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TEST DRIVE: 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid Zooms to the Top of the Hybrid Segment
Many people will remember that this isn’t the first time that Honda has produced a hybrid version of the Accord. Back in 2003 Honda released an Accord Hybrid that mated a V6 engine to an electric motor, which created a more powerful version of the Accord sedan. It sat at the top of the lineup, but failed to attract buyers since it didn’t really add more “sport” or “fuel efficiency” to the Accord. After skipping a generation, the Accord Hybrid is back and this time its four-cylinder engine and dual electric motors are prepared to take on models like the Toyota Camry Hybrid and Ford Fusion Hybrid.
Earlier this year Honda released a plug-in hybrid version of the Accord, which is unfortunately only sold in California and New York. But now Honda has released a non-plug-in version, which uses the same hybrid powertrain as the Accord PHEV. Since hybrids first hit the market, the hybrid powertrains consisted of an engine matched with an electric motor. Traditionally the electric motor would power the vehicle at low speeds and then the conventional engine would kick in at higher speeds. Honda has taken a different approach with its new two-motor hybrid (i-MMD) system.
Compared to traditional hybrid systems, where the conventional engine still powers the vehicle under most conditions, Honda’s new i-MMD two-motor hybrid system is different. The system features a 2.0L Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine and two electric motors that generate a total 196 horsepower. From a stop the system starts in EV mode until it reaches around 60 mph. Above 60 mph the four-cylinder engine fires up, but rather than send its power directly to the wheels, most of the time it sends its power to a second electric motor that acts like a generator to send electricity to the lithium-ion battery. You can think of the system as being similar to the powertrain that powers the Chevy Volt. Only during high-speed cruising will the engine send its power to the rear wheels. One of the most interesting features is that the hybrid system doesn’t have a traditional transmission or CVT, instead it uses a single fixed ratio gear set.
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