2020 Honda Accord Hybrid Review

Christian Wardlaw | Jan 02, 2020

Introduction

In the kingdom of midsize sedans, the Honda Accord has long reigned supreme when it comes to retail sales. Translated, that means consumers like you choose it more often than the competition, without sales to businesses like rental car and government fleets.

This is an important distinction because it reflects the Accord’s enduring popularity with everyday car buyers. Since its last redesign for 2018, the Honda Accord has combined full-size comfort and convenience with a midsize price. Furthermore, it comes in a variety of appealing trim levels and configurations, including an excellent but often overlooked Accord Hybrid version.

Priced just $1,600 higher (and in one case $960 lower) than an equivalent gas-engine Accord, the Accord Hybrid is rated to get 48 mpg in combined driving. Better yet, the hybrid powertrain doesn’t encroach upon interior space, leaving the car’s huge cabin and giant trunk intact. For the 2020 model year, the only change to the Accord is a futuristic-sounding noise emitted at low speeds to make sure pedestrians know the car is operating nearby.

2020 Honda Accord Hybrid Blue Front Quarter ViewCurious to put the Accord Hybrid to the test, J.D. Power evaluated one with Touring trim and standard equipment. The price came to $36,070, including the $930 destination charge. For comparison, an equally equipped Accord Touring with its standard turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder costs $960 more than the Hybrid.

What Owners Say…

Before we discuss the results of our evaluation of the 2020 Accord Hybrid, it is helpful to understand who buys the Accord, and what they like most and least about their midsize cars.

The Honda Accord is popular with men. According to J.D. Power data, 67% of Accord owners are male (vs. 63% for the segment). Accord owners are a median age of 55 years old (vs. 54) and they earn more money in terms of median annual household income ($100,987 vs. $85,976). Like all midsize car owners, people who buy the Accord primarily identify as Practical Buyers. They are more likely to identify as Performance Buyers, though (12% vs. 8%).

Accord owners closely align with the owners across the midsize car segment when it comes to what they value in a new vehicle. The largest differences in sentiment relate to environmentalism and image. More Accord owners agree that they’re willing to pay extra for a vehicle that is environmentally friendly (65% vs. 60%). Fewer Accord owners agree that to them a vehicle is just a way of getting from place to place (46% vs. 50%).

People who buy the Accord do, however, have strong feelings related to quality, maintenance, reliability, and performance. When it comes to high maintenance costs, 74% of Accord owners strongly agree that they avoid such vehicles (vs. 68%). In terms of reliability, 72% strongly agree that it is a first consideration when choosing a new vehicle (vs. 68%). The data also shows that 58% of Accord owners strongly agree that a first consideration when choosing a new vehicle is the quality of workmanship (vs. 49%). Finally, 52% of Accord owners strongly agree that they like a vehicle with responsive handling and strong acceleration (vs. 46%).

Owners say their favorite things about the Accord are (in descending order) the storage and space, interior design, and in a 3-way tie the exterior styling, the driving dynamics, and the seats. Owners indicate their least favorite things about the Accord are (in descending order) the visibility and safety, engine/transmission, infotainment and climate control systems (in a tie), and fuel economy.

What Our Expert Says… 

In the sections that follow, our expert provides her own perceptions about how the 2020 Honda Accord Hybrid measures up in each of the 10 categories that comprise the J.D Power 2019 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study.

Exterior

Depending on whom you ask, the latest version of the Accord is a standout when it comes to looks. In my opinion, the bulging hood and horizontal grille and headlamps are my least favorite aspects of the car, but it’s quickly forgiven as the eyes are drawn to the coupe-like profile with its sharp creasing along the flanks, concluding in a pert spoiler-like ledge in the rear.

My test vehicle was wrapped in an attractive Obsidian Blue paint, and while the 17-inch wheels of the Hybrid versions aren’t as imposing as some of the bigger options, I prefer the design to the 19-inch wheels that come standard with the 2.0T Touring. Otherwise, the only visual differences between the Hybrid and the gas-engine Accord are some badges.

Interior

The test car’s cabin was dressed in a Gray color scheme which contrasted nicely with the black carpet and dark simulated matte-finish wood trim. Supple perforated leather upholstery and high-quality materials are abundant in the upper portion of the cabin, but as is typical in this segment, the lower and further back you go, the more inexpensive the plastics look and feel.

From previous experience with this car, I love the look of the Ivory interior color, but you can only get it with a white, beige, or red exterior. I would suggest that the Obsidian Blue with the Ivory cabin would make a very appealing choice, but Honda doesn’t give you that option.

Seats

The 12-way power driver’s seat provides a good piloting position, but I’m always disappointed to find high-end trim levels lacking a front passenger’s seat height adjuster. This is especially true in a sedan; not only does the seat lack thigh support, but without height adjustment you can’t raise the seating hip point for easier entry and exit.

The Accord’s rear seats are quite accommodating, with plenty of shoulder and leg room. Even those long of limb should have no trouble settling in. There are air conditioning vents and two USB charging ports are an extra-cost, dealer-installed option.

Climate Control System

A three-knob setup with four buttons in between makes the climate control easy to use, and it quickly brought the cabin to the desired temperature. I was also impressed by how fast the window defogger worked and how effective the heated front and rear seats were during chilly morning school runs. For summertime, the Touring trim level equips the car with ventilated front seats.

Infotainment System

Standard for most Accords, and perched at the top of the dashboard, an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment display is so much easier to use than in previous Accords. Large stereo knobs and primary function buttons along the two sides make the system instantly intuitive, and every Accord with the 8-inch display includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Touring trim includes a head-up display, which is useful for keeping an eye on your speed without taking your eyes off the road, while the wireless phone charger kept devices charged and ready for use.

Storage and Space

According to J.D. Power data, Honda Accord owners love the amount of storage and space inside of this car. I agree that it impresses, from a large center console bin with a convenient place to hold and wirelessly charge a smartphone, to a sizable glovebox and useful door bins.

More impressive, though, is the trunk, which is absolutely huge. It offers 16.7 cu.-ft. of highly usable space, able to accommodate four full-size suitcases plus backpacks for everyone. I even used it to transport seven folding chairs to a holiday party – and they didn’t even take up all of the space.

Unlike with some hybrid sedans, the Accord Hybrid’s trunk is the same size as the standard model because the battery pack is located under the rear seats.

Visibility and Safety

For me, the Accord’s thick, sloping windshield pillars block outward visibility when turning left or right on a busy cross street. At the same time, the standard multi-angle rearview camera helps you get into and out of tight parking spaces.

People buy family sedans to carry their families, which means owners have a vested interest in keeping them safe. Top-notch crash safety scores from both the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) suggest the Accord will do that.

Every 2020 Accord also benefits from Honda Sensing, an integrated system that combines lane departure warning and lane keeping assist, as well as forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking. Accords with EX trim and higher get a blind-spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert.

Engine/Transmission

In the Accord Hybrid, Honda utilizes a unique two-motor hybrid system that produces a combined total of 212 horsepower and 232 lb.-ft. of electric motor torque. You can choose between three driving modes: EV Drive mode allows you to drive solely with the electric motor, Engine Drive utilizes the gas motor, while Hybrid Drive continually uses both to maximize power and efficiency as is necessary.

Power is delivered to the front wheels through an eCVT, an electric continuously variable transmission. It makes an unseemly droning noise that intrudes upon the cabin but is otherwise seamless in terms of operation. To choose gears, the driver selects from a row of buttons in lieu of a traditional lever shifter. In my experience, this is a suboptimal arrangement.

Fuel Economy

Owners cite the Accord’s fuel economy as their least favorite aspect of ownership. At 41.2 mpg, my own result during a week with the Accord Hybrid fell well short of the EPA’s posted average of 48 mpg. Still, getting that kind of mileage out of what is essentially a full-size family car without even trying, you can’t help but feel like you’re making out like a bandit.

Think of it. The Accord Hybrid suffers no compromises in terms of trunk or rear seat space. You’ll easily get more than 40 mpg without making any extra effort. With its 12.5-gallon gas tank (the regular Accord has a 14.8-gallon tank) you’ll go almost 500 miles before needing to fuel up. And when you do, the bill won’t be as high.

If you want to improve on my fuel economy average, use the car’s Econ and EV modes with every chance you get, go light on the accelerator pedal, and drive mainly in traffic. Greater efficiency is yours with a little extra effort.

Regardless of how you drive, the Accord Hybrid is a terrific way to raise your eco-consciousness without any significant compromises.

Driving Dynamics

The Honda Accord has always been far more enjoyable to drive than other family sedans, exhibiting a degree of agility, balance and communicability often lacking in other family haulers. The result is a serene ride without any loss of feel for the road, combined with light yet responsive and precise steering. As such, it’s as home on the freeway as it is on twisty back roads, making it a joy to drive at all times.

Specific to the Accord Hybrid, I was happily surprised to find that brake feel and modulation don’t suffer the grabbing and lurching exhibited by many regenerative braking systems. However, the additional weight of the hybrid components does result in more harshness over bumps at highway speeds. Plus, you never quite get used to the eCVT’s droning.

These compromises, though, are more than offset by the car’s fuel-sipping ways.

Final Impressions

Despite the siphoning of customers from traditional cars into crossover utility vehicles, it’s truly the golden age of sedans. It’s hard to find a bad one. And the Honda Accord remains among the best choices in the segment. After all, in the J.D. Power 2019 Automotive Performance, Execution, and Layout (APEAL) Study, the Accord tied for top ranking with the Nissan Altima and Toyota Camry.

This ranking is deserved. The Honda Accord is one of those vehicles that does almost everything superbly, and it certainly knocks the hybrid equation out of the park. Buying one may not be the most exciting choice, but you’ll almost certainly never regret your purchase.

Explore new car previews
2020 Subaru Outback Preview
2020 Subaru Outback Preview
Introduced at the 2019 New York International Auto Show, the 2020 Subaru Outback has been optimized to offer better fuel efficiency, a quieter and safer ride, boosted technology, and turbocharged power, which is something Subaru hasn’t given its Outback in over ten years.
Read the full review
2020 Mazda CX-30 Preview
2020 Mazda CX-30 Preview
Based on the redesigned Mazda 3 platform, the new 2020 Mazda CX-30 is larger and more sophisticated than a Mazda CX-3, but smaller and sportier than a Mazda CX-5.
Read the full review
What's New For 2020 Honda Pilot
What's New For 2020 Honda Pilot
Fresh off of last year’s redesign, the 2020 Honda Pilot adds three new trim levels to its 2019 fleet of five. And while there are no significant changes for 2020, find out on what they are.
Read the full review
Read all articles
Scroll to the top
New Car Preview
2021 Polestar 2 Preview
Most Dependable
2019 Vehicle Dependability: Most Dependable Luxury SUVs
Most Popular
10 Most Popular Midsize SUVs and Crossovers
New Model Update
New for 2020: Honda
New Car Preview
2020 Hyundai Palisade Preview
More related
articles