2014 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring review: Mid-size, big numbers

2014 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring

2014 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring

We’ve written about the ninth generation Honda Accord—several times, in fact—so we’re not going to repeat ourselves with this review of the 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid. Instead, we’ll dive right into what makes the Hybrid different from the regular Honda Accord, because otherwise the Accord is an Accord, as we’ve reported here, here and here.

There are actually two 2014 Honda Accord hybrids. One is a straight hybrid while the other is a plug-in. The drive trains are identical, the pair differing only in the size of the batteries. The Accord PHEV—plug-in hybrid electric vehicle—was introduced in early 2013 as a 2014 model year vehicle with a 6.7 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery. The battery can be recharged in less than three hours using a 120-volt outlet, and less than an hour using a Level-2 (240-volt) charger.

2014 Honda Accord Hybrid's headlight cluster

Blue is the new green: 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid’s headlight cluster has blue accents. (click to enlarge)

The Accord hybrid that doesn’t plug in, however, has a smaller—in size and energy storage—1.3 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery that instead of the PHEV’s cords is charged via the vehicle’s 2.0-liter gasoline engine, regenerative braking, or a combination thereof.

Other than that, the plug-in and regular hybrids have a 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine. The engine can drive the wheels directly, but it’s in that mode typically only at highway speeds. And even then, the system turns off the engine when coasting to save gas.

In addition to the gasoline engine, the Accord hybrid models have two electric motors. One is the propulsion motor, which drives the front wheels, and the other is a motor-generator.

The 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid is powered by one 2.0-liter engine and two electric motors.

The 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid is powered by one 2.0-liter engine and two electric motors. (click to enlarge)

The propulsion motor is used by itself—in all-electric EV Drive mode—with the gasoline engine off and decoupled from the drivetrain. The gasoline engine can power the motor-generator while the system is in EV Drive mode, charging the battery pack or providing electric power to the propulsion motor directly.

Under heavier acceleration, the gasoline engine assists the electric motor directly in powering the front wheels via E-CVT (electronic continuously-variable transmission) with a lock-up clutch, which connects the generator motor (which is always linked to the engine) and the electric drive motor. This effectively sends power directly from the engine to the drive wheels.

The propulsion motor, as with most hybrid systems, is also used for regenerative braking. The effect can be increased by shifting the transmission from “D,” used for most driving situations, to “B” (for Brake). It feels like downshifting a conventional transmission into a lower gear to get engine braking. In hilly areas it can be used to recover energy that would otherwise be lost using the regular brakes.

2014 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring interior

The 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring, where to be comfortable while saving the planet. (click to enlarge)

As with other hybrids, the center stack multi-information display of the 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid has a schematic to show power flow, though it’s not as detailed as most. What matters more, however, is the variety of ways the Accord Hybrid can track fuel economy. It has instant, plus current and previous average, averages by trip, and for the most recent three outings. And in Lake Wobegon, all the children are above average.

Again like most hybrids, the instrument panel differs significantly from those of non-hybrids. The Accord Hybrid’s i.p. has been stripped of a tachometer, and is now dominated by a large central speedometer. To the left of the speedo is gauge for power/charge, showing what’s going on at any particular moment, and to the right is a conventional gas gauge with a gauge that shows charge level of the hybrid battery above that.

The instrument panel also has an “EV” indicator that illuminates whenever the Accord Hybrid is in electric vehicle mode, i.e., when the engine is off, whether at auto-stop in town or coasting at highway speeds. We found that in normal acceleration, even normal for us, the Honda Accord Hybrid stays in EV mode until about 40 mph, at which speed the gasoline engine kicks in.

2014 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring

2014 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring (click to enlarge)

All good hybrids also have to have an EV button which locks the car in electric mode, and so does the Accord Hybrid, and like other hybrids, it stays in EV until the pedal’s pushed too hard or the batteries run dry and have to be recharged with the engine. With the 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid’s proclivity for staying in full electric operation, the EV button is almost redundant.

An annoying feature of our test Honda Accord Hybrid was the adaptive cruise control. With the Eco mode on, after the cruise control has slowed the car for a vehicle ahead, the Accord Hybrid regains speed almost imperceptibly. We dare anyone to sit through the cruise control bringing the car back up to the set speed without resorting to the gas pedal, because not doing so is juuuuust toooooo sloooooow.

Naturally, we’ve made you wade through all the forgoing before we tell you the fuel economy numbers. Without hypermiling or any other extreme driving techniques, in fact driving as we normally do, we recorded an impressive 37.4 mpg. That’s short of the EPA estimate for the Accord Hybrid of 50/45 mpg city/highway and 47 mpg combined. It also doesn’t match the 40.1 mpg we recorded with the Toyota Avalon Hybrid—a larger car than the Accord—although conditions and driving aren’t necessarily equal. Still, for the size of either car, those are mileage numbers that not long ago would have been thought impossible.

Of course, they’re not giving away Honda Accord Hybrid s. Our test 2014 Accord Hybrid Touring had a bottom line of $35,695. That’s not much more than the $34,270 for the V-6-powered Accord Touring, and those willing to forgo a few amenities, it’s possible to get into an Accord Hybrid for $29,945. That’s significantly above the $22,745 for a bare-bones Honda Accord LX with a manual transmission, which you’ll likely not find on a Honda dealer’s lot, which really makes it apropos to just about nothing.

Still, for what we found to be nearly luxury with the conventional engine is no less so with a hybrid powertrain. With the 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring, you can save the earth and be comfortable, too.

Next page for specifications and window sticker.