Emma Jayne Williams

Newest generation of Honda’s Accord debuts for 2018, includes hybrid model

The Honda Accord Hybrid has been redesigned for 2018 with a new exterior look and a roomier cabin.
The Honda Accord Hybrid has been redesigned for 2018 with a new exterior look and a roomier cabin. Honda

The Accord, Honda’s best-selling midsize sedan and the 2018 North American Car of the Year, has been completely redesigned for 2018 as it enters its 10th generation, along with the third generation of the Accord Hybrid, with best-in-class cabin space, power, and cargo capacity.

Excellent fuel economy and above-average handling and acceleration help make the Accord Hybrid a class leader.

For 2018, the hybrid has a new look, new technology and safety features, and even more interior space. Moving to a four-cylinder engine across the lineup allows for a shorter engine bay, and a longer wheelbase allows the second-row seats to be moved rearward, thus allowing 1.9 inches more legroom in the rear.

Moving the new, more compact intelligent power unit (IPU) containing the battery pack and its control systems from the trunk to a space under the floor allows the Accord Hybrid to get the same 60/40 split-folding rear seat and the same cargo space as the standard Accord – 16.7 cubic feet, an increase of 3.2 cubic feet.

The Accord Hybrid now has five trim levels (two new) – Hybrid ($25,100), EX ($28,890), EX-L ($31,440), EX-L with Navi ($32,440), and Touring ($34,710) – and a more-affordable lower starting price.

Once-optional standard safety features such as adaptive cruise control, forward collision mitigation, blind-spot monitoring, and lane-departure warning add to the value of the base hybrid. Each trim builds on the previous one, offering upgrades and options as you go.

The powertrain for 2018 is the same: an efficient 2.0-liter VTEC turbo four-cylinder engine mated to a pair of powerful electric motors – one to start the engine, one to accelerate from a dead stop – both fed by a lithium-ion battery pack.

The system produces a class-leading 212 horsepower and is EPA-rated for 47 mpg, an impressive number for a car of this size. The two-motor system operates without the need for a conventional automatic transmission, using an electronically continuously variable transmission (e-CVT) with sport mode.

Steering-wheel-mounted deceleration paddle selectors, similar to transmission paddle shifters, allow the driver to toggle among four levels of regenerative braking performance – the right paddle increases regenerative braking, while the left paddle reduces regenerative braking – helping to maximize energy generation, while reducing stress on the brakes.

The Accord Hybrid’s powertrain shifts seamlessly among EV Drive (100 percent electric), Hybrid Drive (electric and gasoline), and Engine Drive (gasoline) to accommodate driving conditions.

A separate Eco-Assist system uses color-changing lights (ambient meter) on the dash to help drivers monitor the efficiency of their driving. Accelerating rapidly or riding the brakes, for example, will cause the lights to turn blue. More efficient driving – accelerating slowly and evenly, releasing the accelerator instead of applying the brake – will cause the lights to glow green. The more the green, the better the mileage.

An Econ button can adjust engine, transmission, climate control, and cruise control to help improve fuel economy by making it impossible to employ wasteful driving habits.

For this review, I drove a top-of-the-line Accord Hybrid Touring in Obsidian Blue Pearl, riding on standard 17-inch silver and gray wheels with five stylized “D” spokes wearing all-season tires.

Honda’s signature chrome wing front grille, placed above a large main air intake highlighted the bold, upright front fascia. The grille was flanked by dusk-sensing, nine-lamp full-LED headlights with daytime running lights, and automatic high beam control, and four-lamp LED fog lights set into the outer bumper. The chrome wing extended from fender to fender, across the top of the headlights and main grille.

The outer edges of the chiseled hood were sharp and nearly vertical. Deeply sculpted body sides accented the length and strength of the lower body, with a chrome strip running the length of the lower door crease. In the rear, an upswept decklid, distinctive LED light-pipe taillights and integrated dual chrome exhaust ports finished the low, wide view.

Set farther back on the body, the sweeping greenhouse completed the new aggressive stance of this generation. Thanks to a lower cowl and front roof pillars that are 20 percent narrower and moved rearward at the bottom, my new Accord Hybrid had a panoramic forward view.

Seven additional exterior colors are available: White Orchid Pearl, Crystal Black Pearl, Champagne Frost Pearl, Lunar silver metallic, Modern Steel metallic, Radiant Red metallic, and Kona Coffee metallic. Interiors are available in black, ivory, or gray, in leather or cloth.

My Accord Hybrid had perforated leather seating in gray, heated and ventilated in the front, and heated in the rear (outboard, bottom and back). New seating featured taller shoulder bolstering for better lateral support.

Dark, simulated wood trimmed the door panels and the dash, with small strips of brushed aluminum on the console, center stack, vents, control knobs, and door panels.

The dual-zone automatic climate control system with air filtration featured control knobs with lights that changed from blue (for low temperatures) to red (for higher temperatures).

A multi-angle rearview camera offered three different angles – normal, top-down, and wide – for better viewing behind the vehicle while reversing. A new eight-inch display audio touch-screen interface had physical volume and tuning knobs – for us old-school folks.

Lots of customizable app tiles and home-screen shortcuts, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and Wi-Fi-enabled over-the-air system updates intensify the new Accord Hybrid’s appeal.

Next-generation HondaLink telematics included new capabilities such as emergency roadside assistance, remote lock/unlock and start, stolen-vehicle tracking, remote diagnostics, geofencing, speed tracking, and internet content such as music, podcasts, navigation, traffic, local weather, points of interest, and much more.

My Touring also featured a new six-inch driver’s head-up display, a wireless charging station under the center stack, 4G LTE in-car Wi-Fi (music, apps, social media, movies, or games), and automatic phone pairing with Near Field Communication technology.

NFC allows users to quickly pair an Android phone with the vehicle by tapping on a stylized N to the left of the audio system on the dash, where an NFC tag is buried. Most newer smartphones include an NFC chip for Apple Pay and Android Pay. IPhone, however, does not allow accessibility to any other app. Honda is the first mainstream automaker to include an NFC tag to allow instant smartphone pairing.

A premium audio system with 10 speakers included HD radio and satellite radio with real-time traffic, sharing the display with Honda navigation, the rear cross-traffic monitor, and the multi-view camera.

The Garmin-based navi system featured HD digital traffic, intriguing 3-D renderings of terrain and buildings, lane guidance split screen for road signs and exits, simplified voice recognition, and free map updates for five years.

Honda Sensing safety and driver-assistive technologies are standard equipment for Accord Hybrid. The suite includes a collision-mitigation braking system, lane-departure warning, road-departure mitigation, adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow and, for the first time, traffic-sign recognition.

Additional driver-assist technologies include blind-spot information, front and rear parking sensors, and driver-awareness monitor. We experienced the driver-awareness warning on a long road trip, when we were both tired.

Standard advanced active and passive safety systems include vehicle stability assist with traction control, antilock brakes with electronic brake booster, advanced front air bags, driver and front-passenger side air bags and new driver and front-passenger knee bags. Walk-away auto locking was standard on my hybrid.

My Accord Hybrid was comfortable for our long trip, but a little noisy. We didn’t achieve the 47 mpg stated, coming in at 44.5 mpg, probably due to some semi-aggressive highway driving.

The hybrid system had excellent overtaking power. But the Eco Assist System seemed distracting to me.

The cabin was roomy, although we didn’t have passengers to share it. The trunk would hold all the luggage needed for a car full of passengers for a long weekend.

Entry and exit were somewhat difficult, due to the low seating position.

My fully-equipped Accord Hybrid Touring delivered for $35,605, including destination charges of $895.

The automotive columns of Emma Jayne Williams have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 2007. Contact her at emmajayne1948@gmail.com.