The 2014 Honda Accord Plug-in Hybrid sedan doesn't amaze and daze with its mainstream looks, nice cloth seats and pleasant ride. Its "wow" factor is, simply, how few times a driver may need to stop at a gasoline station in a year.
This most fuel-thrifty Accord four door — the first with an electric plug — is propelled by stored electric power on most short trips of up to 13 miles.
It carries along a 141-horsepower, four-cylinder engine for when trips go longer. But even on the longer trips, the engine and regenerative brakes help replenish the onboard electric supply for short spurts of electric-powered driving and supplemental acceleration.
As a result, emptying this Accord's gas tank can be a challenge.
For example, even with some long trips added, the test car averaged 54.1 miles per gallon with a mix of all-electric driving plus city/highway on the gasoline engine. In fact, the federal government's www.fueleconomy.gov website estimated the tester would only need to stop at the gas station about nine times in a year if driven at its current pattern.
New for 2014, the Accord Plug-in Hybrid competes against other plug-in hybrid models such as the Chevrolet Volt and Ford Fusion Energi.
But the Accord's longer size — it's more than 16 feet long from bumper to bumper — and generous interior set it a bit apart.
Its high price does, too. Starting manufacturer's suggested retail price, including destination charge, for a 2014 Accord Plug-in Hybrid is $40,570. This includes a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that a driver operates like an automatic transmission.
The Accord Plug-in is mostly a loaded model.
It comes standard with dual, automatic climate control, rearview camera, navigation system, 16-gigabyte audio storage hard drive, keyless entry, heated front seats, lane departure warning and forward collision warning, among other things.
This plug-in price is $10,625 more than the starting retail price for a base, 2014 Accord Hybrid sedan with no plug attached and with no navigation, frontal collision warning, lane departure warning, heated seats or dual climate control,.
Note the "regular" Accord Hybrid is rated by the federal government at a combined 47 mpg for city/highway travel, while the Accord Plug-in's ratings are 115 mpg-equivalent on all-electric short trips and 46 mpg for city/highway travel with the gas engine.
The Accord Plug-in also has a higher starting retail price than the 2014 Ford Fusion Energi, which starts at $35,525 with plug, leather seats, rearview camera and dual-zone climate control.
The federal government rates the 2014 Fusion Energi at 98 mpg-equivalent in all-electric mode and 37 mpg for city/highway travel on the gas engine.
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