Honda Accord Plug-in Hybrid Review

Honda Accord

With 574-miles range, the Accord plug-in hybrid will challenge the Chevrolet Volt, Ford Fusion Energi, and Toyota Prius Plug-in. My test drive was the 2014 Honda Accord Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV), which will go on sale this January 2013 in California and New York for $39,780.

This new Accord has the classic lines of a 4-door, 5-passenger midsized sedan. With contoured doors and aerodynamic design, the sedan is a bit more impressive than earlier Accords.

Sitting behind the wheel, I see that Honda has combined premium looks with sustainability such as the Bio Fabric seats that are soft and bio-sourced, rather than plastic fabrics from petroleum sources. With the 8-inch display, I can select music from XM satellite, radio, Pandora, my iPhone or Droid; rearview camera display when I back up: I can see a map as I get navigation guidance. Instead I select the display of electric motor, engine, and lithium batteries.

To enhance my safety, the new Accord PHEV comes standard with forward collision warning, land departure warning, and adaptive cruise control. This plug-in hybrid seems as rich in telematics as the Chevrolet Volt and Prius Plugin. The Ford Energi has added features such as automatic parallel parking.

Since others have driven the car, the 6.7 kW lithium-ion battery is too low to stay in electric-only mode. Fully charged, the Accord PHEV should provide up to 15 miles in electric mode. The car automatically engages the 2L gasoline engine and the car now drives like the Accord Hybrid. The transition is automatic and smooth. I can barely hear the drive system.

Honda PHEV 2014 test drive

I silently leave the parking lot in electric mode. At the green light, I easily accelerate into the left turn.  Steering is efficient. It’s a busy auto show, so I only take the car a couple of miles before returning it so that other journalists can get behind the wheel.

Before saying goodbye to this impressive new electric car, I peak in the trunk. It has more room than some hybrids and plugins. Like most, it does not have a spare tire. Unlike the Ford Fusion Energi, the back seat cannot be lowered for more cargo.

2014 Honda Accord Plug-in Hybrid Design Details

The 2014 Accord Plug-in Hybrid Sedan features one of four efficient new powertrains for the all-new Accord. The Accord Plug-in Hybrid will also serve as the basis for a conventional hybrid version of the Accord Sedan, which will join the Honda Accord lineup in the summer of 2013.

The 2014 Accord Plug-in Hybrid is powered by Honda’s first two-motor hybrid system, and uses a new Earth Dreams ™ 2.0-liter i-VTEC 4-cylinder engine producing 137 horsepower, teamed with a powerful 124-kilowatt (kW) electric motor. Electric driving is supported by a 6.7 kilowatt-hour (kWh) lithium-ion (Li-Ion) battery.

The two-motor hybrid system allows the Accord PHEV powertrain to move seamlessly between all-electric EV Drive, gasoline-electric Hybrid Drive and direct Engine Drive. Fuel efficiency for the 2014 Honda Accord Plug-in Hybrid is expected to be 124 MPGe city, 105MPGe highway, and 115 MPGe combined, due to the new regenerative braking, first proven in the new Fit EV. It may be the first car to achieve the California Air Resources Board (CARB) stringent SULEV20 rating.

In its default upon start-up, the Accord PHEV acts as a pure electric vehicle and will continue on in full-electric mode until battery capacity necessitates the automatic switch to gas/electric hybrid operation. At higher speeds or under high demand for acceleration, the gasoline engine can kick in to provide additional power. Owners can save the all-electric mode for the ideal part of their commute.

In “HV” mode, the plug-in Accord acts as a conventional hybrid, blending motor power between gasoline and electric to maximize fuel efficiency while maintaining the battery charge level. In “HV Charge” mode, the Accord PHEV blends gasoline and electric power while also augmenting the battery charge level.

The plug-in Accord can be fully charged from a low-charge indication point in less than three hours using a standard 120-volt household electrical outlet, and in less than one hour using a 240-volt “Level-2″ charger. The free HondaLink™ EV smartphone application will allow owners to easily monitor the charging state of the Accord PHEV.

A host of visibility technologies are standard on the 2014 Accord PHEV, including a rearview camera, an expanded-view driver’s mirror, Honda’s new LaneWatch™ blind-spot display, LED headlights, LED daytime running lights (DRL), and LED mirror-mounted turn indicators.

Wide Range of Features are Standard

The Accord PHEV is available in a single highly equipped trim level, based on the standard features of the premium Accord Touring model. Standard Accord PHEV features include:

  • Bluetooth® HandsFreeLink®
  • USB/iPod® connectivity
  • Dual-zone automatic climate control
  • Pandora® internet radio compatibility
  • Smart Start and Smart Entry
  • Honda LaneWatch™
  • Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System™ with Voice Recognition2
  • Multi-view rearview camera
  • HondaLink™ EV telematics system
  • Heated front seats
  • Auto-dimming rearview mirror
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel
  • Driver’s 10-way power seat with 2-position memory
  • HomeLink®
  • Intelligent Multi-Information Display (i-MID)
  • Audio with touchscreen interface
  • Forward Collision Warning (FCW)
  • Lane Departure Warning (LDW)
  • Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC)
  • Bio-Fabric seating surfaces
  • Expanded-view driver’s mirror
  • LED mirror-mounted turn signals
  • LED Daytime Running Lights (DRL)
  • LED headlights
  • Fog lights
  • Chrome-plated door handles
  • Decklid spoiler

Plug-in Hybrid Powertrain

The Earth Dreams technology used on the Accord PHEV includes an i-VTEC 2.0-liter  4-cylinder Atkinson-cycle gasoline engine coupled with a two-motor hybrid drive system. The hybrid system features a 124-kW electric motor powered by a 6.7-kWh Li-Ion battery pack.

The two-motor hybrid system in the 2014 Accord Plug-in Hybrid allows power from the gasoline engine to flow directly to the front wheels, power the generator to supply electrical propulsion or even charge the battery pack. The Accord PHEV hybrid system moves seamlessly and automatically through its three powertrain states to maximize performance, efficiency and range.

Light Weighting Helps Give Car Over 500 Mile Range. Weight reduction:

  • All-aluminum front subframe
  • 17-inch forged aluminum wheels
  • Aluminum brake pedal
  • Aluminum hood
  • Aluminum rear bumper beam
  • Puncture repair kit (in place of gasoline-engine Accord’s spare wheel and tire)
  • Aerodynamic advancements include:
  • Powertrain undercover
  • Cabin floor undercovers
  • Rear decklid spoiler
  • Aerodynamic wheel covers
  • Reductions in rolling resistance include:
  • Low rolling-resistance tires
  • Low-friction wheel bearings

Safety

Like the all-new Accord, the new Accord PHEV offers a greater range of standard active and passive safety features than any other vehicle in Honda history. These include Vehicle Stability Assist™ (VSA®) Forward Collision Warning (FCW) and Lane Departure Warning (LDW). The Accord PHEV also has an Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System (AVAS) to audibly warn pedestrians when it is approaching in EV Drive mode. Based on internal testing, the 2014 Accord PHEV is expected to earn a TOP SAFETY PICK rating from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) and 5-Star ratings in federal National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) tests.

Just as Ford has done with the Fusion family, we expect Honda to offer customers a choice between fuel-efficient engine, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid.  Clean Fleet Report expects the announcement of a new Accord Hybrid later in the year, with no pricing yet announced. My test drive shows that the new Accord Hybrid with 47 miles per gallon will challenge the Toyota Camry Hybrid, Ford Fusion Hybrid and VW Jetta Hybrid.

Plug-in hybrids sales are likely to exceed 100,000 this 2013, following the growth pattern of early adoption made by hybrids a decade ago. The Accord Plug-in Hybrid offers customers an impressive alternative to the Chevrolet Volt, Ford Fusion Energi, and Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid.

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About Author: John Addison

Founder of the Clean Fleet Report, author of Save Gas, Save the Planet. John writes about electric cars, renewable energy, and sustainability. (c) Copyright John Addison. Permission to repost up to a 200 word summary if a link is included to the original article at Clean Fleet Report.

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