Life is nothing if not cyclical. And so it’s time to welcome back inflation, something most millennials know nothing about, since the last time it reared its ugly head was the 1980s, before their parents were dating.
But there’s evidence that it may be returning as companies are hiking wages to attract workers to fill job openings. Production bottlenecks are increasing the cost of manufacturing. Prices are rising for everything from peanut butter and toilet paper to gasoline.
Currently, the national average for a gallon of gas is $3.041 a gallon, up 5.1% from its $2.885 price a month ago, according to AAA. But other states are averaging higher prices, such as California, at $4.175, or Nevada at $3.617. In fact, gas prices are the highest they’ve been since 2014.
So that makes the 2021 Honda Accord Hybrid, with an EPA combined rating of 48 mpg, a midsize sedan well worth considering, especially given its $27,565 base price — nearly 33% less than the average price of a new car.
Given the Honda Accord Hybrid’s thrifty nature, it’s hard to understand why an Accord buyer would opt for any other model. Offered in ascending base, EX, EX-L and Touring models, all Accords get a modest facelift for 2021 that fine-tunes the grille, LED headlights, fog lights and 19-inch alloy wheels.
Inside, you’ll find the 8-inch infotainment screen is now standard, and comes with wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and wireless charging. Hybrid models get powertrain revisions that furnish stronger acceleration, more pure EV range and other tweaks. Honda provided a top-of-the-line Touring for a weeklong evaluation.
If you have a hard time discerning what was changed for the new model year, don’t feel badly. The styling updates are minimal at best. Thankfully, the Accord’s styling remains largely unchanged, remaining elegantly extroverted, with a sweeping beltline that accents the front grille, sweeping back across the top of the headlights. Arching rearward, the beltline subtly mirrors the arched roofline, which tapers rearward in tasteful sportiness.
Drivers face a comfortably thick steering wheel that is nestled in a horizontally themed instrument panel with an upscale feel and anchored by a large infotainment screen. Below it, the climate controls are separated from the screen above it, making it easy to find them quickly.
Cabin storage is very good. The seats prove comfortable and supportive. Road noise is moderate. Cabin space is impressive, and the 16.7 cubic-foot trunk seems capable of swallowing all but the bulkiest of lifestyle debris.
All Accord Hybrids are powered by a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine and a pair of AC synchronous permanent-magnet electric motors mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission that generates 212 horsepower and 232 pound-feet of torque. In the Base, EX and EX-L models, this driveline returns a combined EPA rating of 48 mpg. But in the Touring, that drops to 43 mpg. Blame the larger 19-inch wheels for the lower rating. Yet those same shoes supply remarkable handling. Of course, the added grip increases fuel consumption. Thankfully, the Accord Hybrid uses regular unleaded fuel.
Safety and Technology
The Accord Hybrid Touring came well equipped with a number of advanced driver-assistance systems, including lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, traffic-sign recognition, auto high-beam headlights, and blind-spot alert with rear cross-traffic alert. In addition, Touring models get low-speed braking control, and a head-up display, while base models lack blind spot alert with rear cross traffic alert.
There’s a notable upgrade in technology, thanks to the standard 8-inch infotainment screen, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as wireless charging and rear-seat USB ports. The two large knobs that flank the screen are a welcome relief from Honda’s previous infotainment system designs. Unfortunately, Honda’s infotainment systems continue to lag the industry in design and reliability. The wireless Apple CarPlay refused to recognize my iPhone upon vehicle start up, requiring that I manually go in and connect it.
The Accord’s noteworthy equilibrium of comfortable ride and sporty handling is one that few automakers seem to perfect, yet Honda does with remarkable ease. Pockmarked streets are absorbed without fuss or excess ride motions.
The compliance doesn’t come at the expense of handling, although the body leans somewhat when cornering, but that’s to be expected given its mission. Yet it’s fun-to-drive factor remains high, feeling nimble and light. Driveline refinement is very high; you won’t feel a kick when the gas engine comes on, a noticeable difference from many automakers.
With a meager appetite for fuel, athleticism that doesn’t come at the expense of comfort, a roomy, comfortable cabin, a classically handsome wardrobe and a starting price that mere mortals can afford, the 2021 Honda Accord Hybrid has much to recommend it. With the specter of inflation looming, the Accord’s trio of handling, poise and fuel economy make for a proposition that’s hard to resist.