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Be hip to the hybrid trip

<p>You’re cool. You know where it’s at, generally speaking. But sometimes you’re just not quite sure how to get there in the most fuel efficient manner (and you know there’s nothing more uncool than driving a gas hog in today’s politically correct climate.) So, what’s your idea of good fuel economy?</p>

Accord takes an alternative route



Nothing’s more uncool than driving a gas hog in today’s politically correct climate. Honda’s mid-size Accord Hybrid sedan fits the bill as hip and fuel efficient — its clean, crisp lines also add to its overall appeal.





Ironically, the supreme smoothness of the Accord’s 3.0-litre V6 almost works against itself in the Hybrid model.





You’re cool. You know where it’s at, generally speaking. But sometimes you’re just not quite sure how to get there in the most fuel efficient manner (and you know there’s nothing more uncool than driving a gas hog in today’s politically correct climate.)


So, what’s your idea of good fuel economy?


If your ride happened to be a typical big, heavy, V8-powered SUV, getting better than, say, 12.0 L/100 km (23.5 mpg) it would be a dream come true … and about as likely as levitating pigs.


But, if you traded that SUV for something that does 9.0 L/100 km (31 mpg) or better, you’d probably be ecstatic.


Our own benchmark for acceptable fuel economy, however, starts at 7.0 L/100 km (40 mpg). That basically means spending time behind the wheel of a compact or subcompact car with manual transmission — and even most of them aren’t that frugal in real-life driving.


Given that prospect, Honda’s mid-size Accord Hybrid sedan begins to look pretty attractive … and not just for its clean, crisp lines.


We drove 918 km (570 miles) in one recently — about two-thirds highway driving and one-third in urban traffic conditions, with frequent use of the standard air conditioning — and averaged a genuine 7.2 L/100 km (39 mpg). As a matter of interest, despite all we hear about the inaccuracy of government fuel-consumption tests, our 7.2 average correlates well with the official figures of 7.9 L/100 km in city use and 5.9 L/100 km on the highway.


Ironically, the supreme smoothness of the $38,090 Accord’s 3.0-litre V6 almost works against itself in the Hybrid model. If the engine was a bit rougher, perhaps you wouldn’t be so aware of the slight shunts and clunks as the Hybrid powertrain (253 hp V6 with electric assist, mated to a 5-speed automatic transmission) does its thing — switching between three- and six-cylinder operation, engaging and disengaging the regenerative braking system (using the kinetic energy created when slowing down to recharge the electric motor’s batteries), and so on.


Deactivating three cylinders under light load conditions does save fuel. And acceleration from a standing start to 100 km/h in less than eight seconds while delivering the fuel economy of a compact car is performance bonus hard to pass up. Space occupied by the motor’s batteries shrinks trunk space by 20 per cent compared with the regular Accord sedan, however, and you lose the folding back seats.


Electric power steering takes efficiency even further by reducing engine load and enhancing steering response.


Even with the odd drivetrain motions, though, it’s a small price to pay for almost 40 mpg (well over that in exclusive highway driving) in a roomy, refined and reasonably quick mid-size sedan.


The only question is, why on earth aren’t more people hugging the idea and buying more of these things?


















Honda Accord Hybrid




  • Type: Mid-size 4-door sedan




  • Price: $38,090




  • Engine: 3.0-litre V6 DOHC & electric motor




  • Horsepower: 253 @ 6000 rpm w/electric assist




  • Torque (lb-ft):232 @ 5000 rpm w/electric assist




  • Highlights: Refined engine, fuel economy, low emissions, comprehensive standard feature list.



 
 
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