2017 Honda Accord around-town driving button

Dear Car Talk

I have a 2017 Honda Accord which we pujrchased new in 2017. There is a button on the dash which, if pressed, is supposed to give better “around-town” driving. I tried it when I first got the car but saw no appreciable difference in mileage. I was told that it works by changing to fewer cylinders. I worry that using it might do long-term damage to the engine or transmission, so I never used it after my first trial. Am I warranted in not using the system?


I’m not looking at the warranty, but if there’s a button, that means you get to choose whether to use it. Using it or not will have no impact.

OK Bill , here is a perfect example of the power of search engines ( Google - Bing - whatever ) . You will find articles that tell just exactly what the econ button does , there are even videos . Just put ( Honda econ button ) and Bingo. And NO , it will not cause harm to your vehicle. It may even be in your manual ( the most unread book ever ) .

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To me, better around town would mean better torque available for acceleration from stoplights and quicker downshifts. So who knows what Honda means and why your dealership can not clarify what the manual says.

Is this the econ button? If so, I notice a slight improvement in gas mileage and a noticeable loss of power.

Try driving it in both modes, pick the one that you prefer.

I used the Eco mode for the first 42k miles on my 2013 Chev. Equinox. After that I started driving in regular mode, driveability was much improved and mpg only dropped about 0.5 mpg. Again it’s a matter of preference.

Good luck,

Ed B

If you are correct that pressing that button causes the engine to disable some of the cylinders, I think you are right, it seems like that could – over time — cause extra wear on the engine parts. Not worth it for only a 0.5 mpg increase. If on the other hand all the cylinders continued to do their thing, but pressing the button decreased the compression ratio a little, then pressing it might well reduce engine wear. It depends on what exactly that button does to the engine innards.

He is wrong , that is why I told him to Google because there are very good articles that explain just what the Honda Econ system does.


Thanks for posting the article. It sounds like it changes how the car operates than the driver cannot do, like changing gears. and I know from personal experience that it inhibits acceleration performance to improve mileage. I’m not sure how much that could impact gas mileage, but I could see the button getting you 24 instead of 23 or 22 mpg, more if you’ve got a lead foot. We normally keep the button engaged unless we need performance. If I’m in heavy traffic and trying to merge, I turn it off - in that situation, you need to go when you need to go.

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I can spot a red light at an intersection from over a quarter of a mile away and with practice, so can you. Letting the car coast if it’s heading towards a red light will do far more to increase your urban gas mileage than the econ button will.

My guess is that in econ mode, the transmission upshifts at a lower engine rpm mostly. Spotting red lights and refusing to accelerate towards them is still up to you.
If you really want to get amazing around town gas mileage, drive as if it costed ten bucks every time you step on the brake pedal.

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I agree with B.L.E.100%.

I also see many drivers apply the brakes before every curve. That is good practice for race drivers, but for driving around town it wastes gas and wears out your brakes.

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Also, your following distance should be based on the driver ahead being able to slow down to make a right turn into a driveway or cross street without you having to brake or slow down to avoid hitting him.
When you tailgate, if the driver ahead steps on his brakes, you have to also.

This also brings to mind one of my pet peeves about turn signal usage. The turn signal is to warn drivers behind that you are going to make a right turn in the near future, what you are doing right now is obvious. If wait until you are braking for the turn to use the turn signal, it’s like “thank you captain obvious, you jerk!”.

The behavior that really irks me is displayed by the people who are already driving below the speed limit, and who apply their brakes while driving uphill.

Yes, I understand that these people lack confidence and are uncomfortable driving a car in the first place, but if somebody doesn’t understand that a car slows-down quite a bit on an upgrade simply by removing your foot from the gas pedal, then I have to question just how much that person knows about the operation of a motor vehicle.

Yet another reason why your following distance should be more than safe stopping distance.

While I am probably one of the few drivers who actually does it, I follow the 3-second rule.
If it is raining, I use a 4-second following distance, and in wintery conditions I use a 5-second following distance–or more.

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By far, the drivers that irk me most are those that tailgate me when I’m driving in the right lane, then pass me, cut right in front of me, and then step on the brakes so they can make a right hand turn. Geez, would it really have killed them to obey the speed limit for that last quarter mile of their journey? Sometimes I’m able to change lanes so I don’t have to stop with them.
It’s drivers like this that cause me to make sure I’m in the center lane when going down a certain stretch of Southwest Parkway heading into town, a stretch that goes right past a parochial academy and a factory parking lot. If I stay in the right lane, the traffic will make me nail the brakes and come to a near stop.