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2014 Honda Accord Plug-in

I drove this hybrid and was surprised how useful it was for everyday commuting. Would you want one?
Honda Accord PHEV 01
Honda was the first automaker to bring a hybrid to the United States, giving us the Insight hybrid in 1999. Since then, the company has offered a slew of hybrid vehicles and one fully electric offering, the Honda Fit EV. The newest addition to Honda’s lineup of green cars is the 2014 Accord Plug-in, on sale now in California and New York. 2014 honda accord plug in Like other plug-in hybrids, the Accord Plug-in aims to provide the efficiency of an electric vehicle without making you give up the convenience of a gasoline engine. The Accord Plug-in's roughly thirteen miles of electric range aren't nearly as useful as the Chevrolet Volt's thirty-eight miles of range. However, the Accord makes up for its short range with a very short charge time: Plugged into a 240-volt charger, the Accord can recoup its battery life in less than an hour. That makes recharges during shopping trips a real possibility, so those thirteen miles of range could—theoretically—be replenished multiple times per day.

How It Is to Drive

I recently drove the Accord Plug-in and was surprised at how useful I found the car's electric range. Since I have a short commute and access to a charging station at work, I could eke out twenty or more miles of zero-emissions driving in a typical day. 2014 honda accord plug in The Accord Plug-in has two selectable driving modes. The default mode, which I used most often, allows you to drive the car in EV mode until the battery charge is depleted and then switches to hybrid mode, in which the car operates like a normal gas/electric hybrid. If you would prefer to save your electric range (say, if you're spending two hours on the highway before you end up in a city), you can press the HV (for Hybrid Vehicle) button on the dash, and the car will maintain its battery charge until you opt to run on the battery again. Honda Eco Assist 625 Driving the car feels a little like a chore, but not because it's slow or unresponsive. In fact, the car has perfectly respectable acceleration, direct steering, and a fairly nimble feel on the road. But anything other than very modest acceleration causes the dashboard, usually backlit in bright green, to glow blue. It's as if the car is telling you that driving a hybrid shouldn't be fun, an idea manufacturers will have to get over if they want EVs to go mainstream.

How Much?

As we’ve come to expect for hybrid and electric vehicles, the Accord Plug-in carries a hefty price premium over its gasoline counterpart. The Plug-in starts at $40,570, compared with $34,220 for the Accord Touring model it’s based on (prices include destination). The Plug-in qualifies for up to $3,334 in federal tax credits and earns 47 mpg in the city, quite a difference from the Accord Touring’s 21 mpg, which should help ease the pain for buyers. What won’t help? The Plug-in sacrifices a lot of trunk space to the battery pack, making it impractical for even the most modest weekend trips, and the eco-friendly fabric seats are cheesy and feel wrong in a car that tops $40,000. 2013 Honda Fit EV

The Plug-in's Future

Honda hasn't announced plans to add EVs or PHEVs to its overall vehicle lineup, though the automaker is preparing for the release of the Accord Hybrid this fall. It’s expected that the Hybrid will fall between the Touring V-6 model and the Plug-in in price. The Accord Plug-in and the Fit EV (right) are both available only to limited markets. The Plug-in is only for sale in California and New York, where emissions regulations mandate the sales of zero-emissions vehicles. The Fit EV has slightly wider availability, with cars available in Oregon and several East Coast states. The company hasn’t announced plans to expand sales beyond those markets. Honda has given the Fit EV aggressive lease pricing to encourage buyers to adopt the technology but so far hasn't reduced prices on the Accord Plug-in as a similar incentive. Honda has said that it aims to sell 1,100 Fit EVs over two years, and the automaker has the same goal for the Accord Plug-in. So far, about 200 of the Plug-ins have been sold since they went on sale in January, according to a company spokesperson. Careful readers will notice that this puts Honda on track to sell just under 600 of the Plug-ins per year, but, of course, there’s no telling what the future may hold.

Next: Hydrogen?

Honda's next big EV project could be something completely different. The company has announced that it hopes to bring hydrogen fuel cell technology into the mainstream by 2020. To that end, Honda and General Motors are joining forces in the race to manufacture an affordable fuel cell vehicle, hoping their combined efforts will hasten the development of such a car.

2014 Honda Accord Plug-in

Price: $40,570 (including destination charge, before available tax credits)
Engine: 2.0-liter Atkinson cycle four-cylinder, 137 horsepower
Electric motor and battery: 124 kW electric motor powered by 6.7 kWh lithium-ion battery pack
Transmission: Electronic continuously variable
Fuel economy: 115 MPGe; 47 mpg city/46 mpg highway (when operating on gasoline engine)
Electric range: Thirteen miles
You might also be considering: Ford C-Max Energi, Chevrolet Volt, Ford C-Max Energi, Toyota Prius Plug-in
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