2018 Honda Accord Hybrid first drive review: lighter shade of green Page 2


Ace of base

New for 2018 is a base Accord Hybrid that slots beneath the top EX and Touring trims. It had been noticeably lacking from the lineup in prior years. Honda hasn’t yet announced pricing for hybrid models.

The new base Accord Hybrid, roughly equivalent to a conventional Accord LX, will likely be the most affordable hybrid in the range when it goes on sale later this year.

Honda executives say the LX will comprise roughly one-fifth of all overall hybrid sales, and may compete with the base Camry Hybrid that starts at $28,695, including destination.

Accord Hybrids get most of the features found on the new Accord including standard HondaSensing, a suite of advanced safety features that includes forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, active lane control, and traffic-sign recognition.

CHECK OUT: 2018 Toyota Camry Hybrid first drive

Blind-spot monitors and a head-up display will be available on top Accord Hybrid Touring versions.

A 7.0-inch digital instrument cluster replaces the tachometer and displays energy flow, regenerative braking, and fuel consumption information.

EX, EX-L, and Touring trims get more creature comforts including an 8.0-inch touchscreen, upgraded cloth or leather upholstery, navigation, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.

2018 Honda Accord Hybrid

2018 Honda Accord Hybrid

Enlarge Photo

Wheel life

Despite the addition of batteries and a unique powertrain, Honda says hybrid models will add only 30 pounds or less to the weight of comparably equipped conventional Accord sedans with the larger, 2.0-liter turbo-4. The base Hybrid tips the scales at 3,342 pounds, and a fully loaded Hybrid Touring checks in at 3,428 pounds.

That should be a boon to hybrid buyers eyeballing better fuel economy without sacrificing ride quality.

Our limited turns behind the wheel of a Hybrid Touring model—the top trim—largely confirmed that suspicion. Although the battery operation was (fairly) seamless, the Accord Hybrid rode and drove like a typical Accord sedan. For the first time in the Accord’s history, top trims are fitted with adjustable dampers that can be set to normal or sport to firm the ride and throttle response.

ALSO SEE: Honda CR-V Hybrid displayed in Frankfurt; US likely next, but when?

The overall feeling was confident and composed—albeit in very short, 6-mile increments. Honda says the new Accord is stiffer and stronger than the outgoing model, thanks to more extensive use of higher strength steel in the inner frame and overall structure.

One interesting note: Instead of shift paddles found in other Accord models equipped with an automatic transmission, Accord Hybrid uses the paddles to control regen effort in varying levels.

Toggling between the four settings, with increasing levels of regen braking in each, the Accord Hybrid never approaches true, one-pedal operation—it’s far subtler than that.

2018 Honda Accord Hybrid

2018 Honda Accord Hybrid

Enlarge Photo

We found that leaving the paddles alone was good enough for normal operation, although during long downhill stretches, the paddles could be useful. And that may be the point.

Although the third-generation Accord Hybrid is new for Honda, its similarities to the gasoline-powered Accord mean that it will likely blend into the rest of the lineup—its only secret is better fuel economy.

Honda provided airfare, lodging, and meals to enable Internet Brands Automotive to bring you this firsthand report.

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