Hybrid shoppers: We're going to eliminate a lot of confusion for you up front. Despite several adequate midsize hybrid sedans, the introduction of the 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid means there are now two seriously good hybrids to choose from.
Take a Test Drive
Before signing on the dotted line, you're going to have to test drive both the Honda Accord Hybrid and the Ford Fusion Hybrid, as both deliver on the expressed and implied promise of a hybrid.
Just Like a Normal Accord
Honda did jazz up the interior; it's now more on par with the top-of-the-line Accord Touring. That's to be expected, since the 2014 Accord Hybrid starts at roughly $30,000. Of course, you can go ahead and get an Accord Hybrid Touring since there are both EX-L and Touring versions of the Hybrid available in addition to the base model.
Works as a Hybrid
The Accord also gets the transition from gas engine to electric motor just right.
Compared to the Ford Fusion Hybrid, the Accord Hybrid has the gasoline engine intervene too soon. The Fusion feels like it's happy being an all-electric car, more so than the Accord. When the Fusion's gas engine does kick in, however, the sound is more intrusive and noticeable. While the Honda feels slightly reluctant to stay in all-electric mode, the sound is more like that of a typical sedan when its engine kicks in -- you can hear the engine, but it's like a distant conversation.
The Accord's transition from gas engine to electric motor (and the combination of the two) is noticeable but not intrusive. This is a key area where cars such as the hybrid Hyundai Sonata and Toyota Camry fall short.
Total output for the Accord Hybrid is 196 horsepower. An Accord EX with only a gasoline-powered 4-cylinder engine makes 185 hp, so the hybrid is packing a little extra power.
But the electric part of the Accord's gas/electric hybrid requires batteries for energy storage, and that adds weight. The hybrid Accord feels powerful enough, but it's not quite the powerhouse the horsepower number would suggest.
The Accord Hybrid's acceleration feels about right. Both the Fusion and Camry do, too. The Fusion feels quicker for the first 50 yards, but sites such as TopSpeed put the Accord about one second quicker from 0 to 60 miles per hour than the Fusion Hybrid SE.
The likely reason is that the Accord doesn't blow all its power moving the car from a stop. Even at highway speed, the Accord Hybrid still has enough stones to pass effortlessly, something that's not true of all high mpg hybrids.
The Accord does make good use of its electric power by using two electric motors instead of just a single drive motor. One electric motor propels the car while the other supplies power for that drive motor and charges up the batteries, too.
Regarding mileage, the Accord delivers, hitting the magic 50 mpg number in the city, 45 mpg on the highway and 47 mpg in combined city and highway driving.
50 mpg in the city is Toyota Prius territory. That means the new Honda Accord Hybrid does better than the Toyota Camry Hybrid and is essentially equal to the Ford Fusion Hybrid, though the Accord's city number is 50 mpg and the Fusion's is 47 mpg across the board.
Depending on how you drive the Accord, it may do better in the real world than any other midsize hybrid sedan.
Base price for a 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid is just a hair under $30,000. So, it's a little more expensive than a Camry Hybrid. Step up to the Accord Hybrid EX with leather and the price jumps to $32,000. An Accord Hybrid Touring is a little over $35,000.
Both the EX and Touring hybrid models come nicely equipped with features such as leather seats, 7-speaker stereo, touchscreen audio, XM satellite radio, power sunroof, memory for the driver's seat, heated front seats, multiview rear parking camera, and forward-collision and lane-departure warning systems.
The Touring adds adaptive cruise control, navigation, cushier seats and HomeLink.
The $35,000 price tag for the Touring may seem a little steep, but the Accord Hybrid EX with leather makes a lot of sense. A non-hybrid Accord EX with leather and navigation is about $33,000.
If you're looking for a hybrid sedan that cracks the 50-mpg mark, the Accord is your car.
We'd reserve recommending the Accord Hybrid if there were a big penalty in driving comfort, features, handling, power or anything, really. With the Accord Hybrid, there just isn't a penalty of any kind. The beauty of this hybrid is it looks and acts just like a Honda Accord, with no surprises or shortcomings.
If you're shopping for a hybrid midsize sedan, don't just get the most popular one because everyone else is doing so.
Instead, drive your top three choices back to back. Add up the cost of the car and estimated fuel savings, then factor in features for the money and interior space. Ultimately, the 2014 Honda Accord is the best hybrid you can get for the money -- and probably the one you'll be happiest with for years to come.