If you think gerbils are running on thin straps to propel the 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid forward, you can still buy one. You have my permission, and I’m sure Honda is okay with that as well. Heck, even the salesperson might look the other way if you know how to sign a piece of paper.
It’s not that much of a stretch, really. Maybe they (the gerbils, not the salespeople) were trained to do that in a secret factory overseas, maybe they’re housed in small compartments above the wheel wells and fed by an endless supply of Corn Nuts. Maybe they take breaks to bathe in honey-scented lubricants and use the fan belts to dry off, maybe one of them has Donald’s Trump’s hairstyle and they smoke tiny gerbil cigarettes as you drive to the local Walmart.
Who knows? And, honestly—who cares?
In reality, there’s a little more going on here, but you don’t need to know that. As hybrid tech improves, the wonderful result (other than keeping gerbils safely out of the equation) is that you can expect around 650 miles per fill. I mean, come on! 650 miles is enough to drive all the way to Warroad, Minnesota from my house and back, and that’s not including side roads looking for donut shops. Call the Accord “the new diesel” if you want, theorize about how the electric motor interacts with the gas engine, stare in dazed confusion at the animation that runs above the steering wheel and reveals, in picturesque glory, how the powertrain operates (see photo).
Here’s the thing. As I was testing the Accord Hybrid, I did wonder when the electric motor operated and for how long. There are many, many indicators. You can press a button to enable EV mode, which typically only lasts for a few minutes and at low speeds. There’s another icon that pops up in the dash that says EV. It appears when you brake or slow down, regenerating the battery. There’s a gauge that shows how much electric power you have available.
There are three states, if you must know. The gas engine can be off entirely (thus, the EV mode) but it can also run in “low rev” more or “high rev” mode. Low rev means you can barely hear the engine powering the electric motor. In high rev, it’s pretty loud—that seems to happen mostly when you floor it. I really liked being able to control this. As I drove, I learned how to speed up slowly and make the most of the EV charge. I even chose routes in Minneapolis that were more conducive to hybrid driving, avoiding places that require high-speed merging.
It’s a peaceful feeling, knowing you are not depleting the ozone layer. At low speeds around town, I was able to drive much longer in EV mode. An actual engineer from Honda explained that, even in conditions when you need the most power, the electric motor and gas engine can work together to make sure you Save the Planet. During my test, I clocked in at 45 MPG for the week on average, but noticed much higher results (above 50) when I drove at lower speeds.
The Honda Accord is one of my favorite cars in a while. It’s similar to the VW Passat I tested recently in that it is a family sedan for everyday drivers. The back seat? Plenty of legroom even for tall people. The coolest feature? A video in the dash shows you the right lane when you move right, which can help you in a pinch. My test car has adaptive cruise control, collision detection, and lane departure mitigation. The gerbils ate their Corn Nuts. Everything worked out.