Since the Honda Insight first hit the market 22 years ago, Honda has been a leader in hybrid technology. But for 2023, Honda is determined to make hybrids mainstream, and the all-new 2023 Honda Accord is a key component in its plans. As expected, the new car is larger, safer, and more technologically advanced than ever, but the headline news is that the previously optional hybrid powertrain is now the sole choice for most of the available trims. You can still get the 1.5L turbocharged four-cylinder offered in previous model years, but it is only available on the two base trims, and the punchy 2.0L turbocharged engine has been removed from the lineup entirely.
A Larger and More Modern Design
The 2023 Honda Accord is an all-new design, growing almost three inches longer than the outgoing model. That means more space inside for passengers and cargo, with Honda claiming best-in-class passenger volume, trunk space, and rear-seat legroom. Since the 2022 Accord already beat its perennial competitor, the Toyota Camry, in all three of those measurements, this means the 2023 model is on the brink of transitioning from a midsize sedan to a full-size one. That’s a particularly good thing seeing as the compact Honda Civic has also grown recently and is getting closer to being a midsize sedan itself.
Inside the cabin, the 2023 Accord is now one of the most modern vehicles in its class, offering a standard 10.2-inch digital driver display and an available 12.3-inch central touchscreen display. This puts it ahead of the Camry and Kia K5 by a considerable margin. Even better, Honda has partnered with Google to offer the new Google built-in infotainment software, though unfortunately, this desirable feature will only be available on the top Touring trim. Behind the scenes, the new technology is enhanced through the implementation of Tesla-style over-the-air updates, allowing the Accord to be upgraded and improved without visiting a dealer.
Committed to Hybrid Power
Now for the controversial part––the switch from traditional gasoline engines to hybrid powertrains for most of the 2023 Accord lineup. Only the two base trims, the LX and the EX, will continue to be available with the 1.5L turbocharged four-cylinder engine that drivers of the outgoing generation know and love. All other trims come standard with an upgraded version of the 2.50L hybrid engine that has been available in the Accord Hybrid since 2017. For most drivers, the hybrid is the better engine, noticeably producing more power and significantly better fuel economy than the base engine.
However, Honda is pushing drivers to choose the hybrid option, and there is a sharp line between the features available in the base trims and those in the hybrid trims. For instance, if you opt for the traditional gasoline engine, you will get a smaller seven-inch infotainment screen (a downgrade from the 2022 model) and will not have wireless smartphone integration (standard in all the hybrid trims). Driving enthusiasts will also be disappointed to learn that the powerful 2.0L turbocharged engine available for the previous generation has been discontinued, putting the 2023 Accord at a substantial power deficit compared to competitors like the Camry and K5.
Did Honda Make the Right Choice?
It’s no secret that Honda is in the midst of a crisis. As a car manufacturer that made its name building reliable, high-performance gasoline engines, it has been slow to shift to electrified vehicles. Despite launching the first commercially-available hybrid in America, Honda’s hybrids and EVs have always been overshadowed by best-sellers like the Accord, CR-V, and Civic. Now Honda is trying to catch up, ditching traditional gasoline engines and rolling out hybrid powertrains for all of its most popular models. The question is, will buyers take to the new hybrid options? Or will this sudden shift cause the Accord to lose its previously unshakable reputation?