Honda Accord VTi-LX 2020 Hybrid road test review

Moving Well | Tim Nicholson | Posted on 08 May 2020

Tim Nicholson road tests the Honda Accord VTi-LX Hybrid.

  • Thumbs up

    Quiet, efficient and refined motoring in a spacious and well-appointed package.

  • Thumbs down

    Stiff suspension tune impacts the ride, pricey compared with rivals, dated cabin.

  • Perfect for

    An airport transfer car, or a daily driver if you value efficiency and comfort over performance.

  • Verdict

    Positioned somewhere between a Camry Hybrid and Lexus ES, the Accord Hybrid is modern and high-tech in some respects and dated in others. We’re just happy the Accord name lives on.

The Honda Accord badge holds a lot of memories for Australians. It’s been a family favourite since the late 1970s and it’s the second-longest-running Honda nameplate after the Civic.

It started its Australian journey as a stylish three-door hatchback in 1977 before morphing into a sleek four-door mid-sizer with pop-up headlights. A few generations of cool designs followed before a period of conservative styling took hold, ending with the fairly average ninth-gen model from 2013.

The bigger and bolder 10th-generation Accord arrived in late 2019 – two years after it went on sale in the US – but unlike earlier iterations, don’t expect to see too many on the roads. Medium-large sedans have been replaced by SUVs as the family car of choice and models like the Accord – and rivals including the Ford Mondeo, Mazda6 and Subaru Liberty – sell in middling numbers these days. 

Honda is offering two powertrains for the new Accord – a 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol and a petrol-electric hybrid –in one highly-specified VTi-LX model grade.

Given the generous levels of standard gear (the only option is paint colour), the Accord is priced at the higher end of the segment. The 1.5L is $47,990 and the hybrid tested here is $50,490 before on-road costs.

The only mainstream mid-size sedan that comes close to that pricing is the top-spec Mazda6 Atenza at $51,190. Even the semi-premium Volkswagen Passat is cheaper at $47,990. The only other hybrid in this class is the Toyota Camry which tops out at $41,590 in SL grade.

Compared with the $10,000-cheaper Camry Hybrid SL, the Accord hybrid looks like poor value for money. But given Honda is pitching this a little further upmarket, if you compare it with a $10,000-dearer Lexus ES, the value equation improves.

Honda Accord VTi-LX 2.0L Hybrid interior
Honda Accord VTi-LX 2.0L Hybrid interior


The bold exterior design is polarising. It has odd proportions and is clearly geared towards American taste – medium sedans are still big business in the US. 

Honda is known for its build quality and you get that feeling inside too. The comfortable front seats have excellent levels of support. There’s loads of storage for the driver and passenger, with a large central storage bin and plenty of space in the doors.

Honda’s display audio which houses infotainment and other vehicle functions has a simple layout, making it easy to use, but the buttons down the side of the screen make it look dated.

And that’s the thing with the Accord. There’s nothing technically wrong with the dash layout and interior design – it just looks dated. Compared to the minimalist elegance of the Mazda6’s interior, the Honda is off the pace. And touches like woodgrain inserts don’t exactly scream modern.

It is incredibly spacious in the second row, even sitting behind my own six-foot-tall driving position. Headroom is impressive, despite the sloping rear roofline, and the bucketed rear seats are comfy. Rear occupants can move the front passenger seat forward or back via a control on the side of the front seat. Passengers have knee-level air vents, map pockets, two USB outlets and decent in-door bottle storage. All this space and comfort points to the Accord being a viable option as an airport limo.

The rear-seat backrests folds down as one piece via a lever in the boot – no split-fold seats here. The hybrid’s battery pack is under the rear seats which has liberated more than 100 litres of cargo space compared with the old Accord. You can now stuff 570 litres worth of luggage in the sizeable boot. It has a temporary spare wheel under the boot floor.

One of the first things you notice about the Accord when driving is how quiet it is. Aside from coarse-chip roads which let a bit of noise in, the cabin is well insulated, even when the revvy engine is pushed.

Honda Accord VTi-LX 2.0L Hybrid
Honda Accord VTi-LX 2.0L Hybrid


The petrol-electric powertrain is made up of a 2.0-litre petrol engine, a pair of electric motors – a propulsion motor that drives the wheels and a generator motor that produces electricity – and a battery pack. It’s all driven through a continuously variable transmission via the front wheels and all up it pumps out 158kW of power and 315Nm of torque.

You’d never mistake the Accord hybrid for a sports car, but it offers linear power delivery and decent acceleration from a standing start. Like the Toyota hybrid systems, the transition from electric to petrol propulsion is fairly seamless. 

If you’re after a bit more poke, engage sport mode which increases throttle response and produces a sexier engine note.

The Accord’s well-balanced chassis ensures it handles well for a car of its size, but its 1591-kilogram weight is noticeable when cornering. It can’t quite match the handling capability of the Toyota Camry Hybrid.

The steering has an artificially heavy feel, but it turns in well. The suspension has been tuned for dynamics and is stiffer than the model it replaces. That makes for a jittery ride, depending on the road surface. It did, however, absorb some nasty road-shoulder corrugations quite well.

Honda has upped the safety game on the 10th-gen Accord. The Lane Watch feature provides a rear view of the left lane via a camera on the lower part of the passenger-side mirror. Great for keeping an eye out for cyclists. The lane-keeping aid works well but rather than centring the car, it bounces it between the lane markings.

The hybrid powertrain definitely keeps fuel use in check, but we recorded an average of 6.8 litres per 100 kilometres, up on the official claim of 4.3L/100km.

Honda Accord VTi-LX Hybrid

PRICING

List price: $50,490 before on-road costs.
Price as tested: $50,490 before on-road costs.
Model range: $47,990 to $50,490 before on-road costs.

DRIVETRAIN

2.0-litre petrol-electric powertrain, continuously variable transmission, front-wheel drive.

Power: 158kW@5000-6000rpm.
Torque: 315Nm@0-2000rpm.
Wheels: 235/45 R18.

FUEL

91 RON petrol, 48.5-litre tank.

Consumption: 4.3L/100km (government test), 6.8L/100km (RACV test)
Emissions: 98g/km CO2.

STANDARD SAFETY

Lane Watch side-camera system, front and rear parking sensors, multi-view reversing camera, rear cross-traffic alert, and the Honda Sensing active safety suite with autonomous emergency braking, forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist and adaptive cruise control.

STANDARD FEATURES

Leather-appointed upholstery, heated front seats, eight-way powered driver’s seat, keyless entry and start, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, eight-inch touchscreen display with DAB+ digital radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

WARRANTY

Five-year/unlimited-kilometre new-car warranty and eight-year/unlimited-kilometre battery warranty. 

Five-year/100,000-kilometre servicing package. Scheduled servicing every 12 months or 10,000 kilometres.

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