[TEST DRIVE] Don't judge an Accord Hybrid by its less-than-impressive cover

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[TEST DRIVE] Don't judge an Accord Hybrid by its less-than-impressive cover

Honda Accord Hybrid on road. [HONDA KOREA]

Honda Accord Hybrid on road. [HONDA KOREA]

 
Honda’s Accord Hybrid sedan may not be the most sophisticated option out there, but it does serve its purpose faithfully. It is comfortable, fuel efficient and pretty smart.

 
The Korean unit of the Japanese carmaker brought revamped versions of two of its flagship models, the CR-V SUV Hybrid and Accord Hybrid, to Korea in January to ramp up the brand’s sales here, which have been deteriorating for some time.
 
The Korea JoongAng Daily recently got a chance to get behind the wheel of the Accord Hybrid sedan to drive a 150-kilometer (93-mile) round trip from southern Seoul to a cafe in Incheon.
 
Exterior-wise, the model is not particularly exciting compared to its rivals, which almost always wow with groundbreaking designs to prove that they are the king of future mobility.
 
This Accord Hybrid sticks with its old look with just a few subtle changes, such as a slightly wider grille. The interior exudes a similar vibe with the center console filled with old-fashioned analogue-style buttons and a pretty small 8-inch infotainment screen, pointedly ignoring the push toward futuristic lean, wide interior design found in practically every other new vehicle.
 
The one noticeable concession to the 2020s school of design was the addition of a button-type gear lever.
 
Despite the less-than-impressive first impression, the driving performance actually exceeds expectations. Perhaps the old adage should be, don't judge a Honda Accord by its cover.
 
This Honda Accord Hybrid offers a textbook sedan driving experience with a little bit of a kick.
 
Its dual electric motor hybrid system provides an awfully quiet but strong ride. While most hybrid vehicles tend to have a lag in acceleration at high speeds and an awkward feeling when braking due to the car switching from the electric motor to petrol engine, this Accord Hybrid doesn't have that issue, offering a similar feeling to other internal combustion cars.
 
Honda Korea explained that the car is able to generate a maximum horsepower of 184 and torque of 32.1 kilogram-meters on its dual electric motor alone.
 
When topped with the gasoline engine, it offers a maximum 315 horsepower.
 
There are three modes of driving — EV, Sport and Econ — which can be picked depending on the driver’s preference with a button placed below the gear buttons.
 
When going over 130 kilometers per hour (80 miles per hour) there were noticeable sounds, however, from the gasoline engine as well as from outside.
 
Technology-wise, the Honda Accord Hybrid might not be the most intelligent car on the road, but it's at least the above-average kid on the block. Installed with an upgraded adaptive cruise control system, it was able to control its speed and the distance with the car in front to preset levels. 
 
Its Low Speed Follow system was extremely helpful on congested roads, since it can slowly follow the car in front controlling its own speed, without the driver having to move between the accelerator and brake every 30 seconds.
 
It also came with with a fairly active lane keeping assist system. Without the turn signals, the car warns the driver when it starts to strays out of the lane, and moves the steering wheel on its own if the car goes to far.  
 
When making such mistakes several times, the vehicle warns the driver to focus on their driving.
 
The infotainment screen may be small, but provides a smooth connection with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
 
The head-up display screen doesn't provide as much information as some cars on the market, but the simple yet to-the-point information shown on is convenient and doesn't hinder the driver’s view.
 
At the end of the course, it delivered a stellar fuel economy of 17.8 kilometer per liter (42 miles per gallon).

 
The back seat was spacious thanks to its rather long 19-inch wheelbase and has two USB sockets which can be used to charge smart devices.
 
The price starts at 45.7 million won ($40,700).  
 
For those who prefer function over aesthetics, the latest Accord Hybrid won't be a disappointing choice. 
 
Honda Accord Hybrid. [HONDA KOREA]

Honda Accord Hybrid. [HONDA KOREA]

 
BY JIN EUN-SOO [jin.eunsoo@joongang.co.kr] 
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