Honda has introduced two high-efficiency, gas-electric versions of its redesigned Accord midsize sedan: a conventional hybrid model, and the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) discussed herein. Essentially the flagship model of the Accord lineup in terms of technology, features and pricing, the PHEV offers buyers an extended electric-only driving range in addition to the practicality and responsive handling for which the Accord has become known.
The Accord PHEV's claim to eco-fame is a powertrain that consists of a 2.0-liter inline-four and an electric motor that combine for 196 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque. The two-mode hybrid system puts power to the front wheels via a new continuously variable transmission - or CVT - similar to that used in the standard Accord. A 6.7 kWH lithium ion battery sits between the second row of seats and the trunk, where it robs much of the sedan's usable trunk space (although room for small suitcases remains).
The battery helps the Accord PHEV achieve an all-electric driving range of 13 miles, along with a combined 115 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent) rating when using just the electric motor. In hybrid mode, the sedan is good for 47 mpg in the city and 46 mpg on the highway.
Upon startup, the Accord PHEV acts a pure electric vehicle, continuing in all-electric mode until low battery charge or strong acceleration requires the gas engine to fire up. Then, the sedan runs in conventional hybrid mode, blending gasoline and electric power to maximize fuel efficiency while maintaining the battery charge level.
An electric servo braking system not unlike that used on the Honda Fit EV increases regenerative braking while delivering a more precise braking feel than a traditional regen system.
Honda is particularly proud about the Accord PHEV's short charging time - using a 240-volt charger, the sedan's battery can be replenished in less than an hour. A standard 120-volt outlet does the deed in roughly three hours. A free HondaLink EV smartphone application lets owners remotely monitoring the Accord PHEV's charging state.
Distinguishing the Accord PHEV from its conventionally-powered kin is a unique front end with a deeper grille, blue accents and a model-specific bumper. Special 17-inch wheels, side skirts and underbody panels help optimize aerodynamic efficiency, as does a small rear spoiler.
In most other respects, the plug-in model is similar to the standard version of the new-generation Accord, which is highlighted by sporty driving dymamics, a well-trimmed interior and a slightly smaller overall footprint the previous model.
Stretching about 3.5 inches shorter than the old Accord, the new sedan defies a general upsizing trend in the midsize segment, although its 191.4-inch overall length still makes it larger than many rivals. Despite the size decrease, there's a significant increase in overall rear seat space thanks to vastly improved packaging, while cargo volume has also risen by 1.1 cubic feet.
Inside, the new Accord's cabin is a marked improvement over what came before. In place of the somewhat cluttered dashboard of the last-gen model is a simple and elegant design with an intuitive control layout. The button count is way down, thanks in part to a standard high-resolution eight-inch display in the center stack that includes a display for the standard rearview camera as well as Pandora internet radio compatibility and SMS text message functionality.
The Accord serves up one of the sportier driving experiences in its segment thanks to a well-tuned MacPherson strut suspension and a precise electric power steering system.
Uniquely, Honda's available "LaneWatch" system uses a camera mounted on the passenger-side mirror to transmit an image of the blind spot to the eight-inch infotainment screen. For more information on LaneWatch, visit our Spotlight On: Honda LaneWatch in-depth article.
As the range-topper of the Accord family, the PHEV is lavishly equipped.
Standard features include leather upholstery, heated and power-adjustable front seats, camera-based forward collision and lane departure warnings, a multi-angle rearview camera, the LaneWatch blind spot display system, as well as a proximity key, a moonroof, fog lamps, dual-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth smartphone connectivity and audio streaming and 17-inch alloy wheels.
All Accords come standard with dual front, front side and full-length side-curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems, brake assist, electronic brakeforce distribution and a tire-pressure monitoring system.
The only midsize plug-in rival to the Accord PHEV is the Ford Fusion Energi, which combines Aston Martin-like looks with a Euro-tuned suspension. Smaller options include the efficient Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid and the Chevrolet Volt, which can travel up to 38 miles on electricity alone.