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2014 Honda Accord Hybrid: First Drive Report Page 3

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The shift knob is conventional—nothing bewildering or exotic—but there’s an EV Mode button just aft of it on the center console, and if you press it when you’re driving within light-load conditions the Accord Hybrid will run with the gasoline engine off until you either run the battery to a low point or press the accelerator to a certain point for more power. Once you have, you’ll need to back off and again press that button.

There is an Econ Mode button over to the left side of the instrument panel; just as in most other new Hondas it softens powertrain response, as well as runs the air conditioning and climate control at a more conservative setting.

The highest-mileage mid-size gasoline sedan, not counting plug-ins

The EPA ratings for the 2014 Accord Hybrid are impressive: 50 mpg city, 45 highway (and 47 mpg Combined)—the highest EPA rating of any five-passenger, four-door hybrid sedan.

Visually, there are only a few minor cues to differentiate the hybrid. Blue accents have been added to the grille and a few other areas around the exterior; there's a special rear spoiler and diffuser; and Honda is introducing a special 'aero' wheel design. The Hybrid also gets its own exclusive gauge cluster, and the steering-wheel is finished in a gloss-black finish.

Features in the 2014 Accord Hybrid essentially parallel those in the main Accord lineup. The long list of equipment included in the base Hybrid EX include dual-zone automatic climate control, a ten-way power driver's seat, Smart Entry and Start, Bluetooth, Pandora integration and SMS text capability, a six-speaker sound system, and a rearview camera system with LaneWatch blind-spot display. EX-L models add Forward Collision Warning and Lane Departure Warning systems, leather, premium audio, a moonroof, heated front seats, a memory driver's seat, and a HondaLink touch-screen system. Top Accord Hybrid Touring models are differentiated by their voice-recognition navigation system, Adaptive Cruise Control, and HomeLink universal-remote system.

Is the 2014 Accord Hybrid worth it, versus a Camry Hybrid or Fusion Hybrid? The Accord Hybrid is especially compelling in its top-of-the-line Touring form. While the price differential between the EX four-cylinder and EX Hybrid is more than $7,000, the Hybrid Touring starts at just $1,425 more than a V-6 Accord Touring and a Hybrid EX-L costs only about $2,600 more than a four-cylinder EX-L.

Really what it comes down to is whether or not you can love this very responsive, pleasant-driving car that happens to have an off-kilter soundtrack.

Honda has started from scratch and created a new hybrid system that might just to get better real-world mileage than all the rest. Added to the goodness of the Accord, we think that's a winner.

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