A new day coming
Nationally, the average price for a gallon of gas is closing in on $2 per gallon, and a prominent candidate in the U.S. presidential race is an outspoken proponent of stiffer fuel mileage requirements. With the upcoming release of the 2005 Honda Accord Hybrid, it's almost as though the Japanese automaker saw this day coming.
The 2005 Honda Accord Hybrid, due in showrooms over the summer, is Honda's third entry into the gasoline/electric hybrid market. Powered in part by the Accord's stellar 3.0-liter, 240-horsepower V6 engine, much of the 2005 Honda Accord Hybrid's technology is borrowed from the company's current hybrid offerings, the Honda Insight and the Honda Civic Hybrid, both of which employ the company's Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) system.
IMA includes a conventional gasoline engine combined with an electric motor that recharges during routine driving rather than requiring drivers to "plug it in." This is Honda's first application of IMA to a V6 engine. In addition, the 2005 Honda Accord Hybrid will be the first car in company history to be outfitted with Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) technology.
VCM selectively deactivates three of the Accord Hybrid's six cylinders under specific driving conditions (such as when cruising at highway speeds) in an effort to improve fuel economy. Though marketed under different names and produced by different companies over the years, cylinder deactivation is a decades-old technology. Infamously, General Motors disastrously applied it to Cadillac V8 engines in the early 1980s, and only recently have the world's auto producers revisited cylinder deactivation in an effort to boost fuel economy. Hybrid and cylinder deactivation technology aside, expect the 2005 Honda Accord Hybrid to offer features and characteristics similar to those found in the regular Accord sedan. Pricing has not yet been released, but we estimate a premium over the existing Accord EX V6, making the new Accord Hybrid a $30,000 proposition.
Given that the existing Honda Accord is a fine sedan in its own right, and that the hybrid version will offer six-cylinder performance blended with the fuel-economy of a four-cylinder Honda Civic, the 2005 Honda Accord Hybrid is certain to be a hit even at a price premium that places it in competition with entry-luxury sedans. Thanks, Honda, for letting us have our cake and eat it, too.
--Photos courtesy of American Honda