2021 Honda Accord Hybrid first drive review: The right amount of smooth – Roadshow

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It will not break any necks on the street, however the Accord Hybrid is not going to interrupt your pockets, both.

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Midsize sedans are about as thrilling as shopping for a brand new model of hen inventory for the primary time, and their ultra-efficient hybrid variants aren’t far more riveting. They’re, nonetheless, massively necessary automobiles. Midsize sedans have been lengthy the staple of households throughout America, and whereas crossovers have eaten into that phase in a big approach, this phase continues to be a hotbed of competitors. Within the final yr we have seen new or refreshed midsize hybrids from each Hyundai and Toyota, and now, it is Honda’s flip with the up to date 2021 Accord Hybrid.

Most folk are going to have a look at the 2021 Accord Hybrid and say, “Nicely, it appears the identical as earlier than.” However there’s truly some newness hidden in that entrance finish. Particularly, there is a wider grille that leads right into a set of LED headlights (on most trims), that are redesigned to higher illuminate the street, hopefully launching the Accord Hybrid to the highest of the Insurance coverage Institute for Freeway Security scores, a difficulty the automobile had prior to now. That is it, although. Oh, wait — the radar emitter is tucked away barely in a different way towards the underside. OK, now that is it.

Inside, there is not a lot totally different, a minimum of when it comes to the visuals. I’ve at all times favored the present Accord’s inside, and that story stays the identical within the 2021 mannequin. The format is easy however not essentially boring, with some attention-grabbing angles on the dashboard and, on my Touring-trim tester, some good matte-finish wooden trim between the darkish higher sprint and the white leather-based beneath.

The decrease half of the inside has cubbies and pockets galore for stashing all my stuff, the cup holders are massive sufficient to accommodate most large-format bottles and the again row has legroom aplenty, even for my lanky, 6-foot body. Immediately below the local weather controls, EX trims and up have a wi-fi machine charger, however it may be switched off and used for normal junk as desired. Out again, there is a positively cavernous trunk, its 16.7-cubic-foot capability out-swallowing the Toyota Camry Hybrid’s 15.1 and the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid’s 16.

Whereas the inside itself is essentially unperturbed for 2021, the tech tucked inside will get an replace. From base to Touring, all 2021 Accord Hybrid fashions now come commonplace with Honda’s 8-inch Show Audio infotainment system. On EX trims and above, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto can be utilized wirelessly. Show Audio is a stable getup, with an easy dwelling web page of tiles for fast entry to media, navigation (Touring solely) or a telephone linked through Bluetooth. There are additionally some hybrid-specific pages, like one which tracks the circulation of energy from the battery via each electrical motors to the wheels. There’s additionally a visit pc that tracks gasoline financial system if you wish to nerd out over mileage.

The automobile {industry}’s habit to screens means the center of the dashboard is not the one place you will discover ’em. The Accord Hybrid’s gauge cluster additionally contains a big digital show on the left facet that homes an influence meter displaying the automobile’s present output, in addition to a variable portion that may let you know what’s enjoying on the radio or present the turn-by-turn instructions. It will additionally offer you a reminder that one thing could be within the rear seat, which is a brand new addition for 2021.

Show Audio is not an ideal system, nevertheless it’s significantly better than what Honda used to make use of — and nonetheless makes use of in some fashions.

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Talking of security, Honda’s nonetheless on prime of its sport right here. The Honda Sensing suite of lively and passive driver aids stays commonplace on all Accord Hybrid trims, comprising adaptive cruise management, lane-keeping help, lane-departure warning and computerized emergency braking. There are some small changes, although. The adaptive cruise management is now smoother on deceleration, and the lane-keeping help now not feels prefer it desires to provide my forearms a exercise when it facilities the automobile within the lane. A brand new low-speed braking setup makes use of the parking sensors to cowl automatic-braking instances between 1 and 6 mph, too. Lastly, Honda is utilizing industry-standard icons on its switchgear to characterize these methods. I will be sincere, it was at all times unusual getting right into a Honda and imagining how many individuals can be confused by the “CMBS” or “LKAS” buttons, contemplating these aren’t industry-standard abbreviations, both.

Just like the tech, the Accord Hybrid’s powertrain is essentially the identical, albeit with a couple of minor tweaks right here and there. The system pairs a 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle I4 with Honda’s two-motor hybrid system to supply a internet 212 horsepower and 232 pound-feet of torque. That is sufficient to out-perform the usual Accord’s base 1.5-liter engine whereas nonetheless returning an EPA-estimated gasoline financial system of 48 miles per gallon metropolis and 48 mpg freeway (for the bottom, EX and EX-L trims; Touring fashions earn 44 and 41, respectively). The motors can energy the automobile for small stretches on electrical energy alone, and the fuel engine connects on to the wheels at larger speeds whereas cruising.

Honda made a couple of changes to the automobile’s energy supply, and I feel they made a easy operator much more easy. Acceleration feels brisker than earlier than — not fast by any stretch, however greater than adequate for this phase — and there is far much less of a rubber-band feeling when jamming on the fuel; the engine bumps its revs a bit and would not depart me feeling like the remainder of the automobile is ready a number of seconds to observe swimsuit. Its demeanor is way nearer to that of a fuel automobile, which ought to assist win over patrons not solely satisfied by the sky-high EPA figures. Larger revs do incur some audible whinnying from below the hood, nevertheless it’s comparatively quiet and would not distract from the expertise.

48 miles per gallon is nothing to sneeze at.

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Sport mode provides the automobile a sprightlier nature, not solely boosting throttle response but in addition stiffening the adaptive dampers discovered solely on Touring trims, like my tester. It would not flip the Accord Hybrid right into a Civic Kind R, nevertheless it does make the sedan extra thrilling to toss right into a nook, seemingly at a velocity your passengers will not get pleasure from. In regular operation, the dampers are softened to return little or no cabin jostling, nevertheless it by no means feels discombobulated, at all times composed. It is not as pillow easy because the Camry Hybrid, nevertheless it’s shut. The brakes really feel nice, too, seamlessly mixing the road between friction and regeneration. My solely difficulty there stems from the adjustability of the brakes; whereas I can increase regen braking with the left shift paddle, it solely stays at that stage for a brief time frame, requiring me to smack the paddles time and again each time I decelerate. That is dumb. Simply let me set it and overlook it, please.

Better of all, the 2021 Honda Accord Hybrid stays eminently inexpensive. The bottom mannequin will set you again $27,325 together with vacation spot, with the EX at $30,320 and the leather-lined EX-L commanding $33,645. Even the top-trim Touring stays below $40,000, touchdown at $37,195. That places its toe to toe with the Camry and Sonata hybrids. With new, approachable applied sciences and a hybrid powertrain that likes to maintain it easy, the Accord Hybrid ought to assist maintain this phase a hotly contested one for a while to come back.

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Andrew Krok