2014 Honda Accord Hybrid & Plug-In Hybrid: Photos, Details

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Honda was the second carmaker in the world to launch a line of hybrid vehicles, though its compact and subcompact mild hybrids have long been overshadowed by Toyota's dominant Prius models.

That may be about to change.

Early next year, a new 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid--and equally significant, a 2014 Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid--will put Honda squarely into the crucial and competitive segment of mid-size hybrid sedans.

The new pair of Accord Hybrids, one without a plug and one with, will face off against the Prius Liftback (which has its own plug-in model) and the upcoming 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid and Energi plug-in hybrid.

The 2014 Accord Hybrid, the higher-volume of the two, will also compete with the Toyota Camry Hybrid, the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid and Kia Optima Hybrid, and other hybrid entries to come.

2014 HONDA ACCORD PLUG-IN HYBRID: DRIVING IMPRESSIONS -- coming next week!

While Honda offered an Accord Hybrid from 2004 to 2007, that model used a more powerful version of the company's Integrated Motor Assist mild-hybrid system. It didn't offer all-electric running, but just assisted the engine--and it was tuned for power, not fuel efficiency.

2014 Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid

2014 Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid

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Seven years later, Honda has come back with its first full hybrid system, echoing Toyota and Ford in using two motors rather than the single-motor hybrid design employed by Hyundai, Volkswagen, and others.

New 2-motor design

Honda has taken a different approach, however, designing an exceptionally compact system with only a single clutch between the pair of motor-generators.

The first motor, which serves as a generator to charge the battery, is fixed to the back of a 137-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that runs on the ultra-efficient Atkinson Cycle.

The second motor, which can power the vehicle on electricity alone, is fixed to the differential that turns the front wheels. It also acts as a generator to recharge the battery under regenerative braking.

More operating modes than Prius

2014 Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid

2014 Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid

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Honda notes that its system can run three ways: in all-electric mode, as a series hybrid with the engine turning the first generator to produce electricity that powers the second motor (with the clutch between them opened), or as a parallel hybrid with engine and motor together contributing torque (with the clutch engaged).

With its smaller motor-generators, the Toyota Prius Plug-In does not offer the series-hybrid mode. Honda points out that the plug-in Accord Hybrid is set to select among these powertrain options autonomously, so they are not user-selectable "modes".

The gasoline engine is completely beltless, with the water pump, power steering, air-conditioning compressor, and friction-brake servo all powered electrically.

Total output of the engine and motor-generators combined is 196 hp and 226 lb-ft of torque. Maximum electric-motor output is 124 kilowatts (166 hp).

As for range, Honda says the 2014 Accord Plug-In Hybrid will do 10 to 15 miles under electric power--and that it does not switch on its engine under conditions where the Prius Plug-In Hybrid must do so to maintain power.

$3,750 credit, HOV access

The lithium-ion battery pack, with a substantial 6.7 kilowatt-hours (against the 4.2 kWh of the Prius Plug-In), is mounted vertically at the front of the trunk against the rear seat back.

That capacity qualifies buyers of the 2014 Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid for a $3,750 Federal income-tax credit.

2014 Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid

2014 Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid

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And the plug-in hybrid Accord will meet California's strict e-AT-PZEV emissions standards, qualifying it for the highly valued green sticker giving the car access to High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes with just a single occupant.

The Accord Plug-In has a "HV" (hybrid vehicle) switch that lets drivers opt to operate only as a hybrid, preserving the battery charge for later use where zero-emission operation may be desired (late at night or in European central cities that prohibit gasoline vehicles).

It is also fitted with a 6.6-kilowatt built-in charger, meaning that its battery can recharge twice as fast as those of the Chevy Volt, Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, and Nissan Leaf.

The 2014 Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid will be rolled out to select dealers in certain regions starting early in 2013. The non-plug-in 2014 Accord Hybrid will follow within a few months, and will be rolled out nationally. Both vehicles will be built in Sayama, Japan.


 
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