2023 Honda Accord Sport-L Hybrid– Review by David Colman +VIDEO
A Stunning Achievement
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL
The 11th generation Honda Accord will take care of you in ways you can't begin to anticipate. When the temperature spiked during my photo shoot, I tossed my parka and camera bag into the trunk of this newest Accord, and pressed the "close" button on the underside of the lid. But a chirp accompanied a refusal to shut. Even slamming the trunk didn't work as it chirped and popped open yet again. Just as I was about to conclude that this Radiant Red Metallic Accord was demonically cursed, the truth dawned on me: the trunk wouldn't shut because it detected that the car key was jammed in the pocket of my parka. The top echelon 2023 Accord Hybrid Sport-L proved to be full of such gratifying surprises.
It's taken Honda stylists ten shots at beauty before achieving success on number eleven. This Accord is so understated it's stunning. Credit uninterrupted body lines, a subtly lengthened hood, blacked-out headlight surrounds and a black air curtain below the front bumper for the good looks. Most noteworthy is the incisive fast back line that sweeps from nose to tail in a clean trajectory. Previous Accords have always put function and price before beauty, but I challenge you to find a better-looking family sedan than this one. Compared to the competition, the Sport-L is so free of unnecessary surface entertainment that it could pass as an Italian show car.
A 2.7-inch increase in length gives the new Accord a streamlined form. That stretch also means a more spacious back seat (41 inches of legroom) and a trunk that now provides 16.7 cubic feet of cargo storage. Its wider rear track is stabilized by a new annular rear bulkhead. This structure uses side stiffeners to plant the Accord's rear suspension more firmly than previous versions. Similar improvements to the dashboard structure match the improvements in the rear. Inside you'll find all new "Body Stabilizing Seats" which offer superior lateral and thigh support. A pair of graphic panels grace the unfussy-looking dashboard. A12.3 inch "Digital Driver Interface" offers a color touchscreen with Google Play, Maps, and Assistant. A 12-speaker Bose stereo includes a volume knob. The 10.2 inch screen in front of the driver reconfigures itself whenever you swap Drive Modes. I found the tiny vertical speedometer on the right edge of the screen to be virtually illegible, but a large digital display somewhat compensates.
Although Honda offers six versions of the new Accord, the one you'll want is the one we drove. The entry-level models (LX, EX) make do with a 2.0 liter inline 4 that churns out just 146hp and 134lb.-ft. of torque. That's short of my mark, so you'll want to bump up to the Hybrid which is offered in 3 versions (EX-L, Sport-L, and Touring). We preferred the exterior treatment of the Sport-L, which blacks out all the ancillary trim (side mirrors, B-pillar, shark fin antenna, window trim, decklid spoiler, rear diffuser). Only two discrete rear nameplates are chrome. Even the handsome alloy rims are fittingly understated, with a matte black finish.
A set of Goodyear Touring All Season (TW 500) radials (235/40R19) provide a reassuring level of cornering grip when you need it. And you will want to challenge even the most daunting curves with the Sport-L. Honda engineers have gone to great lengths to convert this Accord into a worthy back road sport sedan contender. How did this enticing development come to be? Most of the improvements are unseen, but quickly apparent to the enthusiast, and heavily appreciated. In addition to the chassis stiffeners mentioned, Honda laser-focused on improving steering feel in the new Accord by reducing friction in the front ball joints and steering column, and by adding a damper to the mechanism. The Accord offers 4 Drive Modes, with the most noticeable difference apparent when you switch from Normal to Sport. The sloppy steering response in Normal Mode becomes pleasantly precise in Sport Mode.
If the Sport-L is lacking in any one department, it would be outright horsepower. Its 2.0 liter inline 4, augmented by an AC motor, churns out just 204hp. That's enough to send it from zero to 60 in 6.6 seconds, and run the quarter mile in 15.3 seconds at 90mph. But when you floor the throttle, forward progress feels gradual, not explosive. But on the other hand, the hybrid Accord posts an overall fuel consumption figure of 44 MPG, with a full tank good for a range of more than 450 miles.
2023 HONDA ACCORD SPORT-L HYBRID
ENGINE: 2.0 liter inline 4, DOHC, 16-valve plus AC Motor + 1.1kWh lithium-ion battery
HORSEPOWER: 204hp (combined)
TORQUE: 247lb.-ft. (combined)
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 46MPG City/41MPG Highway
PRICE AS TESTED: $32,990
HYPES: Best Looking Accord Ever
GRIPES: 50hp More Would Be Nice
STAR RATING: 10 Stars out of 10
©2023 David E Colman