2014 Honda Accord Hybrid first drive
Finally, a Honda hybrid that goes all the way
Photo: Jeremy Sinek
Toronto, Ont. – Toyota may have invented the world’s first modern hybrid, but Honda can still claim to be a hybrid pioneer. While its Insight lagged the 1997 Prius by a couple of years in Japan, Honda was the first to go global with the concept. The first Insights went abroad in late 1999, half a year before the first Prius ventured outside its home market.
Right from the beginning, the two automakers pursued different approaches to the partial electrification of cars. Toyota specialized in full-hybrids with relatively large electric motors that can, in the right conditions, power the vehicle on their own. Honda focussed on less-costly mild hybrids, in which a small electric motor boosted the gas engine but was unable to fly solo, so to speak.
All that changes, however, with the arrival of the Honda Accord Hybrid – Honda’s first full hybrid -- for model-year 2014.
At this point you might be asking, what’s new? Reviews of Accord Hybrids have been doing the rounds for a couple of months already. Well yes, but those were Plug-In versions of the Accord Hybrid. Honda Canada brought a few in to gauge public and media interest, but it’s still undetermined whether, let alone when, the plug-in will be sold here. The cordless Accord Hybrid featured here, however, is a done deal. Look for it in showrooms right around Halloween.
Related link: 2014 Honda Accord Plug-In first drive
Honda does hybrid its own way
Photo: Jeremy Sinek
The only scary thing about the new Hybrid is trying to figure out exactly how it works. On the surface its 2-Motor layout seems similar to Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive, but there are important differences.
Like Toyota hybrids, the Accord can drive short distances in EV mode, with the internal-combustion engine (ICE) shut down. The ICE also automatically switches off when stopped in traffic. As well, in both systems the wheels are sometimes -- notably at freeway speeds -- powered exclusively by the internal combustion engine (ICE).
Where the Accord departs from the script is in Hybrid Drive mode. In most hybrids, this would involve the ICE and the Electric Motor working together to drive the wheels. In the Accord’s Hybrid mode, the ICE doesn’t the wheels directly, but instead powers a generator that provides the juice to drive the wheels electrically.
Also, while Toyota’s system effectively employs a continuously-variable transmission, the Honda has no transmission as such: in Engine Drive mode, a clutch engages and the ICE drives the wheels directly through a single, fixed ratio.
Like the Camry’s (and the Ford Fusion’s), the Honda’s gas engine runs on the Atkinson Cycle for optimum fuel efficiency. From a displacement of 2.0 litres it generates 141 hp and 122 lb.-ft. of torque. Respective power outputs for the 2.0-litre Fusion and 2.5-litre Camry are 141 hp and 156 hp. The Accord’s electric drive motor is rated at 124 kW (Camry: 105 kW) and 226 lb.-ft. of torque while the net combined output is 196 hp.
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