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2005 Honda Accord V6 Hybrid

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

By Bruce Gordon

SEE ALSO: New Car Buyer's Guide for Honda

Hummmmmmmmm…that’s what I was expecting to hear from the engine compartment during and from my budget after my first test drive of an electric-hybrid vehicle, but that’s not what I heard.

My first impression of the dark blue test car was quite good. The design is classic 4 door sedan, but the lines of the Honda Accord are distinctive enough to differentiate it from the many in-class competitors.

The interior continued to add to my positive first impression. I enjoyed the look of the plush leather seating and the Accord’s steering wheel and instrument console were well placed and ergonomically comfortable.

Now for the business end of the car…so in goes the ignition key….turn it all the way….and what’s that I hear an engine? Not quite what I expected …It did kick over without ever hearing the starter but the result was an engine sound nonetheless. Oh well so much for the hummmmmm.

Driving this car at speed feels absolutely no different than driving other gasoline powered sedans…however, every time I stopped the car, the fact that this was a hybrid became apparent…because when the car stopped so did the gasoline powered engine.

That’s right every time you stop this car the engine stops also…the good engineers at Honda have fitted the dash board with a notice that blinks “Auto Stop” so you know it stopped on purpose and did not stall When in Auto Stop you can become overwhelmed by the beautiful and unexpected silence. Unfortunately in the car I was testing there was a very noticeable “clunk” every time I took my foot off the brake to get going again. Clunk aside, when starting from a stop, there was never a hesitation or unsure moment that the car was ready to go all out…from stop to go.

Let me talk for just a moment about power. This car has it. Be it electric or gas the power and pickup in this car is exceptional. For passing purposes you will never have a problem, and if ever a quick start is needed this car has what it takes.

The question you have all been waiting for…gas mileage. Well I was really expecting to be getting around 40 to 50 miles per the gallon. One of my peers has a Toyota Prius and she claims to get around 50. I was a bit disappointed with the 30 to 32 miles per gallon that I squeezed out of this car over the course of the long weekend.

I have to admit that most of my driving was highway driving and I am told that the gas mileage would certainly have been better with in city stop and go driving. This is a hard concept to get used to, but for most people who do city driving a hybrid is a way to save money on gas.

Because this test included a fairly long drive from the Washington DC area back to the world headquarters of The Auto Channel in Louisville KY… I had plenty of on the road experience on which to base my opinions.

My after-driving impressions of the Honda Accord Hybrid were that the interior comfort of the car was just O.K. The leather seats although good looking were functionally disappointing, the driver’s side lumbar support never retracted enough for me to get fully comfortable.

My two children were back seat passengers, one in a car seat and the other on a booster seat, and the Accord has plenty of space in the back seat, enough room to avoid kicking the front seats (unless they really tried hard to).

This family sedan provided plenty of places for “stuff”, a storage compartment in the front panel had plenty of room for coins, papers, receipts and other family road trip garbage, although there is a coin holder it was not so well designed as it was nearly impossible to retrieve the stashed coins…here’s another nit, the power plug cover got in the way of using my portable GPS power and speaker combo. The radio controls on the steering wheel were fine, as was the cruise control.

The Accord’s trunk space is quite sufficient. We were able to fit two suitcases, some groceries and a bunch of other junk in without any difficulty at all.

An important item to be aware of…when the door handles are pulled open they leave just enough space for a finger to get caught in. I did this (of course on purpose) and it truly hurt. I think that if a child’s finger gets caught there may not be blood but there will certainly be some tears. The doors seemed heavy which was a bit of an inconvenience for my helpful young children.

Overall I found this car to be fine and a very good choice for a small family or someone that likes 4 door sedans. It provided a very smooth and quite ride with plenty of power. (I am told that the “clunk” is not a usual feature).

I don’t feel that the hybrid engine provides enough advantages to justify the cost difference for most people…but if your life is stop and go and you like to feel “green” the Honda Accord Hybrid is a good choice for your entry into a cleaner way of driving.