First Drive: 2018 Honda Accord Hybrid Is A No Compromise Green Machine

When Honda unveiled the 2018 Accord over the summer, the company didn’t say much about the Accord Hybrid. That’s changing today as we recently test drove an early pre-production model in New Hampshire.

Set to go on sale early next year, the 2018 Accord Hybrid has been designed to be virtually identical to the standard model. As American Honda Motor’s Senior Vice President and General Manager explained, consumers won’t “notice the difference” without seeing the hybrid badges.

Judging by my time behind wheel, the company has largely succeeded in that mission as the car drives just like its gasoline counterparts. Of course, there are subtle changes as the hybrid is extremely quiet when started and makes little noise when cruising at slow speeds. Getting out onto the road, I initially thought the hybrid was slightly louder than its counterparts but an extended test drive later in the afternoon proved that wasn’t the case.

Speaking of driving, the Accord Hybrid offers the same impressive handling as the standard model and acceleration doesn’t seem to take a hit. The car also comes with four different levels of brake regeneration but, in the stock setting, everything felt pretty normal.

Since the car is still several months away from being launched, Honda was relatively coy on specifics. However, the company confirmed the Accord Hybrid has 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 143 hp (106 kW) and 129 lb-ft (174 Nm) of torque. It is backed up by a lithium-ion battery and an electric motor that develops 181 hp (135 kW) and 232 lb-ft (314 Nm) of torque. Honda says this gives the car a combined maximum output of 212 hp (158 kW).

If that setup sounds familiar, it is as the 2017 Accord Hybrid has identical specifications across the board. Despite sounding like a carryover powertrain, Honda says it’s a third-generation hybrid system which offers “improved power delivery” and greater thermal efficiency. The powertrain is also more compact which enables the 2018 model to have 60/40-split folding rear seats and the same 16.7 cubic feet (472.9 liters) of cargo space as the standard model.

Additional information will be released closer to launch but the hybrid has a number of unique touches to separate it from its conventionally powered counterparts. These include the usual hybrid badges as well as a revised instrument cluster which sees the tachometer replaced by a Power / Charge display. The hybrid also features a unique HUD display and special 17-inch alloy wheels.

Honda declined to release pricing or fuel economy figures but the company confirmed plans for a new entry-level model. This suggests the 2018 Accord Hybrid will be more affordable than its predecessor which started at $29,605.

Photo Credits: Mike Gauthier / CarScoops

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