2014 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring Long-Term Verdict Review

#hashtags: #Honda Accord Hybrid #Honda #Modern Steel Metallic #Accord Hybrid #Accord #Hybrid

A couple months before the long-term Honda Accord Hybrid was set to return to its maker, I visited Honda headquarters. You see, while I had been driving our Modern Steel Metallic car, so had thousands of genuine customers. I wanted to find out who those consumers were. What their purchase considerations were. How closely I could identify with them. Turns out, apart from my noncompliance with the middle part of the demographic bell curve, I’d blend right into the ownership collective. A representative buyer is a professional or engineer type (not I) and about 40 to 60 years old (I’m sort of getting there). Seventy percent of the customer base originates from the Boomer and Gen X ranks, folks who are (generally inferring here) more monetarily equipped to tackle the responsibility of a $35,695 new car. I don’t fit that mold. But my experience over 40,000-plus worry-free miles with the Accord Hybrid appears to largely mirror theirs. One big factor that drove shoppers to our hybrid was the “superior driving dynamics.” To recap, Honda began with the innocuous Accord sedan and then transformed it into a technological success. Building on a unibody structure that returned a 2014 IIHS Top Safety Pick+ score (with the “+” attributed to audible and visual forward collision warnings) the Hybrid model gained a fully aluminum front subframe and amplitude-reactive shock absorbers. A two-motor hybrid powertrain and by-wire brake system take up residence underneath the hood. An air-cooled, 1.3-kW-hr, lithium-ion battery sets up shop in the trunk. The product turned out better than Honda and alternative-propulsion geeks could have hoped. To Honda, the Accord Hybrid signified the first gas-electric salvo in its post-Integrated Motor Assist era; it shows Honda could be the world-class engineering powerhouse that can do more than sandwich an electric motor between crankshaft and transmission. To us and the rest of the automotive industry, the car demonstrated the real progress advanced and that you didn’t need a Prius to get Prius-esque fuel economy (50 mpg on the EPA city cycle). The tech growth and development was obvious from our end. Our 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid long-termer averaged 33.5 mpg; a 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid sipped its way to 35.5; the Accord Hybrid settled on 42.3. The farthest a single tank took us was 717.3 miles. There was no shortage of 600-mile tanks, either.Upkeep charge minimization worked in Honda’s favor, as well. I expensed $379.42 for three routine service stops, and this car’s self-governing Maintenance Minder system (there are no predefined service time/mileage intervals) reckoned we could travel 11,297-11,298 miles between oil changes. The 2007 Camry Hybrid was serviced five times in 25,000 miles for $392.71 ($452 in today dollars); the long-term 2013 Accord Sport demanded two dealer visits through 22,856 miles at $209.42 ($215 in 2015). Another stated buyer factor playing for the Accord Hybrid: ‘subtlety at being a hybrid.’ That’s probably my favorite thing about the car. Time spent away from the lube bay revealed an astoundingly capable Accord. Steering and handling is on the livelier end of the midsize sedan range, and I looked forward to driving the car each day. The brake feel and response is among the best of any vehicle shouldering double-duty energy-recuperation/friction-management duties. Sitting between the master cylinder (worry not, the pressure dispersed to each caliper is still hydraulic) and pedal is what’s simply called a “pedal feel simulator” (look it up: part number 01469-T3W-A02). The pedal feels stiffer than normal at first, but after getting used to it, you realize the typical hybrid grabbiness isn’t there. The two-motor hybrid system not only rations fuel like Nixon is still in the Oval Office but also exploits each drop as much as possible. Consider the Accord Hybrid moves from 0 to 60 mph in 7 seconds flat, 0.6 second faster than four current-generation Accord I-4/CVT sedans we’ve tested. The hybrid model also weighs 231 pounds more and has less total shaft power. The powertrain consists of a 2.0-liter, Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder and the two e-motors that help constitute the electric-coupled CVT, endowed with a system rating of 196 horsepower. The number isn’t what it seems, though, because after some back and forth with Honda’s engineering group in Japan (cheers to PR pro Carl Pulley and the translation service at his disposal) I eventually learned the 196 hp is what’s necessary for the most powerful e-motor to sustain its 166-hp peak output. That’s 166 hp physically moving the car. Heavier and less powerful yet quicker, more responsive in real-world driving, and less thirsty for 87-octane. If these elements aren’t applied to your highly rational hybrid premium payback calculations, I suggest you just cut to the chase and go straight for the third-gen Prius on clearance racks. Our Real MPG program exposed the true miles per gallon we could expect: 46.8/41.6/44.3 mpg city/highway/combined. Not quite the EPA’s 50/45/47 mpg, but still pretty decent. The lifetime 42.3-mpg outcome reflects the highway’s influence—I didn’t get to 43,071 miles in 13 months without a lot of open road and some staff assistance. I frequently saw more than 50 mpg on traffic-filled days of driving. (The Accord Hybrid loves traffic.) Surprisingly, further in-house emissions testing determined the car’s fuel economy isn’t as sensitive to sudden acceleration as it is to basic driver life patterns. Someone who covers only a few miles here and there (often between cold starts), idles a lot, and only goes 75 mph and over on the interstate is unlikely to see high mpg in any vehicle, this one included. Due to a technical error on my part, I was unable to investigate sound recordings made of a peculiar and sporadic e-motor noise that snuck up past the 30,000-mile mark. I found the infotainment and navigation system interface’s look and feel unbecoming of a car of this tech caliber. Issues aside, I believe owners would summarize the Accord Hybrid thusly: “It is a well-executed family sedan that has a less edgy and more comfortable ride than other Accords. The interior is airy and rather spacious in the front and back. The hybrid system is great. Quiet, though the engine can drone on the highway or when going uphill. Wish the back seat folded down and the trunk had more space.” I had brought up the fixed seat and battery-impacted trunk dilemma in the meeting with Honda. Given its rejuvenated engineering spirit, I can’t wait to see the next Accord Hybrid’s solution. More on our 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid long-termer: Arrival Update 1: Starting on the Back Fuel-Economy Foot Update 2: My Personal Commuting Sanctuary Update 3: Witness the Efficiency and Reliability Update 4: Hints of Aggression Update 5: “Worth It” Features Update 6: Odds and Ends Update 7: Long-Distance Relationship Highs and Lows Update 8: Deeper Learning Our Car SERVICE LIFE 13 mo / 43,071 mi BASE PRICE $35,695 OPTIONS None PRICE AS TESTED $35,695 AVG ECON/CO2 42.3 mpg / 0.46 lb/mi PROBLEM AREAS None MAINTENANCE COST $379.42 (3-oil change, inspection; 2-tire rotation; 1-cabin air filter, engine air filter) NORMAL-WEAR COST $0 3-YEAR RESIDUAL VALUE* $18,204 RECALLS None *Automotive Lease Guide data 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring POWERTRAIN/CHASSIS DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT Front-engine, FWD ENGINE TYPE Atkinson-cycle I-4, aluminum block/head VALVETRAIN DOHC, 4 valves/cyl DISPLACEMENT 121.6 cu in/1,993cc COMPRESSION RATIO 13.0:1 BATTERY TYPE 1.3-kW-hr lithium-ion POWER (SAE NET) 141 (gas)/166 (elec)/196 (comb) hp TORQUE (SAE NET) 122 (gas)/226 (elec) lb-ft REDLINE Not indicated WEIGHT TO POWER 21.5 lb/hp TRANSMISSION Cont. variable auto AXLE/FINAL-DRIVE RATIO 3.42:1/2.71:1 (Engine Drive, est) SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar STEERING RATIO 13.4:1 TURNS LOCK-TO-LOCK 2.6 BRAKES, F;R 11.5-in vented disc; 11.1-in disc, ABS WHEELS 7.5 x 17-in, cast aluminum TIRES 225/50R17 94V M+S Michelin Energy Saver A/S DIMENSIONS WHEELBASE 109.3 in TRACK, F/R 62.4/62.7 in LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 192.2 x 72.8 x 57.5 in TURNING CIRCLE 38.1 ft CURB WEIGHT 3,569 lb WEIGHT DIST., F/R 60/40% SEATING CAPACITY 5 HEADROOM, F/R 37.6/37.0 in LEGROOM, F/R 42.5/38.5 in SHOULDER ROOM, F/R 58.6/56.5 in CARGO VOLUME 12.3 cu ft TEST DATA ACCELERATION TO MPH 0-30 2.7 sec 0-40 3.8 0-50 5.2 0-60 7.0 0-70 9.5 0-80 12.8 0-90 18.0 PASSING, 45-65 MPH 3.8 QUARTER MILE 15.7 sec @ 85.9 mph BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 117 ft LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.80 g (avg) MT FIGURE EIGHT 28.0 sec @ 0.61 g (avg) TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH 2,200 rpm (Engine Drive) CONSUMER INFO STABILITY/TRACTION CONTROL Yes/yes AIRBAGS Dual front, front side, f/r curtain BASIC WARRANTY 3 yrs/36,000 miles POWERTRAIN WARRANTY 5 yrs/60,000 miles ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE 3 yrs/36,000 miles FUEL CAPACITY 15.8 gal EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON 50/45/47 mpg ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY 67/75 kW-hrs/100 miles CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.41 lb/mile REAL MPG, CITY/HWY/COMB 46.8/41.6/44.3 mpg RECOMMENDED FUEL Unleaded regular