It’s a shame that consumers are so obsessed with crossovers, SUVs, and trucks because the traditional four-door sedan is better than ever. Although there are still many choices for the discerning shopper, one standout family sedan offers style, comfort, reliability, safety, and impressive fuel efficiency: the 2022 Honda Accord Hybrid.
Today’s Honda Accord Hybrid is an attractively styled sedan with no hint of its gasoline-electric powertrain. At first glance, most would swear the sleek car is a five-door hatchback but credit the designers who cleanly crafted a traditional four-door sedan with a large trunk opening. In addition, everything is pleasantly proportioned, and the panel sculpting is attractive, well integrated, and never appears overplayed. Lastly, the large greenhouse provides an excellent outward view for passengers (Honda’s large exterior mirrors always help).
The Accord’s interior is cavernous – again, without feeling compromised by the hybrid powertrain. Passengers will enjoy plenty of space in both rows, and the materials and build quality are excellent. Overall, the cabin is much more premium in terms of material quality and design than the sticker price would imply (the as-tested price of this Touring model was a reasonable $37,195). The trunk is spacious, too, quickly swallowing a family’s worth of luggage and bags.
While the exterior and interior styling of the hybrid differs very little from its combustion-only siblings, there’s a world of change under the hood. The hybrid utilizes some very complex (thinking out-of-the-box) technology to improve efficiency while reducing the number of moving parts in the powertrain. For example, instead of simply adding an electric motor to a combustion powertrain (the standard route most automakers take), Honda uses two separate electric motors that allow them to eliminate the transmission.
In a nutshell, Honda fits the Accord Hybrid with a naturally-aspirated 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 143 hp and 129 lb-ft of torque – a wet clutch adapts its direct drive unit to the wheels. Motor #1 is only used as a starter and a generator (it cannot drive the wheels). Motor #2 is directly connected to the wheels for propulsion. The combustion engine creates electricity at speeds below about 45 mph, so motor #2 may drive the vehicle. At higher speeds, the wet clutch engages, and the combustion engine can propel the car (with as-needed assistance from motor #2).
The hybrid unit operates without input from the driver, but Honda provides three different drive modes for those who wish to customize its performance. NORMAL mode is the default setting, allowing the hybrid powertrain to optimize for the accelerator and brake inputs. SPORT mode quickens the reaction of the electric power steering (EPS), Agile Handling Assist becomes more aggressive, the throttle response is quicker, and the Active Sound Control provides a sportier exhaust note. And in the Touring model I am reviewing, the dampers are made firmer. Finally, ECON mode maximizes fuel efficiency by reducing climate control output and dampening the response of the throttle response.
Despite the complex powertrain, the Honda Accord Hybrid drives nearly indistinguishably from its combustion siblings (the automaker put a lot of effort into ensuring the throttle response and sounds are familiar to combustion vehicle drivers). Mash the accelerator from a standstill, and it will zip from rest to 60 mph in about 6.5 seconds, which is plenty quick for a hybrid. It’s not exactly a sports car around town, but it has plenty of torque off the line when pulling into traffic or trying to beat the other car to the onramp. And it cruises effortlessly down the highway – it wouldn’t be a challenge to squeeze 600-plus miles of range out of a single tank of unleaded fuel.
Honda has done a remarkable job keeping the hybrid’s weight down – the curb weight is just about 3,450 pounds (about 200 pounds lighter than a Chevrolet Corvette sports car). Most hybrids feel heavy and ponderous from behind the wheel, but the Accord Hybrid feels sporty and agile. Driving through canyons is enjoyable, although the low rolling resistance tires limit the ultimate cornering grip. The steering effort feels good, and the regenerative brakes inspire confidence.
The EPA rates the 2022 Honda Accord Hybrid at EPA ratings are 44 city/41 highway/43 combined and averaged about 40-45 mpg each time I drove it – acting as if I was driving just another comfortable Accord. Interestingly enough, the Touring model that I tested delivers slightly worse fuel economy (nearly five percent) compared to the standard Hybrid model. Blame the beautiful but heavier 19-inch alloy wheels.
After a week with the Honda Accord Hybrid, it was difficult to hand back the keys because it was always enjoyable to drive, everyone who rode in the sedan found the cabin comfortable, and I averaged well over 40 mpg. While some consumers may need a crossover, SUV, or truck, I’m betting that most would be much happier with the fun-to-drive, stylish, and fuel-efficient 2022 Honda Accord Hybrid.
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