2014 Honda Accord hybrid offers quiet and enjoyable ride, high mpg numbers

The Honda Accord has for decades been one of Honda’s most popular models, and it’s back once again for the 2014 model year, looking to continue its competitive run in the mid-size vehicle segment.I recently spent some time behind the wheel of a hybrid version of the 2014 Accord, and am back with a full report.LOOKSPicking up where the 2013 Accord left off, you once again get a sharp-looking vehicle that comes off as pretty high-class despite not being from a luxury line. It’s basically got the same design as as the non-hybrid Accord, and you wouldn’t know it is a hybrid at first glance — which will appeal to a lot of folks.Inside, you still have a roomy cabin with ample space for five and plenty of legroom. Trunk space is not huge (the battery eats into the space), but is still pretty adequate.ENGINE, DRIVE QUALITYHybrids aren’t typically associated with a powerful ride, but the power the 2014 Accord hybrid offers is pretty impressive. If you need to get going, a quick tap on the gas pedal and you’ll be on the move right away. You’re not going to beat anyone in a drag race, but you’re not putzing along either.One way to describe the drive in an Accord hybrid is “quiet”. Because of the hybrid technology, when you get this thing in EV mode, you can hear a pin drop. There is a little bit of spaceship-like powering-up and powering-down noises on occasion, and when the regular engine is in play you’ll hear a little bit of noise — but even then it’s not overwhelming. If you’re pulling up into someone’s driveway in this vehicle, they probably won’t hear you coming.And the feel of the ride is just enjoyable. It’s very responsive to whatever you want the vehicle to do, and the acceleration and braking works just like you want it to.THE HYBRID SYSTEMThe Accord hybrid uses a 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder gas engine, which works with a pair of electric motors. It all adds up to a total maximum capability of 196 horsepower and 226 pound-feet of torque.There are a few modes the vehicle runs in: Strictly EV mode when the battery has enough juice; hybrid mode or gasoline only mode. You’ll mostly use your gasoline only mode when driving on the highway. There is, technically, no “transmission” in this vehicle — as that function is filled by the electric motors.MPGDuring my time in the Accord hybrid, as a whole I was averaging about 32 mpg, but weather conditions were not ideal most of the time I was driving (it was very cold and snowy and the roads were not cleared). On the one good weather day, I was on a route with downhill slope and few stops, and I topped 42 mpg on average for my trip that day.Official numbers for mpg on this car are: 50 city/45 highway/47 combined, but I wasn’t able to drive in conditions where I could test out these numbers. Others who have driven the car in better conditions have said they are realistic.The rules are the same here as with any car: If you don’t make any quick starts, rapid acceleration or sudden stops, and you do stick to the speed limit, you’ll see the miles per gallon number on your info screen steadily climbing throughout your drive every time.In an era where mpg is near the top of most people’s lists when they are determining what vehicle to buy, for both economic and environmental reasons, these large numbers can only help Honda.TECH, SAFETY FEATURESOne unique feature that returns to the 2014 Accord lineup is the camera of the right side mirror that shows you what’s on the right of your vehicle whenever you are making a right turn. This is a very helpful feature that you don’t really see on other vehicles, and a nice selling point on the Accord.In addition, you get all the usual tech features offered on this ride — backup camera, navigation, voice control, satellite radio, heated seats, etc. You also get the usual array of USB and Aux ports for connecting your electronics, and Bluetooth connectivity is included so your phone can be controlled by voice when you drive.If you’re a user of Pandora radio, there is integration of that app, so once your phone is connected you can control Pandora via your touchscreen.PRICEThe 2014 Honda Accord hybrid starts out at just over $29,000, but once you start moving up trim levels and then adding extra features, it can get well above that. The Touring level starts at about $36,000.Looking at the numbers, the hybrid Accord costs thousands more than the non-hybrid version. Is it worth it? Well, in the long run you’ll make up that much money and more on gas savings, but in the short run it’s going to cost you more — so that’s a decision buyers will have to make.It would be nice if hybrids didn’t have this bonus cost to them, but that’s not the case and this reality forces everyone to decide whether they want to pay more for the gas long-term or pay more for the car now.BOTTOM LINEFor anyone looking for a safe ride that will fit their family comfortably and offer a smooth and enjoyable ride, which also providing a solid mpg number, the 2014 Honda Accord hybrid is worth taking for a spin. There’s lots of strong competition in this category, from the Ford Fusion hybrid, Toyota’s Prius family of vehicles and others, but the Accord definitely holds its own and should continue to be a popular choice among car buyers, especially since it has hybrid gas mileage without blatantly advertising itself as a hybrid.