We drive the Honda Accord and Accord Hybrid

2014 Honda Accord Hybrid ELX

The Honda Accord is a very important vehicle for Honda. It is the second bestselling car in the US, selling about 29,000 cars in just last month alone. When Honda decided to create the all-new ninth generation Accord, they had to be careful not to mess with a great product. Fortunately, the new Accord is more luxurious and better performing than any Accord in its 38 year history.

Interestingly, the new Accord is actually shorter than its predecessor while maintaining its voluminous interior room. The 2014 Accord's unit-body uses more high-strength steel than any Accord in the model's history. This gives the Accord high structural strength for improved ride quality and more precise cornering. Lots of work has gone into the aerodynamics of the new car, including expanded use of under-covers, which directly benefits fuel efficiency. Other advances include available LED headlights, LED daytime running lights, mirror-mounted turn signals, and an expanded view driver's mirror that increases the driver's field of vision by 4.2 degrees.

A new interior was designed for the Accord with the goal of raising the luxury level. The previous Accord never felt cheap inside but the new car has a richer feeling. Although the Accord's length has decreased over three inches and the wheelbase is almost an inch shorter, key interior dimensions grow. While the Accord’s sleeker shape decreases headroom slightly, rear legroom increases over an inch, both front and rear shoulder room increase, and trunk space is up over a cubic foot. The trunk features a flatter floor and more space.

2014 Honda Accord ELX

There are now even more standard features in the Accord. The LX sedan comes with dual zone climate control, remote entry system, power locks, tilt and telescoping wheel, 160 watt stereo with USB interface and Bluetooth and rear view camera. The top of the line Touring model comes with features that you would not find in full luxury cars a few years ago such as navigation system and adaptive cruise control. You also get Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Forward Collision Warning (FCW), heated front seats, 360 watt stereo, leather seats and steering wheel and more.

What’s even nicer about Honda is that they understand that the small details matter. Inside the Accord, all tactile surfaces, from the interior door handles to the seat controls to the instrument panel, steering wheel, and switchgear are designed to be pleasing to the touch and easy to operate. The upper instrument panel is now one seamless piece of soft-touch material, the product of a new in-house Honda manufacturing process. This soft upper pad has an improved fit, a luxurious finish and an integrated passenger-side airbag cover.

The interior is also luxury car quiet now. Key contributors to the Accord’s quiet interior are Active Noise Control (ANC) and Active Sound Control (ASC). The two systems are comprised of dual overhead microphones, an ANC/ASC electronic processor, and the audio system’s four door-mounted speakers. ASC/ANC operates whenever the Accord is running, even if the audio system is turned off. ANC is designed to reduce low frequency sound in the cabin caused mainly by the roughness of the road surface. The overhead microphones pick up sound waves and send them to the ANC/ASC processor, which creates and sends a precisely timed "reverse phase" audio signal to a special amplifier. In turn, the amplifier drives the door speakers to cancel the original noise signal. ASC is a related technology designed to improve the engine sound quality by making the sound pressure level more linear as the engine revs increase.

Typically, engine noise doesn’t increase in a linear way with rising revs; instead there can be many resonances that create peaks and valleys in the sound pressure level and an uneven sound. ASC helps smooth out the engine sound by creating a same-phase or reverse-phase sound signal as needed and sending it to the door speakers. Though the system offers benefits from idle to redline, it makes the largest difference in the range between 1000 and 2000 rpm, where it lowers the sound pressure level by approximately 3-dB with an opposite-phase audio signal.

Under the hood of the Accord is a 2.4 liter four cylinder that uses a race car like 11.1:1 compression ratio to crank out 189 hp. You can order the optional 3.5-liter V-6 engine that now delivers 278 horsepower at 6200 rpm (an increase of seven horsepower from before) and 252 lb-ft. of torque at 4900 rpm. The four cylinder is the better engine choice as it gets much better fuel economy and it has enough power for the typical Accord customer. While the V6 gets about 21 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway, the four cylinder gets 27 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. The four cylinder will also save you about $2000 on the price of the car as well.

Hybrid's interior

If you want more power than the four cylinder but also want better fuel economy, Honda has the new Accord Hybrid for you. The Accord Hybrid is very different than your usual hybrid that is offered by most manufacturers. The Accord uses a totally new technology to give you a much better hybrid experience.

The system is an altogether different hybrid from Honda's Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) system that is offered on the Civic Hybrid. The Accord Hybrid has a new system called Intelligent Multi-Mode Drive (i-MMD). Under most conditions the gas engine powers a generator, which in turn provides energy to charge the hybrid battery and/or for the electric motor to drive the wheels. In addition, the i-MMD can operate on gasoline engine power only, mainly during medium- to high-speed cruising.

Honda's i-MMD uses a new two-motor hybrid approach that continuously cycles between three different modes – EV drive, hybrid drive and engine drive – to maximize fuel efficiency. The difference between the Accord Hybrid and other hybrids is that the Accord Hybrid does not drive like them. Most hybrids have a delay that drives you crazy. You stop at a light and the engine shuts off. Once the light turns green, you step on the gas pedal. It takes a half a second for the gas motor to start up and another half a second for the transmission to realize what is going on. This process is worse at stop signs and can be annoying. The Accord Hybrid is much more responsive and does not exhibit these annoying traits.

LX Interior

Accord prices start out at $21,955 for the Accord LX sedan with a four cylinder engine. The top of the line Touring V6 model will cost you $33,480. The Hybrid starts out at $29,155 while the Hybrid Touring goes for $34,905.

After 38 years, the Accord is still the leader and arguably one of the best sedans in the world. It does everything well and nothing poorly. It is comfortable, roomy, efficient, quick, reliable, and affordable and has terrific resale value. Honda has proven once again that you can’t go wrong with an Accord but now they give you even more choices to make sure there is an Accord for every taste.