By Matt Degen - Updated Date: 2/19/2013
The 2014 Honda Accord Plug-in is a hybrid that, thanks to a larger lithium-ion battery, has the ability to travel about a dozen miles on electricity alone. When battery capacity dips below a certain point, the car automatically switches to a traditional gasoline/electric hybrid operation. This setup allows the Accord Plug-in Hybrid its electric-only range of 13 miles, 46-mpg fuel economy as a hybrid, and single-occupant access to carpool lanes in California, which, along with New York, is initially selling the 2014 Accord Plug-in Hybrid in limited numbers. With quick recharge times, plenty of creature comforts and the satisfying driving manners long associated with Honda's venerable mid-size sedan, this electrified Accord makes an enticing option in the burgeoning field of plug-in hybrids.
If you're a fan of the Honda Accord and also desire a vehicle that can run several miles on electricity alone, the 2014 Accord Plug-in Hybrid marries the best of both worlds. Recharging times are laudable: Under an hour on a 240-volt "Level 2" charger, and less than three via standard 120-volt.
For now, Accord Plug-in Hybrid sales are limited to California and New York, with just 1,100 planned for production this year. The regular (non plug-in) Accord Hybrid will have wider availability when it arrives later this year. Meanwhile, the highly competent Ford Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid and Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric vehicle are available now to more buyers.What's New for 2014
The 2014 Accord Plug-in is Honda's first production plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. This year also marks the return of a regular hybrid version of the Accord, the last of which was seen in model year 2007.
Not surprisingly, the Accord Plug-in Hybrid offers a slightly different driving experience than standard, gasoline-only Accords. When powered on electricity alone, the ride is quiet and serene – after all, there is no gasoline engine running under the hood a few feet in front of you. The only obtrusive sound we experienced was a slight whine from the electric powertrain that is most likely to be heard by canines and human passengers whose ears can still sense higher frequencies. When the gasoline engine does switch on, it can definitely be heard, but the power transition from electric to gasoline is extremely refined and nearly transparent. In other ways, the Accord Plug-in delivers a ride similar to its kin: comfortable, relatively easy to maneuver, and with decent power that has no trouble getting the Accord up to freeway speeds.Favorite Features
PLUG-IN HYBRID OPTION
In theory, you could drive the Accord Plug-in Hybrid without using a drop of gasoline. While that's unlikely for most, even when you drive beyond the car's 13-mile electric-only range, you'll still enjoy an EPA combined fuel economy rating of 46 mpg. California drivers can benefit from access to carpool lanes on the state's notoriously clogged freeways.
This first-of-its-kind technology for the Honda Accord uses a tiny video camera mounted underneath the passenger-side mirror that displays what's happening in your blind spot. Ingeniously, this system can be configured to stay on or automatically turn on when the right-hand turn signal is engaged.
Based on the top-level Touring trim, the Plug-In Accord Hybrid has a premium-feeling cabin complete with a high-resolution 8-inch display with navigation and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. With its emphasis on eco-friendliness, the Plug-in Hybrid's dash changes color to reflect your driving behavior. A green glow indicates high efficiency, while a change to blue is a cue that you're being harder on the throttle. Keeping with the eco theme, the Plug-in Hybrid's seats are "bio-fabric" made from – of all things – material from sugarcane. The Accord Plug-in Hybrid sacrifices some trunk space and the folding rear seats of its gasoline-powered model due to its battery pack.Exterior
The Plug-in Hybrid looks much like other Honda Accords. Distinguishing features include an additional "fuel cap" above the front-left wheel where the charging cable is inserted. The Plug-in's 17-inch alloy wheels are shod with aerodynamic covers that, while stylish, also sit flush with the tires, making them susceptible to close encounters of the curb kind.Notable Standard Equipment
Because it's based on the top-of-the-line Touring model, the 2014 Accord Plug-in Hybrid comes packed with features that offer comfort, safety and entertainment. Among them are a satellite navigation system, heated front and rear seats, dual-zone climate control, lane-departure and forward-collision warning systems, and adaptive cruise control.Notable Optional Equipment
The 2014 Honda Accord Plug-in is pretty much loaded in standard form, with options being limited to accessories such as illuminated doorsill trim and body side molding.Under the Hood
The 2014 Honda Accord Plug-in Hybrid uses a 2-motor hybrid system consisting of a 2.0-liter Atkinson cycle 4-cylinder gasoline engine and a 124-kilowatt electric motor. The lithium-ion battery is rated at 6.7-kilowatt-hour and recharges in less than three hours on a standard 120-volt outlet or under an hour on a 240-volt outlet. All Plug-in models are front-wheel drive and use an electronic continuously variable automatic transmission. Maximum electric-only range is rated at 13 miles, and total range when factoring in the gasoline engine is a wildly impressive 574 miles. Like other Honda Accords, the Plug-in's gasoline engine runs on regular unleaded fuel.
2.0-liter inline-4 and 124-kW AC synchronous permanent-magnet electric motor
141 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm (gasoline engine)
55 horsepower (battery power)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 46 mpg city/highway combined (hybrid mode)
Electric-only range: 13 miles
The 2014 Honda Accord Plug-in Hybrid is available in one trim only and has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $40,570. Initial sales are limited to California and New York. Owners are eligible for up to $2,500 in federal tax credits, and Californians have even more incentive with a tax rebate of up to $2,500 through the state's Clean Vehicle Rebate Project. The Plug-in is the priciest of the Accord lineup, but is also the most advanced and the most fuel efficient. The Accord Plug-in's price is in line with a similarly equipped Ford Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid and the Chevrolet Volt, though the Volt may be eligible for greater tax incentives. Before buying, be sure to check Fair Purchase Price below to see what others in your area are paying. Regarding resale value, the Plug-in Hybrid Accord is still too new and limited to rate, but Accord models generally have great resale value, with the 2013 model taking first place in the Mid-Size Car category of the Kelley Blue Book 2013 Best Resale Value Awards.