The Honda Accord has stood the test of time as a benchmark within the midsized sedan mainstream segment. While winning over consumers for several decades and receiving countless accolades, Honda continues to methodically improve upon the Accord, and this year, the Accord receives a redesign marking its 11th generation.
Honda knows they have a good thing going with the Accord, and the redesign for the 2023 model year reiterates their methodical approach with the Accord so as to not mess up a good thing. The new design doesn’t depart very far from the outgoing model but tends to tone things down a bit in more ways than one. Apart from the conservative styling, even in my mid-level Sport-L-trimmed test vehicle, the new 11th-generation Accord carries over the base powertrain but brings in a new hybrid setup for all trims outside of the LX and EX trim. The new hybrid setup, which touts remarkable fuel economy estimates, essentially replaces the outgoing 2.0 turbocharged 4-cylinder that many enjoyed for its robust power output for a front-wheel-drive midsize sedan.
In full transparency, I was not expecting much excitement out of the new Honda Accord, mainly because the 2.0 turbo engine was not making a return for the new generation as the top powertrain choice. However, experiencing the new Honda Accord Sport-L, which gets a new hybrid powertrain, there’s an appreciation for its overall performance when you factor in the ability to get 48 mpg in the real world. That alone is a reason for some excitement, especially when the new Accord hybrid’s power feels ideal for most far outside of the enthusiast realm.
The new hybrid setup uses a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine and an electric motor/generator for a total system output of 204 horsepower and 247 lb-ft of torque. If you’re taking note, that torque figure isn’t all that far from the long-gone 2.0-liter turbocharged powertrain with 273 lb-ft of torque. Not to mention, having the hybrid system’s electric motor gives you a little kick of instant torque from the start. The hybrid setup also uses a continuously variable transmission (CVT), sending power to just the front wheels – the only way the new Accord can be had. The CVT in the new Accord is one of the best on the market, where it reacts quickly to adjust the gearing ratio and feels rather refined with no unwanted deceleration shock or lingering torque when you lift off the throttle after heavy acceleration. Often enough, CVTs of the past suffered from these annoying characteristics.
Honda has managed to provide a seamless experience in its latest hybrid drivetrain in the new Accord. The system is quick to react to your throttle inputs. Acceleration feels strong enough within the legal limits of American roads and highways. Getting up to 60 mph takes 6.7 seconds, which surpasses other comparable midsize mainstream hybrid sedans. Still, the new Accord makes a compromise in not being nearly as quick as the outgoing turbo trims. The 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder makes a return for the new Accord in the base LX and EX trim levels, making 192 horsepower and 192 lb-ft of torque directed through a CVT.
There’s a neat electric vehicle (EV) mode that makes use of the electric motor a priority but will quickly fire up the engine if you demand aggressive acceleration. The EV mode is mostly limited, as you would expect, with the Accord not being a plug-in hybrid. However, Honda allows you to set the hybrid system to purposely charge up its smallish battery pack if you ever want to crawl along using the EV mode at slower speeds. The hybrid system works remarkably to manage power and often shuts down the engine, even at highway speeds. Braking regen is good with a natural feeling except when you press the brakes hard. Firm braking sometimes reveals a transitional feeling of the motor creating drag and then switching to the friction brakes. The feeling is mostly natural, with a seamless transition if you avoid heavy braking. Additionally, there is the ability to adjust the regen to add more momentarily or during your drive on multiple levels by use of the steering wheel shift paddles. At the most aggressive regen setting you basically have a one pedal drive mode with the dashboard vehicle indicator in the digital gauge cluster showing your brake lights come on under heavy regen braking. I found that using the aggressive regen charged up the hybrid battery quickly for later use.
The ride quality of the new Accord is excellent and well-dampened to reduce unwanted body motions and easily soaks up road imperfections. The body remains mostly level going into most turns, and the mostly numb steering feeling is nicely weighted, all giving the driver confidence in piloting the Accord. The stylish darkened 19-inch wheels and tires add to the handling dynamics and looks of the new Accord Sport-L.
In all, the new Accord is improved for its ride quality refinement and feels more stable out on the road from what I remember in the last generation. Moreover, the addition of having an exceptionally efficient hybrid powertrain is now the new exciting part of the new Accord.
The new Honda Accord in the hybrid trims (Sport, EX-L, Sport-L, Touring) prides itself on its fuel efficiency, getting a highway and combined 48 mpg EPA estimate and a 51 mpg city estimate. Those figures are legit, as I experienced during my time with the Accord Sport-L Hybrid. What is even more impressive is that you can easily muster out slightly better fuel economy if you’re inclined to use the battery more at slower speeds. However, on the highway, that figure doesn’t depart far from around 47 to 48 mpg. The system does recover some when it can to use the battery power at the optimal time. Honda has created a remarkable hybrid system that rivals Toyota’s.
The new Honda Accord changes up the interior a bit but not so much as to lose any of its fans. The cabin still cleverly utilizes the space with accommodating seating positions up front for most sized adults. The front heated seats in my Accord Sport-L Hybrid test vehicle are comfy, but feel like they need a bit more lateral support in the upper back area, which has power lumbar. The power front seat adjustments are vast forward and aft, and the rear seating area remains rather large and accommodating for a midsized sedan. Items I thought should be included are rear climate vents and USB ports, which are oddly absent for my test vehicle’s Sport-L trim level but included on higher trims.
The latest infotainment unit fed through a 12.3-inch touchscreen is simple in its operation with a very short learning curve. The one issue I found, if you want to call it an issue, is how Honda groups certain features with the driver profile setting. I became frustrated momentarily with the profile logged in as an actual ‘driver’ instead of a guest account and the driver’s memory seat setting would reset each time I got in the vehicle even though I set a memory setting for #1 and #2. I finally selected a guest account and then saved my memory seat position.
The integration of wireless Apple CarPlay worked well with my iPhone, as I am sure wireless Android Auto does with both having the option of a split screen to simultaneously display one other core infotainment function like the stereo tuning or live hybrid system status. Much like other new Honda vehicles, the controls are placed in an easy-to-reach area along with having a physical volume knob, even though the knob is on the smallish side.
The trunk is on the large side with 16.7 cubic feet, which is a welcomed aspect for a sedan in a world where SUVs are still dominating. The rear 60/40-split seatbacks can be folded for additional storage space.
Bundled in with the Honda Sensing options are all the expected active safety features, including lane departure mitigation, lane keeping assistance, front collision warning with automatic braking, adaptive cruise control, automatic high-beam LED headlights, and parking sensors on certain trim levels. Remarkably, the new 2023 Honda Accord has received the highest IIHS safety ratings, surpassing all other vehicles in its segment.
The new Honda Accord keeps the pricing respectable with only a slight increase, with the base price now starting at $27,295 for the LX trim. Moving up to the Accord Sport-L Hybrid brings the base price to $33,325 before any fees and as high as the starting price of $37,340 for the top Touring Hybrid trim.