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A Peek at 2014: Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid

The usual order of things in the auto industry dictates that conventional, high-volume cars come first and niche products like hybrids come a distant second if they come at all.

Honda is bucking the trend by preparing to roll out a plug-in-hybrid version of its redesigned Accord sedan early next year, just a few months after the bread-and-butter gasoline-powered model goes on sale. A standard hybrid will follow next summer. The moves reflect the growing importance of hybrids in the U.S. market — and Honda’s desire to trump the Prius hybrids built by its nemesis Toyota Motors Corp.

Driver’s Seat took a test-drive in a pre-production Accord plug-in this week.

I have yet to drive the regular Accord, so the plug-in was my first experience with the redesigned model. Because the car ran for just over 12 miles on electric power alone, I had an opportunity to test its “NVH,” which is autospeak for noise, vibration and harshness. These are all bad things in the car business — some of which have plagued Honda for years.

Noise from mechanical systems, wind and tires is a common complaint from Honda drivers. Compared with the top-selling Toyota Camry, the Accord has always been a bit buzzy. It drives some motorists to distraction — and, presumably, to other brands.


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