As someone who grew up in a state like I do, I remember the first time I heard there were places in America where it is illegal to pump your gas. Fortunately, such rules are restricted to two states: New Jersey and Oregon. Can you imagine being in a rush to get to work because of traffic, but your tank is running empty and you have to rely on someone else to get yourself swiftly back on the road? For commuters, things like pumping their gas are something that we don’t think about as a luxury, but when commuting to your job, every moment counts.
Does commuting have to mean the vehicle diminishes its quality-of-life improvements to lower its cost? No, it does not. However, that doesn’t mean that certain vehicles aren’t better commuters than others, and the most noteworthy differences are often the ones you don’t need to look closely to notice. The question I’ll be answering today is: where does the 2023 Honda Accord vs 2023 Toyota Camry discussion end, and which commuter vehicle is the better buy? Keep reading, and I’ll tell you – you may be surprised.
Turbocharged Is a Great Alternative
The first difference between the two vehicles is how Honda and Toyota handle powertrains, but the first ones I want to discuss are the ones that come with the base models. Here’s what you’ll find: the 2023 Toyota Camry is equipped with an acceptable, yet uninspired 2.5L I-4 engine paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. The 2.5L I-4 engine inside the Camry is impressive with remarkable fuel efficiency, but how does the Accord compare? The base Honda Accord powertrain is a turbocharged 1.5L I-4 engine. Like most turbocharged engines, the base Accord pairs its turbocharged engine with a Continuously Variable Automatic Transmission (CVT).
To some of you out there reading this article and have never driven a car with a CVT, right now it’s nothing but words, so who cares, right? Like most things automotive, the best way to learn the feel of something like a CVT is a hands-on experience, but the best way to explain the difference in feel between the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry is that you don’t feel a change in gears with the Accord because the CVT is best described as one continuous gear that allows you to speed up or slow down as much as you’d like, and the experience is completely smooth, not unlike a Go-Kart. I know this may sound strange on paper, but as I said, it’s a great reason to try out a car with a CVT for yourself.
Like the turbocharged engine, having a CVT is a great alternative to the traditional 8-speed automatic transmission, but do these features benefit the average commuter? Yes, because not only does having the CVT provide a smoother driving experience, but the turbocharged engine stands nearly identically with the Toyota Camry’s base powertrain’s fuel economy ratings – even succeeding it in city mileage, albeit highway travel is slightly mismatched. For example, both the turbocharged engine in the Accord and the basic 2.5L I-4 engine have a combined fuel economy rating of 32 mpg, but the base Accord can handle 29 mpg in the city against the Camry’s 28 mpg, but the Camry does have the slight edge with 39 mpg on the highway against 37 mpg. Considering the size of the Accord’s engine, these are very respectable ratings and the turbocharged components are to thank. What’s even more impressive is the 192 lb-ft of torque this small engine outputs for the Accord, while the 2.5L I-4 engine in the Camry can do as low as 182 lb-ft.
A Useful Tool for Commuters
It’s evident how serious Honda and Toyota are about giving their drivers more reasons to enjoy commuting, which includes saving people money. Both manufacturers achieve this with hybrid powertrains. The Accord Hybrid comes equipped with a 2.0L I-4 hybrid powertrain with a similar CVT designed for hybrids, referred to as an electronic continuously variable transmission (E-CVT), which the Camry Hybrid matches as it omits the 8-speed automatic transmission the non-hybrid Camry has for a CVT. A hybrid powertrain can be an extremely useful tool for commuters, no matter the length of your daily commute.
Performance-wise, Accord Hybrid models nearly match the same torque output as the non-hybrid 3.5L V6 engine in the Camry; the 2.0L I-4 hybrid powertrain has 247 lb-ft of torque, which is only slightly less than the 267 lb-ft of torque of Toyota’s V6 engine. This is very impressive for a hybrid powertrain. While Toyota doesn’t have official numbers to equate the torque output of the 2023 Camry Hybrid, its 208 hp is only slightly more than the 204 hp the Accord’s hybrid powertrain has.
Why does this matter? The Accord’s hybrid powertrain has a 2.0L I-4 engine that partly makes up its hybrid powertrain, while the Camry hybrid uses a larger and heavier 2.5L I-4 engine. This hybrid powertrain is a welcomed improvement over the turbocharged gasoline-powered engine the base Accord comes with. While the Camry Hybrid doesn’t come close to the performance potential the Camry is known for with its 3.5L V6 engine, at least the Accord Hybrid has the distinction of being stronger and more efficient than its gasoline-powered sibling, unlike Toyota’s hybrid sedan.
Which Commuter Saves You the Most Money?
The commuter that saves you the most money is the one you should buy, but why is that? If you’re driving from point A to point B in two different vehicles, the one that saves you more money means you’re getting better fuel efficiency. As if it’s any surprise, the hybrid variants of both vehicles outmatch their gasoline-powered relatives in fuel efficiency, but how do they compare against each other? Both hybrid powertrains, the Accord and Camry Hybrid, achieve 51 MPG in the city, which is phenomenal, albeit the Camry Hybrid gets better highway mileage with 53 MPG on the highway over 44 MPG in the Accord Hybrid. This is balanced out with the turbocharged 1.5L I-4 engine the Accord comes with, which I’ll discuss momentarily.
Both hybrid powertrains can only be paired with FWD, which doesn’t change anything on the Accord as the turbocharged gasoline engine was the same. However, the V6 engine in the Camry removes its AWD support from the standard powertrain along with the Camry Hybrid. With the V6 engine in your Camry, you’re not only missing out on the AWD you could get from the 2.5L I-4 engine, but you’d only get EPA-estimated ratings of 22 MPG in the city and 33 MPG on the highway, making for 26 MPG combined. There’s no contest with the Accord’s turbocharged I-4 engine, which gets 29 MPG in the city and 37 MPG on the highway. Yes, the V6 engine has more horsepower and torque than the turbocharged engine, but if you’re buying these vehicles for daily commuting, you shouldn’t be upset with the Accord’s gasoline-powered engine.
The turbocharged 1.5L I-4 engine in the Accord also outpaces the 2.5L I-4 engine in the Camry when the latter is paired with AWD. In FWD configurations, the Accord’s base powertrain gets 29 MPG in the city, while the Camry gets 28 MPG. Also, regarding the gasoline-powered variants, the regular Accord models with the turbocharged engine have a more similar 14.8-gallon fuel tank to the 15.8-gallon one in the Camry. This means the regular Accord holds up considerably well against the Camry with either powertrain and one less gallon of gas at its disposal. All considered, not bad for such a small engine, right?
Making the Right Choice Is Easy
After everything I’ve presented, the question I have for you is, “Are you convinced which vehicle you should buy?” If so, then great! If not, then the question you need to ask yourself is whether the benefits of a vehicle like the Accord will amplify your daily commute with comfort and efficiency. If you’re a commuter, you can’t deny that stopping for gas is annoying, especially if you’re in a hurry.
Unlike Oregon and New Jersey, the answer to not pumping your gas as much isn’t to make it illegal but to buy a vehicle that will find you at the gas station less. Although the Camry and Accord are both worth their praise, the Honda Accord can ultimately provide a better commuting experience, especially if you go all in and purchase a hybrid model. This way, you can take that money you’re saving on gas and spend it on more important things, which is ultimately what budget-minded commuters are looking for in a vehicle.