Adventurous Honda refuses to follow the familiar hybrid path through the dense, crackling electric forest.
It isn’t the first time for Honda’s rebel engineers.
Remember the six-cylinder monster motorcycle called the Valkyrie, a 700-pound cruiser with a 1.5-liter engine that Honda somehow managed to wedge into its frame?
Heck, the silver 2021 Accord Hybrid I had last week didn’t even vaguely resemble most hybrids.
As you probably know, most conventional hybrids combine small gas engines with electric motors to create highly fuel-efficient vehicles.
Honda, of course, just had to flip that formula around.
The Accord Hybrid Touring I had was really an electric vehicle, relying mainly on a 181 horsepower AC motor for propulsion.
In fact, like pure electrics, the unique Hybrid doesn’t have a transmission, using direct drive and instant electric torque to get the front wheels moving.
The vehicle’s 2-liter four-cylinder gas engine up front mostly generates electricity to replenish the car’s battery – though it will occasionally kick in at highway speeds to assist the electric motor.
In addition, the five-passenger Hybrid has an all-electric mode good for a mile.
The handsome mid-size sedan greeted the world with a clean, blacked-out grille and long sleek headlamps that wrapped around into its fenders.
Although the sides of the Hybrid were mostly smooth, they had a chiseled look thanks to slightly flared fenders and a prominent character line above the car’s chrome door-handles.
Meanwhile, a graceful curving top gave the Accord the sporty profile of a European fastback.
Like the sportiest of Honda’s gas Accords, the Hybrid settled on 19-inch wheels – polished multi-spoke rollers wrapped with 235/40 tires in this application.
With its instant-on torque, the big sedan moved with the silky power of a good V-6 engine, albeit in silence.
Push the accelerator to the floor and the 140-horsepower four-banger awakens, mostly to generate power more quickly to meet the greater demand for electricity.
Unlike most hybrids, the Accord had solid power in the mid and upper ranges, accelerating to 60 mph in a brisk 7.1 seconds, according to Car and Driver.
It also is rated at 43 miles per gallon overall.
Surprisingly, the Accord turned into corners crisply with minimal body lean, and rode firmly but with no jounce or bounce.
Its nicely weighted steering even offered some road feel.
Likewise, the black interior in my $37,000 Hybrid contained plenty of plastic, but also showed some imagination.
The upper dashboard in the Hybrid, for example, was plastic, but it had a flat tone and a smooth surface, giving it a more upscale feel.
It rolled down to a mid-dash area dominated by an 8-inch touchscreen with knobs for volume and tuning of the radio.
Several times in the last few years, I have criticized Honda for its overly aggressive safety-nannies, and the Hybrid occasionally sounded a shrill collision warning when there was literally nothing in front of me but open road.
I love technology.
At least the seats in the Hybrid compensated nicely, sporting supportive bolsters with sectioned, perforated centers. The immense backseat is truly Uber-worthy with generous leg- and head-room.
If I needed a mid-size sedan – and happily, those days are behind me – the Accord would be at or near the top of my list, and I might include the Hybrid as well.
Don’t ask what happened to my hot-rod days.
2021 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring Review
- What I liked most: The surprisingly good performance and sophistication of the Hybrid.
- What I would change: Mute those safety nannies, Honda, or tell a few of them to just stay home.
- MSRP: Base price, $36,240; as equipped, $37,195.
- Official color: Lunar Silver Metallic.
- Fuel economy: 44 miles per gallon in the city, 41 on the highway and 43 mpg combined.
- Odometer reading when tested: 674 miles.
- Spare tire: None – air pump instead.
- Weight: 3,447 pounds.
- Length-width-height: 196.1 inches long/73.3 inches wide/57.1 inches tall.
- Fuel-tank capacity: 12.8 gallons.
- Towing capacity: Not applicable.
- 2021 Honda Accord Hybrid in a few words: Maybe the best-driving hybrid under $50,000 on the market.
- Warranty: Three-year, 36,000-mile overall warranty and five-year, 60,000-mile powertrain protection.
- Final assembly location: Marysville, Ohio.
- Manufacturer’s website: www.honda.com
- E-mail me at email@example.com
- Up next: 2021 Hyundai Kona Limited AWD.