Honda Accord VTi-LX Hybrid
Updated: Jan 31, 2021
Honda in this millennium is hard to categorise. From the 1960s thought to the end of 1990s, Honda was blitzing it with a series of cars that stamped it as the most innovative and technically advanced car maker in Japan. The S-series of coupes in the 1960s were as good as anything coming out of Europe, and its Formula One program netted wins in that era (it is still the only Japanese car maker to win a Grand Prix), and then dominated for a decade with the likes of Ayrton Senna.
Then there was the NSX, the world’s most liveable Supercar. I tried to buy one of the originals recently, but the price at auction went well out of my reach, which just shows how the world of motoring enthusiasts saw the best offering ever out of Japan. I also tried to get one of the new models for a test, but Honda Australia doesn’t have one of fleet. Paste in a Sad Face emoji.
But it wasn’t just sport. The Honda Civic was a ground breaker and won accolades globally, and then the Accord stretched the love even more. Unfortunately, the Accord was a hit in the USA and that meant the car eventually evolved into a car designed for US tastes and that took it further away from us… and when you are building the largest selling car in the States it is a bit hard to argue with the approach.
But now, we are seeing the Accord coming back to rest of the world step-by-step, model-by-model. The 10th generation Honda Accord is pretty much a full-sized sedan that does everything well without being astounding. For most people it will be a great executive chariot, and I have to confess that even though my wont is to the sportier end of the equation, I quite liked it. Let me explain.
The model we had was the Hybrid and it was a clever and non-intrusive power unit as Max Verstappen would describe the Honda engine that just took him to success in the 70th Anniversary Formula One Grand Prix at Silverstone. The electric component of the power unit (two electric motors in the transmission – one for each front wheel) kicks in and out with ease, switching to between using petrol and stored energy gathered from the cars normal activities.
Without getting too technical, the 2.0L engine operates on what is known as an Atkinson Cycle, which means the intake valve stays open longer than a conventional engine, and that alters the compression ratio and improves fuel consumption. The trick here though is that the electric motors are used to boost the power lost through the process. It is a pretty common take on the hybrid option, but Honda has done it brilliantly.
I ended my abbreviated time with the car – thanks to the Stage 4 Lockdown – with better fuel economy in the city than my run in the hills and that is an impressive achievement.
The overall drive of the car was outstanding. It had lots of grip and composure and my experience was not what I have read elsewhere. It was sure footed and clearly had more in store than I managed in my damp Dandenongs run. Not once did it put a wheel out of line and it tracked straight over bumps and absorbed then with ease.
The gearbox is a CVT, which normally I detest, but it run by motors rather than a rubber band that alters tension which is why Honda calls this an e-CVT. I hate the slurring of the gears like there is a slipping clutch, and when you press on you certainly get that vibe from this Accord. But if you are just pottering around without pressing too hard, it works seamlessly and really isn’t that bad. Don’t see the need for Sport mode though with a gearbox designed to be decidedly unsporting.
Despite being larger than the 9th Gen model, the 10th Gen is lighter which helps everything from acceleration and handling to the impressive fuel economy. The interior is a good size for a family (or an Uber X car), although the sunroof takes away a bit of headroom in the rear.
Up front the seating is good, but not having a sporting bias the Dandenongs can leave them struggling to hold you in place as the grip of the cars exceeds the grip of the seats. The driving position is OK but not perfect and I found myself constantly fiddling with the seat to get the right angles.
The dashboard is clear, but is not as customisable as the displays on other cars with the same technology. The steering wheel is a great thing to touch, and the quality of the leather helps with the luxury feel of the car.
There is a cubby hole for the phone with wireless charging, and the good news is it is big enough for a plus-sized iPhone. From there the multi-media system gets frustrating and it just takes too much thought to do anything, like finding a DAB radio station or switching the phone as a media player. That nearly did my head in.
The Sat Nav is good, and if you were in any doubt it is a Garmin unit it shows you when it starts. Not quite as good as Waze on my phone, but OK if I don’t want to connect my phone with a wire. The good news is that the directions appear on the windscreen through the heads-up display which is almost perfect. It doesn’t try to give too much information, so you aren’t overloaded with data in the line of sight – mostly just speed or directions only when they are relevant. Why not perfect? It is white which means it affects your night vision (why don’t car companies just make these things red and do it right?) and while it is perfectly horizontal it appears not to be because of the shape of the instrument binnacle.
The safety equipment is good too with pretty much a full complement of gear, except for blind spot monitors, instead relying on a camera view in the central screen when you flick on the left indicator. A combination of both would be perfect.
There is a as a lane-departure system that steers you between the lines on the road and you can feel it tugging as you go through corners as it tries to keep you in the middle of the lane. There is active radar-guided cruise control although it doesn’t slow you down coming down a hill, but will stop you driving into the rear of the car in front. There is also forward/reverse autonomous emergency braking that senses pedestrians and I have to confess that I experienced it in live action when a construction worker, that was jay walking while munching on a pie and talking on his phone, decided to change direction and the Honda jumped in to save him. Not sure his hard hat would have helped him, but Honda did.
There is walk away door locking, if you move too far away with the key it locks itself, and on the other side of the ledger you can start the car remotely which means you can heat it or cool it before climbing aboard. The rear parking sensors also seem to work for height as well, which was great for my car park at work.
If you want to convey the ambience of an executive car, the exterior design is critically important, and for the most part Honda has hit the mark. The silhouette is elegant, with a sporting slope to the rear window that leads into a nicely shaped rear end. The crease line at hip height carries nicely down the length of the car, and the lower crease (which is not that visible in the black of our test car) gives a nice texture to the side.
Where the design falls over to my eyes, is the nose. There is this huge chrome strip there and all it does is pull the eye away from some of the nice features of the front like the headlights which are almost a work of art.
The Honda Accord Hybrid comes in one model spec and costs a lick over $50k, but it well equipped and undoubtedly well built. It cruises well and is a gem in the city. There is a 5-year warranty with 8 for the hybrid battery and servicing is capped at $312 per visit, which is every 12 months so it isn’t that expensive to keep it running well.
There is also a cheaper model 1.5L turbo engine and the same LX trim level.
The 10th Generation Accord is a pretty good return to form for Honda with good driving dynamics and enough safety to put it on the radar if you are looking for a $50k sedan. It won’t blow you away with sporty dynamics, but it will do everything well and with more in reserve than you think.