- Slick design
- Smooth ride
- Impressive EPA fuel economy
- Safety technology
- Hard plastic door trim
- Numb steering
- CVT drone in Sport mode
- Base model lacks Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
2020 Honda Accord Hybrid
The current-generation Honda Accord Hybrid went on sale in March of 2018, following the launch of the re-designed gasoline-only version five months earlier. Since its debut, changes have been few, although 2020 models feature an upgraded electric mode alert system to better alert cyclists, pedestrians, and other road users of the Accord Hybrid’s presence.
Accords have a well-deserved reputation for reliability and resale value, but rarely for style. That oversight was addressed when the 10th-gen model bowed in 2017 – replacing the previous model’s boring, bulbous shape with looks inspired by Audi’s sinewy A7.
Up front, the wide, low-slung grille is topped by a thick chrome brow that extends the width of the fascia, thinning as it arches over the tops of the narrow LED headlamp enclosures. Making our way back along the body, a crisp upper character line starts where the clamshell hood meets the headlamps and extends below the beltline until it blends with the taillight enclosures. The body sides are further enhanced with deep sculpting on the lower door panels, while the wheel wells on Touring models like our tester are filled nicely by 17-inch alloys finished in light gray and brushed silver, wrapped in Michelin X Green Energy Saver 225/50R17 all-season tires.
The Accord’s new sense of style continues when you open the doors, revealing supportive and comfortably-bolstered front seats, and equally supportive seating in back with room for three adults to enjoy the model’s generous 40 inches of legroom - besting the Toyota Camry by 2 inches. From the driver’s seat, sightlines to the front and sides are excellent and, in usual Honda fashion, the various gauges, buttons, and knobs are intuitive, silky smooth in their operation, and within easy reach of the driver.
Our Touring example is the only trim equipped with a head-up display that, in addition to speed, also displays the adaptive cruise control mode, power/charge gauge for the hybrid system, traffic sign recognition, transmission position, and turn-by-turn directions. Setup for the display is even easier using the HUD button on the steering wheel, while a lower dash button activates the system and adjusts display height – whereas many competitor’s systems require you to go deep into touchscreen menus to do this.
Speaking of the infotainment system, Honda has learned from previous stumbles as the 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system on EX and above models raises the bar in user friendliness with on/off and tune/scroll knobs that are supplemented with redundant buttons for the major functions – despite the fact that the app-based screen menus the system offers are easily the most intuitive we’ve used.
Versatility hasn’t been forgotten, with a wide trunk pass-through and split folding back seats that, with the rear seats flipped forward, allowed us to easily load a 52cm road bike without having to remove the wheels. Looking at interior stats, cargo volume nudges 17 cubic feet with nearly 103 cubic feet of passenger space, placing the Accord at the top end of the Midsize class (base non-sunroof models slide into the EPA’s Large class).
At the same time, the large C-pillar and high trunk reduce vision out the rear three-quarters and out back, despite the large rear window, 6-footers sitting in back may find scant headroom on sunroof-equipped models, while some cost-cutting is evident in the hard-plastic upper door trim in what otherwise is a very stylish cabin.
Under the hood
Although similar to the now-defunct Chevrolet Volt, the Accord’s hybrid system compared to most is unconventional. Rather than flip-flopping between gas and electric-only power, or using an electric motor to augment acceleration and passing power, Honda’s system consists of a 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle, 143 horsepower 4-cylinder engine that, under most circumstances, only serves as a generator that powers a pair of electric motors, with all 3 contributing to a best-in-class 212 total system horsepower. As in previous versions, the system operates sans any type of transmission.
As a result, the Accord Hybrid achieves an impressive an EPA-estimated 48 miles per gallon in the city, 47 on the highway, and 48 combined.
Under most circumstances, everything works quietly in harmony. However, if you select Sport mode and press the issue, CVT drone rears its ugly visage while, in our 97.6-mile week of mixed driving, we only managed to score a vehicle-measured 36.8 miles per gallon. In addition, the Accord’s 48 mpg combined estimate is 4 mpg shy of both the Toyota Camry Hybrid and Hyundai’s Sonata Blue Hybrid.
On the road
On the road, the Accord Hybrid’s front strut/rear multilink suspension does a superb job of meting out a soft, smooth ride, with the adaptive dampers on Touring models like our tester akin to adding a smooth creamy layer atop an already tasty latte. The 181-horsepower propulsion motor supplies plenty of thrust for smooth off-the-line acceleration, as well as augmenting the engine for merging and passing at highway speeds. The system switches seamlessly from EV drive (all-electric) to hybrid drive (the gasoline engine powers the electric motor generator which powers the front wheels) in around town driving, to engine drive when cruising at higher speeds (the engine and generator motor, via a lock-up clutch, work in parallel with the electric drive motor to send power directly to the wheels, with the electric motor supplying additional power for acceleration and passing). In around town driving, the gasoline engine only kicks in as needed, and will automatically shut off when decelerating or at a stop.
Road, wind, and tire noise is well-muted and, even at highway speeds, and the Accord Hybrid feels extremely stable - unaffected by crosswinds or grooved pavement. Body lean during cornering is minimal, and the brakes offer a nice initial bite – transitioning from friction to regen seamlessly.
At the same time, though light, there isn’t much feedback through the steering wheel, while the Accord lacks the sharp handling of the Mazda Mazda6.
Aside from the usual power bits (windows, locks, mirrors), the entry-level base trim offers such niceties as LED low-beam headlights, daytime running lights, turn signals, and brake lights, auto on-off headlights, keyless push-button start with walk-away auto lock, dual-zone automatic climate control, illuminated steering wheel controls and power window switches, and a 7-inch display screen with Bluetooth, Pandora, and SMS text message capabilities.
Our top-of-the-line Touring tester adds to that list with full LED headlights and fog lights, rain-sensing wipers, memory-linked heated outside mirrors with turn indicators and reverse gear tilt-down, a moonroof, courtesy lights, front and rear parking sensors, leather seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, auto-dimming rearview mirror, door pull ambient lighting, power driver’s seat with memory, power front passenger seat, heated and ventilated front seats, heated outboard rear seats, wireless phone charger, and an 8-inch touchscreen with navigation satellite radio, mobile hotspot, near field communication, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capabilities.
Standard advanced safety features include forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, road departure mitigation, adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition, and a multi-angle rearview camera with dynamic guidelines.
At the same time, you have to step up to the EX in order to get blind spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert.
2020 Accord Hybrid prices
With a $26,575 MSRP, the base hybrid represents comes in at a mere $1,600 premium over the least expensive gasoline-only Accord, and it’s nearly $3,000 less than the entry-level Toyota Camry Hybrid. EX and EX-L trims are priced at $30,475 and $32,975, respectively.
Our Crystal Black Accord Hybrid Touring tester showed up with an MSRP of $35,140 that, along with an additional $930 for destination and handling charges, brought its total suggested price, including pre-delivery service, to $36,070.
The Bottom Line
Despite a few foibles that include the lack of a number of safety features on the entry-level model, the 2020 Accord Hybrid offers a high level of quality, taught, graceful styling, and exemplary fuel economy. Buyers looking for a capacious, inviting, fuel efficient, midsize-to-large sedan would do well to place this slick hybrid at the top of their lists.