Honda has been selling its Insight since December 1999 and its Civic hybrid since March 2002, but in the past year, the second-generation Toyota Prius has been the hybrid getting all the attention, and not just from the paparazzi at the Academy Awards. For 2005, Honda strikes back with a hybrid version of the Accord, a full year before Toyota is scheduled to hybridize its bestselling Camry. On sale late this year, the gasoline-sipping Accord will use the same Integrated Motor Assist technology as in Honda’s other hybrids, applied for the first time to a six-cylinder engine. The 3.0-liter V-6 uses variable cylinder management to deactivate three cylinders during highway cruising, yet it will have better horsepower and torque figures than the current V-6-powered Accord’s 240 hp and 212 lb-ft, with fuel economy on par with the four-cylinder Civic (about 32/38 mpg city/ highway). Honda will ask for a $2500 to $3000 premium over the top-of-the-line EX L sedan, so Accord fans who want to go green should prepare to part with about $30,000.
ON SALE: Late 2004
PRICE: $30,000 (est.)
ENGINE: Gasoline-electric hybrid, 245-hp (est.), 3.0-liter V-6
BOTTOM LINE: Beating the Camry at Toyota’s own game.