Ever since debuting as a 2018 model, the current generation Honda Accord remains one of the benchmarks in the mid-size segment. Why? Because every version is a formidable entry, offering a spacious cabin, fuel-efficient powertrains, great performance, and superb ride and handling. Perhaps the best example is the Accord Hybrid, a car that promises to let you have nearly everything. Refreshed for 2021, does this class leader still have the edge?
2021 Honda Accord Hybrid: What changed for 2021?
The 2021 Honda Accord Hybrid marks the first refresh for the tenth-generation sedan. On the outside, the Accord gets subtle tweaks, including a slightly reworked grille. Certain variants add LED fog lights, revised full LED headlights, and 19-inch alloy wheels (Touring only). The biggest improvements are the addition of wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration on the EX and higher grades, a rear-seat reminder system, and front and rear automatic emergency braking that works at parking lot speeds. Hybrid models get improved braking feel and a revised powertrain that responds quicker and spends more time in EV mode.
2021 Honda Accord Hybrid interior
Thanks to smart packaging, the Accord Hybrid has the same interior volume as the regular variants. Four adults — even tall ones — fit comfortably despite the swoopy roofline. Positioning the lithium-ion battery pack under the rear seats retains the 16.7-cubic-foot trunk and 60/40 split-folding seatbacks just like the non-hybrid Accords.
Perhaps the biggest highlight in the Accord Hybrid’s interior is the level of quality and attention to detail. Every surface you touch feels substantial while all the knobs and buttons have a tactile feel, making them satisfying to us. Together with generous swathes of soft and padded surfaces, the Accord Hybrid’s cabin puts to shame some entry-level luxury cars. The interior could benefit from additional sound deadening, though. On the highway, you hear a little more road noise than expected due to the 19-inch alloy wheels on our Touring test vehicle.
All the tech improvements lead to an improved quality of life in the Honda Accord Hybrid. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integrate seamlessly the moment you get into the car and hit the start button. Honda’s 10-speaker surround sound system in the Accord is one of the better audio units, offering a well-rounded listening experience thanks to equal sound distribution across the whole cabin. The native interface with its 8.0-inch touch screen is a step forward versus older iterations found in other Honda vehicles, offering quick responses and a straightforward layout for menus and shortcut buttons.
2021 Honda Accord Hybrid driving impressions
The Accord Hybrid’s road manners highlight Honda’s engineering prowess. Despite being one of the sharper mid-size sedans, the Accord Hybrid manages to ride comfortably, striking a nice balance between sportiness and cushiness. Thanks to the Touring trim’s standard adaptive dampers, you don’t lose any compliance for the sake of sharp handling. Throw the car into a corner and it willingly dives in for the attack. There’s generous grip from the 235/45R19 Goodyear tires, giving the Accord Hybrid plenty of wiggle room for enthusiastic driving. Excellent body control gives the car a planted feel while the quick, communicative steering lets you know exactly what the front wheels are doing.
Honda’s hybrid system works well in the Accord. Featuring a 2.0-liter I4 coupled to two electric motors and a lithium-ion battery, the powertrain produces 212 hp and 232 lb-ft of torque combined. That allows the Accord to move effortlessly when you put your foot down, especially in Sport mode. The only quibble with the powertrain is the engine, which gets especially loud when you wind it out or ask for full power.
Like other Honda hybrids, the Accord Hybrid feels like an electric car. For most driving situations, the car relies extensively on the electric motor. This cuts fuel use, especially on short drives because the engine barely needs to assist the electric motor. The only time the gas engine helps out is when you’re accelerating assertively or the battery charge is low. When the latter is the case, the 2.0-liter I4 does double duty motivating the car and acting as a generator.
Four levels of regenerative braking help you drive the Accord Hybrid more efficiently and gives you some degree of one-pedal operation. Lifting off the accelerator slows the vehicle down, allowing the electric motor to recharge the battery. The Accord’s transitions between regenerative and mechanical braking are also outstanding, allowing you to stop smoothly consistently.
The version of the Honda Sensing driver assistance suite in the Accord Hybrid is one of the best iterations to date. Lane-keeping assist gently recenters you when you drift out of your lane and can even take easy corners on the freeway as long as the markings are clear. Adaptive cruise control, on the other hand, leaves roughly 1.5 car lengths between you and the vehicle ahead and is one of the smoothest when it comes to accelerating and braking in heavy traffic.
2021 Honda Accord Hybrid pricing
Our test car is a 2021 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring, the range-topping model. As-tested, this example costs $37,195 including the $955 destination fee. An equivalently equipped Toyota Camry Hybrid and Hyundai Sonata Hybrid cost about the same.
Seeing the Honda Accord Hybrid at the top of its segment is no surprise. Excellent driving dynamics, class above build quality, a spacious interior, and a fuel-efficient yet spirited powertrain allows the Accord Hybrid to hit nearly every mark. Although there is room for improvement, the downsides are not deal-breakers. This sedan is proof that you can have a vehicle with next to no compromise and further cementing Honda’s status as an industry leader.
At a glance
- Year: 2021
- Make: Honda
- Model: Accord Hybrid
- Trim: Touring
- Type: 4-door mid-size sedan
- Combined horsepower: 212
- MPG ratings (city/highway/combined): 44/41/43 (Base, EX and EX-L: 48/48/48)
- Pros: Excellent ride and handling, spacious interior
- Cons: Road noise with 19-inch wheels, noisy 2.0-liter
- Base price: $27,325
- Price as tested: $37,195