The demand for hybrid cars has gone up in the last decade. This has prompted many automakers to make more efficient versions of the most popular cars, like the best-selling Honda Accord. The Honda Accord Hybrid is back and better than ever for 2021, with several new features and an upgraded powertrain.
The Honda Accord Hybrid is so good that it’s stealing the spotlight away from rivals like the Kia Niro Hybrid. The Niro Hybrid is definitely one of the most fuel-efficient SUVs, but it doesn’t pack that much power. Experts at Car and Driver break down how superior the Honda Accord Hybrid is compared to the Kia Niro Hybrid.
What’s it like to drive a Honda Accord Hybrid?
The Honda Accord Hybrid has two electric motors paired to its 2.0-liter engine, making a total of 212 hp. It’s fast and rated for 48 mpg combined city/highway. Car and Driver’s Touring tester had larger tires, but it still managed to get a good 41 mpg combined city/highway.
For 2021, the hybrid powertrain was slightly retuned to give drivers better throttle response while in each drive mode. The car feels poised while going over any type of pavement and the responsive handling makes it fun to drive. Car and Driver also thought that several of the Accord Hybrid’s safety features work better than they did in the outgoing model.
On the inside, the Honda Accord Hybrid has a premium cabin and surprisingly spacious seats. On the Touring model, the leather seats are heated and ventilated. This top-tier model also has a head-up display, a moonroof, and a Wi-Fi hotspot. It has a large trunk by sedan standards and also has split-folding seats.
However, Car and Driver said that the supposed powertrain upgrade didn’t make much of a difference. If you’re still driving a 2020 model, you’re likely familiar with the engine’s whining as it struggles to accelerate. That’s because, by nature, the Accord Hybrid’s electric powertrain system gives it more torque than pep under heavy throttle.
The Kia Niro Hybrid needs to catch up
Car and Driver also test-drove the Kia Niro Hybrid, but testers weren’t nearly as impressed with its performance. The Niro Hybrid has a 1.6-liter four-cylinder with only one electric motor, making a combined 139 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. It can reach 0-60 mph in 9.5 seconds, over two seconds slower than the Honda Accord Hybrid.
The Kia Niro Hybrid’s engine also buzzes excessively while driving at low speeds. However, testers did note that this noise decreases once you’re driving around 70 mph. Test drivers also were confused while operating the new paddles on the steering wheel. These are designed to increase the car’s efficiency with better regenerative braking.
The Kia Niro Hybrid’s gas mileage is also one of its biggest strengths. It’s estimated for 52 mpg while on city roads and 49 mpg on the interstate. Higher trims will get slightly lower gas mileage, but these models obviously come with more features.
However, even in the EX Premium model, the Kia Niro Hybrid’s interior is uninspired. The seats are leather, but the hard plastics around the dash and drab color scheme don’t do it any favors. The back row is spacious, but storage space with all the seats in use is limited.
The Honda Accord Hybrid’s clear advantage
When it comes down to it, the Kia Niro Hybrid is living in a different time period. Nowadays, you can have hybrids like the Honda Accord that are both fast and fuel-efficient. Despite being a sedan, the Accord Hybrid also has more room for passengers and a more functional cargo area.