2017 Honda Accord Hybrid: Three motors, no transmission (CNET On Cars, Episode 95)
[SOUND] New Honda Accord, lots of motors, no transmission.
We'll de-mystify the V-Tech.
And take up the top five infuriating things self-driving cars won't do.
It's time to check the tech.
[SOUND] We see cars differently.
We love them on the road.
[SOUND] And under the hood but also check the tech and are known for telling it what it is.
Ugly is included at no extra cost.
The good, the bad, the bottom line
This is CNet On Cars.
Welcome to CNet On Cars, the show all about high tech cars and modern driving.
I'm Brian Cooley.
Well, the all new Honda Accord Hybrid is an interesting beast technologically, as you're about to find out.
But it's got a whole other hill to climb.
And that is being different in a world where everybody else has a hybrid Now in this full car size segment, how do stand out from that crowd and how do you make it really worth while to get a full size car as a hybrid?
A lot of challenges to solve here so let's get out there and answer some of these questions as we drive the 17 Honda Accord hybrid and check the tape.
Well just about everybody makes everything in a hybrid version these days.
Especially in this, the full-size category where the Honda Accord lives.
But Honda has managed to do it differently.
Honda's Accord hybrid is only based on the sedan Model, not on the coupe.
And then they're up against a slew of competition.
You'll find hybrids from Fusion, Altima, Camry, Sonata, Optima, Malibu.
Who am I leaving out?
Everyone's doing one.
So how do you set yourselves apart?
Start by doing some weird stuff under the hood.
Your sort of proverbial mystery wrapped enigma powered by a battery.
We start out with a two liter lean burn Atkinson cycle gas engine, 212 swanny horsepower.
129 lb-ft of torque.
Very lean burn stuff.
Nothing too interesting there.
But then we have two electric motors attached to it.
Interesting arrangement and it gets even weirder.
They say it's got an eCVT, continuously variable transmission.
In fact there's no transmission at all.
It has a CVT in another sense what I would call a continuously virtual transmission.
Virtual and then it's created by the interplay solely of the engine And those two electric motors, but you're not going to find anything here with a gearbox.
You're not going to find a CVT with those traditional belts and pulleys, so it's a very unusual powertrain.
By the way, taking out a transmission just about accounts for the weight of adding a battery.
Now inside the Accord Hybrid very familiar if you've been in any modern Accord.
See our full review on the recent Accord for a more deep side.
But just a quick overview, two screens.
Down here you see they continue to refine the Honda map quality that I've always groused about.
Getting better, except why do they crowd it out with so much menu interface?
It's like I'm peeking through a peephole to see the thing.
That makes me nuts.
And, of course, as I've groused about before, the only way to raise the volume is with a touch slider here, or click, click, click, click, click on the wheel over there.
Makes me nuts, give me a knob.
And the jury is out in general on Honda's dual full screen situation.
I mean, you can easily end up with stupid stuff like that.
Same thing, same size, two screens, two inches apart.
The system now supports CarPlay on Android Auto as well.
That's something new.
And of course, we have lane watch, which I've always loved.
It's one of the smartest things Honda does.
To the screens in the car.
The 1.3 kilowatt hour hybrid battery is under the back seat for the most part but just enough up so the seat backs don't fold.
Bear that in mind before you head into IKEA.
Your drive control interface is in four parts.
You've got an EV mode button here to force electric mode, a sport button that's new on the '17 Hybrid to force more electric oomph.
You've got a very garden variety looking These shifters.
And of course you've got an economy button which most Hondas have.
Okay a lot of the stuff we saw under the hood a minute ago comes into an interesting harmony.
This is where the hybrid maker's work really does become an art.
It's this sort of harmony of motors and Modes that makes a hybrid great or not.
I gotta tell you, Honda is basically great.
This car does not have any modes where it falls on its face, where it feels like a slug, where you feel it changing modes.
Now that said, there are three going on.
First of all, there's EV mode, all electric power, engine off.
It works from a stop at low speeds.
During light cruising, and when braking.
The gas engine's off and decoupled.
Then you've got engine mode, that's a true hybrid where the engine is running the car and getting a fair amount of oomph from the electric motor when it needs it.
And then in the middle, you got one called hybrid mode which is not the same as hybrid.
Hybrid mode is when the car's running on electric and using the gas engine only to run the other electric motor as a generator to send more juice.
Through the first electric motor, dragging the car around as well as charge the battery while it goes.
Potentially confusing, this pretty little symphony of modes is the bewildering combination of buttons.
EV, Sport, ECon, Drive, and B selections on the shifter Pretend they aren't there.
Just use the right pedal.
The bottom line that will get you the 49 cities, 47 highway.
Honda's Sensing is the company's adaptive drive package that includes forward collision warning and breaking, lane keep assist that is active and very well nuanced Along with Road Departure Mitigation.
That kinda works the same way, but keeps you from crossing solid lines.
And adaptive cruise control.
And it's one of the nicest things about this car, when you're in town stopping and going, coming to a full stop, restarting, you never feel the braking go from regen to brake pads and back A lot of hybrids get that balky, this one doesn't.
It's dead smooth.
Now the Accord hybrid is gonna save you some money on gas, but it's not gonna save you some money on initial purchase.
This is not a stripper.
In fact, Honda goes so far as to say hybrid is the pinnacle of the Accord line.
You could good get a basic accord for as little as 23 grand but this guy starts at 30 and then I'm gonna add another 60 to get an extensive list of technology features that are all package driven and all add up to this thing being more CNET style Style.
On the other hand, I get a hybrid because I wanna see overall cost advantages.
So, kinda go to the other way and go none to see that style.
However you do it, this is a power train as an odd ball but it works really well on the road.
To get the best mileage of any Honda made today you go here not into a civic.
When we come back we're going to go from that, the latest Honda powertrain, to one of their first that really put them on the map.
As a street fighter, when C/Net on cars returns.
Now VTec is a torchered acronym for Variable Valve Time And Lift Electronic Control.
Have to pick and choose your letters to get VTEC out of that.
But Honda did, and we're glad they did.
Because VTEC came along before most companies had any kind of variable valve time.
And they all do now.
But when VTEC came along super exotic.
And with three big wins.
It gave Honda's B series engines something around 100 horsepower per liter, that's a holy grail line in the business.
It gave them bulletproof internals.
These were not finicky engines.
And, delivering 30 mpg in the real world.
All of a sudden, Camaros and Mustangs on the street were getting heat, from Civics.
To get inside VTech, we took everyone's advice and drop in at Blacktrax Performance in Silicon Valley.
For co-founder Jay Cheng loves and understand this motor The feeling you get as a driver when Vtec kicks in.
I mean, you literally go from a very normal daily driving commuting car, to an animal at like 5,000 RPMs.
I would say at least 5% of Honda buyers have no clue what they just bought.
We have purchased Honda S2000s from, let's say, a retired woman who liked to drive with the top down at the beach.
Never a day hit 6000 RPMs VTEC.
And then one of my guys takes the car for a test drive, puts her in the passenger seat, hits VTEC, and she starts screaming, "What the hell is that?" That's VTEC.
[NOISE] Now before we get into the guts of V-Tech, let's get into the guts of an automotive valve system to begin with.
You've got a cam shaft which is this shaft here that runs, rotating with the crankshaft, that's part of the engine's rotating internal.
On that camshaft are these eccentrically shaped lobes.
You see how they're kind of pear shaped.
The high points of those lobes and the overall size of them tells you how long a valve's going to open and how much it's going to open.
Because when that turns it operates on this called a rocker, it's like a little fulcrum and when it presses down as the [UNKNOWN] part comes around that pushes the fulcrum to open the valve which is this thing under this spring right here.
That either lets fuel and air in to be combusted or exhaust out to get rid of it This lobe is key because the size of it, as well as the peakiness of the pointy part, tells you how long the valve is going to be open and by that peakiness, how much it will open.
Shaping that lobe is key to the way engines breath.
So what is unusual about this This can, so if we take a look here we got three cam lobes per cylinder so that's it, this thing right here we'll call the primary cam lobe.
This is what operates off of the, up to about five, blood pressure then travels through this rocker arm does he
So that pin is going to get pushed by that pin under high RPM pressure.
Under high RPM oil pressure.
All three will lock and now V tech lobe will be pushing these guys down.
So these outer guys on the valve use to operate independently on the low range lobes.
Lock them and their salves To the big lobe.
To the big lobe correct.
Now we are in high RPM mode and breathing good.
To hear and see Vtec in operation, Jay put an admittedly heavy modified S2000 on their dinet.
We're going to do a sweep or a wid open throttle pull from about 2000 rpm to about 85
Currently VSEC is set at 35,000 rpm.
So we should see a switch over or hear a switch over around that [NOISE]
Raceway to z fast 2000.
The guy in the car is Graham Downey.
He races that [UNKNOWN] that we just [UNKNOWN], but it seems to be doing pretty well.
On the track, it's excellent.
We get to take advantage of that v tech.
We're on the high cam almost all the time, but we do crossover back and Hits at a low temp too.
Yeah, it's fun.
BMW valvetronic and Porsche variocam are among the systems that have come along since Vtec to do about the same thing.
But Vtec has the monopoly on low cost efficient performance with a heritage and meme.
It's the only valve technology in the world that has a meme.
Vtec kicked in yo.
No one says that about Valtronix.
Ok, welcome back to CNet On Cars, time for the best part of the show.
I think, I think you do as well, when I take a bunch of your e-mails.
This one comes in from Bruno in the Bronx who says, I love the fact that Tesla added autopilot to existing Model S cars.
He's referring that over the air software update, I love the '16 Edge Sport, he says for himself, I just with it had the hill descent control And terrain management tech that the Ford Explorer has.
So his question is, do you think Ford can add that feature after I've bought it?
Well, the first thing I can say to you, Bruno, is, a car is such a big critical investment, I wouldn't bet on the com that maybe they can add features later through firmware updates.
Buy the car you want with the features you want.
Now don't assume any update at all because a lot of car makers don't do them or if they do they do model fewer their model than not others.
The other thing is features aren't just software.
Some of the things you're talking about may require drive line hardware that if it's not there it can never be made to work because it's not there.
We're getting set now to do a car tech 101 on over the air of software flash updates look for that In the next few episodes.
Okay, our next email comes in from Randall C, as well as from Lee M, two on the same subject.
Randall writes in your recent emails about paint got me thinking about the trend where car owners wrap the body of their car in some sort of clear, colored, or patterned vinyl.
I thought about wrapping my 12 Honda Fit Sport with a clear vinyl to help preserve the paint, but.
Are there advantages and disadvantages I should know about?
And along similar lines, Lee M writes in and says I now have a vinyl wrapped 2014 Audi A4, what should I use to wash, clean, and wax it, and should I avoid automatic car washes altogether?
Okay, regardless of what kind of a protective cover you put on your car, and we're gonna list them in a minute.
Go to the installer and say how do I take care of this in terms of washing it, maintaining it?
Do I wax it or not?
All of that's up to them to be on the hook to back up if something goes wrong.
But I can give you a four basic buckets here of these kinds of coverings to consider.
First of all, the one that's best known are the clear bras.
As you see, they're on the front of the hood, around the headlight.
Those have been around for a couple of decades now.
Come and go really well when you want to put them on or take them off.
Now the other area is a solid wrap.
One of you mentioned this: the idea of wrapping your car like a city bus, but not with advertising.
But with a solid color.
It could be the same color as the paint under it or it could be a whole different color.
So, you could do a color change.
Range and a protective coat at the same time.
I've seen this done with amazingly good results.
Another one is this new dip and peel trend going on.
You don't actually dip the car but you spray on something that is like that plastic dip that you stick hand tools in to get a better grip.
And later, you can just peel it off if you want to get rid of it.
Change the colors.
They also show you how you can use it on your wheels.
A couple companies make something like that.
And finally, there's this ceramic coating.
These are clear and can be, I'm told, tough as nails.
Now I've not actually used that.
I don't know if that's the next big thing in paint protection or just the next big thing in snake oil.
Anyway, four ways to consider preserving your paint but in all cases make sure you know what they say are the care instructions cuz they're on the hook If it doesn't work out.
Okay, our next email comes in from Cos in Canada who said the police rely more and more on dashcams.
Why don't car manufacturers try to integrate them and offer them in our cars?
A one-way or even two directional dashcam he says, well Integrated and hidden would give me piece of mind without an ugly aftermarket install.
Hey Cos I know there are some reasons why dashcams are more popular in some parts of the world than others.
And that's a big reason behind the lack of adoption.
I believe, by OEMs.
Cuz they tend to wanna engineer globally, and not everyone globally is into these things.
Case in point.
There's very low awareness of these in the US.
And if we go on YouTube, find dashcam footage, it seems all be shot in Russia.
I mean, Russians love dashcams.
US, most folks here don't even know what I'm talking about if I bring one up.
So there's the big problem it went to a market that's not into these things.
Secondly there are no big hits on the market among dashcams that I know of that come from really major blue chip names.
You don't see Sony, or Samsung, or Apple making dashcams.
Things that are like blowing out the doors in sales.
That's a sign to the car makers that this isn't a sector ready for prime time just yet.
There are some legal risks I believe.
Whenever you've got a device that records not just video but audio, audio's real touchy legally.
I'm not sure car makers want to be an additional sued in a lawsuit around eavesdropping or something because a dash cam was running and someone in the car didn't know it.
And finally nothing that OEMs do is cheap, if they do decide at the car maker level to engineer built in dash cams they need to pour millions of dollars at it, not hundreds of thousands to get it working right, absolutely bullet proof, certified through all their departments So they're not gonna do it until there's a major clear sign that it's wanted, and that is not the case.
Now, I wanna remind you there are several car makers that do have track cams, that are dash cam like.
The BMW's got an interesting goPro integration that comes right up in the dash.
Corvette a couple years ago came out with, I belive the first really cool integrated track cam.
So they're out there, but those are very specialized and they're not the dash cam use you're thinking of.
This is becoming a bigger and bigger issue.
And I'm with you the dashcams look horrible when you stick them on the windshield.
So we're about to do a car tech 101 on the next episode 96.
That is going to go over the new breed of replacement mirrors.
They graphed on a forward camera, a backward camera, recording ability, and do it all without looking like you added something to your call.
Look for that.
Okay, our last email comes from Rodger, he is from Toronto.
Importantly, he asks, What's the most economical way of repairing a small section of rust.
On my '08 Acura MDX.
He says it's right where the rear bumper meets the quarter panel.
He wants to keep the cost as low as possible, he says.
And he also says, I don't need it to look perfect as I plan on keeping the car until its last day.
That's an important point.
If I go a DIY route he asked, should I grind the rust away, along with the paint on top of it, then paint and slap a clear coat on that?
Okay, Roger because you asked and you were specific that you and I have witnesses here don't care how it looks.
I'm gonna show you how to fix it for those who don't care how it looks.
Now this can go no further don't put my name to this.
We're on the Internet.
That's gonna be a problem.
Now your photo shows superficial rust.
Some of these steps won't apply but let's start as if we have absolute rot in the body.
First of all you gotta get the rust out of there.
Something like a dye grinder's a great way to go.
This attaches to a compressor.
It doesn't need to be a big one.
One, by the way.
And you got a spinning set of ceramic tools you can put at the end here to really get the course grinding done.
You can also do this with an electric drill, which is another way you can go to the next phase, which is to use a wire brush like this.
[NOISE] And that's gonna help you really start to smooth down the course removal you've done, and get into more of the nooks and crannys You're really doing the visual rough removal here, the physical removal.
There's still gonna likely be rough particles in and around the repair.
So that's when you wanna get to one of this neutralizers.
You brush this stuff on, now you've largely stopped the rust, if you've done that thoroughly.
What about the holes you just created?
That's where you get a can of good old bond though.
This is polyester filler potty with a little tube of activator in the top there.
You mix that stuff up Smear it in there.
I'm not gonna give you a whole lot of tips on how to do beautiful bodywork, how to float and block stuff and get a really good look, cause you're not going there.
Now, it's time to coat the repair.
This is a black, hard as rocks, coating, impervious to everything, but it's black.
Unless your cars go off black, this will not look even remotely Like it blends in.
There will be a big old splotch of black stuff there.
If you do wanna have a color coat, then get your primer, move to your color coat, whatever matches your car.
These folks at Dupli-Color have a whole database of paints that should match any late model vehicle.
And then, finish it with a clear coat, like you mentioned.
As we talked about in some earlier episodes, this is your stages of a factory paint job, a good prime A good seal, then a color coat, then a clear coat on top of that.
Okay, the last thing you need to totally finish this repair is a paper bag.
Now what you do with that is you open it up, and you cut some eye holes in it.
And then You wear that while you're driving cuz that's what this repair is gonna look like.
You're gonna want to go incognito, but it's gonna be effective.
Now when we come back, we're gonna go wade out in the middle of commuter gridlock and observe the top five things that a self-driving car would never have the gall to do when CNet on Cars returns.
So much of that blood pressure raising stress you deal with in traffic is not about the traffic and the cars, it's about the And log unpredictable, unfathomable, human behaviors of the people who are driving the cars.
Here are the top five of those, that I think might just go away after we get enough self driving cars in the mix.
Number five, pointless gaps.
Even in the midst of the worst gridlocked traffic, you ever notice, there's lots of space between some cars?
Those holes should be filled with cars, not empty air.
You yell to the guy ahead of you, pull up.
With self driving cars, we'll know that, they're precise, they're computers, they're boringly predictable but they know how long their nose is, they know how many inches are there between then and the next car and they never get caught looking at their phone when they should be moving ahead.
Number four: The blowing of horns.
Let's face it, nowadays blowing your horn is more likely to get you shot than home earlier And it's also, shall we say, a low-bid-rate form of communication.
[HORN] Did you just blow your horn because [HORN] I'm in your way or [HORN] look up from my phone at the green light or [HORN] don't you see there's no left turn here?
Or [HORN] you're just a [HORN].
You just like to cause chaos.
Self-driving cars, especially when they have vehicle-to-vehicle communication down the road, we'll have a much quieter And high bit rate way of communicating.
Number three, right lane rarity.
You know the thing when you got the right through lane here and the right turn lane There at the same intersection, all jamming into the right far lane on the other side of the intersection.
The folks here in the through lane think they're never gonna get in.
Cuz the folks in the right turn lane have that right-on-red right of way.
They'll Driving cars will hopefully have some decent manners programmed.
Combining right of way logic with the old zipper courtesy.
Not that hard folks.
Number two Merger standoffs.
Whenever two lanes come down to one, you get this weird little chess game.
The lane that's going away, should it move in early to polite, but leave a huge gap ahead?
Or should it go to the head of the line and move in late, and getting everybody behind thinking you're a real putz.
[NOISE] This is a real difficult one.
To be honest, they've done studies in several US states that say, despite the optics, You should go to the head of the line and jam in at the last minute.
It's better for all traffic.
Yeah, try selling that on real world street.
Self driving cars will know how to do it best and it probably means go to the head of the line and get in at the last second.
The number one thing Driving cars won't do that you're gonna experience in your [UNKNOWN] today is blocking th box.
And so much to this is human behaviour.
I mean why do we go out in the intersection when there is no room on the other side of it?
It's this weird emotional bet based on hope on one hand And the guy behind you blowing his horn for you to roll the dice.
None of that makes any sense.
Self driving cars won't have these issues because they're immune to the guy behind them honking saying go [SOUND] and they have all kinds of sensors that tell them no there's no room for me.
Plus with vehicle to vehicle the cars that are already across the intersection will tell the ones that are waiting to do so there's going to be a space for you in X number of seconds.
This is very precise.
Notice how much is actually about About removing flawed psychology as much as adding new technology.
Thanks for watching, hope you enjoyed this episode.
Great to have you here as usual, and don't forget to keep those emails coming.
You're the backbone of the show, it's email@example.com.
I'll see you next time, we check the decks.