One of the luxuries? Not having to stop at the gas station so often.
The Honda Accord sedan was my first car crush (I’ve probably mentioned this before). It was the car I wanted more than anything. I would sigh after in traffic. This gas-and-go car never broke down, cost very little to maintain and its boxy sedan shape had an elegance to it.
But, I was 16.
I’ve grown up a bit since then. My tastes have matured, my expectations have evolved and my demands now include luxury.
All Grown Up, but Still Smart and Stylish
Luckily, the Honda Accord has grown up, too, and it’s aged well—not something that every car can say after 44 years. It continues to evolve its exterior look with sharper, more aerodynamic lines and classic sedan style. But it’s still very affordable and reliable, and now, there’s a hybrid edition at every trim level. So you can get 48 MPG starting at about $25,000 and it tops out fully loaded at about $36,000.
Inside the Honda Accord Hybrid has an evolved look and feel, too. It has a pushbutton gear selector rather than the lever shifter that we’re all used to. This is something that Honda has been rolling out in its large SUVs and in its luxury Acura line (luxury!) and personally, I like it; it gives the cabin a more open feeling and the gear shifter isn’t in the way when reaching for charge cords or your coffee cup.
The front passenger cabin is roomy and comfortable too, though this is definitely a driver’s car more than one for multiple passengers. While the rear seats are roomy too, back seat passengers will have to ask front seat passengers to plug in their devices; there isn’t a power port in the back seat.
Though, from the front I did find the rear seat an easy place to put my handbag. From the front it was easy to reach both on the seat and on the rear floor.
Great Features and a Confident Drive Make a Great First Impression
The model I test drove, the Touring edition, is the top of the line and fully loaded with features like leather seats, head up display and a wireless charge pad. That it was nice was not a surprise to me.
But it was to my friend George, who couldn’t get over how nice the Accord Hybrid is. He was particularly taken by the quality finishes — wood-grain, leather and chrome panels on the dashboard and door panels, heated and cooled seats, and that head up display, which always wows— in a car priced at $36,000. And, he was impressed by the car’s power and quiet acceleration. The hybrid never felt compromised or sluggish; it moved confidently through Los Angeles traffic like a pro. And, we were able to talk quietly and then, turn up the music, and both sounded great, even in heavy traffic.
Hello Awesome Technology – Even In the Base Model
This is one thing that gets me fan-girling over Honda: Driver assist and advanced safety features are standard. This includes:
- Lane keep assist
- Adaptive cruise control
- Forward collision warning
- Collision mitigation braking system
- Cross-traffic warning
- Sign recognition, which recognizes and displays road signs!
Also keeping you safe on the road in the Touring edition is a head Up Display, which displays key information – like those road signs!– in your field of vision on the windshield.
And, there’s AppleCarPlay and Android Auto, which pop up immediately when you plug in your phone. There is one USB port in the cubby under the center console (which connects your phone to the infotainment system) and one in the center console (which does not connect to the infotainment system).
It’s worth noting however, that while Honda Sensing is standard on the base model, you have to upgrade to the EX model (one step up) to get Apple CarPlay, a $2,300 upgrade that also comes with blind spot monitors, heated front seats and a moonroof.
Deceleration Paddles: A Feature Typically Found on EVs
And, they let you game your fuel economy.
Say what? Yes, you actually get better fuel economy. As in… typical driving may yield 48 MPG; add a few fun on-ramp charges in sport mode and it drops to 44MPG. But tap the decelerator paddle as traffic slows, as you head down a hill or crawl through stop-and-go traffic and boom: you get those MPGs back and then a few. (Or, drive in sport mode and still beat the MPG of the gas model, as you can see.)
The deceleration paddle essentially provides light braking by downshifting the transmission and using the engine’s power to slow the car (and yes, it illuminates the car’s brake lights!). As the engine slows the car, the unused energy that’s been produced is fed back into the battery, or regenerated. This is the foundation of all hybrids, and in the Honda system you can actually enhance the amount of regen by using the paddles.
The left paddle, which has a “—” symbol, can be pulled up to four times to continually increase the amount of regen braking. However, once you begin to accelerate, it releases. The right paddle, which has a “+” symbol, reduces the amount of regen braking being used. This might be useful in stop and go traffic or to pick up speed on a downhill descent.
Deceleration paddles aren’t a feature you’ll find on most gas/battery hybrids; they are common on EVs, though. Honda added them since the brand uses a similar two-motor hybrid system to the one in its electric cars.
And I like it. I was able to add miles to my range, to learn when and where I got the most benefit from using the deceleration paddle and game my MPG. This adds a whole new level of fun on hilly roads and in slow traffic.
The Hybrid Vs. Gas Accord: Is Hybrid Worth the Added Expense?
Good question. Let’s compare! The difference in the price of the hybrid versus the gas model is about $1,600. The gas model gets a very respectable 34 MPG city/highway combined fuel economy and the hybrid gets about 48 combined. At California gas prices—assuming driving about 15,000 miles and paying about $4 a gallon— it’ll take about 3.5 years for the added $1,600 price of the hybrid model to pay for itself. In places like Texas or Georgia where gas is still $2.50 or so, it could take 5.5 years to make up the difference.
If you drive 20,000 miles a year, and a lot of us do, it’ll take 2.5 years at $4 a gallon to recoup the investment; at $2.50 a gallon it’ll take about 4 years.
Keep in mind that if you are the type to drive a car 100,000 miles or more, the investment will definitely pay off; if the price of gas spikes, and it’s been known to, you’ll benefit; and the resale price may carry a bit of a premium over the gas model, too.
What the 2020 Honda Accord Hybrid Costs
The 2020 Accord Hybrid has a standard 2 liter engine with a two-motor hybrid system that produces 212 horsepower (vs 192 HP in the gas model) and is rated to get 48 MPG city/47 MPG highway with 48 MPG average (compared to 30 MPG city/38 MPG highway for the gas model). Trim level pricing shakes out like this:
- Hybrid base model includes econ, EV and sport mode selectors, deceleration paddles for better fuel economy, Honda Sensing driver assist and safety technology, smart key with push button start and smart entry and lock, 60/40 folding rear seats, automatic high beam headlights and a multi-angle rear view camera, $25,620
- EX Hybrid adds power moonroof, blind spot monitor with cross traffic alert, heated front seats, power driver’s seat, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, $27,920
- EX-L Hybrid adds leather seating, driver’s memory seat, premium sound, $30,420
- Touring model adds head up display, cooled front seats, wireless phone charger, wifi hotspot, heated rear seats, rain sensing wipers , side mirrors that tilt down when in reverse gear, ambient interior lighting, $36,250
Go Ahead, Sigh Away
The Honda Accord is one of those cars with such classic elegant design that you find yourself looking twice and yes, at least for me, sighing. And with the added fuel economy, the roomy, sophisticated cabin and great technology, feeling good behind the wheel or in the passenger seat is natural.
What We Listened to in the Honda Accord Hybrid
The Touring edition includes a premium sound system; that, paired with the quiet ride makes for a perfect listening experience. Here’s what sounded really great in this car.
Disclosure: the Honda Accord Hybrid was provided for this review; all opinions are my own.