Honda’s Insight was one of the first hybrid vehicles to take to America’s roads and still tops the EPA’s mileage chart every year with its combined 60 mpg. But the vehicles that have followed in Insight’s tire tracks are attempting to appeal to a wider audience, therefore Honda has had to make many compromises to its Integrated Motor Assist hybrid system.
The environmentally conscious will adjust their lifestyles to fit around small underpowered cars, knowing that their gas-sipping mini cars are saving the environment. But those who will pay the $3,000 premium for this top-of-the-line Accord expect to brag that they’re also helping the environment, they just aren’t quite ready to make any unnecessary compromise to their lifestyle. That’s the crowd Honda this Accord will appeal to.
The Accord hybrid boasts increased performance with the benefit of improved fuel mileage. The electric motor helps on launch and also boosts horsepower to 255, 15 more than a standard V-6 Accord.
The 21.8 mpg the onboard computer was calculating not only falls well short of the 29 city/30 highway promised by Honda, but isn’t really any better than the 21 city/ 30 highway of the standard V-6 sedan. So this, more or less, makes the hybrid system a super high-tech, $3,000 supercharger. You could blame the poor fuel economy on the cold Michigan winter weather with heaters and defrosters going almost constantly, but the cold weather and snow-covered roads also keep your foot out of the throttle.
The Accord hybrid’s biggest asset is that the car itself hasn’t been compromised much at all by the IMS system. Save for slightly-grabby brakes (due to the regenerative braking system) and an Auto Stop function that shuts off the engine while the vehicle is standing still, you’d think you were in a standard V-6 car.
The Auto Stop feature is one that will only work well if people change their driving habits. I, like many others, have a tendency to stop the vehicle at the traffic light (which activates Auto Stop) but then creep forward, especially if someone at the front of the line makes a right turn on red. Once you let your foot off the brake to restart the engine, (which jerks to life with a little more vibration than expected), it will not shut off when you come to rest again.
This creeping forward at the traffic light seems like a perfect function for electric-only operation, which the IMA system doesn’t have.