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2007 Honda Accord Hybrid test drive

Foot-loose and fancy-free

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating


2007 Honda Accord Hybrid left front

The 2007 Honda Accord Hybrid.

photo © Adrian Gable

What do the rating stars mean?

We’ve heard a lot of folks knock Honda for choosing the 3.0-liter, 24-valve, 6-cylinder engine for the Accord’s Hybrid package. This hybrid offers a whole host of comfort, convenience and safety features and the base model is priced at $31,090. Our model with Navigation system rang in at $33,090. Think you can have fun and still be green? While this hybrid touts 253 worth of horsepower, it's time to cut to the chase. 2007’s the last year Honda’s offering the Accord in this model with EPA ratings of 28/35, so start speed-reading. *Warranty details are below.

Initial Impression: Old dreams don’t die

Christine: “Elegant yet understated. I still wish my dad had bought that Accord for our newest family car back when I was in high school. Old dreams still a-simmerin’, I was looking forward to driving Honda’s 6-cylinder hybrid, yet curious as to how its performance and economy would shape up to the other hybrids we’d recently driven. And I couldn’t help but wonder whether this baby would lay rubber? Perhaps those teenage dreams are alive and well.”

Scott: “I knew that this hybrid was a bit of a rare breed, a normally economical family sedan, tuned and out-fitted as a muscle hybrid. Knowing that this marketing ploy didn’t really pan out as Honda had hoped, I wanted to find that one major ‘issue’ that hampered this car’s sales.”

Continued below...

Look & feel: “It makes you feel rich”

2007 Honda Accord Hybrid cockpit shot

A bird's-eye view of the Accord Hybrid's cockpit.

photo © Adrian Gable

That’s a direct quote from our daughter. And we agree that she summed it up perfectly. Oh sure, you’ve probably heard it – you know, the flack that Honda caught by choosing to pair that big engine with its hybrid package. And we have to say we were skeptical too. But ya know what? After living with the Accord hybrid for a week, we’re down in the dumps. About Honda’s decision to end its production, that is. The Accord Hybrid’s athletic performance combined with the take-off power and the big engine oomph is what makes this car such a thrill to command. And the reality is that there just aren’t that many choices for greener driving options that offer that hammer-down feeling, plus the fuel economy of a smaller engine. Yes, this beaut will squeal the tires from a dead stop and top out with 232 lb.-ft. of torque at 5,000 RPM.

Easy on the eyes and the bod (check out those hug and hold ya leather seats), from the moonroof to the surprisingly spacious trunk, this sensible combination of utility and elegance, varying textures and pleasingly shaped controls spoke fluently—and meshed perfectly—with Christine’s art background. But back to workaday reality, how often does a tired mom really want to get in the car and run the kids to yet another activity? With the keys to the Honda Accord in her hand, the tables turned. Yes, Christine was actually the one thinking of places to go. Indeed, she can sum up her feeling about the Accord’s aesthetics in one simple statement: It’s everything she loves in a car.

Fuel-ability: Grin and share it

With light-footed motoring through the city—taking full advantage of that auto-stop feature that taps into the beauty of Honda’s IMA ( that's Integrated Motor Assist) fuel mileage came in at 28.1. And that’s with no highway driving, which is where this engine will churn out numbers that will turn that grin to a full smile, with numbers in the 30’s. Yep, take ‘er on a long road trip and make your vacation even better.

So what exactly is IMA? It's what makes the Accord an intriguing cross between a full and mild hybrid. It’s a gasoline engine with an electric motor sandwiched between the engine and transmission. Translation: extra power for acceleration. But that’s not all—it also functions as a high-speed starter plus a generator for the charging system during regenerative braking. VCM - Variable Cylinder Management - is Honda's cylinder deactivation technology that seamlessly activates/deactivates the three rear cylinders, depending upon driving conditions. Cruising with low load equals fuel-efficient smaller engine benefits, but when you need the power of a larger engine, all six kick in to perform. Read: better fuel economy for a V-6.

The Accord’s idle-stop feature worked whenever we stopped in town, at traffic lights or stop signs—this nifty feat of modern engineering means that the gasoline engine will shut down—release the brake and the electric motor instantaneously restarts the gasoline engine. Honda also employs a unique dual scroll compressor for the Accord's climate control system. Worked like a charm.

The Enviro-meter: Go for the green

2007 Honda Accord Hybrid battery charge mode

The hybrid battery recharging while decelerating.

photo © Adrian Gable

That green ECO light is the key. The key to this hybrid’s most efficient level, when the VCM has shut down half the engine. And that understated hybrid bar graph indicates when the hybrid battery is being charged (green) or when the NiMH battery-powered motor is providing assist (blue). While this Accord is not a full hybrid—it can’t operate on just the electric motor—it can operate only on the gasoline engine with motor assist. The motor provides power boost as needed and helps to improve fuel efficiency, plus restarts the engine from auto-stop mode.

In a nutshell, motor down heavy and hard, and you won’t see that green ECO light as much – and the instant fuel economy will drop significantly. Go light and easy and you’ll see more green—literally—and in your pocketbook. And its AT-PZEV (Advanced Technology-Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle) certification equals tailpipe emissions that your grandma would be proud of.

The Accord Hybrid’s 17.1-gallon tank can be filled up at any standard gasoline station and will give a range of about 478 miles. Our mileage fell in squarely at 28.1 mpg on the city side of the EPA 28/35 range. Compare that to a 21 average mpg for a regular Accord, with a range of 359 miles. According to fueleconomy.gov, the Accord Hybrid’s petroleum oil consumption is about 12.7 barrels of crude annually—compared to 16.3 barrels for the conventional Accord. Driving an average of 15,000 miles per year, greenhouse gas emissions for the hybrid tally up to 6.8 tons/year, where the regular Accord will spew out a higher 8.7 tons/year.

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