The Honda Accord has been in the US car market for a really long time. In fact, the first generation of this popular family sedan was introduced back in 1976, making it one of the oldest vehicles in the Honda lineup. Fun fact: The ’76 model was available as a 5-speed manual or 2-speed semi-automatic with a base price of $3,995.00. 2005 saw the introduction of the first hybrid tech, though it was dramatically redone more than once in the subsequent 18 years. This brings us to the 2023 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring, part of its 11th generation of Accord and one that nails the hybrid tech with great fuel efficiency and a nimble, fun driving experience.
When Honda offered me a week behind the wheel of the 2023 Accord Hybrid Touring, I was enthused to give it a whirl, even if the schedule encompassed Christmas day. Our Colorado weather held out too, with almost no snow and many sub-freezing mornings, but nothing atypical for this time of year. While the vehicle is a bit low to the ground (I spend the vast majority of my time in SUVs or trucks) once I was in, the Accord was comfortable, logically designed, and great fun to drive.
This is Canyon River Blue and it makes for a sleek and sporty-looking sedan that might surprise some people with its Honda medallion, rather than a European luxury sedan logo on the grill. Then again, Honda has had plenty of years to refine the design – it’s the 11th generation of Accord – so perhaps that’s no surprise. This Touring trim set includes 19″ alloy wheels, giving it a nice side profile too.
It’s what’s inside the vehicle that counts, however, since that’s where we spend all our time, so let’s swing into the driver’s seat to see the dash layout and interior controls:
While EV designers are moving towards all-touchscreen interfaces, the Accord has a reassuring heritage of buttons and knobs with very little of a daily drive controlled by the bright 12.3″ infotainment display screen. Notice also how the middle row of the dashboard – hiding the air vents – picks up on the same basic design as the front exterior grill of the car. To be honest, though, I found the inability to see the actual blades of the air vents a bit off-putting since it made it a bit trickier to adjust the airflow for optimal heating or cooling. This also precludes using any sort of clip-on air vent phone holder.
Still, the overall dash design is quite functional and easily understood for long-time drivers. WIndow and lock controls, along with side mirror controls, are all on the driver’s door, drive mode, gear, and mobile device charging features were along the center console, and the climate controls featured big, bright knobs to offer quick feedback during adjustment.
You can see the air vent controls and climate control area better in this pic:
Seat heater and cooler controls, front and rear defrost controls, all pretty easy to manage, though mostly you’ll be turning the left and right dials to attain the desired temp, then pushing “AUTO” to let the car figure out how to get you to that temperature. Easy enough, really, and it would be really interesting to collect data on how drivers use all of these controls too: Do you just set and forget, or are you constantly fiddling with your climate controls?
For rear passengers, they’re rather out of luck with controls:
Old school air vents (where you can see where they’re pointed) with an airflow inhibitor control in the center. That’s it. Below are two handy USB-C charging ports, but that’s all those rear passengers get in the Accord.
The center gauge display was colorful and interesting, with a remarkably snappy feedback display in the center that showed turn indicators, brake lights, and all sorts of interesting feedback as I drove. This is the nighttime view and notice that the left display is hybrid efficiency, not a tachometer. The center of that gauge shows the audiobook I was enjoying too:
The most important part of that display, however, is average fuel efficiency: 39.9 across about 200 miles of driving. This model is actually EPA rated for 46/41 (yes, better in city than highway), and I expect if it were warmer (note the 37ºF temperature) then I would have been eking out an additional few mpg. Being a hybrid, the drive experience was really good, with solid pickup and easy merging into highway traffic. It’s not a Tesla Plaid with hair-straightening EV acceleration, but it also doesn’t have that Plaid price tag either. In fact, you could buy his and hers Accord Hybrids and still have enough left over for a lovely holiday and new top-of-the-line MacBook Pros in place of that $107K Tesla. 🙂
The steering wheel controls were nicely simplified; indeed it appears one of the few spots where Honda’s engineering team is updating the interface for modern times, not just leaning on its design history. I particularly appreciated the symmetry of the design; too few car makers seek to balance their controls for a better aesthetic, but this was very nice in practice. Then again, notice the heavily overloaded control sticks just behind the steering wheel too, all lighting on the left stick, and all windshield wiper controls on the right. Pretty sure that’s how they looked when I had my first car back in 19<cough> or so…
The 12.3″ bright, colorful infotainment screen offered wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, rather de rigueur for modern vehicles. It also retained a column of buttons on the very left outside of the CarPlay/Auto interface that gave you easy access to Honda features. You can see that the company is working with Google in that area too, including this being its first model year to integrate Google Assistant and Google Maps. With such a modern interface, the “FM” seems almost a retro touch.
The center console controls are entirely functional with two big cupholders and a straight forward-backward gear shift dominating. There’s not much to say about that, it all just works logically and is one less cognitive load for a new driver to decipher.
Jumping back to the infotainment display screen, one thing that caught me off guard was the poor resolution and night view of the reverse camera. Most of the vehicles I drive – including my 2017 Mazda – have weirdly clear and easily interpreted rear camera video to help with safety, but the Accord… well, you can see for yourself:
Certainly not a show-stopper but it’s hard to figure out why the image is so pixelated when this exact same low-light scenario yields much better video footage in other vehicles.
Stepping outside the vehicle, let’s start with rear legroom, which was entirely acceptable:
The rear seat still seems to be designed for smaller humans than the front seat, but if you’re a family, this is undoubtedly your situation with the kids in the back while you’re luxuriating with extra legroom in the front. That’s why it’s such a boon when kids finally get old enough to be in the front passenger seat!
The trunk was spacious:
Considering that the rear seats can also be folded down, you can have a decent amount of cargo space, particularly for a sedan. It’s measured at 16.7 cubic feet, though with all the indentations from the wheel wells, etc, that’s a tricky number to calculate.
All told, I really enjoyed my week with the 2023 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring. With the higher torque and snappier performance of the hybrid engine, it adds up to a fun drive with acceleration that lets you nimbly zip in front of those slow trucks when merging onto the highway, and tight brakes that are a feature of the extensive Honda safety tech group. The adaptive cruise control is worthy of note too as it’s basically self-driving: It can slow you all the way down to a stop at a red light, then will accelerate you back up to your target speed as the traffic accelerates on the green light. And 39.9mpg? I definitely appreciated that!
The quirks I noticed were the poor resolution of the night vision reverse camera, the somewhat clumsy air vent controls on the front dash, and the low-to-the-ground design that might challenge some people when entering or exiting the vehicle. Otherwise, two thumbs up for this great addition to the 11th generation of a venerable sedan line from Japan.
2023 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring powered by a 2.0L direct injection 4-cylinder engine with Continuously Variable Transmission. BASE PRICE: $37,890. There were no options included (they’re all part of the Touring package) so the final price simply reflects Destination and Handling: $38,985.00.
Dlsclosure: Honda loaned me this Accord Hybrid for a week of driving (actually, 8 days, as it turned out) in return for this candid review. Thanks, Honda!