By Cars.com EditorsFebruary 7, 2023
Sedans may be dying, but Honda doesn't think they're dead quite yet.
And that's why we're here in Southern California to drive the all-new 11th-generation 2023 Accord, with new styling that brings it in line with the rest of Honda's lineup and an increased emphasis on the hybrid powertrain. The new Accord is ready to take on not necessarily the world, but at least the sedan segment. We've gone more in-depth on the styling updates, but this is my first chance seeing it in person and I gotta be honest, I like it. Overall, the aesthetic to me is big Civic, which is actually a good thing. It's handsome, looks very buttoned up. It's weird to think of the Camry from Toyota as an aggressive car, but the Camry has a more aggressive look. This is more businesslike, maybe even a little more premium in its appearance. But overall, big fan of the look. My one complaint would probably be the tiny Honda badge in back. It just looks a little undersized and I can't quite figure out why. So we are currently driving the Sport with the leather interior. In Honda shorthand, that's the Sport L. Honda is making a greater commitment to hybrids throughout its extensive lineup. Not every new Honda is going to be a hybrid or have a hybrid option, but a lot of them do, and here in the Accord, Sport also means hybrid but so do EX-L and Touring, Touring being the highest trim level. But as I mentioned, this is the Sport, so theoretically, it should be a little sportier. Not really feeling that so far even with these twisties. So power for the Accord Hybrid comes from a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and two electric motors. Total output according to Honda is 204 horsepower and 247 pounds-feet of torque, and power delivery is something of a mixed bag. In Sport mode, the car will stay out of EV mode, and in turn what that means is when you step on it, there's a bit of a delay before the power starts to kick in. Whereas when you're in EV mode, it's a more seamless transition and it comes on a little bit earlier. I think that's just the sort of instant torque from the electric motor helping you out versus here where everything's trying to work in concert. So we are in Sport mode right now. And as you can tell, Honda says the powertrain has more refinement. I don't know how inclined I am to agree with that. There's still a lot of noise from the powertrain, especially under harder acceleration, but it's not terrible, it's not offensive to me, it's just, it's gonna be present when you're really getting on the accelerator pedal, at least in the hybrid. Another nice thing about the hybrid is these paddles here are not shift paddles because this does not have a traditional transmission. Instead, these control the regenerative braking and so you can increase the regen with this paddle or decrease it with this one, I'm currently in the lowest regen setting. At the highest regen setting, it comes close to one-pedal driving you get down under 10 mph and you're gonna start needing to use the brake. It won't hold at all on its own, but the regen doesn't really mess with the braking experience. It still feels fairly linear. These aren't the mushy brakes of hybrids of old, so at no regen just feels like totally normal brakes. At higher regen, you're actually getting close to sort of an EV driving experience, and overall I really like it. The regen braking has also been useful in these hilly sections, acting as sort of a take on engine braking to keep the speeds controlled as we descend rather than having to work the brakes occasionally. Sport-specific interior touches: not really visible. Not really sure if you just showed me a Honda Accord interior if I could point out what is and isn't a Sport. What's interesting about this is this is the larger 12.3-inch center touchscreen display. It has wireless CarPlay and wireless Android Auto, but unless you get a Touring model, you don't get wireless charging, so my phone is just down there losing battery being connected to CarPlay because I'm an idiot and didn't bring a USB cord. But if you have wireless CarPlay, why would you want to plug it in? Just give me wireless charging and wireless CarPlay or give me wired CarPlay and I'll remember to bring a USB cord. It's not that hard. So far, I'm really enjoying this large screen. Very responsive, very quick to go through the menus. Graphics look nice. The larger size is great for navigation. Also nice is the standard 10.2-inch digital gauge cluster. Nice and clear, easy graphics. It's interesting to me that the Accord is the model that gets the standard digital gauge cluster across the lineup, whereas in other models like the CR-V or the Pilot, you need to be in sort of higher trim levels to get that full digital experience. Interior room, at least up in the front seat right now, is fairly acceptable. It's a little bit roomier than the previous generation. I've actually been driving a 2018 Accord around a bit lately. That model has the engine start-stop button right down by where my knee rests, and that always terrified me. I always expected that to come through and take off my kneecap in the event of a collision but here I have a little bit more space at the top of the knee. I still don't have a lot of space to the sides. If I wanna manspread, I'm resting against the center console, but it's not uncomfortable and there's nothing weird sort of poking into me. There's just, you know, not a lot of room. Another complaint, this window sill here is just really narrow. I like to put my arm up here when I can, and it just isn't comfortable in the Accord, so I've been resting it on the actual armrest, which is nicely padded. Sticker price here is about $33,000. Everything feels like a $33,000 car. I would not be upset spending my own money on something of this quality. Switching now from the Sport to the Touring, mostly that just means added comfort and convenience features. Both ride on 19-inch wheels; the wheels look different, but dynamics don't really change from trim to trim. What you do get here are some additional leather bits, wireless device charging, finally, and in the Touring, you also get a head-up display. Fuel economy is also important, especially with Honda's emphasis on the hybrid powertrains. And the good news is that the hybrids are slightly more fuel-efficient. According to the EPA, the Sport and Touring hybrid are both rated at 44 mpg combined. That's up from 43. And other, lower trims with the hybrid powertrain are rated at 48 mpg, up from 47. The bad news is that in the new gas-only Accord which uses a carryover 1.5 turbocharged four-cylinder and a CVT, combined fuel economy actually drops by 1 mpg, to 32 from 33. Steering feedback was also a strong suit of the previous-generation Accord, and that continues here. It's nice and direct, fairly light but not overboosted. It tightens up a little when you put it into Sport mode. Sort of feels a little bit weightier, not too much. Very pleasant overall. Very easy to drive. This is an easy-to-drive car, and that's exactly what you want in a mid-size family sedan. But the driving experience, to sum it up, is competent. I would say maybe even bordering on confident. That may also just be because I'm finally driving a sedan after what seems like an eternity of SUVs. But there's still some body roll in corners and this is essentially a front-wheel-drive family sedan, so not unexpected, but the fun that we were promised from Honda with this new generation of Accord just really isn't there. Next on my list of Accords to drive is the gas-only EX. Honda promised that the Accord EX's 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder would be more refined than the previous generation's, and I don't really agree. It's not terrible, but it's still just as noisy and the CVT still gives you a good bit of drone as you drive along. Ride and handling were also sloppier and less composed than the Sport and Touring that I drove earlier. Not surprising, but a little disappointing. Also, I felt like I was feeling just as many bumps and road imperfections despite the EX's smaller 17-inch wheels. Overall, the EX still drives decently well, especially for a $30,000 sedan. A complaint I have about the EX is one I have for all of the Accords I've driven so far, which is that there's no front-passenger seat height adjustment, which can leave your front passengers in somewhat of an uncomfortable seating position. And it's just very unfortunate that even on higher trims, this wasn't available. The best thing the EX has going for it is that it has a physical tuning knob to go along with its physical volume control but that 7-inch screen compared to the 12.3-inch screen is a bit disappointing. Here we are in the top trim of the Accord, the Touring, which like most trims gets the 2.0-liter hybrid powertrain. But we're here to talk about the interior, which we quite like. Again, we've broken this down in depth, but this is my first time seeing it. So, some impression: I love this vent design. We first saw it on the Civic, but the hidden vents and just the flowing lattice work here looks great. Gives it a nice sort of upscale feeling. Good physical controls for most of the climate here. A gear lever. Love it. Better than the push-button nonsense that Honda has done in a lot of other vehicles in its lineup. We have a drive mode selector. Easy to use. The all-electric button. It's very nicely laid out. The new 12.3-inch screen also comes with Google Built-in, which gives you things like built-in Maps, the Play Store, Google Assistant. We're wary of it. A lot of these features will require an active data connection to effectively use, which means if you're somewhere with poor reception, you might be SOL. Also, interestingly, with my phone connected to CarPlay, asking Google Assistant to make a call tells me I have to do it through Apple CarPlay, which makes sense, but having to choose between one or the other and just wanting to hit a button and do the task can be a little bit frustrating. There's also a physical volume knob. It's kind of small but works fairly well. No physical tuning controls this time. Other Honda systems have buttons for tuning, but here, you're just left with the touchscreen. Overall, though, the layout is very nice it's very responsive. The graphics are clear and crisp, and I really like the upgrade. I wish it had trickled down to, say, the Pilot that I just drove two weeks ago, but we'll probably see it in other Hondas in the future. An interesting thing to note: This is the second Accord I've driven today. I drove a Sport with the leather interior first, and now I'm in this Touring, and so we get some extra little leather accents right by the center console here, things like that. And in the Sport, I was actually pleased with some of the knee room and the knee comfort even though my knee was hitting the center console. Here? Actually a little bit uncomfortable. I don't know if that's just my knee getting tired or a slight change in design or actually less padding under this leather. But interesting that the more premium vehicle, this one is just a hair under $39,000, might have the slightly less comfortable interior. Other things worth noting: There are USB-C ports up front. One is for data, one is for charging, and you get one small little center console storage bin, but nothing too out of the ordinary or revolutionary. Just a nice comfortable interior. This being the Touring, you do also get ventilated seats, which I am currently enjoying. The Sport only went up to heated seats. The backseat of the Accord is fairly unremarkable. There was a slight increase in legroom over the prior generation, which wasn't really a problem to begin with, but any little extra bit is nice. Would like a little bit lower knee position, but I'll take it. I can live with this. Headroom is really the problem area for me at 6-foot-1. The fastback roof design just sort of really eats into headroom. It's not terrible, but I am touching the headliner with my scalp, not just my unusually tall hair. Other quirks: There's only one seat pocket. It's on the back of the front passenger seat. There are two USB-C charging ports, and there are climate vents down here, but there's no control to set the temperature. That's all taken care of up front, unfortunately. Comfort-wise, though, pretty good. I would be happy if I got one of these as an Uber. Speaking of comfort, one more nice thing about the backseat of this Accord Touring are the outboard heated seats with controls on the door. There wasn't much that needed improving in the Accord's interior. but it's nice to see Honda bring the new Accord into line with the rest of its design language and keep it fresh and modern. The new Accord is on sale now, and if you're in the market for a fairly businesslike mid-size sedan, I think you'd do well to check it out. The improvements aren't significant, but they are improvements over the previous generation, and the Accord remains a great choice among a dying breed. For more on the Accord, check out Cars.com.