Unfortunately, even missing its fuel economy estimates isn’t our biggest problem with the Accord Hybrid. In driving the car for thousands of miles and running it through our more than 50 standard tests, we also found that it rides significantly less comfortably than any other Accord we’ve tested. It is a constantly choppy ride that becomes fatiguing.
The Accord Hybrid also uses a unique hybrid transmission system. Or, to put a finer point on it: It doesn’t have a transmission. Rather, the Hybrid’s electric motor provides all the direct power to the wheels at lower speeds, up to about 45 mph—a range where other cars need their lower gears. Above that, a clutch engages the engine directly in top gear. At lower speeds, the engine acts as a generator to provide electricity to the motor.
On paper, this solution is brilliant in its simplicity. In practice, though, we found the engine often has to rev noisily to produce enough electricity at lower speeds. This is particularly disappointing since the basic four-cylinder Accord has one of the least-intrusive continuously variable transmissions on the market. We often complain of CVTs holding revs high and creating engine racket when accelerating. But in the Accord’s case, the hybrid generates a lot more fuss than the four-cylinder with its conventional CVT. And that car still gets 40 mpg on the highway, while costing thousands less. It’s our Top Pick among family sedans.
We love getting great gas mileage, and the Accord Hybrid delivers that. But we’re not so pleased when getting frugal mpg forces us to give up so many other good qualities. Like many buyers, we were expecting more from the Accord Hybrid. For shoppers looking to save money, the clear choice from the Accord line is the basic four-cylinder model.