2023 Honda Accord Touring: Hero Hybrid

Eric Weiner

The Accord Hybrid you see here possesses a more refined powertrain than ever—hushed and impressively consistent in operation. The packaging of that system is top-notch, so the Hybrid model suffers no carrying capacity penalty compared with the standard Accord. Fuel economy is stellar. The car even looks pretty good, and the interior materials are better than what you get in a base BMW 2 Series. It would be fair to say the 2023 car is the best Accord Hybrid that Honda has ever made. But is it the best Accord? 

For my money, no. That honor—still—goes to the 2013 Accord Sport with V-6 and manual transmission, which even was briefly offered as a coupe. I always thought of this four-door as a 2010s version of the 326 V-8-powered ‘64 Pontiac Tempest—healthy power in a decent-looking, spacious family sedan. By the next-generation Accord, launched for 2018, the V-6 was gone in place of a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder and the option of a six-speed manual or a new, 10-speed automatic. This Accord Sport lacked some of the bullishness of the V-6 version but was fundamentally excellent—quick, agile, comfortable, and fairly priced at about $35,000.

When Honda redesigned the Accord for 2023, it killed the 2.0T and now pitches the Hybrid powertrain as a sporty performance alternative to the base 1.5T/CVT setup. Offered on Sport, EX-L, Sport-L, and top-dog Touring trims, its max output of 204 hp and 247 lb-ft (up 2 hp and 15 lb-ft from the 10th-generation car) is more than sufficient in normal operation, but the setup is optimized for short bursts in traffic. This is great for stop-light take-off and quick lane changes, but it’s not an outright barn burner anymore. Car and Driver clocked the 2023 Accord Hybrid Touring at 6.5 seconds sprinting from 0 to 60 mph, which is down a full second compared with the outgoing 2.0T/10-speed-auto car. (The V-6 Camry still scoots at 5.8 seconds, 0 to 60.) 

Specs: 2023 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring

Price: $38,435
Powertrain: 2.0-liter four-cylinder gas engine (146 hp; 134 lb-ft) with generator, single electric motor (181 hp; 247 lb-ft), and 1.1-kWh lithium-ion battery
Combined Output: 204 hp; 247 lb-ft
Layout: Front-wheel-drive, four-door, five-passenger sedan
EPA Fuel Economy: 46 mpg city, 41 mpg highway, 44 mpg combined
Competitors: Toyota Camry Hybrid, Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

The automaker expects that, for this 11th-generation car, 50 percent of examples sold will be Hybrids. The gas-only Accords, the entry-level LX and EX, are 192-hp 1.5-liter turbo-four affairs. All that is a long way of saying that Honda has spoken, and the hot Accord is no more. Boo hiss.

Fortunately, Honda’s hybrid system is excellent. Power delivery is so consistent and smooth that most people won’t even be able to tell the electrified Accord apart from a pure gas variant, other than to notice how quiet it is. Most of the time, the 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder (now with direct injection) is not connected to the drive wheels; instead, it works in tandem with a generator to power the 1.06-kWh battery and/or electric motor, the latter of which drives the front wheels. In certain situations, such as highway cruising, the engine can engage a clutch to drive the front wheels. The four-cylinder is completely disengaged while the car is decelerating, stopped, or when the system determines battery power is sufficient. Unlike many of the start-stop systems in modern gas cars you may be familiar with, both shut-off and restart here are imperceptible. 

2023-Honda-Accord-Touring-Hybrid-07 badge rear
Eric Weiner

I did encounter an issue, however. After stepping outside the car for a minute to return a library book, I left it running with the hazards on and the key in my pocket. I got back in, drove off, and at the first stop light the car completely shut down with the transmission somehow still in D. The car would not move, the wheels would not turn, and all of the screens were black. I couldn’t get it to restart until I shifted into Park, pressed the starter button to fully turn the car off, pressed the starter button again to reactivate it, and then put the car back in D. There was no indication at any point that the car no longer recognized the key. It was a one-time problem that I tried and failed to replicate, but being trapped in traffic for thirty seconds, for any reason, is nonetheless disconcerting. 

The drive motor runs in reverse during coasting or braking to recharge the battery, and the tuning for the mechanical braking system is spot-on, such that the two systems blend seamlessly in normal operation. Integrating the two while producing a natural feeling is extremely difficult, and Honda nailed it. There are six levels of regenerative braking, selectable using paddles behind the steering wheel, and the most aggressive level can bring the car nearly to a stop, so it’s not truly one-pedal capable like many EVs are. Wearing the top-tier Touring example’s 19-inch wheels, the Accord Hybrid has an EPA rating of 44 mpg combined (48 mpg for the EX-L). In mixed city and highway driving, our results were closer to 42 mpg. For context, the Accord Hybrid is 8-10 mpg off the Toyota Prius’s EPA rating, but its powertrain is smoother and the vehicle itself is meaningfully larger, quieter, and more comfortable.

The Accord’s underlying platform is essentially the same as before, though this 11th-generation car is 2.7 inches longer and has a 0.4-inch wider rear track. Honda says it made the chassis more rigid and implemented suspension and steering updates—one of those changes is that the Touring model no longer gets adaptive dampers, sticking with a more traditional fixed setup. The Accord’s steering is not quite as sharp and lively as before, particularly mid-corner, but the ride is immaculate. The Accord comports itself with phenomenal composure regardless of the conditions. It could be city streets, country roads, or long stretches of highway—the car’s balance, responsiveness, and overall comfort best every new entry-level luxury car I’ve driven.

2023-Honda-Accord-Touring-Hybrid-16 front three quarter driver
Eric Weiner

Unfortunately, the Accord doesn’t look quite as luxurious on the outside. This is a rather plain redesign, in my opinion. The faster roofline over the second row is attractive, but the front end has a dull bluntness to it that I wouldn’t call flattering. The curved, C-shaped air intakes at the lower corners of the front fascia do not blend well with the rest of the nose, which is covered in almost exclusively sharp, geometric angles. Out back it’s a little better, with the full-width taillight treatment adding a modern, minimalist sort of flair. The prior, 10th-generation car was perhaps aesthetically busier, but it was also a lot more interesting. The new Hyundai Sonata, in particular, blows the new Accord out of the water when the two are parked next to one another.

It’s a different story inside. The revised interior uses many of the same design cues as the smaller Civic—mesh-pattern HVAC vents across the dashboard, in particular—albeit with far superior materials. I’d be curious to try a lower-level Accord, say, the $30,000 EX for comparison, but the interior of the Accord Touring is among the highest-quality and easiest to settle into for under $40,000. (The 2024 model, at $39,985, just squeaks under that threshold.) The leather padding on the door armrests feels cushy and natural, rather than plasticky or sticky. None of the switches come across as cheap. Outward visibility is outstanding, which is rare in a modern car. It’s hugely spacious, with wide seats up front and gobs of rear legroom, and the trunk can easily swallow a bike with its front wheel detached. Or luggage for a family of four on a weekend getaway. You might want a bit more room than the Accord offers in the center console, but that’s about it.

The Accord Touring packs a number of niceties over the next-down Sport-L: wireless phone charging, ventilated front seats, heated rear outboard seats, a head-up display, 5G Wi-Fi hotspot, parking sensors, a Bose 12-speaker premium audio system, and Google Assistant/Maps built into the 12.3-inch center screen and infotainment. When it comes to infotainment technology, Honda has neither been particularly willing to swing for the fences nor especially competent at integration, but this system works great. It’s fast-responding and unfussy. The visuals are pretty crisp, and the Google navigation system is clear and easy to follow when it pops up in the HUD. The Bose system is nothing to write home about, but this is a lot of feature content in a $38,000 car. Okay, Honda! 

Well, this particular test car was too connected for its own good. Who can say why, but at one point, I went to start the car in the early morning and it refused to do so, citing a pending, over-the-air System Update. No amount of button pushing or cursing could convince the car to knock it off. It finally relented after 10 minutes or so, lighting up the dashboard as usual aside from a rather lippy message in the instrument cluster that the car’s software update was interrupted and would resume at the next shut-off. 

Listen, car. You do what I tell you to do … right?

Aside from those two oddball bugs I experienced, the Accord Hybrid is an impressive package. I miss the outright performance of the 2.0T, but the 2023 Accord Hybrid zips around happily, handles better than practically every other mainstream family sedan, and sips fuel while generally not letting on in any way that it has a battery and electric motor. Our Touring test car even convincingly cossets you in near-luxury. In every way other than ground clearance and sheer carrying capacity, the Accord Hybrid is a compelling reason to skip a milquetoast crossover and keep it classy with a sedan. Best Accord Ever? Not in my book, no, but for most Accord folks there’s good reason to hail the ascendance of the Hybrid.

2023 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring

Price: $38,435

Highs: High-quality interior materials. Efficient powertrain that doesn’t reveal itself as a hybrid. Exquisite ride and handling for a mainstream family sedan.

Lows: Ghosts in the machine that gave us two separate no-start conditions. Plain exterior design feels stodgier than the outgoing-generation car.

Takeaway: A hybrid family sedan that compromises nothing to hit its mpg marks. The Honda Accord Hybrid deserves serious respect, provided you don’t have the same bugs we did.


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    I have one of those 2013 V6 Accords you mentioned, albeit with the automatic. Worth mentioning that the 2013 V6 automatics still had a real 6-speed transmission – not a CVT… Reported 5.6sec. 0-60 feels impressive but mostly unnecessary. The 9th generation Accord is a great car with plenty of modern features; I never have to fight Apple Carplay or whatever is being forced on us in these new cars. Regular old Bluetooth connects perfectly every time. No OTA updates, No start-stop, No headaches!

    These cars ride like absolute dog crap. We almost got a 2014 Accord V6 and I couldn’t believe how harsh the ride was. I cannot understand who these cars are built for.

    You feel every single nook and cranny in the road. Every little bump makes the car bang and shake.

    It really is a shame you “Journalists” have caused every single car for sale today to ride like a track car.

    The car felt absolutely cramped too. I kept hitting my forehead on the Sun Visor.

    My 2017 V6 Accord coupe has a somewhat stiff ride (which I knew going in), but all tests that I have read say that the 2023 redesign rides significantly better than the older ones. The seats in my 2017 are very comfortable, though, so that makes up somewhat for the ride.

    Honda built manual 2.0T Accords until mid year 2020. RIP fun Accord sedans now replaced by a stodgy snooze mobile. No more sporting Accords. I have owned many Accords over the years and have watched and experienced the decline in performance and the transformation into an electrified Japanese Buick LeSabre. I guess I’ll keep my 2015 Accord Sport 6 speed manual since I can at least feel engaged with the machine.

    “… but being trapped in traffic for thirty seconds, for any reason, is nonetheless disconcerting.” Yep – and sounds a lot like the 1970’s, to me. So many 1970’s cars would stutter and often stall, especially if they were not yet warmed up.

    The new car for some reason reminds me of a Pontiac Bonneville with no ribbing or cladding on it. It’s so boring to look at. I miss the V6 or the Turbo 4. The new car with hybrid only and worse off a CVT is something I am not interested in.

    The shutdown is user error. The manual says the car will go into shutdown mode if left idling for ten minutes.

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