An introduction to a Canadian exclusive | Honda designed the car with an emphasis on efficiency, and that's immediately evident.
In recent years, Honda has gathered a lot of Insight (pun intended) from the original hybrid vehicle they launched at the turn of the millennia. While the Honda Insight grew to be an excellent choice for hybrid shoppers, capabilities of the Toyota Prius always overshadowed it. We wanted to revisit our time with the 2014 Honda Accord PHEV and take a snapshot of what living with it would be like when it’s in our garage for a longer term. We were excited then, when Honda gave us the green light to take the 2014 Accord Plug-In Hybrid and see how it stacked against the reigning market champion, the Toyota Camry Hybrid. Our resident eco-driver and hypermiler Louis reviewed a PHEV earlier this year, and averaged a respectable 5.2/100 KM during his week of testing.
Another thing to note, as Louis had mentioned in his review, the Accord PHEV isn’t technically available in Canada, it’s a one-off that was released in a select few US markets, particularly California and New York. For the 2014 year, Honda has decided to re-introduce the Accord Hybrid alongside the PHEV; this car remains available in the U.S.
The PHEV is offered in your choice of four colours – our tester came in “Burnished Silver Metallic” and at first glance, you wouldn’t notice that that Accord was any different than a standard one. But the car gives off a presence that there is something different about it. You’ll almost immediately do a double take and that’s when the uniqueness of the PHEV hits you. Honda designed the car with an emphasis on efficiency, and their function over form philosophy will play large dividends when you get behind the wheel and drive the car, but more on that later.
This Accord features a larger front grille that while some may consider unsightly,. I personally found it to be quite imposing on the road, and at night, with its blue tinted LED headlamps – to save energy of course – lit, the car looks quite stunning. Our tester also came fully loaded (there are no optional packages for the PHEV, it’s all or nothing), and with a MSRP of $39,999 USD I’d say it is very well-equipped for the money. Slipping inside the car, you’re not greeted with leather everywhere, but rather Honda’s eco-friendly fabric and soft-touch plastic everywhere. The center console features two screens (one for multimedia, and one for navigation) and all the bells and whistles you’d come to expect in a car that’s supposed to be a good 10 grand above what the Accord sells for. Luxuries include Bluetooth, AUX, USB, turn-by-turn navigation, and heated seats for all passengers. Fit and finish, of course never a concern with Honda, remains top notch.
Driving the car over the first week has been an absolute joy. While generally I drive rather spiritedly, I found the PHEV’s ECON mode pushing me to drive as efficiently as possible and every time my average L/100KM dropped I felt a moment of triumph. At the end of the week, I managed a satisfactory 5.7L/100KM. While a far cry from the 5.2L/100KM our previous reviewer managed; the result was still fantastic. Part of the reason why PHEV performed so well was because of Honda’s all new EarthDreams 2.0L VTEC four that sips on gas…if and when it’s actually running.
Yes, the bulk of the PHEV’s fantastic fuel economy comes from the fact that the car features a 55-hp lithium-ion battery pack. All told, the PHEV produces 196 horsepower combined. Power is delivered through any of three modes that the driver can select via the HV button situated just below the shift lever. The Accord features a full EV mode, a HV mode, and a battery charge priority mode. The EV mode utilizes just the electric engine and has an effective range of 16-22km. Due to the cold winter we’ve had this year, I never managed to squeeze any more than 18 km from the battery in EV mode.
Most times when driving the car, I resorted to the HV mode and utilized both the electric motor and the 2.0L four-pot. I’ve yet to find a time when I really needed to use the Charge mode, but I think over the course of our long-term test, we’ll find an appropriate use for it. Given the economy and how expensive fuel has become lately, it is truly an exciting change of pace to have something so unique and efficient in our garage!