Although it’s only been with us since 1976, the Accord’s presence in Honda’s lineup feels eternal, especially as passenger cars continue to fade in North America. They currently account for barely 20 percent of new vehicle sales, and that figure continues to shrink. The downward trend has caused many automakers to abandon cars, especially mid-size sedans.
Despite a grim trend, Honda is sticking with sedans, for now at least, and the Accord has done its part to hold the line. Sales of the outgoing 10th
generation model in Canada checked in at 38,879 units during its run from 2018 through 2022, which is a far cry from its glory days in the 1990s and 2000s but is still robust enough to warrant a new generation. On that note, U.S. Accord sales were 154,612 in 2022, which is still decent but represents a 23 percent decline over 2021.
This is the environment the all-new 11th
generation model launches into, as units begin arriving in Canadian dealerships this month. Among its many changes, the ‘23 Accord represents another front in Honda’s ongoing march towards electrification, with a lineup featuring two gas-electric hybrids (Sport Hybrid and Touring Hybrid), and just one gas model, the entry-level EX.
While no time frame has been announced, Honda is setting a 50 percent sales goal for Accord hybrids, which mirrors the one it set for the CR-V hybrid
, which is also all-new for 2023.
The new Honda Accord has two powertrains, a 1.5-litre turbocharged VTEC four-cylinder (192 hp / 192 lb-ft.) mated to continuously variable transmission (CVT) for the gas EX model, and a 2.0-litre Atkinson cycle four-cylinder / two-motor hybrid system (204 hp / 247 lb-ft. combined) that’s paired with an electronic CVT for the two hybrids. All models are offered in front-wheel drive only.
On the powertrain front, the 1.5-litre turbo four is now the only gas engine remaining, as the 2.0-litre turbo four has been discontinued. Output from the 1.5 is unchanged, but Honda has fine-tuned it with an upgraded direct-injection system, new cold-active catalyst, and high-rigidity crankshaft and oil pan. The latter two are designed to reduce engine noise.
As for the hybrid, the 2.0-litre Atkinson cycle four is all-new and features direct injection, while a fourth-gen two-motor hybrid-electric system uses two motors that are now mounted side-by-side. Combined horsepower output is down slightly (204 versus 212), but torque is up to 247 lb-ft., which is an increase of 15 lb-ft. over the outgoing model.
Notable mechanical changes include a more rigid structure, stiffer body supports, and new front brace bars aimed at improved ride and handling. Other chassis enhancements include a retuned four-wheel independent suspension with new front damper mount bearings and ball joints.
Dimensionally, the new Accord is the same height as its predecessor, but is slightly narrower, with a wheelbase that is one millimetre longer, with an overall length that has grown by 70 mm.
To these eyes, the Accord bears a strong resemblance to other new Hondas of late
when viewed from the front, with its more upright grille, slim LED headlights and a longer hood. Its sleeker lines and sloping, fastback-style rear roofline give the car a more premium appearance. Lots of black trim, along with standard 19-inch alloy wheels on hybrid grades (17-inchers are standard on EX), also help to exude a more sophisticated aesthetic.
At the rear, horizontal LED taillights and a smaller, recessed Honda badge give the impression of a wide stance, even though this Accord is slightly narrower than the one it replaces. It doesn’t appear that way at all in person.
Inside, the Accord’s new dashboard and console layout echoes those of newer Hondas, with a bigger dashtop-mounted touchscreen infotainment display, a full digital instrument panel, and more elegantly designed and finished touchpoints, such as those used for seating, door and console trims, and climate control switches.
Standouts here include a 12.3-inch infotainment display, which is Honda’s largest-ever touchscreen, and is standard on hybrid models (a 7-inch unit is standard on EX), a configurable 10.2-inch digital instrument cluster, along with a wireless smartphone charge pad, two USB-C ports up front, along with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (wired for EX). Honda Sensing, the company’s suite of active safety kit, is standard on all models.
The top Touring hybrid trim also receives Honda’s first use of Google built-in, which comes with Google Assistant, Google Maps, and Google Play, along with a slew of other apps and services. As is the case with other manufacturers that offer it, Google built-in can be used either with or without a user profile in the 2023 Accord.
Maybe I’ve driven too many Hondas over the past six months, but the new Honda Accord Hybrid reminds me a lot of its other recently remade stablemates, like the Civic and CR-V. They are all distinct, of course, but common themes of premium styling, greater refinement, new tech, and improved road manners unite them all.
For the Accord specifically, I was struck by its sleek, handsome styling that does appear to these eyes to be more sophisticated than its predecessor. As much as I appreciate its new exterior, I really like what I see in the cabin.
In addition to being spacious, the quality and variety of trim materials, along with leather seating that is quite comfortable and supportive, gives the ’23 Accord a more premium feel. Touch points look and feel great, and hard plastic is mostly out of the driver’s eyeline on lower door panels and footwells.
In terms of functionality, interfaces are clean and easy to use, with everything seemingly falling to hand in a logical way. I’m pleased to see the presence of a round volume knob and a console gear shifter, despite the space the latter occupies. It just works better.
I spent about three hours driving an early production Touring Hybrid tester on snowy local roads and highways in Richmond Hill and Aurora, and I marvel at the Accord’s smooth and quiet operation in all driving modes (eco, normal, and sport). Acceleration is quite brisk but doesn’t get loud unless the accelerator is really matted.
I realize it has electric motors, but the new Honda Accord Hybrid is one of the quietest cars with an internal combustion engine that I have ever driven. It just rolls along quietly, scarcely audible unless the accelerator is firmly pressed. Honda’s chassis-stiffening, sound-deadening and anti-NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) efforts have been used to good effect. Despite being longer, the new Accord also feels light on its feet with responsive steering and a composed and secure ride that handles (most) road surfaces well.
As for nitpicks, I don’t have many, but I must note that my tester logged a combined fuel consumption number of 7.9 L / 100 km during my drive, which is much worse than the 5.3 figure Honda has published. My drive took place on a very cold day (-18C), however, which tends to hammer fuel efficiency, regardless of propulsion source.
It’s also worth mentioning the Accord is priced higher than some of its rivals and, with just three trims, there are fewer options. This strategy is defensible, however, given lower sedan sales volume and the high level of content the Accord offers.
In sum, the 2023 Accord is the best one yet. In an era when passenger cars are fighting a losing battle with SUVs in the marketplace, it stands firmly in the breach, holding the line.
The 2023 Honda Accord is on sale now.
2023 Honda Accord Touring Hybrid
Front-engine, front-wheel drive, electronic CVT
2.0-litre DOHC four-cylinder + two-motor hybrid system (204 hp / 247 lb-ft. combined)
(Regular 87) 5.0 / 5.7 / 5.3 L / 100 km (city / highway / combined)
473 litres (16.7 cu ft.)
$46,280 / as tested, incl. freight, excl. taxes
EX – $37,000
Sport Hybrid – $41,000
Touring Hybrid – $44,500