Accord remains relevant with Hybrid offering

This photo provided by Honda shows the 2021 Accord. The Accord receives a few updates for 2021, including revised styling. (James Halfacre/Courtesy of American Honda Motor Co. via AP)
Caption
This photo provided by Honda shows the 2021 Accord. The Accord receives a few updates for 2021, including revised styling. (James Halfacre/Courtesy of American Honda Motor Co. via AP)

Credit: AP

Steady sedan shows why it’s such a long-standing nameplate in shrinking segment

Staying relevant and current is a big task for most of today’s automotive manufacturers. The industry is changing quickly. The consumer interest drives these trends and what once was chic and trendy is now less so.

Sedans are a prime example of this. Sedans used to be amongst the top-selling vehicles in the United States. Now they’re almost after thoughts. Enter this week’s tester, which is one of the stalwart nameplates amongst sedans and a former top-seller.

The 2021 Honda Accord finds its way through the industry and still manages to keep itself viable and relevant. It does so with some modern restyling and updating and upgrading the hybrid powertrain, providing good fuel economy and attractive looks. Those things still matter, and likely always will.

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It’s true the Honda Accord has played it safe. It offers steady consistency across its offerings. While that doesn’t generate a lot of excitement, from a strictly utilitarian standpoint it resonates. And with a new grille and some modern updates, the Accord Hybrid cues up just enough excitement.

The chromed-out grille looks fresh and modern. Thing, squinty head lamps flank the grille which still feels like it’s playing too safe. Yet it accomplishes its goal of being relevant and modern. The profile is attractive and distinctive. The back end is where all the styling and excitement falls off with a very ho-hum back end. As such, the Accord Hybrid feels incomplete. The front end and profile looks relevant and stylish, but the back end feels quite long-in-the-tooth.

Too often people see hybrid and they think it will be poky. But with two electric motors assisting the 2.0-liter four-cylinder gas engine there’s just enough pep and instant torque to shake off that misnomer. It’s true the numbers on paper look pedestrian. With 212 horsepower, it seems underwhelming, but thanks to the hybrid powertrain it actually overperforms those numbers and drives more like 250 horses instead. Even the continuously variable transmission (CVT) does a good job. I generally have disdain for CVTs but it works here.

I’m not here to pretend this will be exhilarating or fun to drive, but it’s responsive steering and handling does a good job of at least having some personality.

Another misnomer on hybrids is that they lack cargo room. For the Accord Hybrid it defies that myth for sure as it has 16.7 cubic feet of trunk space. That is above average for the midsize sedan segment and certainly is a leader amongst hybrid variants.

As for the rest of the interior the Accord is the Accord. That is neither an endorsement nor an indictment. If you’re familiar and comfortable with the Accord’s interior it hasn’t strayed too far from that successful formula. It focuses on comfort with a back seat that’s comfortable for two adults or three kids. Both legroom and headroom are ample, even as a hybrid. The touchpoints are good and the cabin noise is minimal.

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These are all things that Honda has done well for years and it continues in the 2021 Accord Hybrid. Why mess with a success?

From a tech standpoint, the Accord holds its own. The infotainment system is simple and intuitive. Apple CarPlay is now standard and 8-inch touchscreen is responsive but offers enough knobs to offset any peculiar habits too. I appreciate when automakers provide knobs in addition to touch commands.

My tester had leather seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel to feel extra special. A power moonroof was a nice added feature too.

My tester was the Touring trim which was the top-of-the-line trim and had a starting price of $36,240, which is nearly $10,000 more than the base trim. Honda has started charging for white paint exterior (which is odd) and that combined with a destination fee put my final MSRP at $37,590.

As expected with a hybrid, fuel economy is outstanding with an EPA rating of 44 mpg/city and 41 mpg/highway. In a week’s worth of driving I never fell below a half tank of gas and averaged more than 40 mpg.

Sometimes the best superlatives for a car are the ones that sound the least impressive. Relevant. Consistent. Reliable. Efficient. That’s the 2021 Honda Accord Hybrid.

Jimmy Dinsmore is a freelance automotive journalist. Email him at jimmydinsmore73@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @driversside

2021 Honda Accord Hybrid

  • Price/As tested price................................................ $36,240/$37,590
  • Mileage.......................................... 44 mpg/city; 41 mpg/hwy
  • Engine............................................. 2.0-liter 4-cylinder with electric motors
  • Horsepower................................. 212 hp/129 lbs./ft.
  • Transmission................................. CVT
  • Drive wheels................ Front-wheel drive
  • Final assembly point................ Marysville, Ohio