2005 Honda Accord Hybrid Review


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THE AUTO PAGE
By
JOHN HEILIG

SEE ALSO: New Car Buyer's Guide for Honda

SPECIFICATIONS 

MODEL: Honda Accord Hybrid with navigation ENGINE: 3.0-liter V6 with integrated motor assist system HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 255 hp @ 6,000 rpm (total)/232 lb.-ft. @ 5,000 rpm TRANSMISSION: 5-speed automatic WHEELBASE: 107.9 in. LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT: 189.5 x 71.5x 57.1 in. TIRES: P215/60 R16 all-season CARGO CAPACITY: 14.0 cu. ft. ECONOMY: 29 mpg city/37 mpg highway/24.1 mpg test PRICE: $32,505 (includes $515 destination and handling charge)

The first hybrid I drove was the Honda Insight, and I was impressed by the exceptional 60 mpg fuel economy on a long trip. Since that time, hybrids have become more "normal" looking and economy has dropped. Some owners of hybrids have failed to realize the great fuel savings that are promised by these vehicles. Still, they're attractive, and there is a fuel saving. As gasoline prices increase, any saving is important.

Our tester this time is the Honda Accord Hybrid. Like the standard Accord, this is equipped with a 3.0-liter V6 engine that develops 240 horsepower on its own. With the assistance of an electric motor, power increases to 255 horsepower.

Under control of Honda's Integrated Motor Assist System (IMAS), the engine shuts off when you're at a stop sign or traffic light and you have your foot on the brake. It also cuts down to three cylinders when you're cruising or decelerating in order to increase economy. There is no provision for the car to run on the electric motor alone, as with the Ford Escape Hybrid, for example.

With the 5-speed automatic transmission, we found the Accord to be a smooth-running vehicle. There's a slight bump when the engine switches to three-cylinder operation, but it isn't annoying. There's also a bump when you remove your foot from the brake pedal and the gasoline engine fires up (quietly).

We averaged more than 30 mpg on the highway and 24.1 mpg in overall use that included a couple of hills and some stop-and-go travel. For urban driving, it would be ideal for the electric motor to take over completely, but the Accord doesn't work that way. On the road, though, I liked its operation.

The trunk is a good size, listed at 14.0 cubic feet. The backs of the rear seats don't fold to increase trunk volume because that's where the battery pack is for the electric motor. There is no spare tire. There is, however, a jack and a "flat tire temporary repair kit" that will get you to the nearest service station. In place of the tire is the repair kit and a two-compartment storage bin of approximately 9x12x3" dimensions. The bins are handy, and since I haven't had a flat tire in more than 20 years, I guess the need for a spare is more of a comfort issue. Under the hood, there is ample evidence that this isn't a normal Accord V6. The IMAS is clearly marked. Everything else you'd need to find is easy to locate, including the bright orange covered cable with the warning "You can be seriously hurt or killed. Do not disconnect coupler." That convinced me I didn't want to mess around under there.

The only evidence that you're driving a hybrid is the small badge on the trunk and a slight change to the instrument cluster. At the bottom of the speedometer is a small "charge-assist" gauge that monitors whether you're charging the batteries or if they're giving you a power boost. There's also a battery charge level meter on the dash. Otherwise, the car looks like a standard Accord, which isn't bad.

Front seats are comfortable and offer good side support. Since the Accord likes to be driven hard, the side support helps keep you in your seat. Rear seat legroom is very good, and would accommodate taller passengers. In the rear there is a fold-down armrest that contains two cupholders. It's convenient if you only have two people back there.

The navigation screen was confusing at first when all I wanted was identification of the music that was playing on the XM radio. But once I figured it out I was able to switch between navigation and audio with ease. The navigation system was good, and passed the "does it show my street?" test with flying colors.

Above the navigation screen is a readout that shows the radio station (or CD) and the time. If you don't touch the navigation inputs in any way, the screen shuts down.

For inside storage there are small cupholders in the door pockets, a small cubby over the ash tray and bottoms in the door pulls. I like these to hold my EZ Pass sensor if I'm on a road that requires it.

The Accord Hybrid offers better-than-normal fuel economy by nine and seven mpg (city/highway) to go along with what is normal Accord ride quality, which is excellent. This is about $3,000 more than an Accord equipped with a V6 and navigation system. To me, it's worth it.

2005 The Auto Page Syndicate

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