Full 2014 Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid Review
What's New for 2014
The 2014 Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid is an all-new model.
Honda recently redesigned the Accord for its ninth generation, improving the sedan's interior and exterior styling. For 2014, the Honda Accord gains a new model, the Accord Plug-In Hybrid. With this new addition to the lineup, Honda becomes one of the few automakers to offer a midsize family sedan in a plug-in hybrid configuration.
Unlike Honda's other hybrids such as the Insight, the Plug-In has an all-new hybrid system that's capable of accelerating the car using pure electric power. And as its name implies, the Plug-In can be recharged externally, thereby minimizing gas usage. Honda says the Accord Plug-In provides about 10-15 miles of pure electric range, after which point it switches over to normal hybrid operation. In regular hybrid mode, this Accord earns an EPA-estimated 46 mpg combined (47 city/46 highway).
Like the standard Accord, the plug-in hybrid offers similar features and comes in one well-appointed trim level based on the standard Accord Touring trim. That includes LED headlights, a rearview camera, Bluetooth, a navigation system and monitoring of vitals like charge status, charging stations and even enabled remote charging controlled by smartphone apps. Honda says a full battery charge on a 120-volt outlet will take three hours, while charging on a 240-volt outlet takes less than one hour.
The family sedan segment is packed with more great choices than ever before, but the field is wide open for plug-in hybrids. For now, the Accord competes directly with the Ford Fusion Energi, which, like the Accord, bundles a lengthy list of winning features into a plug-in package. One could also consider the Chevrolet Volt. It offers approximately three times the electric-only range, though it only seats four and those in back will find cramped quarters compared to the Honda.
For now Honda will only sell the Accord Plug-In Hybrid in California and New York, so consider yourself lucky if you're interested in the car and happen to live in one of those states.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid comes in one well-equipped trim level.
Standard features include 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, foglamps, dual-zone automatic climate control, full power accessories, a rearview camera, adaptive cruise control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, special "bio-fabric" upholstery, heated front and rear seats, an eight-way power driver seat (with power lumbar), driver memory settings and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Electronic features include Bluetooth connectivity, an 8-inch touchscreen interface, voice recognition, a navigation system and a six-speaker sound system with satellite radio, an iPod/USB interface and smartphone app integration (HondaLink). Adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning and a blind-spot monitor are also standard.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2014 Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid is powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine combined with an electric motor. Together, they send a total of 196 horsepower to the front wheels through a continuously variable transmission (CVT). A 6.7 kWh lithium-ion battery pack powers the electric motor. The EPA gives the Accord Plug-In an energy consumption estimate of 29 kWh used per 100 miles (the lower the kWh number here, the better).
The Accord Plug-In Hybrid offers two driving modes: full electric (EV) that is available for a limited range and with prudent use of the throttle, and gas/electric hybrid (HV) that may be selected to conserve the EV range. The HV mode also self-selects after the EV battery capacity is depleted or under high demand for acceleration. There is a preprogrammed gasoline-biased mode in HV for highway speeds where the gasoline engine is most efficient. The "Eco" button, now on the dashboards of several Honda vehicles, adjusts fuel-consuming systems (air-conditioner) to maximize efficiency.
Once the EV range has been exhausted, EPA estimates stand at 46 mpg combined (47 city/46 highway), and on the Edmunds test loop we were able to validate the 46 mpg figure with prudent throttle use.
At our test track, the 2014 Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid proved to be one of the quickest mainstream hybrids available. It took just 7.5 seconds to accelerate from zero to 60 mph.
The 2014 Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid comes with antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, active front head restraints, front seat side airbags and side curtain airbags. Blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure and forward-collision warning systems are also standard.
At the Edmunds test track, we recorded a 122-foot stop from 60 mph which is quite good for any family sedan, hybrid or otherwise.
Of note is the LaneWatch blind-spot system, which instantly switches the 8-inch screen's display to a low and expansive view of the passenger side of the car when the right turn signal is engaged. A camera in the right-side mirror dedicated to this function provides a confidence-inspiring view, and acclimating to catching the view in the center-dash display is quick and natural.
Interior Design and Special Features
With a few exceptions, the 2014 Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid features an elegant and well-constructed cabin trimmed with high-quality materials that you could almost mistake for an Acura. The center stack embraces the spirit of legibility with an effective three-tier layout, capped at the top with an 8-inch display.
Despite the new Accord's slightly smaller exterior dimensions compared to the previous generation, its interior room remains impressive. There is plenty of leg and shoulder space for front occupants, and rear-seat passengers should be quite comfortable and happy. Road and tire noise -- often among Honda's traditional weaknesses -- are noticeably reduced in the 2014 Accord thanks in part to two active noise-cancellation systems plus improved aerodynamics.
We're also fond of the visibility afforded by the Accord cabin, which offers a lower beltline, slimmer roof pillars and a generous amount of glass. Unfortunately, the presence of the plug-in hybrid's battery pack means the rear seat does not fold down, thus limiting the Accord's cargo usefulness. The trunk, at 8.6 cubic feet, is also considerably smaller than the regular Accord's.
Driving the 2014 Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid is very much like driving a Honda Accord, and that is a good thing. It's quick, with a comfortable ride and remarkably confident handling. By most any dynamic measure, the Accord Plug-In is as "normal" as a non-hybrid car is to drive. We've already noted how quietly the car performs, and the CVT goes about the business of blending power sources without a fuss. Only under hard acceleration does one notice the telltale hanging-rev engine drone for which CVTs are notorious. The various screens and graphs illustrating power and efficiency are simple and easy to interpret -- or ignore -- depending on your preference. The brakes, often a source of criticism on hybrid cars, are only a little awkward to modulate at slow speeds.