When the first Honda Insight beat the first Toyota Prius to market a decade and a half ago, Big H created a new vehicle segment in the U.S. and catapulted gas-electric vehicles into the mainstream. We probably don’t need to tell you that sales of such fuel sippers subsequently exploded or that the Prius became the darling of the segment, likely because it offered buyers the double bonus of having a back seat and not looking like a bionic tadpole.
But, technology aficionados that we are, we can’t help wondering if the cars’ guts had something to do with the Prius’s dominance. Honda’s hybrid system, dubbed Integrated Motor Assist, was very simple, whereas Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive was more complex. It didn’t help that, in the intervening years, Honda pretty much stood pat with IMA while the rest of the industry released ever more intricate and efficient designs similar to Toyota’s, with the Chevrolet Volt plug-in coming in as the hybrid-tech high-water mark. Well, until now.
Honda is back at the bleeding edge of hybrid technology, introducing a flurry of innovative systems across its product lineup. For starters, the new Honda Accord plug-in and regular hybrids share a groundbreaking and Honda-exclusive powertrain design that lacks a transmission. The system is anything but simple, yet it’s seamless and works very well in day-to-day operation. Further, the reborn 2015 Acura NSX will debut with its own hybrid powertrain with two electric motors driving the front wheels and a twin-turbo V-6 and another electric motor spinning the rears.
TMU Ain’t Just an Airport in Costa Rica Complete review on www.caranddriver.com, by K.C. COLWELL