If you're interested in a fuel-efficient midsize sedan, your shopping list no doubt includes the 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid and the 2014 Toyota Camry Hybrid. After all, both models combine midsize-sedan practicality with impressive hybrid gas mileage, and neither one is so expensive that it'll break the budget of most midsize-sedan shoppers. So, which is better? We're here to help you decide.
2014 Honda Accord Hybrid Changes
While the latest version of the Honda Accord came out in 2013, the Accord Hybrid is all new for the 2014 model year. Based on the current Accord, it uses a 2.0-liter hybrid 4-cylinder mated to a standard continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). The engine is good for 195 horsepower and 50 miles per gallon in city driving.
2014 Toyota Camry Hybrid Changes
While the 2014 Camry Hybrid is largely unchanged, a new 2014.5 Camry Hybrid -- added midyear -- boasts a new SE trim level and a newly standard backup camera. Otherwise, the Camry Hybrid is largely unchanged from last year's model.
It's too early to assess reliability for the Accord Hybrid, largely because the sedan has been on the market for less than a year. If it's anything like the regular Accord, however, it'll perform well: J.D. Power gives the sedan a Power Circle rating of four out of five, indicating better-than-average reliability. But that's no improvement on the Camry Hybrid, which earned the exact same score.
The two sedans are also equals when it comes to warranty length. Both cars offer a 3-year or 36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, as well as a 5-year or 60,000-mile powertrain warranty for most components under the hood. Both sedans also offer a longer warranty for their hybrid systems, good for eight years or 100,000 miles in either model, except in certain states where local laws require automakers to include a 10-year or 150,000-mile warranty on hybrid components.
As a result, neither the Camry nor the Accord holds the edge in terms of reliability. This category results in a dead heat.
But there's no tie when it comes to fuel economy. There's no escaping the fact that the Accord Hybrid's gas mileage is far better than the Camry Hybrid's.
In both sedans, there's only one available engine. Accord Hybrid drivers get a 195-hp 2.0-liter hybrid 4-cylinder mated to a standard CVT automatic transmission. Meanwhile, the Camry Hybrid includes a 200-hp 2.5-liter hybrid 4-cylinder, which is also mated to a CVT. While those powertrains may sound similar on paper, they return very different fuel economy results.
According to the federal government's Environmental Protection Agency, the Camry Hybrid returns 43 mpg in the city and 39 mpg in highway driving, which are respectable fuel economy numbers, especially for a midsize sedan. But the Accord Hybrid boasts a whopping 50 mpg city/45 mpg hwy, which places it among the most efficient non-plug-in cars currently available for sale.
In federal government crash-test ratings conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), both the Camry and the Accord received the same 5-star overall rating. The Accord performed slightly better, however: Its 5-star rating consists of a 4-star front-impact score and 5-star rollover and side-impact scores, while the Camry earned 4-star rollover and front-impact ratings and a 5-star side-impact score.
The Accord also held a slight advantage in crash tests performed by the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The latest Accord earned the group's top rating of Top Safety Pick+, thanks to available front crash-prevention technology and a Good rating in the new small-overlap front crash test. The Camry was only awarded Top Safety Pick, losing out on the + due to its lack of front crash-prevention technology. The Camry also received only an Acceptable rating in the small-overlap front test.
Finally, the Accord maintains a slight lead on the Camry in terms of safety equipment. Both cars include all the basics: anti-lock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front-side airbags and side-curtain airbags.
But the Accord offers a few more safety options than the Camry. One is a blind spot camera dubbed LaneWatch, which is a tremendously useful feature that lets you see precisely what's in your blind spot. The Accord also features available forward-collision warning and lane-departure warning systems, which are not offered in the Camry. With that said, the Camry's rear cross-traffic alert system, which helps drivers back out of parking spaces, isn't available in the Accord.
In sum, the Accord is a slightly better pick than the Camry when it comes to safety. Neither car is unsafe, but the Accord's NHTSA ratings are slightly higher, as are IIHS scores. Also, the Accord boasts a few more available safety features than the Camry.
When the discussion turns to technology, each car stands out for different reasons. There's no doubt that the Accord has more features: The Accord's 8-inch screen trumps the Camry's 6.1-in screen, the Accord has a standard power driver's seat and the Accord boasts Honda's LaneWatch system as standard equipment. Upgrade to the Accord Hybrid EX-L and you'll get even more equipment over the Camry Hybrid XLE, including leather upholstery, a sunroof and safety features such as forward-collision warning and lane-departure warning.
But in our evaluation of the two cars, we found that some of the Accord's technology doesn't necessarily feel like it's especially modern. In fact, we happen to prefer the Camry's Entune infotainment system to Honda's HondaLink unit, both due to ease of use and quality of graphics. We also like the Camry's cleaner center stack, made possible because the Accord's controls are split into two separate screens.
Here, it's all about what you want. If your goal for automotive technology is ease of use and simplicity, the Camry is your car. If you prefer to have more equipment and features, even at the expense of user friendliness, go for the Accord. If we were choosing, we'd take the Accord and we'd put up with the clunkier infotainment system in order to get the excellent LaneWatch blind spot camera.
So far, the Accord Hybrid is better in nearly every category: safety, fuel economy, standard equipment and technology. So it must be a better value, right?
Shoppers interested in a fuel-efficient midsize sedan won't be surprised by the Accord Hybrid's victories in our categories, largely because the Accord Hybrid is more expensive than the Camry Hybrid. And the price difference isn't small: The Camry Hybrid starts just under $27,000 with shipping, while the Accord Hybrid is $30,000 including destination. That means the Camry holds a $3,000 price advantage over the Accord.
As a result, we'll address the question of value for two different types of shoppers: those looking for the best deal, and those looking for the best car.
If you're looking for the best deal, the Camry Hybrid is the better value. Not only does it boast a $3,000 price cut compared to the Accord, but it comes dangerously close to matching the Accord in many of our categories. For example, the Camry's government safety rating is just a touch shy of the Accord's. The Camry has nearly the same amount of standard equipment. And while the Camry's gas mileage lags behind the Accord's, it's still far better than any nonhybrid midsize sedan, and that means you'll still find big savings at the pump.
Drivers interested in the best car, however, will find the Accord Hybrid to be the better value. The Accord is, simply put, objectively better than the Camry. There are slightly more standard features, and crash safety ratings are better. Safety equipment is more plentiful, and technology is more generous. And, most importantly, gas mileage is better, a fact that we suspect many shoppers find more important than a $3,000 difference in base price.
It's surprisingly difficult to pick a winner in the battle between the 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid and the 2014 Toyota Camry Hybrid. On paper, it seems simple: The Accord has better gas mileage, better safety features, higher safety ratings and more equipment. It also offers a newer design and a few high-tech gadgets that the Camry doesn't have.
Normally, that would make it an easy choice, until you get to the base price. Since the Camry is $3,000 less expensive than the Accord, Honda's midsize hybrid suddenly loses some of its shine, especially when you consider how close the Camry comes in several important categories.
In the end, though, our pick is the Accord. We get the feeling that drivers in this segment care more about fuel economy and equipment than base price, and when you consider these topics, the Accord certainly beats out the Camry. With that said, we wouldn't fault you for choosing the Camry, as it's an excellent alternative for midsize-sedan shoppers interested in excellent fuel economy on a budget.