2014 Honda Accord Hybrid Limited vs. 2013 Honda Accord EX-L Four-Cylinder

2013 Honda Accord Sedan

(2.4L 4-cyl. CVT Automatic)
  • 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid Limited

    2014 Honda Accord Hybrid Limited

    2014 Honda Accord Hybrid vs. 2013 Honda Accord EX-L. | November 15, 2013

63 Photos

Does Price Beat Value in This Sibling Rivalry?

  • Comparison Test
  • 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid Specs and Performance
  • 2013 Honda Accord EX-L Specs and Performance

Honda Accord or Honda Accord? It's the kind of comparison shopping Honda dealers dream about, and a scenario that's about to happen in showrooms across the country.

Imagine it. You're on a dealer's lot or, ahem, on Edmunds.com looking for a brand-new Honda Accord. You find a nice EX-L you like. It's got the toys you want, an efficient four-cylinder engine and an EPA rating of 30 mpg combined (27 city/36 highway). Right next to it is an Accord that looks exactly the same, with the same toys, except this car's window sticker screams 47 mpg (50 city/45 highway). It's not a typo. It's the new, 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid.

Honda Accord Comparison

At first blush, the 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid looks nearly identical to the Accord we're familiar with. Handsome and reserved without a hint of hybrid smugness, the new Accord Hybrid could be the fuel-saving family sedan we've been waiting for. Or it could be another half-measure hybrid that fails not only in the face of strict scrutiny, but also against the very vehicle on which it's based. We put it against its chief in-house rival to find out.

Spoiler alert: The Blue Accord wins.

Same Accord, Different Powertrain
The fun thing about comparing cars that are effectively a trim difference apart from each other is that we only have to say things once. Heck, they're even outfitted in the same Obsidian Blue exterior paint. Beyond that, we need to dig into the nuts and bolts of Honda's naming schemes to show exactly how similar these two Accords really are.

The 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid is available as a base Hybrid, an upgraded EX-L and a top-trim Hybrid Touring, the latter of which we have here. The traditionally powered Accord is available in far more trims including LX, Sport, EX-L and Touring. The official trim of our tester is "2013 Honda Accord EX-L with Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System, Continuously Variable Transmission." Right.

Honda Accord Comparison

Here's what that means: Both cars get a leather-trimmed interior, heated front seats, five-passenger capacity, dual-zone automatic climate control, 10-way power driver seat, 8-inch information screen, an audio control touchscreen, navigation, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, rearview camera, 17-inch wheels, push-button start and more.

The similarities extend beyond the features, too. Both cars use a very decent electric power steering system that will let you put the car where you want it to go on a twisty road, and a compliant suspension that still ties the car to the road in a confident way. At our testing facility we recorded a slalom speed of 63.7 mph for the Hybrid and 63.3 for the conventional Accord. Ignoring the powertrain, the experience is effectively the same.

It's MPG That Matters
The big difference between the 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid and the 2013 Honda Accord EX-L? A lip spoiler on the trunk and 17 mpg.

According to the EPA, the Accord Hybrid returns 47 mpg combined (50 city/45 highway) for an estimated annual fuel cost of $1,100. The EPA estimates the four-cylinder EX-L at 30 mpg (27 city/36 highway) for an estimated annual fuel cost of $1,750. Our testing showed the Hybrid's advantage to be even more significant.

Honda Accord Comparison

Despite the normal exterior, the Accord Hybrid manages these numbers by being totally revolutionary under the hood.

Under-the-Hood Differences
The Accord EX-L has a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that's good for 185 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque. This twist goes through the front wheels via a supremely well-tuned continuously variable transmission (CVT). It is smooth, eerily quiet, fuel-efficient and as predictable as a golden retriever. Until we drove the Accord Hybrid, we'd say that this is the powertrain most shoppers are looking for.

An Atkinson-cycle 141-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine powered by 87-octane gasoline lies at the foundation of the Accord Hybrid's powertrain. But Honda completely ditched the Hybrid Accord's transmission and replaced it with a pair of electric motors. One motor acts as a generator, powered by the gasoline engine to charge the battery while the other drives the wheels. When necessary — primarily at freeway speeds — the gas engine is locked to the drive wheels via the electric motor. In place of the regular Accord's large trunk and fold-down rear seats is a 1.3 kWh lithium-ion battery. Combined power output is 196 hp and 226 lb-ft of torque.

Honda Accord Comparison

This novel approach to power delivery allows the Accord Hybrid to run in full EV mode (up to 74 mph), series-hybrid mode (where the engine is powering the batteries that are driving the wheels) and full-on gasoline mode for those long, steep climbs. If this sounds complicated, that's because it is. But the engineers at Honda did all of the thinking so we don't have to. Just dump it in Drive and let the computers figure out where the power is sourced.

Performance
At full whack, the 3,569-pound Accord Hybrid hits 60 mph in 7.4 seconds (7.1 seconds with 1-foot rollout as on a drag strip). The 3,358-pound EX-L achieves the same speed in 7.9 seconds (7.7 seconds with rollout).

Unsurprisingly, it's the brakes that are strange. But not like you might think.

In normal use, brake feel in the Hybrid is intuitive enough. It's distinctly missing the non-linearity that plagues many hybrids. Stepping on the Hybrid's brake pedal is more like releasing the throttle on a full electric vehicle than it is like braking a normal car. The first 20 percent or so of pedal travel is dedicated to triggering only regeneration, so it's easy to maximize energy return without using the mechanical brakes. And it will do it all the way down to 1 mph.

When Do I Break-Even?
Perhaps intentionally, Honda jumbled its pricing/packaging offerings of the Accord Hybrid relative to the traditional car, making a straight comparison difficult. Our battery-less Accord wears the "EX-L with Navigation" designation, which simply doesn't exist on the Hybrid. To get navigation in that car, you'll need to upgrade to the Touring package, which also throws in adaptive cruise control, LED headlights and the HomeLink built-in garage door opener. That same package, which adds LED headlights and adaptive cruise control, isn't available on conventional four-cylinder Accords, but can be had on the V6.

Our 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid tester totaled $35,695, while Honda asks $30,785 for the 2013 Honda Accord EX-L. That's a difference of $4,910. Using the EPA's numbers, which are calculated assuming 45 percent highway and 55 percent city driving, break-even happens in 7.5 years.

But things are rarely as simple as EPA numbers suggest. For starters, we didn't get 47 mpg combined out of the 2014 Accord Hybrid; we got a 46.3 mpg average over 881 miles. Our best tank, a 60/40 mix of highway and city driving netted an impressive 53.9 mpg.

Honda Accord Comparison

The Accord EX-L didn't fare as well. We averaged 25.4 mpg over 620 miles: well below its 30 mpg EPA combined claim. The EX-L's best tank, a 36.3-mpg effort, happened on the highway-heavy 116-mile Edmunds evaluation loop. On this same loop, at the same time, the Accord Hybrid managed 47.5 mpg.

Substituting our real-world numbers for the EPA predictions changes things considerably. Using a California-average $3.60/gallon fuel price and assuming you'll drive 15,000 miles annually, the Accord Hybrid will save $986 per year. That shortens the break-even point to five years.

If fuel prices rise to $5.00/gallon the break-even point shortens to only 3.5 years. And, of course, you could buy the $3,000 less expensive Accord Hybrid EX-L, which forgoes navigation and adaptive cruise, and virtually eliminates any argument for the gasoline-only Accord.

2nd Place: 2013 Honda Accord EX-L

Honda Accord Comparison

The 2013 Honda Accord EX-L doesn't do anything wrong and comes in at a lower price, so 2nd place hardly seems fair. But, sometimes you do everything right and the other guy just does it all a little better.

Honda made great strides with the 2.4-liter four-cylinder and CVT in the current Accord. It's an effortless and unobtrusive powertrain that manages to erase any notions we had that CVTs are annoying, while returning competitive fuel economy.

But at the end of the day, it's still an internal-combustion engine and relatively conventional transmission, while the 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid is the smoothest, most seamless hybrid we've ever driven.

Of course, the Accord Hybrid won't be for everyone. There are those who are simply looking to save money now and people who question the long-term, full-cycle environmental impact of hybrids and their precious-metal battery packs. And then there's your driving cycle. Climbing grades, long freeway drives or speeds above 75 mph will severely reduce the Hybrid's lead.

Your results may vary, but we found a very clear winner...

1st Place: 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid

Honda Accord Comparison

We want to say this was decided the minute we accidentally managed more than 53 mpg in the Accord Hybrid, but it wasn't. Rather, it was decided along California's Interstate 10 between the 405 and the Pacific Ocean. Traffic was mercifully light and the Accord Hybrid was gliding along in EV mode returning some improbable fuel economy figure.

Bolstered by a decent descent, judicious use of the engine braking feature and a careful foot, we'd actually been running on electricity for a distance that would make the Accord Plug-in Hybrid nervous. Traffic slowed to a crawl just as our battery indicator was getting low and the regenerative braking renewed some much-needed power. This experience helped us fully appreciate not only how much smoother and quieter the Hybrid is, but how much more driver involvement it offers.

It's not fun in the traditional sense, but the 2014 Accord Hybrid makes fuel economy a satisfying game. Responsive and predictable brake regeneration, visual rewards for efficient driving and the ability to alter the character of the car with your right foot separate this from previous hybrids. Without becoming a rolling chicane, affixing cardboard spats or driving a futuristic pod, it manages to pay off both at the pump and from behind the wheel.

The New Normal
We can't help but feel that this is the beginning of the end for the non-hybrid Accord. With the exception of its trunk volume and lower price, the traditional Accord lags in every meaningful measure of midsize sedans. By ditching its transmission, Honda has refined the hybrid experience to a level that traditional powertrains can't achieve.

Faster, smoother and better fuel economy? We're sold.

The manufacturer provided Edmunds the 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid for the purposes of evaluation. Edmunds purchased the 2013 Honda Accord EX-L for the purpose of evaluation.

Vehicle
Model year2014 Honda Accord Hybrid
Year Make Model2014 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid Direct Drive
Vehicle TypeFWD 4dr 5-passenger sedan
Base MSRP$35,695
As-tested MSRP$35,695
Assembly locationMarysville, Ohio
Drivetrain
ConfigurationTransverse, front-engine combined with electric motor(s), front-wheel drive
Engine typeAtkinson-cycle inline-4, gasoline with auto stop-start
Displacement (cc/cu-in)1,993/122
Block/head materialAluminum/aluminum
ValvetrainDouble overhead camshaft
Compression ratio (x:1)13.0
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)141 @ 6,200
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm)122 @ 3,500-6,000
Fuel typeRegular unleaded
Hybrid typeSeries
Electric motor rating (kW)124
Combined horsepower (hp @ rpm)196
Combined torque (lb-ft @ rpm)226 @ 0-3,857
Battery typeLithium-ion
Battery capacity, rated (kW-hr)1.3
Transmission typeDirect drive electric motor coupled to gasoline engine
Chassis
Suspension, frontIndependent MacPherson struts, coil springs, stabilizer bar
Suspension, rearIndependent multilink, coil springs, stabilizer bar
Steering typeElectric-assist rack-and-pinion steering
Steering ratio (x:1)13.36
Tire make and modelMichelin Energy Saver A/S
Tire typeAll-season, low-rolling resistance
Tire size225/50R17 94V M+S
Wheel size17-by-7.5 inches front and rear
Wheel materialPainted alloy
Brakes, front11.5-inch ventilated disc with single-piston sliding caliper
Brakes, rear11.1-inch solid disc with single-piston sliding caliper
Track Test Results
Acceleration, 0-30 mph (sec.)3.1
0-45 mph (sec.)4.8
0-60 mph (sec.)7.4
0-75 mph (sec.)11.0
1/4-mile (sec. @ mph)15.6 @ 88.8
0-60 with 1 foot of rollout (sec.)7.1
0-30 mph, trac ON (sec.)3.1
0-45 mph, trac ON (sec.)4.9
0-60 mph, trac ON (sec.)7.4
0-75 mph, trac ON (sec.)11.0
1/4-mile, trac ON (sec. @ mph)15.6 @ 88.9
0-60, trac ON with 1 foot of rollout (sec.)7.1
Braking, 30-0 mph (ft.)31
60-0 mph (ft.)115
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph)63.7
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph) ESC ON62.4
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g)0.82
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g) ESC ON0.83
Sound level @ idle (dB)36.8
@ Full throttle (dB)67.7
@ 70 mph cruise (dB)63.5
Test Driver Ratings & Comments
Acceleration commentsTraction control on or off, it would be hard to find a more consistent car. Acceleration to 60 mph between the four runs differed by just 0.04 second. Overlapping brake and throttle fired up the gasoline engine, but didn't alter acceleration times one bit. We started the runs with the battery power two bars below full.
Braking commentsTypical hybrid brake wonkiness (in full-ABS stops only): The pedal goes almost to the floor with each stop and has a strange, dead feel to it. That said, the stops were fairly consistent and reasonably short and the car tracked straight. The first stop was shortest at 115 feet. The sixth and final stop was longest at 123 feet.
Handling commentsSlalom: Unlike the gasoline Accord, the Hybrid version's stability control can't be fully defeated. Instead, it has what appeared to be a slightly more lenient state than full-on. It was pretty enthusiast-driver-friendly, in fact, allowing me to go to full throttle (although it managed the throttle for me) before the last small cone and through our final gate. It definitely feels heavier than the non-hybrid four-cylinder, but pretty well-composed anyway, with a reasonable amount of grip from the tires. Skid pad: The stability system wasn't quite so intrusive to the point that you could just keep the throttle pinned all the way around (almost), so you still needed to modulate. Since the system can't be fully defeated, it was much the same in the partial stability control off setting. Lots of understeer of course, and it feels rather appliance-like as the stability control keeps adding brakes/cutting throttle, etc. Despite the extra pounds and low-rolling-resistance tires, the hybrid exhibited more grip than the non-hybrid Accord.
Testing Conditions
Test date10/29/2013
Elevation (ft.)1,121
Temperature (F)56.88
Relative humidity (%)62
Barometric pressure (in. Hg)28.81
Wind (mph, direction)3.0 cross
Odometer (mi.)3,954
Fuel used for test87-octane gasoline
As-tested tire pressures, f/r (psi)33/33
Fuel Consumption
EPA fuel economy (mpg)47 combined/50 city/45 highway
Edmunds observed (mpg)46.3
Fuel tank capacity (U.S. gal.)15.8
Driving range (mi.)711
Audio and Advanced Technology
Stereo description360-watt, 6-speaker AM/FM/XM/CD stereo with subwoofer
iPod/digital media compatibilitySingle USB input, aux input
Satellite radioStandard XM with three-month trial subscription
Bluetooth phone connectivityStandard phone and audio
Navigation systemStandard with 8-inch display screen
Smart entry/StartStandard ignition doors
Parking aidsStandard back-up camera
Blind-spot detectionStandard
Adaptive cruise controlStandard
Lane-departure monitoringStandard
Collision warning/avoidanceStandard
Driver coaching displayStandard
Dimensions & Capacities
Curb weight, mfr. claim (lbs.)3,550
Curb weight, as tested (lbs.)3,569
Weight distribution, as tested, f/r (%)60/40
Length (in.)192.2
Width (in.)72.8
Height (in.)57.5
Wheelbase (in.)109.3
Track, front (in.)62.4
Track, rear (in.)62.7
Turning circle (ft.)38.1
Legroom, front (in.)42.5
Legroom, rear (in.)38.5
Headroom, front (in.)39.1
Headroom, rear (in.)37.5
Shoulder room, front (in.)58.6
Shoulder room, rear (in.)56.5
Seating capacity5
Trunk volume (cu-ft)12.3
Warranty
Bumper-to-bumper3 years/36,000 miles
Powertrain5 years/60,000 miles
Corrosion5 years/Unlimited miles
Hybrid/battery8 years/100,000 miles or 10 years/150,000 miles per state of purchase/registration.
Vehicle
Model year2013 Honda Accord EX-L
Year Make Model2013 Honda Accord EX-L 4dr Sedan with Navigation (2.4L 4cyl CVT)
Vehicle TypeFWD 4dr 5-passenger sedan
Base MSRP$30,785
As-tested MSRP$30,785
Assembly locationMarysville, Ohio
North American parts content (%)65
Drivetrain
ConfigurationTransverse, front engine, front-wheel drive
Engine typeNaturally aspirated, direct-injected inline-4, gasoline
Displacement (cc/cu-in)2,356/144
Block/head materialAluminum/aluminum
ValvetrainDOHC, 4 valves per cylinder, variable intake-valve timing and lift
Compression ratio (x:1)11.1
Redline, indicated (rpm)6,800
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)185 @ 6,400
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm)181 @ 3,900
Fuel typeRegular unleaded
Transmission typePulley-regulated continuously variable transmission with console shifter with Sport/Competition modes
Transmission ratios (x:1)4.12-0.63; R = 2.65
Final-drive ratio (x:1)3.24
Differential(s)Open
Chassis
Suspension, frontIndependent MacPherson struts, coil springs, stabilizer bar
Suspension, rearIndependent multilink, coil springs, stabilizer bar
Steering typeElectric-assist rack-and-pinion power steering
Steering ratio (x:1)13.23
Tire make and modelGoodyear Assurance
Tire typeAll-season front and rear
Tire size215/55R17
Wheel size17-by-7.5 inches front and rear
Wheel materialAluminum
Brakes, front11.5-inch ventilated discs with single-piston sliding calipers
Brakes, rear11.1-inch solid discs with single-piston sliding calipers
Track Test Results
Acceleration, 0-30 mph (sec.)3.3
0-45 mph (sec.)5.3
0-60 mph (sec.)7.9
0-75 mph (sec.)11.4
1/4-mile (sec. @ mph)15.9 @ 89.7
0-60 with 1 foot of rollout (sec.)7.7
0-30 mph, trac ON (sec.)3.4
0-45 mph, trac ON (sec.)5.4
0-60 mph, trac ON (sec.)8.1
0-75 mph, trac ON (sec.)11.6
1/4-mile, trac ON (sec. @ mph)15.9 @ 89.3
0-60, trac ON with 1 foot of rollout (sec.)7.7
Braking, 30-0 mph (ft.)30
60-0 mph (ft.)119
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph) ESC ON63.3
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g)0.79
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g) ESC ON0.80
Sound level @ idle (dB)40.6
@ Full throttle (dB)75.2
@ 70 mph cruise (dB)64.5
Test Driver Ratings & Comments
Acceleration commentsMoves off the line well for a four-cylinder with a CVT. Off course it tries to peg the revs around 6,700 as quickly as possible and hold them there. Overlapping throttle and brake at launch does pretty much nothing in terms of improving accel times. In fact, all five accel runs were within 0.15 second of each other. Manual shifting is not available.
Braking commentsConsistent distances, despite significant ABS commotion and a bit of wiggling. The front end pulled hard to the right once, too. First stop was shortest at 119 feet. Sixth and final stop was longest at 124 feet. Lots of brake odor by the final stop, which is typical of Honda brakes.
Handling commentsSlalom: It's definitely a bit soft but this Accord has decent manners. The stability control system can be quite intrusive if you get too aggressive. The steering could offer more feel and feedback to the driver. Skid pad: The outside front tire takes a beating as the Accord understeers its way around the skid pad. The chassis isn't responsive enough to changes in throttle for us to beat the ESC-on number. In fact, we were just slightly slower.
Testing Conditions
Test date10/29/2013
Elevation (ft.)1,121
Temperature (F)57.75
Relative humidity (%)56.56
Barometric pressure (in. Hg)28.8
Wind (mph, direction)1.62
Odometer (mi.)cross
Fuel used for test87-octane gasoline
As-tested tire pressures, f/r (psi)33/33
Fuel Consumption
EPA fuel economy (mpg)30 combined/27 city/36 highway
Edmunds observed (mpg)25.4
Fuel tank capacity (U.S. gal.)17.2
Driving range (mi.)619.2
Audio and Advanced Technology
Stereo description360-watt, 6-speaker AM/FM/XM/CD stereo with subwoofer
iPod/digital media compatibilitySingle USB input, aux input
Satellite radioStandard
Bluetooth phone connectivityStandard phone and audio
Navigation systemStandard with 8-inch display screen
Smart entry/StartStandard ignition and doors
Parking aidsStandard back-up camera
Blind-spot detectionStandard back-up camera
Adaptive cruise controlNot Available
Lane-departure monitoringStandard
Collision warning/avoidanceStandard
Driver coaching displayStandard
Dimensions & Capacities
Curb weight, mfr. claim (lbs.)3,365
Curb weight, as tested (lbs.)3,358
Weight distribution, as tested, f/r (%)60.8/39.2
Length (in.)191.4
Width (in.)72.8
Height (in.)57.7
Wheelbase (in.)109.3
Track, front (in.)62.8
Track, rear (in.)62.7
Turning circle (ft.)38.1
Legroom, front (in.)42.5
Legroom, rear (in.)38.5
Headroom, front (in.)39.1
Headroom, rear (in.)37.5
Shoulder room, front (in.)58.6
Shoulder room, rear (in.)56.5
Seating capacity5
Trunk volume (cu-ft)15.5
Warranty
Bumper-to-bumper3 years/36,000 miles
Powertrain5 years/60,000 miles
Corrosion5 years/Unlimited miles
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The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2013 Honda Accord in VA is:

$145 per month*
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