2021 Honda Accord gets better base tech, hybrid system improvements

The 2021 Honda Accord is getting some trim shake-ups, some refinements to the powertrain in its hybrid variant, and some minor styling updates to keep the midsize sedan fresh. 

On the styling front, you’ll have to really squint to see the differences, which are effectively limited to the Accord’s front bumper. The grille is a bit wider, and the accent lines reaching toward either side of the lower fascia from the fog lamps now take slightly different routes. Apart from that, you’d be hard-pressed to notice anything has changed. 

Inside, the 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system becomes the standard offering. Previously only available on the EX trim and above, this system brings both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility to the entry-level Accord LX; wireless variants of both integration suites are offered on the EX-L and Touring trims (EX and above on Hybrid models) to go along with wireless device charging for a cable-free experience. 2.5-amp USB ports are also available for rear-seat passengers on upper trims, and you won’t leave your… uh… devices back there anymore thanks to a new standard rear seat reminder. 

The EX 1.5T trim has been done away with entirely. Its equivalent within the new lineup is the Sport Special Edition (or Sport SE), which slots in between the regular Sport and the EX-L. The only variant now offered in an EX trim is the Hybrid.

The most significant change to the ’21 Accord is one most buyers won’t even see. The Hybrid’s direct-drive motor system, which is unique to this segment, received an overhaul to improve throttle response and make the powertrain feel more linear. 

“The new Honda Accord Hybrid is really the Accord to buy, offering customers more of everything they like about Accord — more power, refinement and, of course, excellent fuel economy ratings,” said Honda’s Dave Gardner in the announcement.  

Thanks to an update from earlier in the summer, we already knew that the Accord’s manual transmission option was going to be discontinued for 2021. Per Honda, the take rate on manual Accords ticked up ever-so-slightly in 2018, then flatlined to about 2 percent. Even after the praise heaped upon the latest generation of Honda’s go-to sedan, the company just couldn’t drum up enough excitement to justify further production.

“Manual transmissions will remain an important part of the Honda lineup,” Honda’s previous announcement said, going on to point out that a stick remains available on just about every variant of the Civic. “Enthusiast consumers have long reaped the rewards of this commitment, and those buyers helped make Honda the retail No. 1 manual transmission brand in America in 2019,” it concluded. 

But this is 2020, so we know only sadness and loss. The good news is that despite the content changes, the 2021 Accord is effectively the same price as the 2020, with the various trims differing by no more than a few hundred dollars in either direction; the loaded up 2021 2.0T Touring actually comes in cheaper than the 2020 it replaces. 

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