2014 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring Long-Term Update 2
My Personal Commuting Sanctuary
The Honda Accord Hybrid is not a luxury car, but our top-flight Touring model has leather seats (as does the midlevel EX-L) that have been wearing in acceptably through 15,000 miles. As expected, the front left seat is showing the most wrinkles. Yet, for the amount of activity the other four seats have seen -- I'd bet good money the Accord Hybrid has the most butts-per-mile action of any current Motor Trend Garage long-termer -- each has been holding up well. You should also know that any adult who's sat in the middle rear seat for longer than 15 minutes -- yours truly included -- parrots the same message: The bench center's bottom is way harder than any other seat's. The difference in comfort would be laugh-worthy if it weren't so rump-numbing.
It's good, then, that I'm primarily in the driver's seat, where I've familiarized myself with all things Accord Hybrid during many 60-mile roundtrip commutes.
For example, the electric servo braking at first touch makes the brake pedal seem overly stiff, but it feels convincingly natural after you get used to its nuances, and when compared to the braking in other hybrid vehicles. Even with battery-charging regenerative properties built in, the brakes aren't grabby. Nor do they leave the impression there's a lot of electronic manipulation going on in the background -- even if that is the case.
Then there's the gas pedal, which pulsates when the 2.0-liter I-4 kicks on as the powertrain enters Hybrid Drive, before settling into a gentler thrum against the metatarsals (such vibration is absent in EV Drive). The sensitiveness of said gas pedal is easier to modulate when the car is in its Econ mode, which is activated by the green, round button to the left of the steering wheel. The finer sensitivity in the throttle pedal's initial travel is helpful when operating in EV Drive, for moments when I want to accelerate quickly enough so as not to impede traffic, but not so quickly that the engine lights up for Hybrid Drive. The Accord Hybrid's electric motor (166 hp) is a more willing partner for brief spurts of emissions-free driving than in the Ford Fusion Hybrid (118 electric hp), Hyundai Sonata Hybrid/Kia Optima Hybrid (47), and Toyota Camry Hybrid (141).
One tidbit of knowledge I learned thanks to our partnership with Emissions Analytics: At a standstill, the car emits an average of 0.245 pound of CO2 when the engine cycles on to top off a battery low on charge. Imagine you're at a long red light and the battery drops to our observed minimum state of charge (about 24 percent) because the A/C is blowing. The engine then has to burn 0.013 gallon of gas to bring the battery up to around 35 percent before shutting off. If the car had earned 50 mpg over 10 miles until the extended pause, it would leave the stoplight at 47 mpg (44 mpg if you get stuck with two charge-ups).
Plus: 44-47 mpg is excellent for a midsize sedan. Minus: This numerical sensitivity is intellectually irritating (a 30-mpg car would drop to 28-29). All idling vehicles achieve zero mpg but I dread the sound of the Accord Hybrid's engine switching on at a stop.
More on our long-term 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring: