It’s easy to love the Honda Accord, a consistently solid and enjoyable family sedan that deftly manages the trick of combining frugality, functionality, reliability, comfort and driving pleasure into one affordable package. The new 11th-generation 2023 Honda Accord absolutely lives up to those longstanding high expectations, and an earlier drive led our editors to name it on our 10Best list for, get this, the 37th time.
Stretched 2.7 inches longer than before, the Accord’s sleek and fresh styling hides the fact that it shares many of its other dimensions with the outgoing model. Both ride on a 111.4-inch wheelbase, stand 57.1 inches tall and span 73.3 inches wide. Trunk volume is unchanged at an impressive 17 cubic feet. But it is not all the same. Subtle yet consequential rear suspension tweaks increased the rear track width by 0.4 inches, and that translates into a matching increase in rear hip room. What’s more, the old model’s limo-like 40.4 inches of rear legroom has grown to 40.8 inches, making the Accord’s child-seat and adult-friendly rear seats slightly roomier. Of course, we’ll miss the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that didn’t make the cut this time around — it made the previous-generation Accord a rocket — and the manual transmission, dropped in 2019, isn’t coming back either .
Turbo base engine
The LX and EX kick things off at the lower end of the trim spectrum, and they’re expected to account for half of Accord sales. They come with cloth seats, a 7.0-inch touchscreen and 17-inch wheels and tires. They are also the only offerings with the turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine. It makes the same 192 horsepower and 192 pound-feet of torque as before, but it’s not a direct transfer. Strategic revisions, including a new catalyst that uses less rare metal content, have been applied to help the 1.5T meet ever-tightening emissions regulations.
In the bargain, peak rpm for horsepower and torque swings slightly upward. EPA-estimated fuel economy, on the other hand, drops 1 mpg to 32 mpg combined (29 city/37 highway) due to about 90 pounds of extra weight. Still, it’s a decent showing for what is an increasingly large sedan. This lightly massaged turbo engine is less gruff than in the CR-V, and its CVT transmission has been retuned to better simulate upshifts and reduce tire noise. It’s a generally pleasant combination around town, but any amount of grunt or residual CVT rumble is at odds with the more refined hybrid powertrain.
A new fourth-generation hybrid powertrain will motivate the top of the range. It’s much the same as the hybrid system we first fell for in the 2023 Honda CR-V, with a 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine (making 146 horsepower and 134 pound-feet in Accord guise) accompanied by two electric motors. One motor contributes 181 horsepower and 247 pound-feet of propulsion while the other is a generator driven by the engine. Total combined output is 204 horsepower and 247 pound-feet, which is 2 horses and 15 pound-feet more than before. Riding on 17-inch tires, the EX-L is rated at 48 mpg combined (51 city/44 highway), while the Sport, Sport-L and Touring earn 44 mpg combined (46 city/41 highway) on 19 -inch rolling stock.
Three invisible driving modes work behind the scenes. From rest, a small 1.1 kWh battery enables electric propulsion up to around 20 mph by deploying previously harvested braking energy. As speed increases, series hybrid mode couples the engine and alternator to feed the electric motor in real time, giving the Accord the smooth, effortless torque (but not the sound) of an EV. At cruising speed, the engine is seamlessly engaged to drive the wheels directly, with vehicle speed and engine revs in lockstep. The Accord does this only at moderate highway speeds—the CR-V hybrid’s additional low-speed lockup is omitted because the sedan is lighter, sleeker, and not equipped for towing.
Accelerate hard (or climb a hill) and the system reverts to electric-motor drive, with the engine once again driving the generator instead of the wheels. Engine revs during such spirited acceleration sweep through a series of simulated upshifts, though forward drive remains a steady pull from the electric motor. The apparent shift is a deliberate bit of misdirection that adds normality and avoids unnatural engine rumble en route to what we reckon is a 7.1-second run to 60 mph.
Like all hybrids, the Accord uses its main drive motor to convert deceleration energy into battery electricity. There are six (!) driver-selectable rev levels ranging from normal to almost one-pedal driving. Oddly, although we prefer high regen in EVs, it seems more natural to apply the brakes the usual way. It’s also a satisfying way to go, as Honda’s engineers have done a masterful job of blending the regenerative and friction braking systems to deliver consistent braking feel. It’s not an unsatisfying pedal you’ll want to avoid.
Ride and handling are smoother and better regulated than ever. This is especially true of the models with 19-inch wheels, as each engine/wheel size combination gets its own damper tune to compensate for such inherent differences. Credit is also given to the enlarged and realigned rear trailing-arm bushing, which reduces impact harshness without adding lateral squishiness that can curtail the Accord’s cornering prowess. In fact, the steering feels even sharper thanks to low-friction ball joints and a revised upper strut mount. But there is a caveat. Hybrids have Normal and Sport settings that change throttle sensitivity and steering effort, among other things. Steering feels much more authentic in Normal, while in Sport it seems artificially heavy (there’s also Econ and mix-and-match individual settings).
Hybrids also get another welcome standard upgrade in the form of a 12.3-inch touchscreen that supports wireless phone mirroring (the 7.0-inch system requires a cable). It’s a thoughtful implementation, with a wide finger rest that makes selections easy and a welcome volume knob (which could be bigger). Honda expects people to mirror their phones and use familiar apps, so factory navigation and satellite radio are absent. The Touring adds Google Built-In, which offers Google Assistant and a full integration of Google Maps. You can also “Hey, Google” your way to climate control and other in-car customizations that a connected smartphone can’t match, but we’re not sure that’s a must-have. It’s complimentary for three years, but the repurchase price is TBD.
Zooming out, the overall interior look and feel is striking and features the same kind of attractive transverse cockpit matrix trim that hides the adjustment fins of the good-sized air vents, just like in the Civic and CR-V. The climate control interface itself is similarly clear and logical, and many of the other controls are so obvious and simple that the manual can never be turned out. As for the seats, apart from their ability to hold in corners, our notebook is largely without comment because they absolutely do the job without making any kind of unwanted, shall we say, impression after a day in the hall.
Prices range from $28,390 for an LX with the turbo engine, cloth seats and no sunroof to $38,985 for the trim Touring. In between, our favorite is the $34,635 EX-L, which is the fuel economy champ because of its 17-inch rubber. But the Sport-L is priced nearly the same at $34,970, and it trades a few mpg, heated side mirrors, rear air vents and rear USB-C charging ports for 19-inch matte black wheels and Sport-look bits. And it’s just that: There are no wrong answers with this latest Accord, and there have been for decades.
2023 Honda Accord
Vehicle type: front engine or front engine, front engine; front-wheel drive; 5-passenger; 4-door sedan
LX (1.5T), $28,390; EX (1.5T), $30,705; Sport (hybrid), $32,990; EX-L (hybrid), $34,635; Sport-L (hybrid), $34,970, Touring (hybrid), $38,985
turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve 1.5-liter inline-4, 192 hp, 192 lb-ft; DOHC 16-valve 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle inline-4, 146 hp, 134 lb-ft + AC motor, 181 hp, 247 lb-ft (combined output: 204 hp, 247 lb-ft; 1.1-kWh lithium-ion battery pack )
Transmissions: continuously variable automatic; direct drive
Wheelbase: 111.4 inches
Length: 195.7 inches
Width: 73.3 inches
Height: 57.1 inches
Passenger volume, L/H: 53–56/50 ft3
Hull volume: 17 feet3
Combat weight (C/D east): 3250–3550 lbs.
PERFORMANCE (C/D EAST)
60 mph: 7.1 sec
1/4-mile: 15.5–15.7 sec
Top speed: 116 mph
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/City/Highway: 32–48/29–51/37–44 mpg