2017 Honda Accord Hybrid Long-Term Update: Powertrain
With four months under its belt, our 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid EX-L Touring has proven a solid addition to the KBB.com long-term vehicle fleet, thanks to its laudable mix of comfort, utility and efficiency. This time around, we’ll take a closer look at the heart of Honda’s affable 4-door, its enhanced gas/electric powertrain.
More powerful and more efficient
The 2017 Accord Hybrid boasts a major upgrade in the form of its Gen II intelligent Multi-Mode Drive (i-MMD) package which allows it to function as a parallel or series hybrid. Primary components consist of a 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle i-VTEC 4-cylinder engine, a main traction motor that can drive the front wheels with or without the engine and a second, smaller motor connected to and driven by the engine which replaces the conventional starter and also is used to generate electric energy that can power the primary motor. The gasoline engine gets modest efficiency tweaks to help speed warmup, lower internal friction and promote earlier EV operational capability, while the all-new motors boast the combination of being smaller, lighter and more powerful. Collectively, the revamped 2017 system cranks out 212 horses, up from 196 in the previous Accord Hybrid.
Rounding out the Accord Hybrid powertrain package is a new Power Control Unit that more effectively manages input/output demands as well as a new Intelligent Power Unit that pairs a DC-DC converter and the Hybrid’s air-cooled 1.3-kWh lithium-ion battery pack, which are mounted under the trunk floor. Like the motors, both the PCU and IPU are now significantly smaller and lighter than before.
In place of a conventional transmission, the Accord Hybrid’s virtual “E-CVT” automatic employs a drive-force transfer system that eliminates the need for a torque converter, mechanical pulleys or the traditional belt and introduces a new driver-selectable Sport mode as well as the standard Drive setting. It also features an auxiliary “Brake” setting that substantially increases the level of regenerative braking to promote more efficient hybrid operation and further increase fuel efficiency.
Rolling down the road
The bounty of upgrades to its operating system notwithstanding, the real question at hand is how well does this new Honda Accord fare out in the real world? With few minor exceptions, the answer is remarkably well. Fitted with Honda’s signature Econ button and capable of operating in the descriptively named EV, Hybrid and Engine Drive Modes, this greenest member of the Accord family impressively leverages its added capability. The Hybrid’s electric motor boost makes the car feel -- and be -- notably quicker off the line than a conventional Accord 4-cylinder. While hardly a rocket, it can reach the classic 60-mph benchmark in the low 7-second range -- several tenths more rapidly -- and the motor’s instant torque also contributes to palpably smoother acceleration. Kudos also are in order for the seamlessness of the engine’s on/off transitions that occur in various operating modes as well as for the overall feel of the Accord Hybrid’s regenerative braking whether in normal or the amped-up “B” setting.
While a solid performer, the Accord Hybrid isn’t quite perfect. Despite the car’s standard active noise cancellation system, the 4-cylinder engine serves up a bit more noise under full throttle acceleration than we’d deem ideal. However, in fairness, the well-isolated cabin becomes a lot more serene when you’re just cruising along. Despite the Hybrid’s class-leading 49/47/48-mpg EPA city/highway/combined fuel economy numbers and plenty of 50+ mpg individual segment runs, our long-termer is averaging a more modest 41.4 mpg after 5,200 miles of mixed-mode running. Frankly, we think that’s still pretty impressive for a vehicle of its size, but we’re also hoping the number rises a bit during its remaining time with us.
See Past Reports on our Long-Term 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid:
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