Long-term tests provide a great way to learn what it's like to live with a vehicle on a daily basis. Our time with a fully-loaded, 2014 Accord Hybrid Touring proved enlightening over more than a year's worth of commuting, running errands, and road trips. This 50 mpg sedan, a high-profile offering within Honda’s Accord lineup that won Green Car Journal’s 2014 Green Car of the Year® award, is sleek, stylish, and sophisticated in an unassuming way. It’s also packed with desired technology. While we won't see a plug-in hybrid back in the Honda Accord line until the 2017 model year, here are our thoughts on its predecessor. No doubt, the new generation Accord plug-in will be even better.
Unique design features distinguish this Accord Hybrid from the already-pleasingly aggressive style of the standard Accord, which was introduced as an all-new model in 2014. These include LED daytime running lights and blue-accents on front light lenses, grille, and rear LED tail lamps, plus a decklid spoiler and unique wheels. Our tester is further distinguished with a dealer-installed Honda aero package with front, rear, and aide underbody spoilers. We were amused when we first drove our stealthy-black Accord Hybrid test car to a local restaurant and drew appreciative gazes from patrons, with one asking, ‘Is that a new Mercedes?” Nope, a Honda…a really, really cool one.
Power is supplied by Honda’s Two-Motor Hybrid Intelligent Multi-Mode Drive (i-MMD) system, a mouthful-of-a-name that earns its ‘intelligent’ designation. The 196 horsepower hybrid system achieves optimum efficiency through intelligent and seamless transitions between all-electric drive, internal combustion drive, and hybrid drive depending on driving circumstances.
We’ve found the hybrid sedan to be responsive and confident on the road during our drives through the twisty canyons along California’s Central Coast. There’s always ample power at the ready, delivered through a capable electric continuously variable transmission (E-CVT). Eco mode can be selected to tone down performance a bit to enhance fuel efficiency. The Accord Hybrid’s regenerative braking system feeds electricity back to the car’s lithium-ion batteries immediately upon lifting off the accelerator, rather than starting when braking is applied.
All this brings a very impressive 50 mpg city fuel economy rating and 45 mpg on the highway. With the Accord’s 12.2 gallon fuel tank, filling up always shows a whopping miles-to-empty read of well over 600 miles. This considerable driving range has come in handy many times during extended road trips, including a trek from our offices on the Central Coast to San Diego and back on a single tank.
These drives are often made with the Accord’s adaptive cruise control engaged, a feature that automatically keeps a safe driving distance from the car ahead. It works seamlessly in adapting to traffic speed and flow and is actually quite amazing. Drives are smooth and comfortable both on the open road and in traffic.
Time spent in the Accord Hybrid Touring’s accommodating cabin comes with an immersion of advanced electronics complemented by an 8-inch multi-information display and an audio touch screen compatible with smart phone features. Its electronics user interface is easy to use and driver assistive technologies invaluable, including Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning, and rear view camera with LaneWatch blind spot display.
So here’s the bottom line after 15,000 miles behind the wheel of the Accord Hybrid: Great styling, a bevy of advanced electronics, a quiet and accommodating cabin, and impressive efficiency – all wrapped in an aggressively handsome package – have made the award-winning Accord Hybrid a joy to drive and one of our favorites for quick jaunts and road trips alike.
The Toyota Avalon has always been aimed squarely at those who enjoy a large and comfortable car. It is Lexus quiet, Toyota reliable, large enough for Americans, and reasonably priced. While a good car, though, the Avalon’s environmental credentials have never been strong. That’s about to change with the all-new 2013 Avalon Hybrid coming to Toyota showrooms later this year.
Toyota has clearly paid attention to the success of high efficiency mid-size vehicles. VW has its Passat TDI that offers 43 highway mpg, and Ford, with the new 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid, is expected to hit EPA ratings of 47 city/44 highway mpg. Buyers of larger sedans are more environmentally conscious than ever and Toyota needs those customers to come back, or stay with them. They are banking on the new 2013 Avalon, and the Avalon Hybrid, to help make up the fuel-efficient, midsize sedan ground they have lost.
The 2013 Avalon has been redesigned for today’s green, luxury, and value conscious buyers. It has also been designed to be more youthful, yet still appealing to the Avalon’s traditionally conservative buyers. The new Avalon Hybrid achieves 40 city/39 highway mpg and 40 mpg combined. That’s quite respectable given the size of this vehicle and the big improvement over the gasoline model’s best highway fuel economy rating of 31 mpg.
Power is supplied by a variant of the Toyota Synergy Drive hybrid system used in the Toyota Camry. It features a 2.5-liter, Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine with a 244.8-volt nickel-metal-hydride battery pack and two electric motor/generators, providing a total 200 system horsepower. A driver can select EV, ECO, and SPORT modes, with the EV mode allowing travel up to a mile on electric power alone at a maximum 25 mph.
Toyota’s all-new 2013 Avalon is significantly improved inside and out, appearing well-prepared to compete in the growing field of highly fuel efficient larger sedans. The North American-designed and engineered Avalon Hybrid will be built at Toyota’s Georgetown, Kentucky assembly plant. Its MSRP has yet to be announced.