Expert Reviews

2023 Honda Accord Hybrid First Drive Review

With the latest Accord, Honda didn’t try to fix what wasn’t broken.

The one before this was the best midsize sedan on the market – this redesigned version is just better. A brief test of the 2023 Honda Accord Hybrid didn’t lead to any ground-breaking discoveries, but as far as first impressions go this one uncovered plenty to like.

The Same, but Different

This latest version is filled with incremental improvements to the Accord’s near-perfect mix of practicality, handling, fuel efficiency, and reliability. For instance, it keeps the same wheelbase as before but gains a little bit of length, while hip- and legroom have increased slightly. Then there’s the shoulder- and headroom, as well as cargo volume, all of which remain the same.

Three trims are available this time around: the gas-powered EX, plus the Sport and flagship Touring, both of which use a hybrid powertrain. That means no more turbocharged 2.0L, while the 192-hp 1.5L carries over in the EX.

The hybrid’s total system output is 181 hp and 247 lb-ft of torque, while it’s paired with an unobtrusive automatic continuously-variable transmission (CVT). It’s not left wanting for too much more power when merging, and passing and is solidly adequate for most occasions. The system seamlessly draws spare engine output or uses regenerative braking to keep the battery charged, and the Accord likes to cycle between hybrid and all-electric operation when cruising on the highway.

In practice, the new hybrid powertrain packs much less of a punch than the 2.0L turbo motor of old, but it boasts excellent efficiency. It’s good for 5.0 L/100 km in the city and 5.7 on the highway, with a combined number of 5.3 – slightly better than the previous Accord Hybrid by all three measures. Hand-calculated results during this test came in at 6.0 L/100 km over 325 km of mostly highway driving. Considering the extreme cold temperatures at the time, and the use of the Accord’s remote engine start feature, that number isn’t terrible.

A Fine Experience

Like its predecessors, this Honda impeccably balances ride and handling. While competitors like the Toyota Camry, Subaru Legacy, Kia K5, and Hyundai Sonata all have their strengths, the Accord has always brought everything together in a way that’s hard to beat. Pothole-riddled city streets and smooth highway surfaces were both quiet and well-controlled experiences, with only a bit of noise from the winter tires coming into the cabin at higher speeds.

The chassis stiffness was increased to improve crash safety, which comes with the extra benefit of better driving dynamics. To go with the improved performance, a selectable individual drive mode allows for finer tuning of parameters like steering weight and engine response. Classic Hondas from the 1990s and earlier have always been known for heavier steering with good road feedback, and the 2023 Accord tips its hat to the good old days in this regard.

Honda’s driver-assist systems have been revised slightly, with improvements to the adaptive cruise control and a newly added traffic jam assist. However, there was still a bit of bouncing between markings with the lane keeping system engaged.

Overhauled Interior

Honda has done away with the button-based gear selector of old in favour of a conventional T-selector. The new Google-based infotainment system is responsive and fairly easy to use, and there are plenty of hard buttons for volume and HVAC adjustment. Hats off to Honda for prioritizing function over form by keeping physical controls that can be operated without taking your eyes off the road.

The design language and interior materials are about the same as what’s offered in the latest Civic. It’s a space that simply works, full stop. However, a little less gloss-plastic trim would go a long way – especially in the long-term. It all looks good when new, but scratches and fingerprints accumulate easily. This tester only had 163 km on the odometer when it was picked up, yet it had some light scratches on some of its shiny interior surfaces.

Final Thoughts

Pricing for the 2023 Accord EX starts at $38,780 before tax but including a $1,780 freight charge, while the Sport Hybrid is $42,780. Then there’s the Touring Hybrid tested here that comes with features like a 12.3-inch touchscreen, wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, Google Automotive Services (Maps, Assistant, Google Play), wireless phone charging, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, and head-up display for $46,280.

Like many other products in the Honda lineup, those prices are noticeably higher than before, and the Accord is somewhat significantly more expensive than rivals like the Toyota Camry. It was and is still the best mainstream midsize sedan that money can buy, but its value proposition isn’t as strong as it once was. You do get what you pay for, but you’ll be paying a bit more for a 2023 Honda Accord.