While Toyota is far better known for hybrids, especially its Prius hatchback, Honda actually beat Toyota to the punch by a few months in launching a hybrid on the U.S. market, way back in 1999.
Honda is still the second highest-volume maker of hybrids globally, but the bulk of those have been "mild hybrids," using a small and not very powerful electric motor that assists the engine but can't move the car under electric power only.
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Now the first vehicle using an entirely new and vastly more powerful Honda hybrid system has hit the market--and Green Car Reports has reviewed it on video.
The 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid looks just like a regular Accord, with a handful of trim differences: a different grille and bumper, and a more aerodynamic wheel design.
The dual-motor hybrid system has two electric motors that substitute for the transmission, mounted behind a 141-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine tuned to work most efficiently with the hybrid system.
One motor can power the car itself under low loads, or add torque to assist the engine; the other charges the 1.3-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack mounted behind the rear seat. Total power rating is 166 hp, and 226 lb-ft of torque.
The 2014 Accord Hybrid responds and handles like a slightly heavier version of a standard Accord. Integration of the regenerative brakes is excellent, and there are plenty of occasions where it runs solely on electricity--up to 70 mph in some cases--unlike all previous Honda hybrids.
There's even a button on the console marked "EV" that lets you run solely on electric power as long as your battery lasts.
The base 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid is priced around $29,000, and a fully loaded EX-L with Navigation model can sticker at $35,000 or more.