Honda’s sleek new Accord, Toyota’s next Prius, Suzuki’s new engine
2023 Honda Accord looks sleek, goes heavy on hybrid
Intake: Honda has done a complete redesign of the Accord for 2023, and it looks and sounds impressive. “The all-new 11th-generation Accord is essential to our lineup as a critical driver of brand loyalty, and with hybrid models representing 50 percent of sales, a key part of Honda’s electrification strategy,” said Mamadou Diallo, vice president of auto sales for Honda. That electrification strategy is the hybrid Accord, which has a 2.0-liter gas engine and two side-by-side electric motors. Combined, it’s rated at 204 horsepower. The base engine is a turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder, rated at 192 horsepower. The standard transmission is a CVT; no manual is offered. The car is “longer and sleeker,” Honda says, than the 2022 model. The interior is new, and the suspension has been upgraded. The Accord will be available in six trim levels, starting with the turbocharged LX and EX and topped by the hybrid-powered Sport, EX-L, Sport-L and Touring.
Exhaust: Possibly the best-looking Accord yet, the 2023 model has a distinctive, non-Honda look front and rear. The styling and the thrifty powertrains should keep the Accord on the best-selling car list, where it has been for the last five decades. — Steven Cole Smith
Audi’s biggest, nicest SUV finally adopts the family name
Intake: Audi has announced a new name for its flagship electric SUV. Formerly known as the e-tron, the vehicle will now be called the Q8 e-tron to signify that it’s the top of Audi’s electric-only lineup. The move places it in line with the regular Q8, the most expensive SUV you can buy from Audi that still runs on dino juice. The refreshed Q8 e-tron boasts a redesigned rear electric motor and optimized aerodynamics that should help boost range for both the regular SUV and the sportback models. In the U.S., the lowest trim of Audis big EV is the Q8 e-tron 55, which boasts an all-wheel-drive setup via two electro motors. It’s good for 402 hp and 490 lb-ft of torque in Sport mode. There will be a spicier version called the SQ8 e-tron, which packs three electric motors—a 166-hp unit up front and dual 131-hp motors out back—that will produce 496 hp and a whipping 718 lb-ft of torque. Both trims draw power from a 106-kWh battery pack. Audi is aiming for certain models of the Q8 e-tron to clear 300 miles of EPA-estimated range—a major step up from early renditions of this machine. The new Q8 e-tron will arrive in the U.S. next April, with pricing to be announced closer to the launch date.
Exhaust: Audi has had a tough time packaging and communicating its EV products to buyers. The e-tron started as a single SUV, but then you had the e-tron GT, a gorgeous swooping sedan that shared its underpinnings with the Porsche Taycan but was otherwise unrelated to the SUV save for the four-ring badge. Perhaps Audi has decided that reverting to a more conventional nomenclature (see Volvo, who nailed this on the first try with rival model EX90) is the best way to un-muddy the waters. Will it be enough? — Nathan Petroelje
Toyota teases next hybrid hatchback
Intake: Toyota teased an upcoming hybrid hatchback on social media with a minimalist outline of its profile and a date, November 16, which coincides with the Los Angeles Auto Show. Toyota didn’t even mention the word “Prius” but we all know that it’s the fifth-generation hybrid hatchback that it’s going to show off.
Exhaust: Toyota has promised a solid-state battery before 2025, and the Prius uses a small battery, so that would be the logical first commercial application of such technology. The current Prius Eco achieves its 58 mpg city, 53 mpg highway, and 56 mpg combined EPA rating thanks to an Atkinson-cycle 1.8-liter four-cylinder and a 0.75 kWh battery. No matter what kind of battery is used, we expect Toyota to continue its trend of increasing efficiency with each generation. — Brandan Gillogly
Getting the full tax credit for your new EV might be harder than you think
Intake: If you are thinking of buying an electric vehicle or a hybrid and automatically assume you are due a $7500 tax credit, you should think again. Or, more constructively, you should read this story on Elektrek.co titled, “Here’s every electric vehicle that qualifies for the current and upcoming U.S. federal tax credit.” The idea in theory is quite simple, the story says: “All electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles that were purchased new in or after 2010 may be eligible for a federal income tax credit of up to $7,500,” according to the U.S. Department of Energy. But it isn’t that simple. “You cannot simply go out and buy an electric vehicle and expect Uncle Sam to cut $7500 off your taxes in April. In reality, the amount you qualify for is based on both your income tax as well as the size of the electric battery in the vehicle you own.” The new Inflation Reduction Act means “there are a lot more parameters to be mindful of, like the requirement that the EV must be assembled in North America.”
Exhaust: And there’s another caveat: “For example, if you purchased a Ford F-150 Lightning and owed say, $3,500 in income tax this year, then that is the federal tax credit you would receive. If you owed $10,000 in federal income tax, then you would qualify for the full $7,500 credit.” Note the “three little words” that the government slips in front of the $7,500 credit – “may” and “up to.” – SCS
Suzuki announces new 776cc DOHC twin engine for 2023 GSX-8S and V-STROM 800DE
Intake: With increased emissions requirements and riders demanding ever more levels efficiency and technology, packaging has become more important than ever for motorcycle manufacturers. Hence why Suzuki announced this week that a new parallel twin has been born and will be found in two 2023 models. The 776cc engine sports a 270-degree crankshaft and twin balance shafts for smooth running and great traction. Of course it features throttle by wire and other standard features of modern engines, but interestingly, one of the big leaps forward for this compared to the V-twin of previous Suzuki engines is the ability to package a more efficient and power-boosting airbox with the newfound space behind the engine.
Exhaust: Suzuki put the lines far enough apart to read between with the inclusion of “permits design flexibility so Suzuki’s designers can create ideal chassis geometry for a variety of motorcycle types” in the press release. As an owner and lover of the SV650, this engine is likely a hint that the V-twin sporty standard is on the way out. I won’t mourn the loss of one of the worst kept secrets in the motorcycle world just yet, but I admit I am preparing for the eventuality. — Kyle Smith
Mercedes-AMG ONE says take that, Porsche
Intake: The Formula 1-derived Mercedes-AMG ONE hypercar just stomped the Nürburgring lap record for a road-legal production car by more than eight seconds. (Sadly, the car will not be road-legal in the U.S.) The 6:35.183 time for the full 12.94-mile lap bests the previous record, set by a Porsche 911 GT2 RS with a special performance package developed by Manthey Racing, which set a 6:43.300 on the same layout. Driver Maro Engel achieved the blistering lap on the AMG team’s final attempt of the day, which began just 30 seconds before the track was set to go cold. He had already broken the lap earlier that day but felt there was more in the car. Most impressive: the track was still wet in areas, which made for tricky conditions. The AMG ONE is powered by a 1.6-liter turbocharged V-6 coupled with an extremely advanced hybrid system that uses four electric motors for a combined system output of 1063 hp. Just 275 units will be built, and all have been spoken for at roughly $2.7M a piece.
Exhaust: Engel and the team of engineers accompanying him had to figure out the best times and locations to deploy the hybrid energy, where to recoup that energy, and where to let loose the drag reduction system (DRS) that boosts straight line speed. In some places, that meant abstaining from the maximum possible speed the interest of energy management. Looks like they’ve made the right calls. The on-board video below is truly mind-bending. — NP