The 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid mid-size sedan was unveiled in April 2016—ending a one-year hiatus for a model that now offers the highest EPA gas-mileage ratings in the Honda lineup.
The new model uses an updated version of the two-motor hybrid powertrain fitted to earlier hybrid Accords, which were sold as 2014 and 2015 models, but the plug-in hybrid Accord will not return.
That low-volume plug-in Accord will be replaced by a 2018 Honda Clarity plug-in hybrid, also announced the same day.
The 2017 Accord Hybrid offers what Honda calls "class-leading EPA fuel economy ratings" of 48 mpg combined (49 mpg city, 47 mpg highway).
It notes that those ratings are based on new and more stringent EPA test procedures instituted for the 2017 model year.
Under those new procedures, the 2014 and 2015 Accord Hybrids would have been rated at 47 mpg combined (48 mpg city, 45 mpg highway) rather than the 50-mpg highway rating that the earlier version received.
Honda says it has doubled production capacity for the car, and is targeting annual sales of more than double the 14,000 Accord Hybrids that were sold during 2014.
Limited availability of the earlier model years, which were well reviewed by many outlets, frustrated potential buyers, who reported waits of up to several months for dealers to get Accord Hybrids onto their lots.
Those shortages persisted for more than a year, and Honda ultimately chose to move hybrid production to the Accord's Japanese assembly plant.
GET FULL DETAILS: 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid first drive
The second generation of Honda's two-motor hybrid system is paired to a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that uses the lean Atkinson Cycle combustion sequence for the highest output on the least fuel.
Combined output ratings between the engine and the two electric motors is 212 horsepower, an increase of 16 hp over the previous model.
Honda says that's the highest power in the segment, which includes the Volt-derived Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid, Ford Fusion Hybrid, Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, Kia Optima Hybrid, and Toyota Camry Hybrid.
As before, the Accord Hybrid offers three drive modes, including EV Drive, which gives all-electric propulsion through the front wheels with the engine off as long as there is sufficient charge in the battery.
Hybrid Drive blends electric-only running from the propulsion motor with the gasoline engine recharging the battery using the second motor as a generator.
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Finally, Engine Drive locks the engine and propulsion motor together, combining gasoline-electric power for higher loads and road speeds.
The Accord Hybrid shifts automatically and continually among these three drive modes, depending on which is the most energy-efficient at any moment.
Honda has also made the lithium-ion battery pack slightly more compact in the 2017 hybrid sedan, giving it a trunk capacity of 13.5 cubic feet.
The company says that's the largest volume in the segment.
Unique features of the hybrid Accord include LED headlights and taillights with blue accents, an aluminum hood, aluminum alloy wheels, and various badges and "Hybrid" identifiers.