Personally, I loved my experience with the newly-redesigned Honda Accord when I drove it for the first time last year. It’s comfortable with a roomy cabin and reasonable fuel economy from its 4-cylinder engine, along with some predictable and well-balanced road manners, all of which make the new Accord difficult to criticize.
A year later, almost to the day, here I am driving the 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid Plug-In, a pluggable version of the Accord Hybrid that was unveiled this year, though I had the opportunity to drive it last fall.
The range of Accord models has expanded this year with the arrival of these two new hybrids, now competitors with the Ford Fusion, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima and the Toyota Camry. And from this list, only the Ford Fusion offers a plug-in version of their hybrid model.
What is the advantage of a plug-in vehicle compared to a traditional hybrid model? For starters, it’s possible to travel a greater distance using only the electric mode with a plug-in car. For instance, the plug-in 2014 Accord can travel, according to Honda, a distance of between 15 and 24 km using only the electric motors – and yes, there are two – but we will get to that later. So in theory, if you’re using your car mainly to go to work during the week, and your job is within 12 km of your home, you can technically make the round trip without consuming any fuel.
The 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid does not offer this advantage. Like the Honda Accord Hybrid Plug-In, the regular hybrid model has two electric motors that serve to both propel the front wheels, and as generators. These engines are combined with an Atkinson cycle 2.0L 4-cylinder engine and together, they generate a total of 196-horsepower.
There are three driving modes that determine how much output is coming from the electric motor and gasoline engine. When driving at low speeds, the electric motor alone is selected. If you need more power or the battery is not charged, the hybrid mode is engaged. Between the two, a computer system will take care of modulating the contribution of each engine. All this is done without the driver’s intervention.
The 2014 Honda Accord, regardless of the version, offers a spacious and comfortable interior. At first, it can be difficult to manage the four-level dashboard, but eventually you’ll get used to it. And whether you’re sitting in the front or the back seat, the Accord, like the Nissan Altima and the Volkswagen Passat, offers one of the most spacious interiors in its class.
Cargo space translates to an average volume of 447 litres. The Sport and Touring models lose a bit of volume, which totals to about 439 litres of available trunk space. The Hybrid cannot offer more than 348 litres as the batteries take up their share of cargo space. It should also be noted that most hybrid models have the same problem, but it’s still something to consider if you’re looking for a more spacious trunk.
The seats are comfortable and make driving long hours effortless. The cabin is quieter than the various (direct) competitors of the Honda Accord. In short, if you’re looking for a comfortable mid-size sedan, the Accord is worth a look.
Hybrid models obviously add multiple graphics in conjunction with the division of power between the electric motor and the gasoline engine, but overall, the hybrid model interiors are identical to that of the conventional engine-powered Honda Accord.
Honda’s great LaneWatch system is standard on hybrid models, while it’s only offered in Touring trim on the gas-engine vehicles. This is one of the most ingenious devices to have been developed by a manufacturer in years. Using a camera placed under the right mirror that displays an image on the centre display, LaneWatch allows the driver to get a clear image of whatever is happening in the blind spot. This is particularly useful when driving in the city where it’s sometimes difficult to see pedestrians and cyclists when turning a corner. The plug-in hybrid model also includes heated seats, a rearview camera and the Bluetooth phone system.
On the road
Surprisingly, there is very little difference between the hybrid version of the Accord and the conventional engine models on the road, with the exception of the V6-powered models obviously. The plug-in’s performance is essentially the same when compared with the 2.4L 4-cylinder engine generating 185-horsepower and 181 lb-ft of torque in the “normal” Honda Accord.
As a result, we end up with a car that showcases above average performance. It’s never abrupt, yet acceleration is still strong. That being said, and again, if we put aside the V6 models, the Accord is not as dynamic as a Mazda6 when you’re (for example) driving on a winding road, although the Accord can still handle itself in the twistys.
With the hybrid model, the transition between the different driving modes is undetectable. Moreover, the energy-regenerating brakes, which on many models can be difficult to modulate, are easy to manage.
In the end, the 2014 Honda Accord is a car that’s easy to drive. It’s dynamic, with an interesting mix of comfort and quietness, and it will appeal to those who want a stable and predictable car. Some may find that it lacks a little sportiness, but they would be the minority.
With the 2014 Honda Accord Plug-In Hybri, our observed fuel economy was 6.3 L/100km. It should be noted that, since the car was tested during the winter, the electric range hardly exceeded 10 km.
With the hybrid model, we managed an average fuel economy of 4.9 L/100km. That is more than the 3.8 L/100 km promised by Honda, but again, cold weather made it difficult to achieve that number.
In ideal conditions, the plug-in model will get better fuel economy than the traditional hybrid model. That being said, when weather conditions are not ideal as is often the case in Canada, it will be difficult to preserve the autonomy of the plug-in model. That has the effect of reducing the benefits associated with this version compared to 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid.
Personally, I would opt for the 2014 Honda Accord powered by the 4-cylinder engine. First, the average consumption is 6.7 L/100km with the CVT and 7.4 L/100km with the 6-speed standard transmission, which is quite reasonable for this category.
Moreover, our average fuel consumption was 7.9 L/100km with the model we tested last February. This is more than our fuel-economy number obtained with the hybrid models, but the non-hybrid 2014 Accord is also more affordable. It is also more-widely available and the trunk is more spacious.
Finally, the 2014 Honda Accord comes available with several features that will help the driver improve his or her fuel consumption. The ECON driving mode and the ECO Assist system are two such features that help you adjust your driving behaviour to save a bit of gas. After having considered all these factors, we realize that the 2014 Honda Accord can provide reasonable fuel economy without having to turn to the hybrid models.
If you must drive a hybrid car, then the 2014 Honda Accord offers two models that are among the most advanced in the industry. If you hesitate between the gas-engine Accord or the Accord Hybrid, then we suggest the first option for the reasons listed above.
2014 Honda Accord gallery