Test Drive: 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring

After taking a hiatus for the 2016 model year while the Accord received a mid-cycle refresh, the Accord Hybrid is back for 2017 with a second-generation two-motor hybrid powertrain. It comes in two trim levels: the base model starts at $31,200, and the Touring trim starts at $37,300. My tester was the latter and was painted with the top-trim exclusive Vortex Blue Pearl (which, as you’ll see in the photos, is a darker and more subdued blue in real life than what appears on the Honda website).

Despite having a combined power rating of 212 horsepower, it delivers NRCan fuel economy ratings of 4.9 L/100 km city, 5.1 highway, and 5.0 combined, the latter two being class-leading figures.

Both trims come fitted with a hybrid-exclusive aluminum hood and the aforementioned powertrain, a combination of a 2.0L Atkinson-cycle naturally aspirated inline-four with variable valve timing plus the two electric motors, mated across the board with a CVT and front-wheel drive for optimal fuel economy. The combination evidently works: despite having a combined power rating of 212 horsepower, it delivers NRCan fuel economy ratings of 4.9 L/100 km city, 5.1 highway, and 5.0 combined, the latter two being class-leading figures. (My actual number over two weeks of roughly 50/50 city and highway driving in December was 7.0, but this can be attributed to the winter weather and my driving style. I can’t recall ever having done better in a mid-size sedan.)

This is achieved due to the way the gasoline and electric motors work together in three different driving modes: pure EV, in which only the electric propulsion motor and the lithium-ion battery pack drive the front wheels (Honda says this is “for short distances under light loads”); hybrid drive, where the electric propulsion motor drives the front wheels and the gasoline engine powers a second motor to supplement current drawn from the battery pack; and engine drive, which uses a lock-up clutch mechanism to connect the engine and propulsion motor, allowing them to work together to power the front wheels.

The Accord Hybrid has a big green economy mode button that can nudge the car toward more fuel-efficient settings. There’s also a sport mode, though I found that did little more than make the already-buzzy CVT even more noisy – it lifts the revs into a range where the gasoline engine’s torque is more accessible, but that on its own is only 129 lb-ft, so most buyers can count on not using it very much.

Despite being a front-wheel-drive car, I found the drive feel to be very steady and predictable, even in snow (it’s worth noting the tester was fitted with winter tires). The steering is best described as forgiving, but that will likely be the preference of most people shopping in this segment. And despite being a hybrid, the brakes don’t feel any different from a typical gas guzzler.

The lithium-ion battery pack in the 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid is also new and is smaller, meaning the trunk holds a class-leading 382 L. But this, to my mind, is where the car’s Achilles heel lies: the battery is positioned under the trunk shelf, which stands up between the seat back and the trunk space and is only rated to hold a maximum weight of 15 lb (6.8 kg). That means we couldn't fold the seat down to accommodate larger items. But I had this car over the holidays, when we pack up approximately half of our house before heading off to visit family - plus Christmas presents. Given this, we had no choice but to take a second car. Those wondering whether the Accord Hybrid would work as their sole vehicle will want to take this into consideration.

Over the base model, the Touring trim adds driver’s seat position memory, a power-adjustable passenger seat, heated rear seats, navigation, a power moonroof, auto on-off LED headlights, rain-sensing wipers, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, and wireless charging – which I couldn’t get my shiny new Samsung Galaxy S7 to work with, mostly because it’s just slightly too long for the compartment and wouldn’t lay flat. But I wanted to have my phone plugged in at all times to connect to Android Auto anyway, so this was in no way inconvenient. (The Accord also has Apple CarPlay compatibility.)

A lot of people pan the two-screen infotainment layout, but I really enjoyed it in this car. It allowed me to keep Android Auto active on the bottom screen while still using the top screen for things like the back-up and right-side cameras. (I stupidly parked this car on the street outside our downtown Toronto home over New Year’s Eve, when some drunken yahoo decided to smash every right-side mirror with a baseball bat. I normally have no use for that right-side camera and find it somewhat distracting, but I was suddenly very grateful to have it that day!)

The robust list of safety features is standard across the board: forward collision warning and mitigation braking, lane-keeping assist, lane-departure warning and road-departure mitigation, blind-spot display, active cruise control, indirect tire-pressure monitoring, and HondaLink automatic emergency response.

Where the Accord really loses me is in ergonomics. I don’t find the seats to be especially comfortable, and when I have my short-limbed self in the optimal driving position (right foot can touch the floor under the brake, arms at a 90-degree angle, etc.), the layout of the instrument cluster is such that I can’t see the top of the speedometer at all and have to guess at how fast I’m going from about 60 km/h and up. And the infotainment system is one I’ve complained about before; Honda just put a volume knob back into its latest CR-V – huzzah! – but it will be a little while before it makes it into its other products, and touchscreen-everything gets tedious very quickly.

Still, if you’re shopping for a hybrid sedan that will give you great value and excellent fuel economy without the commitment of plugging something in every night. And so long as you don’t need a heavy-lifting trunk, the Honda Accord Hybrid is an excellent hybrid sedan that offers top-notch value for the price.

2017 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring
Engine Displacement: 2.0L
Engine Cylinders: 4
Peak Horsepower: 212 hp @ 6,200 rpm
Peak Torque: engine 129 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm, electric motor 232 lb-ft @ 0–2,000 rpm
Fuel Economy: 4.9/5.1/5.0 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb
Cargo Space: 382 L
articles_PricingType 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring
Base Price $37,300
A/C Tax $100
Destination Fee $1,695
Price as Tested $39,095
Optional Equipment None
Optional Equipment
10 0
Scoring breakdowns 7.7
8 Styling
8 Powertrain
8 Quality
7 Comfort
8 Practicality
7 Drivability
6 Usability/Ergonomics
9 Fuel Economy
8 Features
8 Value