Test Drive: New Accord Hybrid Touring is something special

The Honda Accord, one of the longest-running nameplates on the automotive scene, has never failed to impress. We thought it was a great car the first time we rode in one in 1985, and Honda has done nothing to diminish our opinion of its flagship sedan. But the 2017 Accord Hybrid Touring truly is something special.

Priced at $36,790, the Accord Hybrid is the brand’s fuel-economy leader. Equipped with a 2-liter, 4-cylinder engine and two electric motors, this full-sized sedan is rated at 49 mpg in the city, 47 highway. We topped 50 mpg on some of our trips in the Accord.

2017 Honda Accord Hybrid

Driving the Accord from western Connecticut to southern Maine, and later, to southern New Jersey, we sometimes wondered whether the fuel gauge was stuck — but it was working just fine. To say the car sipped gasoline exaggerates its thirst. With its 15.8-gallon gasoline tank, it’s capable to leaving 758 miles of pavement under its wheels after every fill-up.

Of course, there’s much more to the Accord Hybrid, especially in Touring trim. It’s a near-luxury sedan, with the latest safety technology, navigation system, leather upholstery, premium audio system, satellite radio, CarPlay/Android Auto integration, Pandora internet radio interface, text-messaging functionality, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front and rear seats, power moonroof and much more. Our test car had no options.

The base Honda Accord LX starts at $22,455, and it’s no slouch on the fuel-economy front at 27 mpg city, 36 highway. The base hybrid model starts at $29,605.

We were surprised to discover the Accord Hybrid is selling exceptionally well, despite historically low gasoline prices that tend to steer buyers away from fuel-efficient vehicles. Honda expects to sell 30,000 Accord Hybrids this year after building 14,000 in 2015. (The hybrid section took a year off to transition manufacturing from Ohio to Japan.)

A number of other companies, including Ford, Toyota, Chevrolet and Hyundai, build similarly priced hybrid sedans, but Honda’s entry tops the rest in fuel economy — prime motivating factor for people who choose hybrids.

The Accord Hybrid brings all of the conventional Accord’s good qualities — smooth ride, crisp handling, reliability, roomy interior, impeccable fit and finish — to the table. The hybrid system was unobtrusive, with one qualifier: Under moderate to hard acceleration, the engine sounded and even felt like our old Volvo 740 turbo wagon did when its clutch was failing. We found this trait a little disturbing at first, but eventually dismissed it as a small price to pay for the Accord Hybrid’s incredible fuel-economy performance.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rated the 2017 Accord a Top Safety Pick. The Accord’s accident-avoidance electronics include the Honda Sensing system: collision-mitigation braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, forward collision warning, lane-departure warning and road-departure mitigation. It’s also equipped with Honda Lanewatch, which gives the driver a view to the rear on the passenger side of the car.


2017 Honda Accord Hybrid

2017 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring

Price: $36,790

Engine: 2.0-liter inline Four gasoline-electric hybrid, 212 horsepower, 232 lb.-ft. torque

Transmission: electric continuously variable

Drive: front-wheel

Weight: 3,536 lb.

Suspension: MacPherson strut front, multi-link rear

Wheels: 17×7.5-in. alloy

Tires: 225/50R17 all-season

Seating capacity: 5

Luggage capacity: 13.7 cu. ft.

Fuel capacity: 15.8 gal.

Fuel economy: 49 mpg city, 47 mpg highway

Fuel type: regular unleaded gasoline

Steven Macoy (semacoy@gmail.com) is a longtime car enthusiast and full-time editor who lives in Bethel, Conn.