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It's me doing a little posing while taking a break at the Ouray, Colorado Jeep Jamboree in 1995.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Accord Coupe and Hybrid: Honda Is Trying to Make a Believer of Me

I'm not the kind of guy who gets all giddy over the Honda Accord. I've always looked at it and the other mid-size Japanese super star Toyota Camry as good, dependable cars that are somewhere south of exciting. Owners love them, but aren't usually in love with them. I like them for all the reasons their owners love them, but I've never been passionate about either one. (Insert yawn here.)

Accord V6 Coupe.

But I've had a couple of Accords of late that caused me to reevaluate my opinion. Don't get me wrong, the Accord wouldn't be on my long list, let alone my short list, of cars to buy if I win the lottery; but I can now see myself actually owning one under the right conditions. One of the Accords impressing me was even – gasp – a hybrid.

I'm not a fan of hybrids – or the whole idea of battery-powered cars. This technology is as old as the automobile itself. As the 1800s morphed into the 1900s, there were actually more battery-powered cars on the road than ones with internal combustion engines. They eventually disappeared because of issues with range. It's still the main problem with battery-powered cars today. Tesla notwithstanding, if you want to go farther than you can see from your upstairs window and return home the same day, battery power won't get the job done. That's obviously a bit of an exaggeration, but not by much.

Enter the hybrid. Most hybrids today have a battery-powered electric motor that works in tandem with a four-cylinder gasoline engine to power the car. Plug-in hybrids, on the other hand, can power the car on their own for 25 to 30 miles before running out of battery charge. At that time the gasoline-powered engine takes over. Both hybrid systems add quite a bit to the bottom-line cost of the car. 

Accord Hybrid.
Even when supporting a hybrid system, I'm not thrilled with battery-power. I think battery power is simply a stop-gap technology until fuel cells or some other more efficient technology arrives. But that's a discussion for another day. Back to the Accord.

The Accord comes in both plug-in- and traditional-hybrid forms. The one I really like is the Accord with the traditional system. I had the top-of-the-line Touring version. At $34,905, it's roughly only about $1,500 more expensive than the gasoline-powered V6 Touring. That's not a bunch of cash difference as hybrids go. The EPA estimates the hybrid will get 47 mpg in combined city-highway driving; while the V6 just 26 mpg.



A bit of math reveals that if you drive 15,000 miles per year with gas at $3.75 per gallon, it will take just about 18 months for the Accord's hybrid system to pay for itself. If gas goes higher, it will take even less time. After that, you'll pocket $1,100 or more each year rather than pumping it into your gas tank. Not bad.

I was really pleased with the hybrid's acceleration. No, it wasn't neck snapping, but its 226 lb-ft of combined torque got the wheels turning in a hurry. I didn't feel like I was losing anything to the V6.

The other Accord that dazzled me – actually it's dazzling me now – is the Accord 2-Door with its 278-horsepower V6 and six-speed manual transmission. Honda delivered the EX-L V6 Navigation for my week-long test. It retails at $32,400 whether equipped with the six-speed automatic tranny or the manual, as mine was. 


Okay, I'm going to say it: This Accord is F-U-N to drive! I never thought I'd hear myself say – or write – those words. It will hit 60 mph from a standstill in about six seconds. Shifting is effortless with a clutch that's slicker than mule snot. 

The cabin is nicely appointed and uber comfortable.

I have another car in my driveway to test this week, and I am going to have difficulty getting out of the Accord to give it a chance.

So, yes I am rethinking Accord.

4 comments:

  1. The numbers certainly are getting better as a reason to buy a hybrid in terms of making up the difference in cost with savings in gas. I still don't get the people (like a neighbor of mine) who buy a hybrid and then let it sit in the driveway all day, though.

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  2. The only way to make a hybrid pay for itself is to drive it and drive it a lot. Any one who doesn't drive much is just wasting money on the extra cost of a hybrid.

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  3. I also don't understand why they buy a Prius when there are so many other better models now with hybrid power trains.

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  4. I was totally impressed with the Accord hybrid I had.

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