As the second highest selling midsize sedan, Honda’s Accord just went one better with a totally new and innovative hybrid system than gets impressive EPA mileage ratings of 50 city, 45-highway mpg. And some owners are reporting even slightly higher city mileage, besting the popular Prius.
These numbers come compliments of the hybrid system that can propel the car with only electric power. This is accomplished by pairing a 196-hp (226 lb/ft of torque) 2.0L gasoline engine with a pair of electric motors, one for acceleration, the other for recharging. Added to that, the Accord Hybrid has three driving modes; EV, Hybrid and Engine mode.
When using the EC mode, acceleration is achieved by an electric motor powered by a lithium battery. The top speed is about 60 mph but that’s fine since most folks would primarily use this for around town driving since the range is limited. When the battery is dead, the system switches to Hybrid mode.
In the Hybrid mode, the engine powers a generator that generates electricity for the electric motor. At that point the electric motor and generator (motor) propels the car.
While in Engine mode, the electric motor is decoupled and only the Atkinson cycle gasoline engine propels the car through a single-gear transmission.
Helping the mileage cause as well is regenerative braking, which sends electric power to the battery. In this Honda design, the process begins as soon as the driver gets off the accelerator, not when the brake pedal is pressed as happens on other hybrids.
As for the battery pack, it sits in a case between the rear seat and trunk, which limits trunk space.
The Accord Hybrid is offered in a base model that starts at $29,155; an EX-L at $31.905; and the tested Touring at $34,905. A plug-in version is also available.
Unique to the Touring model are LED headlights, adaptive cruise and a voice recognition GPS nav system. Plus, a very innovative, and safety feature is the LaneWatch blind-spot system that projects on the 7.5-inch LCD dash screen. It displays a low and wide-angle view of the passenger side when the right turn signal is turned on. This is a feature destined to come to all cars in the future as Tesla is lobbying the government to replace their rearview and side view mirrors on their cars with cameras displayed on their large dash screen. It’s coming, and this Honda version is a forerunner of sorts.
Performance wise, the Accord Hybrid has ample power and in fact has been 0-60 tested at 7.5 seconds. Needless to say, it’s quick off the starting line. One quirk, however, is that the engine is a bit noisy under quick acceleration and when ascending a steep grade.
Handling wise, the Accord is stable with only a smidgen of body lean in sharp turns. And the ride is smooth albeit a bit on the stiff side.
Inside the cabin, the perforated leather seats in the top-line Touring model were soft and supportive. The dash is an easy read with simple buttons for HVAC control. For GPS nav and audio, there’s a center of stack-mounted mouse.
The back seat is spacious and comfy with ample leg and shoulder room.
Trunk space, as said, is limited because of the battery pack but is rated at 12.7 cubic feet. More understandable is that it can hold one medium roll-a-long or one hoofer golf bag with the long clubs stacked atop the bag.
As a hybrid, Accord Hybrid is probably the best hybrid system on the market. Customers do say though that the battery gauge never goes beyond six bars with eight being the maximum charge indication. But otherwise, owner reviews are favorable.
My Touring test car priced out at $35,695 after a base of $34,905. There were no optional charges since the Touring model comes with most every popular desired feature and amenity. Delivery ($790) is the only extra cost item.
In government crash tests, the Accord Hybrid earned five stars for everything except frontal driver/passenger crash, which received four-star ratings.
To check out an Accord Hybrid stop by Lehigh Valley Honda on Lehigh Street in Allentown.