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Consumer Reports auto experts report from the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
Honda Accord Coupe Concept

What is it? Although officially a concept, this Accord Coupe is very close to what the production version of the next Accord will look like next fall. Although the Coupe is the same size as the outgoing model, Honda says the sedan will be slightly smaller for better fuel economy and to make it more fun to drive.

Both four- and V6 engines will be revised for better horsepower and fuel economy. The four-cylinder is an all-new 2.4-liter double-overhead cam i-VTEC unit producing 181 hp; the V6 is a revised 3.5-liter single-cam i-VTEC design. Automatic-transmission versions of the new four-cylinder get a new continuously variable transmission to boost fuel economy; the V6 uses a conventional six-speed automatic. Both engines are available with a six-speed manual transmission, although only the automatic-equipped V6 includes Honda’s Variable Cylinder Management technology.

Accord sedans and coupes will offer forward collision warning and lane departure warning systems.

What is new or notable? The biggest news is the introduction of an all-new plug-in hybrid system in the Accord. It will be Honda’s first true full-hybrid system, using two electric motors and an electronic continuously variable transmission. A 120 kW electric motor will be capable of powering the car alone for 10 to 15 miles, fed by a 6-kWh lithium-ion battery. Honda says the battery can be recharged from a standard wall outlet in less than four hours, or by a 240-volt charger in an hour and a half.

CR’s take: Plug-in hybrids are the theme of this year’s Detroit auto show, with such systems coming to popular midsized production sedans from two big players, Honda and Ford, as well as several concepts. They have the potential to dramatically cut fuel consumption, 
with very little sacrifice from drivers, other than in the up-front cost of the car.

When will it be available? Standard sedans and coupes, fall 2012; plug-in hybrid, winter 2013

Consumer Reports New cars: A to Z

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