2023 Honda Accord Hybrid | Talking Cars with Consumer Reports #411

2023 Honda Accord Hybrid | Talking Cars with Consumer Reports #411

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[AUDIO LOGO] Hi, everyone. Welcome back. I'm Jon Linkov. I'm Emily Thomas. I'm Mike Quincy.

And in this episode, we're going to talk about the Honda Accord Hybrid, some new stuff with Honda where they changed up the Honda Accord line a little bit with what they offer, what we bought this year for our testing. We already have a regular Accord. But we bought a 2023 Accord Hybrid Sport. That comes with a 204 horsepower, 2-liter four-cylinder engine with a two-motor hybrid system, continuously variable transmission. As some people will know but some people may not, Honda does things a little differently with options packages. They don't have them, really.

They do some dealer-installed stuff. Maybe you want-- Differently is a nice way of putting it. Is it good or bad? I don't know, right? Well, I don't I don't think it's that good, just because-- and we'll get into this in a few minutes. But just the inflexibility of some of their trim lines-- True --and what can and can't add.

You're already jumping ahead in the future. You're jumping to the future, Marty McFly. I'm sorry about that. So Honda may do some dealer-installed options. But for the most part, you buy the vehicle at the trim level, and you get what you get. And you don't get upset.

No questions asked. Exactly, right. So ours, manufacturer's suggested retail price, $31,895, destination $1,095. The total is $32,990, and that was it, no, nothing weird about it. Oh, wait, there is weirdness. But wait, there is weirdness.

And Mike kind of talked about it with equipment. But at the basic sense from a CR standpoint, one of the things is the safety features. So I'm going to pop this off to you, Emily, first, a little out of the blue. They do some weird things with blind spot warning and rear cross traffic warning, right? Yeah, so our Sport does have blind spot warning. But it's listed as standard equipment on the window sticker but available when you go to shop for the car. So that might add some levels of confusion.

It's not available on their baseline, which, we really believe that these safety equipments should be standard across all trim levels, especially on the base models because it's not fair to consumers to have to make them pay more for safety. You should be able to get safety as standard. And it should be affordable for everybody. So not a great move and certainly not one that we approve of. Yeah, and it's interesting with the CR-V, their compact SUV. When they introduced it, it was standard.

It was big deal, blind spot warning and rear cross-traffic warning standard. And all of a sudden, they go, for 2023, we're going to add in the base EX model, not standard, not available. And Mike, we this actually helps auto manufacturers in our ratings when they make that standard? Well, it has to be standard on all trim lines to get a CR recommendation because, as Emily says, I mean-- Well, get points, get extra points in the overall score. Yes. Correct.

Right, right. Right. But Emily is right. If you can't afford a top-level trim, you still should be able to get all of the safety features. Right. And we'll give them credit for, on the rear-seat safety side, we do our own evaluation of what safety features are available for rear occupants.

They have added things like a rear belt reminder, a rear seat reminder, a rear occupant alert, really, to kind of give you that audible and visual reminder at the end of the trip that you should check your back seat, make sure you've gotten everybody out of the car. They do have advanced restraint features in the back seat for the rear outboard passengers, like advanced seatbelts, side torso airbags. So they are doing some of the things that we are asking for. Sure. And again though, it would be great if all of those things, including the blind spot and including rear cross-traffic warning, were available as standard equipment. And they're not the only ones.

Subaru does this too. In a number of their vehicles, it's either available or not. So anyway, the other weirdness that we were talking about is there's no more separate hybrid. It used to be that you would have the Accord Hybrid, and you would have the Accord, and never should the twain meet.

And they had their own powertrains. And they look the same, but they were different lines. So now what do we got after the EX at $29,000? We hop up to the Sport Hybrid.

Right. I mean, that's just the next level in the trim sequence for the new Accord. And like the previous model, if you wanted a top of the line Accord, you got the Touring.

And you could get it with a hybrid powertrain, or you could get it without the hybrid powertrain. In other words, it was your choice. And now, as you go past the EX in the Accord lineup, it's all hybrids from there on up.

So yes, you can still get a touring, which is just really nice, leather seats and all that stuff. But you would have to get the hybrid powertrain. And I guess Honda's thinking was, well, why not just get better fuel economy? But again, it takes away some of the choice. What do you-- is it a smart idea, Emily, do you think to get rid of that? I mean, we've already seen the elimination of V6 engines, for example. It was four cylinders and V6s. And there was power, and there was fuel economy.

And then you went, OK, well maybe it's turbo fours. And now it's just four cylinders and hybrids. I mean, turbo fours, but you just have those two choices. And you don't get-- you get something with the hybrid, but are you getting everything you want? So I think part of the issue is our consumerism. We like to be able to have all the options and pick for ourselves. We want to be able to kind of cherry pick our vehicle and get all the things that we want.

And there may be people who don't want the hybrid option, but they want all the nice amenities that come with a higher trim level. Right. But at the same time, I remember we did an episode recently-- I think it was the Lexus, where there was too many options. And kind of flagged that as being like, that was a little bit too extra. And so in one way, it's like they streamlined it here. Honda, they really boiled it down.

And they've limited your options. The question is, is it too much of a limitation? For somebody who's trying to buy a car, maybe this is like your first time buying. Maybe having the fewer options is a good thing because it kind of like-- you don't feel overwhelmed by all the choices and what's available to you.

But for the person who might be a more seasoned car buyer and really does want to kind of custom create their vehicle of choice, they might find this too restrictive and a downside for them. Sure. What was interesting, John, which I thought about when you were talking about how the Accord has evolved. The first Accord Hybrid was a V6 hybrid. Yeah. And it was all about power and performance, not so much about fuel economy.

Yeah, I mean, I remember going to a launch for that. And that was the big deal about it, because it was-- It was fast! --the only way that I think auto manufacturers thought they could sell it. And now it's a different thing for Honda and Toyota to an extent as well, but particularly for Honda. They don't have any EVs.

This is their slow walk into electrification, if you will, which is kind of a dirty word because auto manufacturers use it as a way of like, our lineup's electrified. And you could go 5 miles on electricity, but it's electrified. So I mean, it's a weird word. But yeah, they're slowly going into it. I mean, Acura is going to have an EV, but not much with Honda yet. I think that's part of the game plan, though, or at least that's what it seems like, right? We're slowly eliminating your gas options, or we're keeping it down to like-- We're tricking you.

It's like, you will eventually-- it's a little bit of a Jedi mind trick. Eventually, you will move towards-- It's putting peas into that macaroni and cheese, right? I was just thinking that. I like veggies. So anyway, so enough of the parenting stuff. Like the Civic, like the HR-V, like the CR-V, very streamlined interior the new car.

So it's simple. It's got the mesh kind of waistline around the dashboard, nice vents, buttons and knobs that are really nice, really high quality controls. Still at the price point, but nice clicks and detents on the knob and stuff like that.

Emily, interior space, roominess, trunk, child seat aspect, as you know, I mean, this is your focus-- particularly child seats, so I want to go with you. What do you what do you see with the Accord as a family-friendly vehicle? So the one thing that always surprises/impresses me with the Accord is how roomy that interior cabin is. So I have two boys, one in a rear-facing convertible, which they're not tiny, right? And my oldest is now in a high-back booster. And so I mean, we were at a point where we had two convertibles in the car, one rear-facing, one forward-facing. And I always find that in the Accord, I can do that pretty comfortably with my family.

So it's plenty of space. It feels so much larger inside than when you look at it from the outside. Even when I had to do my car swap and, as usual with the kids, I always have so much stuff, extra bags of everything, toys and jackets and shoes and whatever. And I was able to throw all that into the trunk and still have a ton of room. So not only do you get this immense amount of interior cabin space, but you also have a really deep trunk space, which is awesome for a family. Right, particularly for-- the days of the hybrid being a compromise are gone.

You have a full trunk. You have all that room. And you have the hybrid. So much room back there. I found that for child seat fits, the nice thing with the Accord is that they have the lower anchors and the outboard seating positions, but they also do allow for center borrow.

So if you wanted to do a latch install in the center seat, you can borrow from the outboard seating positions for forward-facing car seats, rear-facing convertibles. Seatbelt installs were very good across the board. The one challenge is that it has integrated head restraints across the rear seat. Yep. So you can't make any adjustments.

In the center seating position, it's too low, really, for any adults to sit there or even kids that aren't in a high-back booster where they're going to get that additional had support. Right, so they don't adjust. They don't adjust. They just stay the same height. In the outboard seating position, they're tall enough so that it shouldn't be an issue for most people.

However, because they're integrated, I couldn't use Micah's high-back booster. I had to take the back off because it caused an interference where his booster was now getting pushed forward. It's, creating a gap. And so as a result, he really had to use the backless booster and rely on the head restraint. And he was so uncomfortable.

He really did not like how the design of that integrated head restraint interacted with his head. So that's something to consider for parents as they're doing this with their kids. And as I mentioned earlier, when you have kids that are in booster mode and now they've graduated out of their boosters, they're using the seat belts in the back seat, the Accord really does provide them with additional crash protection by having these advanced restraints.

It has seatbelt pretensioners and load limiters. It has side torso airbags for those rear outboard occupants. So those are great features as your children are growing up. And they're able to get this additional crash protection. It makes it in a sense of an option for parents that don't have to run to an SUV.

I mean, I think that that's a big thing is that parents all-- and my family suffered from that. So let me just be the first to throw myself on the mercy of the court. [LAUGHTER] You can go with a sedan. And you have all the safety and the room. And I think that also, yes, it's a little bit of a dropdown to put children in, but it's still pretty easy.

And particularly the price of SUVs, if you don't need all-wheel drive-- because one of the things a Honda Accord doesn't offer, unlike some of its competitors, Mike, is all-wheel drive, right? Right. Right. And that can be a real sticking point.

Certainly people in the Northeast, where they're always looking for all-wheel drive-- but I mean, I'm kind of with you and I don't think all-wheel drive is as essential as people think it is just because, in most cases, the roads are cleared before the schools reopen. Well, or the school's just closed. Yeah. I think people get real panicky about it. And as our tire guys have taught me at least, snow tires are more important than having all-wheel drive. Oh, definitely, yeah.

So Mike, first of all, how is this not like past Accords? But also, is it-- the Accord of yore was-- look, we talked about Honda in other podcasts and online in the sense of powertrain company, great engines, incredible transmissions. I mean, I think back, all their manual transmissions have-- even to today, to Civic Si or what-- has it changed? I mean, it's a Honda Accord Sport. Right. Is it sporty enough? Well, this is as sporty is it's going to get. You talked about it capping at about 204 horsepower. And that's in comparison to last year's top engine was a 2-liter turbo that put out 252 horsepower.

Now, we haven't done our 0 to 60 acceleration runs on it yet. So we really can't say it's not as good as the top one. But clearly Honda is saying, perhaps fuel economy is a bit more important than a 0 to 60 sprint. And that's just the way it's going to go.

It doesn't feel deficient in the sense because of the hybrid integration though, right? No, no. I mean, I think compared to the nonhybrid that we're also in the midst of testing right now, I think the hybrid powertrain is really nice. It has a real seamless integration.

There's a little boost when you need it. Yeah. And I mean, we're anticipating the fuel economy definitely being better than the nonhybrid model, because that's the whole point of having it, I suppose. Right, right. it especially was less noisy. Yeah, exactly.

That was my one real complaint. I could deal with the driving. The driving, I thought, was great.

But I wish it was less noisy. It felt too loud in the cabin. From what aspect? Because Honda's have always had that reputation, or at least within these walls-- but in general, a little noisier. You hear the road. You hear the wind. They're making improvements, I think, over the-- They have been.

Right. Yeah, right, right, they certainly have been. Every time we test one it's like, eh, it's a little quieter.

Yeah. So where did you feel-- I felt I got a lot of road noise. Yeah? But I also tend to be really sensitive to interior noise in the cabin. Like children screaming and stuff like that? My whole life is noisy. So all the noise just is amplified.

Cacophony. You were talking about one thing, Mike, in our premeeting, something that's really drawing a lot of criticism with the Accords, and it's the seats. Oh, yeah.

No, it really is a bummer because, looking at our digital logbooks of not only the regular Accord but the Accord Hybrid, and I kept doing comparisons between the Accord Hybrid and the regular Accord because there are some similarities. But the seats really are a bummer. I mean, just, they're short on cushion and lower back support. There really isn't as much adjustments, I think, as we'd like. And again, you're talking about what the trim levels do to you. To get the leather seats and to get the multiple power adjustments, you have to go up in price.

So as we do in Consumer Reports, we're testing kind of the mainstream trim lines, the ones that we anticipate most people buying. So the seats are kind of a bummer. I don't know if having a leather covering, though, is going to change the stiffness or the contouring of those seats. I imagine it's probably still the same foams and cushions. I don't know. I think sometimes when you go up in a trim line, the leather seat does make a difference, even though you think it might look the same.

But you're also getting more adjustments. You're getting more ways to adjust the seat. I haven't spent any time in the higher-trim Accords. So I think the preliminary advice that I would tell our audience, try it before you buy it because a number of us here at Consumer Reports were not pleased with the seats at all. Yeah, it tends to be, I think, in our history is that-- and I made an error before because I talked about the EX being it. Really, the LX is the introduction model.

So the CR-V LX is the one that they brought out without the blind spot warning. So because I'm talking about our lower-level EX Accord, which is still one up from the bottom, you get some features, heated seats, for example. Right. But cloth seats, cloth heated seats and a plastic steering wheel, for example. It's just a weird kind of combination that Honda has done. Well, the Sport gets no heated seats and a nicer radio.

Right. And it's more expensive. And it's more expensive.

So you're spending more for the Sport version over the EX, but you're not getting some of the equipment that you get with the EX. Right. And just because it's an entry-- and it's all because it's an entry-level hybrid, though it's the third one up in the hierarchy.

So that's a strange thing. Yeah, I think my advice to anybody who wants to buy the Accord is look very carefully at what's included in your trim line. Right. Because, especially since there's no option packages, you might not realize that you have to pay attention to all the standard listings under each trim line to kind of determine.

Usually, most OEMs, what they do is like, oh, OK, this is the next trim up. So it's everything that you have in the lower trim plus a few more options baked in. This is, you may or may not have what's in the lower trim. It's a surprise. Go read the fine print, right? And so definitely, if you're looking to buy this car, you need to pay close attention to make sure that you're actually getting what you want. You might be getting some things you don't want.

Right. But there's really no way around it either. I was playing around with the Honda configurator. And what I like about our Sport hybrid, I think the styling is really nice.

I think the wheels look good compared to the EX. But then I wanted-- well, I was like, well, if I was going to buy one, I want heated seats. So I went up to the Sport with leather, which gets you heated leather seats. But it gets these black wheels. And I just don't think they look as good.

So I'm like, oh, is this such a bummer. I mean, it's just not coming together. I like to go on configurators for car manufacturers and kind of do a fantasy car. Sure. I do this and this and this.

And there's always something in the Accord line that's coming up short for me. So we bought it. And we decided on the trims.

But what is it to drive? I mean that's-- visibility-wise, Emily, what do you think, comfort on the road, just using it? Yeah, so I took it home for the night. And I was definitely comfortable driving it. It had good visibility for me, especially since I am shorter.

I found that I was able to get a good driving position. That tends to be the thing I'm harping on a lot lately because I hate having to drive with like the tip of my big toe because I can't quite reach everything. So I did feel like this had enough adjustment.

I can see over the dash. I can have a really good view out the rear window. So overall, it was comfortable for me. And I wouldn't mind driving it, except for the noise. That's the part that sticks for me.

But if that was fine, then the rest of it would be a total go for me. I mean, I took it on a long trip, 300, 400 miles in it. And it's an appliance. It kind of, for me, has fallen down to the appliance level, whereas in the past, the Accord had that sportiness. It was different.

Maybe it didn't go the direction of a Ford Fusion of we're sporty, with its drawbacks. But it just did the job fine. But there was nothing to it that had any excitement, any verve, or anything that made me say, whoa, this is a sporty car. It just drove.

I could see out of it. I could sit in it. I could reach the touchscreen. I could go through the controls.

And I liked the fact that the touchscreen is a little better. They have a rail, so to speak. So you have things are accessible.

You could jump in and out pretty quickly. That's a smart thing. But I don't know.

I mean, just, it worked, which is great. But if you covered up the H, it's just like any car. It's a rental car, yeah, it would be fine. I totally get what you're saying. The steering has some feedback, but it really isn't that engaging.

It's sort of well-weighted, but it doesn't set you on fire. The handling is fine. But it's not super-memorable. Is that a Goldilocks? It sounds like a Goldilocks car? Honda, after all these years, probably knows their audience. And they're shooting right for the mainstream. And I think they've hit the mainstream.

Yeah, I mean, look, it's a dying segment in the sense that sedans are going away more and more. I mean, to see a redesigned sedan come out, that's a huge investment. So like we talked about, we have an EX.

We have the Sport Hybrid. They are in testing. So we'll have our information out there. So check out consumerreports.org is the advice

right now if you're considering it. So we're going to pivot now to our question-and-answer part of the show. As always, we love you to send us your 30-second video clips or the text questions to TalkingCars@icloud.com. That's TalkingCars@icloud.com.

Our first question is a video question. Nathaniel from Mississippi has one about window tint. My name is Nathaniel. And I live in Flowood, Mississippi, where it gets hot.

I own a 2022 Honda Civic hatchback and want to get my windows tinted. I want to know if you know which tint would be best, tint without ceramic or tint with ceramic. Look forward to your answer. Thank you. All right, so maybe not as hot, warm, sunny here in Connecticut as it is in Mississippi.

But we do have some information. Mike, you talked to one of the mechanics on our staff, one of the shop managers, Mike Crosson, who has appeared on this show. You can see past episodes with him in it. What did he have to say? Oh, Mike gave some really great tips about window tinting. In general, ceramic is the best option 99% of the time.

It's going to block a lot higher percentage of the UV lights. It's going to help to slow the fate of an interior. And it's going to be more expensive. I mean, that's kind of the way it goes. But it's 100% worth the cost because it's just a matter of material.

It's the same amount of labor to put it in as the other one. And just a reminder to all people watching our podcast, every state has different laws regarding the amount of tint that you can put on your windows. And there isn't a state in the United States that allows you to tint out the front part of your window, for example.

And just keep in mind how much you're driving at night because the darker your windows are, probably the harder it is to see. But that's neither here nor there. But I mean, I think if you've lived in a place like Mississippi or Florida or someplace it gets really hot, Arizona, a good, sturdy window tinting probably wouldn't be a bad idea not only to keep your interior a little bit cooler but also to slow the amount of fade that you might get.

So it's really with ceramic, it's the UVA and UVB rays that it's blocking. Right. So what we would protect ourselves against with sunscreen and such, but also it is keeping more heat out of the car.

And that's kind of a big thing, maybe not so much as driving so you have the glare and stuff you're worried about, but just the buildup of heat over the day. So if you have one of those silver screens maybe that you put up in the window, and then you have the ceramic tint, that's going to really help you out, right, with keeping the interior cool. And we've talked about it. I mean, Emily, just kind of haven't even touched it before.

But we do talk about how quickly cars heat up during the day, right? I mean we've done some evaluations on that. Exactly. So it doesn't even-- people think that it has to be a really hot day or you have to have a really high sun load in order for your car to heat up quickly. And that's not true at all. Just because of the way that the sunlight is coming, even on a cloudy day, into your windows and reflecting off of the interior surfaces, it creates that greenhouse effect. So your car can heat up very quickly.

Over the matter of an hour, it will be much higher than what you even think the ambient temperature is outside. And so it is important, especially if you have kids or pets, to make sure that you never leave them unattended in a vehicle, no matter how cloudy you think it is or how cool it is outside, if you've cracked the windows, whatever. It's never safe.

And also if you have carseats and things like that in the vehicle, just be careful when you're bringing your child into the car afterwards because those buckles, those metal pieces, they can get really hot. So a lot of times what I would do with my own kids is I would just throw a blanket over the carseat when we weren't using it. When we exit the vehicle, after I take the kids out, I would put a blanket or something to cover the buckles and such so that they don't get quite so hot. And it did help a little bit.

And just be careful when you're putting them in. Yeah, well, definitely a lot of good information. We have a lot more on how a car heats up on consumerreports.org.

And Mike, thanks for all the information on window tint. Hopefully Nathaniel can use that. The second question that we have is from Cole.

And Cole asks, why is it that all cars are not subject to all the crash test categories? I was looking at the Jeep Gladiator, and there's little to no information on how it performs in anything but a front impact crash. This becomes a factor in me choosing not to buy it. Is this a deceitful practice by the automaker, or are there other reasons why some cars are not subject to every test? Emily, I think you reached out to the testing evaluation bodies. I did. So important things to know, every vehicle in order to be sold in the US has to meet the regulatory crash testing.

So you have-- From the federal government? From the federal government. So the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, they conduct all of the federal regulatory testing. And they do have side-impact tests that every vehicle has to go through.

However, there are exceptions. So it's not so much a deceitful practice as much as there are exceptions built into the regulation. So for instance, if you have really heavy duty trucks, they exceed a certain weight limit, and so they would be exempt from certain tests. In the case of the Gladiator, baked into the regulation is language that says vehicles which have no doors or exclusively have doors that are designed to be easily attached or removed so that the vehicle can be operated without doors, which sounds a lot like the Gladiator-- Sure. Right. They would be exempt from FMVS214, or the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 214, which is side-impact protection.

So it doesn't have to go through that regulatory test. Now, NHTSA also does the New Car Assessment Program, or the NCAP program, which is the five-star ratings that you would see on the window sticker or you would see in the advertisements. Those tests follow the same exemptions as the regulatory standard.

So if the vehicle is exempt from the regulatory standard for side-impact protection, it's also going to be exempt from the NCAP program's side-impact testing, which is why you won't see any star ratings for side-impact. The other body though, that also does consumer crash testing, which is what NCAP is, is the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Now, they don't have exemptions for the Gladiator for side-impact testing. However, when the Gladiator came out, they believed that it was structurally similar to the Wrangler, and so they would be able to carry over the Wrangler's side-impact testing over to the Gladiator.

However, they've determined that that's not the case. And so it's in queue to be tested to their side-impact program. However, they don't have a timeline yet for us. Well, because they buy the vehicles to test? Right.

So they buy the vehicles. They do allow for some manufacturers to do their own verification testing, et cetera. But it just hasn't been done yet. It's important to understand that it's not uncommon for, if you have two vehicles that are essentially the same structurally, their crash performance will be the same.

And so it's not uncommon for them to carry over ratings from another sister model or something like that. We do that even in our car seat evaluations here at CR. If you have two car seat models that have the same structure, they're not going to have different crash performance. So we will carry that rating over. But in this case, unfortunately for the Gladiator, it doesn't share the same structure as the Wrangler.

And so it's still waiting to be tested. Right, but it's not anything that Jeep is doing to avoid-- No. --sharing information? They're not skirting any regulations? It's actually that having the real doors is an issue? Right.

And it is an issue in the decision to not test it? Exactly. And some vehicle categories aren't tested at all, like 2500 Series trucks are not tested. Right. Right.

And you won't see a lot of really expensive vehicles tested by IIHS because they're putting their money where it has the most impact, so to speak. Sorry, bad pun, not intended. But on more mainstream vehicles-- Exactly.

But I do think it is important, personally. I think that Cole made the right choice. I would want to know before I purchase a vehicle-- Certainly. --whether or not it performs well in those scenarios, because-- I say this all the time. You don't get to choose your crash.

And so only knowing that, oh, OK, it does great in frontals. But I'm not really sure how I'm going to fare out in these side-impact crashes is not the best scenario. No, it's interesting information. I've learned a lot on this.

So thank you very much. But that'll do it for this episode. But as always, send us your 30-second videos, or text questions to TalkingCars@icloud.com.

This episode was produced by Dave Abrams and shot by Andrew Belis and Anatoly Shumsky. Thanks for watching. And we'll see you next time.


2023-05-12 01:29

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