Honda set the first iteration of its Accord Hybrid down an odd path: Billed as a "performance hybrid," it failed to satisfy drivers looking for either.
The 2014 Accord Hybrid, based on the current-generation Accord, utilizes interesting advanced hybrid technology to become what it should have always been — an ultra-economical version of the legendary Accord, similar enough in feel that most consumers wouldn't even notice the hybrid powertrain.
The 2014 Accord Hybrid is available as a 4-door sedan in three trim levels. Moving up from the base trim to the EX-L adds heated front seats along with lane departure and forward collision warning systems. The Touring trim tops the line with a navigation system, Honda's Homelink technology, and adaptive cruise control. All 2014 Accord Hybrids are equipped with 17-inch wheels.
2014 Honda Accord Hybrid
Under the hood
The 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid is powered by a combination of a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder, double-overhead cam, Atkinson cycle, i-VTEC gas engine rated at 141 horsepower and 122 lb-ft of torque with a pair of electric motors. Altogether, the Accord Hybrid maxes out at 196 horsepower and 226 lb-ft of torque. Honda's electronic continuously variable transmission system replaces a traditional transmission by using the electric motor to send power to the front wheels during both city driving and highway cruising.
The interior of the 2014 Accord Hybrid displays the same effortless melding of comfort and functionality as its conventional-engined sibling. Standard USB ports are almost a given these days, but the feature you'll want to keep your eye on is the gas mileage readout; it's not that hard to actually hit the claimed 50 mpg, especially if you're not using the air conditioning. Visibility is very good from the driver's seat of the 2014 Accord Hybrid, and Honda's LaneWatch camera system, standard on all trims, only helps by displaying an image of the driver's right-side blind spot while turning or changing lanes.
On the road
The beauty of driving the 2014 Accord Hybrid is, to borrow a phrase, in the hand of the wheel-holder. The triumph of its clever powertrain and faux transmission is in just how similar it is to driving the standard Accord; so close, in fact, that most people considering it likely won't be able to tell the difference. The tip-off to the hybrid powertrain occurs when sudden acceleration is needed. Unless you punch it, everyday cruising doesn't feel any different in the Hybrid than in the gas-engine Accord.
Drivers sensitive to the occasionally lethargic performance of hybrids, however, won't be able to ignore the little bit of it in the Accord Hybrid. The lack of feedback and overall numbness of the Accord Hybrid's steering won't win any converts, either. But then again, neither will the steering on any car in the class, and it's worth mentioning that the hybrid's steering isn't perceptibly worse than the regular Accord. The Accord Hybrid's regenerative brakes have a nice feel, lacking the stuttering and jerkiness found in other systems.
Environmental Protection Agency ratings have the 2014 Accord Hybrid at 45 mpg city/50 mpg highway, with a combined rating of 47 mpg. We found those numbers to be pretty dead-on, and if you lighten up your right-pedal use, you can see mileage returns that well exceed them.
Right for you?
With starting price of $29,945 (including destination charges) for the base trim, $32,695 for the EX-L, and $35,695 for the Touring, some consumers may shy away from the 2014 Accord Hybrid in favor of cheaper econobox sedans — and they're going to be missing out. For the economically minded driver, the combination of the new Accord Hybrid's on-road feel and its heroic mileage figures make it a more than serious contender to rivals such as the Chevrolet Volt, Toyota Prius, and Ford Fusion Hybrid, among many others.
(As part of a sponsored press event, the automaker provided MSN with travel and accommodations to facilitatethis report.)
James Tate cut his teeth in the business as a race team crew member before moving to the editorial side asSenior Editor of Sport Compact Car, and his work has appeared in Popular Mechanics, Automobile, Motor Trend and European Car. When not writing, Tate is usually fantasizing about a vintage Porsche 911.