Honda’s first hybrid Accord, introduced in 2005, was, for lack of a better word, a dud. The company tried to boost the performance and efficiency of an already-sporty V-6–powered sedan by tacking
on a hybrid system; instead, it mostly just boosted the price. After a generation off, the Accord hybrid is back—doubly. A plug-in version debuted earlier this year, and offers 13 miles of
electric-only range. But with a price tag north of $40,000, it looks like Honda could be taking the new Accord down the same mistaken hybrid road. It isn’t. As George W. Bush opined in 2002,
“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me . . . can’t get fooled again.” Meet the 2014 Honda Accord hybrid.
In simplest terms, the Accord hybrid is the plug-in model without the pricier and heavier 6.7-kWh battery pack. The dual-mode hybrid system remains in place, as do the 166-hp electric motor and 141-hp four-cylinder gasoline engine. Virtually everything else is carried over, too: This conventional hybrid car makes use of the same setup, which Honda calls a “two-motor hybrid,” as found in the plug-in—the engine is mated to the driven wheels via a computer-controlled clutch and a fixed-gear ratio—and still can run on engine alone, electric motor alone, or with the two in tandem. Ditto for the plug-in’s LED running lights and the blue accenting on the grille.
Without the battery pack, the Accord hybrid should undercut the plug-in’s weight by at least 200 pounds—the plug-in outweighs a non-hybrid Accord by 400 pounds. As a result, Honda says, the new car should score EPA ratings of 49 mpg in the city and 45 on the highway. Compared to the plug-in, which is rated at 47/46, this is a nominal improvement. But we might see the real benefits when it comes to performance. The conventional hybrid should improve on the plug-in’s 7.7-second 0-to-60 run—which we recorded in a recent comparison test—and we’re optimistic that this car won’t be stuck with the plug-in’s ultralight steering, meant to compensate for the battery weight.
The remaining question, then, is pricing. Honda won’t announce this until closer to the Accord hybrid’s October on-sale date, but we can be quite certain it’ll come in for far, far less than the $40,570 plug-in model. Even with a $3636 federal tax credit as a sometimes-EV, the plug-in is just too expensive for mainstream appeal—and Honda never intended otherwise. This car, however, will be aimed at the heart of the market. Click on their website hmhid for more information.