Honda Unveils 2018 Accord Hybrid With Revised Family Line

Today along with the unveiling of its 10th-generation Accord lineup, Honda revealed its again-revised Accord Hybrid.

The Accord Hybrid was only first released in 2015, then pulled from sales for 2016 as the automaker revised it for 2017 – and brought production to Japan and closer to suppliers – and now again, it has been retooled with the other siblings.

The new 2018 Hybrid also sees production returned to Marysville, Ohio.

In an industry where models are expected to run a few years before a midcycle refresh, the Accord Hybrid has been an exception to the rule, and that may be just as well as Toyota just unveiled its sharp new Camry and hybrid version with up to 52 mpg.

Hybrid

The Accord Hybrid will now be offered with same the trim level/grade options as other Accords – EX, EX-L, EX-L Navi and Touring – whereas before there were three trims.

It has always been a premium offering, and you’ll note “EX” is a designation for upper-level in Honda nomenclature, and the vehicle in 2017 guise is priced from a couple thousand above the Camry Hybrid and others in the heavily populated midsized hybrid class.

The Accord’s hybrid powertrain, now already in its third generation, is expected to have extremely competitive fuel economy from its 2.0-liter Atkinson cycle two-motor architecture. Honda says it will have actual EPA numbers closer to launch in the next few months.

2018 Honda Accord Touring. The new car has more of a coupe-like silhouette but the actual two-door Accord has been nixed this year. (Top photo is a Hybrid. Very few Hybrid photos were suppled by Honda.)

The existing model is rated 49 city, 48 highway, and 48 combined, and no hint was made on how much it could beat these numbers by, but it just might, or so goes Honda’s implication of top fuel economy.

SEE ALSO: 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid Review – Video

So, while there’s not as much to report powertrain-wise except Honda says the car will not disappoint, where it has outdone itself is by delivering a class-leading 16.7-cubic feet of trunk space and 60/40 split rear seatback, exactly the same as the non-hybrid models.

Hybrid sedans and especially converted plug-in hybrids usually have this as a sore spot, as the battery gobbles up trunk room, and often ends the prospect of a split fold-down rear seat for more cargo capability.

Honda did what everyone should do, if they can, and relocated the more-compact new intelligent power unit (IPU) – which contains the battery pack and control systems – under the rear floor instead of in the trunk.

2018 Honda Accord Touring.

As with all the Accords, the Hybrid comes now equipped with Normal and Sport settings, which let the driver dial-up/down the vehicle’s sporting potential. As before, the Hybrid uses no actual transmission, so of course this is all done virtually in the sophisticated car.

The system engages with multiple chassis and drivetrain components, including the new dual-pinion variable-ratio electric power steering (EPS), automatic transmission, drive-by-wire throttle, adaptive dampers and Active Sound Control system. This is all conspired to provide drivers with an expanded range of driving characteristics. An ECON mode is also available to modifying throttle mapping and HVAC operation and thereby help improve fuel efficiency.

More Premium and Sporty

As we’ve seen with other Asian vehicles like the new Prius, and Camry, and others Honda is touting its most “fun to drive” Accord wrapped in evolved design language evoking a further move upscale.

The designers actually sought to make the FWD car look more like a rear-wheel-driver, while working with designers in California to fine-tune the creases, LED lighting, and wider and 2.16 inch longer wheelbase, taking it beyond the midsized class.

2018 Honda Accord Touring.

For road manners, Honda says it has improved the suspension and the stiffer aluminum-intensive chassis with 54.2 percent high strength steel and 29 percent ultra-high-strength steel promises crisp handling.

Better Fuel Economy All Around?

Honda has ditched the V6 in the non-hybrid (in the mid 2000s it actually had a V6 Hybrid which it canceled after its not sell very well), and like other carmakers has gone the turbo four-cylinder route to happier performance and economy numbers.

The economy numbers, as with the Hybrid, are not released yet, and the Hybrid presently trounces its non-turbo four-cylinder siblings with up to 19 mpg better, but the new engines are trick.

2018 Accord 2.0 Turbo with 10 AT.

Replacing a 2.4-liter non-turbo is a 1.5-liter, 16-valve DOHC direct-injected turbo with dual Variable Timing Control (dual VTC). Pushing well over a hundred horses per liter, its output is rated 192 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 192 pounds-feet of torque from 1,500 to 5,000 rpm. This compares nicely to the naturally aspirated 2.4 that is also shelved, which put out 185 horses at 6,400 rpm and 181 pounds-feet at 3,900 rpm.

And, to make people not miss the six-cylinder anymore, Honda borrowed the 2.0-liter from the 2017 Civic Type R. This mill is similarly a 16-valve DOHC direct-injected design with i-VTEC valvetrain paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission. In Sport trim both the new 6-speed manual is available and Honda notes this concession to driver requests. The company was also one of the last to have a manual hybrid, and would that they could find a way to bring those back for those who’d want them …

Horsepower is 252 at 6,500 rpm and torque is 273 pounds-feet from 1,500 to 4,000 rpm – compared to the 3.5-liter V6’s 278 horses at 6,200 rpm and 252 pounds-feet at 4,900 rpm.

Inside

The new Accord’s “larger, more premium and tech savvy” cabin befits the upscale and sporty treatment given the outside.

Thanks to the longer wheelbase, the second-row seats are moved substantially rearward to provide almost two more inches of rear leg room.

Outward visibility from the driver’s seat, always a priority with Honda, has been enhanced with a lower cowl and by front A pillars 20 percent narrower and moved rearward relative to the driver’s seating position.

2018 Honda Accord Hybrid.

Soft-touch material, and three-tier instrumentation and ultra-slim 7-inch TFT driver’s meter and a new 8-inch Display Audio touchscreen interface infotainment are part of the décor. Retained are knobs in strategic locations for people who don’t favor other innovations like haptic feedback interfaces.

Honda has also positioned the seats slightly inboard, which it says provides improved freedom of movement. Another concessions to comfort are longer, wider and more deeply padded front and rear arm rests for the more inviting seats. “New high-accuracy seat padding with variable firmness improves seating comfort and support,” says Honda.

This is an Accord that is nicer than entry Acuras from not very long ago.

Compelling

The new Hybrid builds on what was arguably the most-advanced and definitely the most fuel-efficient midsized hybrid. Midsized sedans are on the decline as Americans now prefer crossovers and SUVs, but Honda hopes to breath new life into what has been its retail best-selling car –that’s now outsold by the CR-V.

SEE: Will Toyota’s 2018 Camry Hybrid Rise Back To The Head of Its Class?

It is hoped/believed a CR-V Hybrid using a similar drivetrain may make its way from where it was just announced for China to North America, but meanwhile the Accord Hybrid goes against the Camry Hybrid, and others in its segment.

Fuel economy bragging rights are still a mystery, but the car looks like it’s the best it’s ever been, and this is what Honda says is the case.


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