Honda was the first car company to sell a hybrid in the U.S. by a few months, but it hasn't done nearly as well with its hybrids as Toyota has done with its Prius.
Its first two-seat Insight wasn't close enough to the mainstream--and the first Honda Accord Hybrid in 2004 didn't post gas-mileage numbers that were all that great.
That's changed with the new 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid, which we named Green Car Reports' 2014 Best Car To Buy.
It gets much better gas mileage--but does the hybrid Accord truly have what it takes to challenge the Toyota Camry Hybrid this time?
Specifically, does the Accord Hybrid really get 50 mpg--and does it drive as well as the regular four-cylinder Accord? Yes, and yes.
It all starts with the powertrain. Under the hood you’ll find a 2.0-liter Atkinson cycle four-cylinder engine rated at 141 horsepower and 122 pound-feet of torque.
Then there are two electric motors. One charges the 1.3-kilowatt-hour battery pack, while the other can add torque to assist the gas engine--or power the vehicle by itself. The net is 166 horsepower and 226 pound-feet of torque.
So, how does the Accord Hybrid drive? We think it handles pretty much like any other Accord, even with its heavier and higher-tech drivetrain.
The brakes are among the best in the hybrid segment, as smooth as those in the Prius or the Fusion hybrids.
2014 Honda Accord HybridEnlarge Photo
You can drive up to 70 mph with the gasoline engine off, in some instances. And, there’s an "EV" button that lets you keep the engine off entirely under light loads until the battery is depleted.
ALSO READ: 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid Review
Before you ask, those EPA gas-mileage ratings are realistic, at 47 miles per gallon combined (50 mpg city, 45 mpg highway). We've seen it, firsthand.
Aside from the drivetrain, the Accord Hybrid isn't that different from the standard sedan. There’s a different grille and bumper up front, and some flashy aerodynamic wheels. It's clean and handsome, especially with new LED headlights and taillights.
The cabin's also typical Accord, with a terrific layout and plenty of room for at least four adults. We're not so satisfied with the dual-screen infotainment system. Why two, Honda?
If you plan a lot of road trips, check the Hybrid's trunk space against your luggage load. The battery pack takes up some room, and the seat backs don't fold down. You’re looking at only about 12 cubic feet of trunk space.
Like the standard Accord, Honda's new Accord Hybrid is one of the safest sedans you can buy. We love the clever LaneWatch Blind-Spot Display, which gives you a view down the car's passenger side when you use the turn signal.
2014 Honda Accord Hybrid TouringEnlarge Photo
Pricing starts around $29,000 for the base Accord Hybrid, and goes up to $35,000 if you get one like our loaded EX-L model.
You can have Bluetooth with Pandora integration, keyless entry and pushbutton start, dual-zone climate control, and satellite navigation with live traffic, depending on which trim levels and options you choose.
The Honda Accord Hybrid can be more expensive than a Camry Hybrid, but it's a better car--and there's a plug-in hybrid version, if you want to take the next step.
And you may well get better real-world fuel economy than the Fusion Hybrid--which is also rated at 47 miles per gallon combined, and also offers a plug-in hybrid Energi model.
So what’s the bottom line on the 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid?
It’s an Accord, only a whole lot more fuel-efficient.