My father purchased the Accord Hybrid after seven years of driving an ’04 Accord V6 Luxury, which certainly made an impression.
However, after a minor accident that saw a not inconsiderable repair bill, September 2017 saw us waving farewell to the 2004 Accord V6 Luxury that our family had owned since 2010. Come the time to sell our old Accord, my father was left with a dilemma as to what new car to get.
Unfortunately, the few years following 2010 hadn’t treated Honda very well. The brand was in free fall, and its competitors were moving on, whereas certain Hondas such as the Civic were almost a decade old. And yet, my father still dearly wanted an Accord. The current-model Accord V6 at $52,000 was far over budget, while he seemed unconvinced by alternatives such as the Optima GT, Liberty and the Mazda 6 with near new models floating around the $35K mark. But then, a stroke of luck – a dealer in Northern Sydney posted a listing for this white gem with less than 6000km on the odometer, for half the original price! I felt a pang of regret for the dealer/previous owner of the car.
Long story short, we parked the Accord Hybrid in our driveway the following week.
The exterior design follows the Accord’s exterior design for years (until very recently). The front grille is elegant while still maintaining a very conservative shape. It’s a far cry from the polarising front grille of modern Lexus sedans, the kind Honda envisioned this Accord to be its main rivals. The car is well-proportioned and the striking 18-inch rims match the side view well.
The interior is mostly piano black with mostly soft plastic and (although very convincing) fake wood on the dash and the doors. There is little in the way of button overload. The buttons that adjust the climate control and so on are big and offer just enough resistance to one’s finger that it feels refined and stolid. The front passenger seat is wide, but once sitting down one certainly feels more that they are within the seat than on it. The passenger seat also has a heating function. The glovebox is deep and versatile. Additionally, the cabin is extremely hushed, as one would expect from a hybrid. Often the most audible sound during acceleration is the soft, muted whine of the electric motor.
The back seat, as one would expect from the Accord, is comfortable and can easily seat five adults abreast, provided the shortest sits in the centre seat. The headrests are adjustable within a small range (be careful not to pull them out though) and there is plenty of space under the front passenger/driver seat to sneak your feet under. The car will easily accommodate five people on long journeys, although this is inadvisable, given the anorexic boot space behind the seats. The battery eats up a bunch of space compared to the ICE Accord, and there isn’t even a spare tyre – just a goo can, tools and a jack.
Being in the driver’s seat is as comfortable as can be. The infotainment system with built-in-GPS is intuitive and easy to use, although there is some delay when using the touchscreen. It’s because of this that I prefer using the rotary dial instead. The stalks behind the indicator are heavily weighted and feel solid when used.
On the road, the steering is sharp and responsive, as is the throttle, no doubt due to the 127kW electric motor. However, the transition from pure EV to hybrid drive is not as refined as I’d like, with the petrol engine growling slightly as it starts up. The brake pedal feels solid and is responsive, lacking the wooden feel of the Camry Hybrid’s braking system. Never do I feel there is a lack of power at any speed. Even on the highway at 90km/h, the electric and petrol motor work in tandem to provide sufficient overtaking acceleration. The e-CVT is inaudible in virtually every single situation.
Equipment levels are up there with the top-spec models of other sedans in its class. Adaptive cruise control, AEB, LED auto lights, Honda’s Lanewatch camera, and the list goes on.
Running costs for this car are relatively low. Thanks to the aggressive regenerative braking system and the hybrid system, the indicated consumption figure is 6.6L/100km of regular unleaded, which is impressive for a car of this weight (>1.6 tonnes). Additionally, regular servicing should be cheaper given that brake pad changes will be few and far between. Although we’ve only driven this car for 7000km, several online websites have verified that the car is indeed a durable, solid vehicle.
As a car, the Accord Hybrid is worthy of a high score from me. However, as a consumer proposition, the starting price of 60 grand was laughably high and made the hybrid Camry in comparison look like a bargain. If Honda actually wants to sell Accord hybrids in Australia, this car shouldn’t be any more expensive than the V6 version, which is more powerful with acceptable fuel consumption and identical equipment.
My biggest criticism of this car is the relatively unrefined engine start-up that occurs when it transitions from pure EV to hybrid mode and the dull interior.