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The Honda Accord delivers driving fun in a practical package; all models (except the hybrid) are 2017 10Best winners. A 185-hp 2.4-liter four and a six-speed manual are standard in the coupe and sedan, while Sport models make 189 hp. A CVT is optional, as is a 278-hp 3.5-liter V-6 with a six-speed automatic; the coupe offers a six-speed manual. The hybrid saw 45 mpg in our test. EX models and above have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but some may find the button-less infotainment system annoying.
Numbers aren’t why we recommend the Honda Accord. This sedan instead has made our 10Best Cars list for years because it wows with its affordability, practicality, and comfort and then manages to include something visceral for those who like to drive. The Accord hybrid, however, which returns to production for 2017 after a year’s absence, doesn’t quite engender the same warm feelings.
However, any model that flaunts a hybrid badge really is a numbers car. With each dab of the brake and each lift of the accelerator, they recover precious watt-hours in an attempt to save thousands of gallons of fuel over the life of the vehicle—which can add up to serious dollars, particularly when today’s environment of cheap gasoline eventually comes to an end.
Among all these alternatives, it’s a veritable proving ground of clever engineering approaches, and the Accord hybrid is the outlier in its class. It’s laid out almost as an electric car, with the four-cylinder engine turning an onboard generator—most of the time, that is. The front-wheel-drive Accord hybrid eschews the transmission as we know it, instead using a clutch and two electric motor/generators. One motor is geared directly to an Atkinson-cycle, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine—making 143 horsepower and 129 lb-ft of torque—with a clutch connecting them to the differential; the other motor is geared directly to the differential. This enables three distinct driving modes: an EV mode using only battery power, a Hybrid mode that uses electricity to propel the car with the gasoline engine powering the generator, and a more elusive Engine Drive mode employed between approximately 44 mph and 75 mph under certain conditions, during which it will clutch the gasoline engine in at a fixed ratio.