Honda’s Accord Hybrid is back with better gas mileage, more tech

After a one-year hiatus, the Honda Accord Hybrid is back with better fuel economy and technology borrowed from the rest of the recently revised Accord lineup. It will also be more widely available than the previous Accord Hybrid, which was well received but was never made available in large numbers.

The 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid will achieve 48 mpg combined (49 mpg city, 47 mpg highway), according (pun not intended) to its maker. Honda says these figures are based on a new, more stringent testing regime the EPA will introduce for the 2017 model year. Based on the new rules, the 2017 model boasts increases of 1 mpg combined, 1 mpg city, and 2 mpg highway over the previous Accord Hybrid.

That efficiency is made possible by an updated version of Honda’s novel hybrid powertrain, which doesn’t use a conventional transmission. In “Hybrid Drive” mode, the 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine powers an electric motor/generator to recharge the battery pack, while a second motor actually drives the wheels. The engine can also connect to the drive motor in “Engine Drive” mode to help drive the wheels directly, and there’s an “EV Drive” mode that allows all-electric driving for very short distances.

Related: Honda’s 2017 Clarity Fuel Cell will start at “around” $60K

Total system output is 212 horsepower, an increase of 16 hp over the last Accord Hybrid. A more compact lithium-ion battery pack also yields extra trunk space, now up to 13.5 cubic feet. The Accord Hybrid gets some of the styling changes the rest of the Accord lineup received for 2016, including a new grille. Hybrid-specific elements include model-specific wheels, a slightly different hood, and blue-tinted LED lighting.

On the inside, the Accord Hybrid gets an extra dose of tech. Like other Accord models, it’s now available with a Display Audio system that includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, plus a wide-angle rearview camera, remote engine start, and the Honda Sensing suite of safety features. This bundles automatic braking, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, road departure mitigation, and forward collision warning.

The last Accord Hybrid suffered from production bottlenecks, but Honda is increasing production capacity for what it hopes will be increased sales. It wants to double sales from the car’s previous best of just 14,000 units in 2014. The 2017 Accord Hybrid should arrive in showrooms soon, with pricing to be announced at a later date.

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