The Honda Accord Hybrid may have skipped the 2016 model year, but it’s back for 2017 with a number of improvements. It gets all of the refreshed, 2016 model-year Accord’s new stuff – including a sharper exterior appearance, and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay – with a fancy new hybrid powertrain under the hood.

This Accord Hybrid uses Honda’s next-generation two-motor hybrid system, which pairs a 2.0-liter Atkinson cycle four-cylinder engine with an electric motor. The result is 212 combined horsepower and fuel economy ratings of 49 miles per gallon city, 47 mpg highway, and 48 mpg combined. To put it in perspective, that’s 24 more total horsepower than the Ford Fusion Hybrid with fuel economy improvements of 5, 6, and 6 mpg in city, highway, and combined cycles. As for the Toyota Camry Hybrid, Honda’s got that one beat, too – the Accord Hybrid has 12 more horsepower, not to mention increases of 6, 8, and 7 mpg in the respective drive cycles.

Honda says the Accord Hybrid’s drivetrain works in three ways. There’s a traditional EV mode for very short distances under light acceleration, a Hybrid Drive situation where the front wheels are driven by the electric motor with the gas engine powering a generator, and finally, Engine Drive uses a lock-up clutch that connects the engine and propulsion motor, and both drive the front wheels. It’s actually not all that complicated. In simple terms, the car drives with the usual hybrid wizardry we expect for a 2017 model-year vehicle.

Visually, it’s your standard Accord, though the sharp-eyed will note the unique wheels, blue-highlighted LED headlights, and, of course, the Hybrid badging. Less noticeable features include a new aluminum hood and a smaller battery pack that doesn’t eat up so much cargo space.

Hybrid, Hybrid EX-L, and Hybrid Touring will be the available trim levels. As for a full-on plug-in model – something that sold in small volumes with the last-generation Accord – mum’s the word on that. Even so, Honda’s hoping this new Accord Hybrid will do substantially better than its predecessor – the company is estimating double its previous best of 14,000 annual sales. The 2017 Accord Hybrid goes on sale in the US this Spring.

Gallery: 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid

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The Best Gets Better: More Powerful, Fuel Efficient and Technologically Advanced 2017 Accord Hybrid Launching this Spring

- Next-generation two-motor hybrid powertrain expected to receive class-leading EPA fuel economy ratings; including 49 mpg city
- Most powerful and refined midsize hybrid sedan with 212 total combined horsepower
- Honda Sensing™ safety and driver-assistive technologies standard
- Doubled production capacity for expected sales increase

TORRANCE, Calif., April 21, 2016 – Honda will bolster its Accord lineup with the launch of the 2017 Accord Hybrid this spring, featuring a more powerful and efficient second-generation two-motor hybrid powertrain that has the highest EPA fuel economy ratings of any midsize hybrid sedan and delivers the most power. With improved production methods and supplies of hybrid components, Honda is anticipating significant growth in sales of Accord Hybrid and is targeting annual sales to be more than double its previous best of just under 14,000 vehicles in 2014.

“The new Honda Accord Hybrid is the ultimate Accord – the most refined, technologically sophisticated and, of course, most fuel efficient in the lineup,” said John Mendel, Executive Vice President of the American Honda Motor Co., Inc. “With Accord already America’s most popular car three years running and the best-selling midsize car to younger buyers, we think this new hybrid model will add considerable momentum for the Honda brand.” In addition to its more powerful and fuel efficient hybrid powertrain, the 2017 Accord Hybrid carries the substantial upgrades made to the entire Accord lineup for model year 2016. This includes the latest technology Honda has to offer, including the available Display Audio with Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto™, and the Honda Sensing™ suite of advanced safety and driver-assistive technologies, to be offered as standard equipment on all new 2017 Accord Hybrids.

Hybrid-exclusive design features include a special aluminum hood and wheels, blue highlighted LED headlights and taillights and “Hybrid” exterior badging. A more compact hybrid battery pack increases trunk capacity to a midsize hybrid class-leading 13.5 cu.-ft.

Combining the next generation of Honda’s two-motor hybrid system with an ultra-efficient 2.0-liter i-VTEC Atkinson Cycle engine, the 2017 Accord Hybrid powertrain will achieve peak combined output of 212 horsepower, the highest of any midsize hybrid sedan and up 16 horsepower over the 2015 Accord Hybrid. EPA fuel economy ratings of 49/47/48 (city/highway/combined) put the Accord Hybrid at the top of the class for ratings, making it the most powerful and fuel efficient midsize hybrid sedan in America.

These EPA fuel economy ratings are based on new, more stringent ratings requirements enacted by the U.S. EPA for the 2017 model year. Based on the new requirements, Honda estimates the 2015 Accord Hybrid ratings would be 48/45/47 (actually rated at 50/45/47 under the previous method), indicating a +1/+2/+1 increase for the 2017 model over the previous version. The Accord Hybrid’s two-motor hybrid powertrain takes an elegant and innovative approach to hybrid power, eliminating the need for a conventional mechanical transmission.

The Accord Hybrid’s powertrain seamlessly transitions between three operations:

- EV Drive – using its electric propulsion motor and lithium ion battery pack drives the front wheels for short distances under light loads (with the engine turned off)

- Hybrid Drive – the electric propulsion motor drives the front wheels while the gasoline engine powers a second motor/generator to supplement electrical current drawn from the battery pack

- Engine Drive – using a lock-up clutch mechanism to connect the engine and propulsion motor, the front wheels are driven by both the motor and gasoline engine.

With its next-generation Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE™) body structure and Honda Sensing™ technology, the 2017 Accord is anticipated to receive the highest available crash safety rating from the U.S. government – a 5-Star Overall Vehicle Score from the NHTSA – and a similar top rating of TOP SAFETY PICK+ from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

The 2017 Accord Hybrid will be available in three trims – Hybrid, Hybrid EX-L and Hybrid Touring – and all grades will feature increased levels of standard and available equipment. New standard features include a wide angle rearview camera, remote engine start and Honda Sensing™, which includes Collision Mitigation Braking System™ (CMBS™), Lane Keeping Assist (LKAS), Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Road Departure Mitigation (RDM), Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and Forward Collision Warning (FCW). Available new features on upper trims include a 7-inch Display Audio touchscreen with Android Auto™ and Apple CarPlay compatibility, heated rear seats, and front and rear parking sensors.

The Accord has been named a Car and Driver magazine “10Best” an unprecedented 30 times and has been the most popular car in America with retail car buyers for three consecutive years. The Accord is on track to earn a fourth straight year as America’s most popular car with sales up 12.3 percent through the first three months of 2016. Accord also is the most popular midsize car with Millennials and has been #1 with under-35-year-olds for four consecutive years and leads all other cars in America, except Honda’s own Civic, in sales to under under-35 car buyers since 2010.

The 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid will make its first public appearance at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, Calif., as part of the aquarium’s Earth Day weekend celebrations on April 23-24.

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