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2014 Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid: First Drive

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2014 Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid

2014 Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid

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Last week, Honda released the specs and photos for its 2014 Accord Hybrid and Plug-In Hybrid.

Now, we can talk about what it's like on the road.

The short answer? Like the Ford C-Max Hybrid, it offers new and strong competition for a model of the well-established Toyota Prius--in this case, the new-for-2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid.

The 2014 Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid has a longer electric range and a more conventional interior, and it's roomier and more comfortable than the plug-in version of Toyota's quintessential hybrid.

It's also a mid-size sedan, which may appeal to buyers who don't much like hatchbacks, and it looks almost like a conventional hybrid--which cuts both ways.

First things first. The EPA has not yet rated the plug-in 2014 Accord for fuel efficiency or electric range.

Honda says it will go 10 to 15 miles on electric power, and we observed that it stays in electric drive longer than the plug-in Prius will under medium to strong acceleration.

The plug-in Accord Hybrid runs purely on electric power up to 30 to 40 mph and then shifts into its hybrid mode, switching on the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that jointly contributes torque to the drive wheels--and occasionally does nothing but generate electricity to power the car as well.

You can't feel this "series hybrid" powertrain mode from behind the wheel, but Honda says there are certain driving conditions where it's more efficient to run the car solely with the 124-kilowatt (166-horsepower) electric traction motor than to use both engine and electric torque together.

2014 Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid

2014 Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid

Enlarge Photo

The engine switches on almost imperceptibly, and even when operating at high speed, its turbine whir is more removed and less desperate sounding than the anguished howls of the Prius Plug-In under full throttle.

Our favorite feature of the plug-in Accord Hybrid is its relative calm and "normality"--it's a Honda Accord, with all that car's longstanding virtues, that runs purely on electricity quite a bit around town, and should deliver gas mileage of 40 mpg or more (perhaps a lot more) when operating as a hybrid.

As always, remember that with plug-in hybrids, the effective mileage you get will depend enormously on your duty cycle.

If you do a lot of short, low-speed trips around town and plug in frequently, you may use very little gasoline. If your driving patterns are more akin to those of a traveling salesman--banging out hundreds of miles a day--the Accord Hybrid will probably be cheaper and just about as economical.

MORE: 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid and Plug-In Hybrid: Review

Our least favorite feature of the 2014 Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid is its weight. We also drove a four-cylinder gasoline Accord with a continuously variable transmission (CVT), and it was a much, much lighter and lither car.

2014 Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid

2014 Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid

Enlarge Photo

The plug-in has several hundred pounds of extra weight among its 6.7-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack (mounted in the trunk just behind the rear seat) and its hybrid motors, plus assorted power electronics, high-voltage cabling, and the like.

That gives it the roadholding feel of a larger, heavier car. It feels well planted on the road, but it's not one you particularly want to fling into tight corners with great abandon.

Other impressions:

  • We liked the instrument design, power displays, and energy usage graphics that have been added to the redesigned 2013 Accord.
  • Laudably, Honda offers both an "HV" mode, to conserve battery charge until it's needed, and an "EV Charge" mode that recharges the battery pack with the engine.
  • Honda also gets points for fitting a 6.6-kilowatt charger as standard, twice as fast as the 2012 Leaf's 3.3-kW unit.

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Comments (10)
  1. I'm going to go out on a limb and say this will not sell very well. It is significantly more expensive than the PiP and Honda's hybrids seldom compete well with Toyotas.

    The added e-range is a plus over the PiP, but a little hard to explain why 15 mile range is so much better than an 11 mile range.

    Still, it is nice to see more cars in this more space.

    What I want to know is if the PiP uses more fuel during its 11 mile (blended mode) trip than the Accord Plug-in during its 15 mile (blended mode) trip. Seems like the PiP is worse because it uses the gas engine more often. However, this difference in behavior is hard to judge except for EREV case where no fuel is used.

    We should know when EPA window sticker is revealed.
     
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  2. People who buy Accords will almost "NEVER" look into Prius...

    Prius score poorly on performance (not just 0-60, but handling, braking....etc) for many people who won't ever drive a "poor" performing car.

    Check out this link for the combo ranking...

    http://www.sfgate.com/default/article/Car-rankings-new-twist-3845798.php#photo-3417689
     
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  3. Too bad the Volt is a poor performing car as well with 0-60 of 8.9 seconds, almost as slow as a Prius at 9.8 seconds.

    Kind of a thoughtless scoring system anyway.
    If they really feel people want fuel economy AND performance, and if the Prius scored an F in performance, then the overall score is an F not a C.

    When will people learn that the sum total on a perceptual scale is the worst of all the rated items, not the average.
     
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  4. 0-60mph is ONLY one of the metric. Handling and braking by Prius are FAR worse....

    I have seen Volt numbers as low as 8.5 seconds and Prius numbers as high as 10.3 seconds... But that is another arguement...
     
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  5. For ~5 year old cars, it is interesting to see the Honda Accord hybrid does outperform Toyota Camry hybrid (6.9 vs 7.9)

    On the other hand, the Honda Civic hybrid underperformed the Prius (11.3 vs 10.5).

    http://www.motortrend.com/roadtests/hybrid/112_0604_hybrid_sedan_comparison/viewall.html

    Of course, more notable is how much better the Accord/Camry are then the Civic/Prius.
     
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  6. I really believe the main competitor will be the Sonata, Altima and Camry Hybrids. Comparing this to the Prius and the Leaf isn't really fair. The Prius and Leaf are solely-designed hybrids. The Accord is a family-sedan with hybrid internals. I'm not making any predictions on sales because the last Accord hybrid flopped, when it probably should've sold decently.

    The styling is there, and so is the technology. People is crowded freeways/highways such as LA and NYC/NJ will find this hybrid a useful commuter tool. I'm an Accord owner, so I also lean more toward Honda/Acura products than others.
     
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  7. You missed the biggest one.

    The most direct competitor for the Honda Accord Hybrid and PHEV is the Ford Fusion Hybrid (4Q 2012) and Fusion Energi PHEV (1Q 2013). There is no Altima hybrid, although one is coming (for 2014?).

    The 2014 Accord hybrid has changed radically from the earlier effort. Honda now has a full hybrid capable of moving the car under electric power. The prior hybrid used an integrated starter-generator (Hondaspeak "IMA") mild hybrid which was not nearly as robust.

    Nevertheless, mid-sized sedan hybrids (Camry, Fusion, Sonata) historically have annual sales only a small fraction of what Prius sells every year. Perhaps as electrification increases that might change, but Prius is firmly entrenched.
     
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  8. I think the "sticker" price will impact the sales...

    If it is below $35k with $3750 rebate and HOV access, it will match at least the PIP's sales number. If it is in the Volt's price, then it will sell like a Nissan Leaf...
     
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  9. Last version of the Accord was almost large enough to be classified as "Large Sedan". I don't know many "Large Hybrids" out there beside the Lexus LS460h or the possiblely the new ES hybrid.

    So, Accord shouldn't have issues of selling as long as its price is reasonable. Knowing Honda, I imagine its performance will be way better than Camry or Prius...
     
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  10. Comparing iphone5 to nokia lumina does not work. Compare this with Altima Hybrid. But yes, if its priced 22k like Prius 2012 base its worth take a look.
     
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