Today, we got out of the office and visited Leith Honda in Raleigh for a test-drive. Our chosen vehicle was the 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid. The Accord has a rich heritage in the Honda family, having been first introduced in 1976, and manufactured in the United States since 1983. Built in Marysville, Ohio, the Accord was the first Japanese automobile ever assembled in America, and millions have been made since then. Beginning as a humble sedan, the 2014 Accord Hybrid is a technological marvel replete with refined, elegant comforts. Needless to say, we were looking forward to driving it.
A sales representative greeted us at the door with a firm handshake and a “How do you do?” before walking us over to the Accord on display in the showroom. Leith Honda likes to take advantage of its sprawling showroom for the walkaround portion of a test-drive, whether it’s a frigid winter day or a hot and saucy North Carolina Summer day the showroom is comfortable year-round indoors, so you can focus on the details while the car you test-drive is warming up or cooling off outside. There’s also complimentary popcorn and bottled water, a merchandise stand, and a play area for children.
Turning back to the Accord, we were able to admire the simple and functional craftsmanship that makes it such a good-looking car. Its smooth curves and crisp character lines give the Accord a sporty look that speaks to the racing tradition that all Hondas are steeped in.
Aesthetically, the car does its own talking, so our sales person focused on its impressive functionality instead. One of Honda’s core philosophies is ease of use, and the best way the carmaker can live up to that credo is to make its cars smart. Case in point, the Accord’s Smart Entry system allows you to approach the car and unlock all the doors without ever taking the key out of your pocket. A sensor on the back of the door handle will detect your hand as you reach to open the door, and recognizing the signal from your key, whether it’s in your purse, briefcase, pocket, or otherwise, will trigger the unlock. You can customize this function to unlock all doors or just the driver’s door. This feature works the same way in reverse, automatically locking the car when you get out and walk away. The trunk is also tied into the same system. Just press the button on the trunk lift-gate when your key is in range and it will open on its own.
But what happens if you lock your smart key inside the car? Don’t worry, that’s not even possible. If you get out of the car and close the door, or accidentally leave your key fob in the trunk and try to close it, the Accord will beep and automatically re-open the door. That’s right, sometimes the car is even smarter than you are.
Next, we were shown the different cameras featured on the 2014 Accord. Honda considers backup cameras a safety feature that should be standard in cars. That’s why ninety-eight percent of 2014 Honda vehicles feature a backup camera. The backup camera has three modes: standard, wide, and top-down. The rearview display also overlays lane guides with distance indicators to help you put your car exactly where you want to. The Accord Hybrid we drove was of the Touring trim level, so it has another camera mounted above the windshield. This one is part of the lane-departure warning system, and also assists with the Accord’s adaptive cruise control.
Finally, a feature that is standard on every Accord Hybrid is the Honda LaneWatch camera, mounted underneath the passenger-side mirror. This camera will display on the center console whenever you signal to make a right turn, or when you press the button on the end of the signal lever, giving you eighty degrees of vision instead of the usual fifteen. Visual indicators will also help you judge how many car lengths back the traffic in the next lane is, so you’ll have no trouble keeping track of your blindspot.
Our last step in the walkaround section was to look under the hood. Representing the best of Honda’s Earth Dreams technology engines, the 2.0-liter i-VTEC 4-cylinder engine gives the Accord power unlike any other hybrid on the road. Paired with an electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack, the hybrid power source runs through an electronic continuously variable transmission for an unprecedented combination of performance and efficiency. How unprecedented? 50 miles-per-gallon in the city, and 45 on the highway*.
Looking in the engine block also gave us a chance to see and appreciate Honda’s Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) II body structure. This Honda exclusive design element utilizes additional materials and reinforced structural elements to curb the impact of frontal collisions. The sales person took great pride in explaining how Honda doesn’t design its vehicles to pass tests – it designs them to be safe. When new tests come out, Honda vehicles are already up to the new standards.
By the time the hood was down again, we were ready to get behind the wheel. Our guide led us out to the parking lot where our test model was warmed up and raring to go. We sat down in the driver’s seat, adjusted the steering wheel, and repositioned the mirrors. The Accord Hybrid cockpit puts all the information you need at your fingertips. The instrument cluster shows you not only standard information like speed and RPMs, but also displays your battery usage, regenerative braking, and overall power and fuel levels.
In the center of the dashboard, the intelligent Multi-Information Display (i-MID) grants you access to detailed trip information, a navigation system, and audio controls. The sales representative offered us the chance to sync our phone with the car via Bluetooth, which gave us access to our Pandora account and stations as an alternative to the available satellite radio. Linking your phone also lets you make hands-free phone calls and even send text messages via the vehicle interface.
The last feature we were shown before pulling away was the Honda ECON button. Being a Hybrid, the Accord is already a hyper-efficient vehicle, but actual rates and mileage are dependent on a person’s driving style like in any other vehicle. By pressing the ECON button, the Accord will take measures to maximize energy efficiency. The ECON button is actually found in most vehicles on the 2014 lineup, no doubt contributing to Honda’s achievement of highest rated fleet fuel economy this model year. On top of that, the Accord Hybrid features the option to turn on EV mode, allowing you to cruise on all electric power. If you need to tap into the full performance power inherent to every Honda, turning these modes off is as easy as pushing a button.
Most hybrids offer you increased fuel economy at a cost. The average hybrid is a tradeoff, a sacrifice in performance for the greater good of energy efficiency. Honda doesn’t believe that sacrifice is necessary. They want you to have your cake and save the world, too. That’s why driving the 2014 Accord Hybrid feels familiar, and that’s a good thing.
When we pulled off the lot, we quickly found ourselves gunning it down the highway. The Accord was responsive to the throttle, rocketing up the on-ramp and staking its claim to the open road. Unlike other hybrids where you can forget the engine is even there, the Accord’s is very much present, working cleaner than most, but still working all the same. Another feature of the Accord that promotes efficient driving is the coaching system. Two bars flanking the speedometer flash between blue and green depending on how you’re using your fuel supply. Green means you’re maximizing your tank’s lifespan, and blue means you really like hearing that i-VTEC engine roar.
While driving, we got to appreciate the LaneWatch camera, and it gave us extra peace of mind when we were changing lanes on the beltline. We also made use of the Adaptive Cruise Control, which allowed us to set our desired speed and following interval between our car and the one in front of us. The Accord uses the front-facing camera and a built-in radar system to monitor your inputs and manage your speed accordingly. The test-drive was split between highway and city, so once we got to the latter portion, we engaged the EV mode, gliding through neighborhoods. The Accord is a smooth ride, no doubt due to the independent multi-link rear suspension and the precision handling native to all Hondas.
Lucky for us our test-drive did not include a crash test, but our sales person kept us enlightened on the safety features of the Accord. Prevention is one of the most important aspects of safety, which is why the Accord Hybrid features frontal collision warning and lane departure warning. It also comes standard with LED daytime running lights, making the Accord more stylish as well as more noticeable to other drivers on the road. As you would expect, there is also a full outfit of airbags, including dual-stage front airbags and side curtain airbags activated by a rollover sensor.
We returned to the dealership satisfied with our drive and reluctant that it had to end. Keep in mind that the advertised 50 mile-per-gallon fuel economy is based off the most efficient driving habits in the best conditions. You’ll have to forgive us then, because even though our coaching bars were blue for most of the drive, we still managed a 46 mpg rating on our trip.
The 2014 Accord Hybrid brings you top-notch performance and efficiency with no tradeoffs. It has the features and comforts you would expect in a high-end car without any of the sticker shock. It doesn’t drive like a hybrid – it drives like a Honda. Even more than the car itself, we were impressed by the knowledgeable sales representative who accompanied us. We would not have gotten the Leith experience without his expertise and passion.
You don’t have to take our word for it. Schedule your own test-drive today on our website. If you have questions about the 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid, we encourage you to leave them in the comments, send them to email@example.com, or bring them with you to Leith Honda in Raleigh.
*50 city/45 highway/47 combined mpg rating. Based on 2014 EPA mileage ratings. Use for comparison purposes only. Your mileage will vary depending on driving conditions, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, battery-pack age/condition, and other factors.