The standard Accord Hybrid gets 17-inch wheels, but the Touring gets 19s. Normally, big wheels ruin the ride, but even on slightly rutted city streets the Accord was very smooth. A spare set of 17s will make fitting winter tires easier when the season comes around.
Besides scoring well in United States Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) crash-testing, all Accord Hybrids come with driver assists like lane-keeping assist and blind-spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert. The Touring trim also has an automated braking system when reversing or driving forward: it can detect obstacles and apply the brakes to avoid or mitigate a collision, though only at low speeds while in reverse.
If anything, Honda’s driver systems are a little over-protective, flashing the “Brake!” alarm if you’re approaching a stopped car even a little too quickly. Further, expect the next generation of Accord to have a lane-keeping system that wanders between the lines a little less than this one.
Packaged as it is with basically all the features you’d expect in an entry-level luxury sedan, the Accord Hybrid represents strong value for your dollar. The high-quality cabin, handsome looks, and smooth driving characteristics make it feel like a smarter purchase than looking at what Acura or Infiniti offer in this size.
Further, when compared to a conventional Accord, the hybrid upcharge is only around 10 per cent more expensive. Given how fuel economy is improved without ruining the Accord’s traditionally nimble driving characteristics, the extra money up front seems worth it. Fuel isn’t likely to get less expensive any time soon.
Even as it moves slowly towards obsolescence, the 2022 Honda Accord sedan remains a compelling buy. This hybrid version is probably the best of the breed, even if there are higher performing trims.
When next year’s refresh comes along, it’ll be a better sedan than ever. But that might not stop sales from eroding. Crossovers keep dominating sales charts, and close on their heels is the electrification of the market. Honda won’t ever let the Accord go completely away, but the metaphorical asteroid is on the horizon. The family sedan is better than ever. But big changes are coming.
|Engine Cylinders||Hybrid I4|
|Peak Horsepower||216 hp|
|Peak Torque||232 lb-ft|
|Fuel Economy||5.3 / 5.7 / 5.5 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb|
|Model Tested||2022 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring|
|Price as Tested||$46,001|