L.A. Auto Show: 2014 Honda Accord wins Green Car of the Year

Honda rode its 2014 Accord lineup all the way to the Green Car of the Year award on Thursday morning at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

“With its efficient internal combustion, hybrid and plug-in choices, the 2014 Honda Accord delivers exactly what consumers are looking for today,” said Ron Cogan, editor and publisher of Green Car Journal and Carsofchange.com. “It all comes together this year for the Accord in ways that speak to significant environmental performance built into a mainstream, volume model that’s a joy to drive.”

Mike Accavitti, senior vice president of automobile operations at American Honda, said the entire Accord lineup, led by the Accord Hybrid, "embodies the promise of the Honda brand to deliver both fun-to-drive enjoyment and outstanding fuel efficiency at the highest level."

This is the second time in three years Honda has won the award. The 2012 Civic Natural Gas took the prize two years ago. 

Five models were nominated for the Green Car of the Year award: Audi A6 TDI, BMW 328d, Mazda3, Toyota Corolla and the Honda Accord, which is available in gas, hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions.

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In a departure from previous years, no electric cars were nominated. Three hybrids, including the winning Ford Fusion, were up for the award last year, and two electric vehicles and a hybrid were nominated in 2011.

However, the hybrid plug-in version of Honda's popular sedan, which records a 46 highway mpg and a 47 city mpg, was part of the winning model. The plug-in gets the highest MPGe for a midsize sedan in the country, coming in at 115.

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John O'Dell, senior editor of Edmunds.com, said the winner reflected whether the judges were looking for a car with mass appeal or the most fuel-efficient car.

"You're going to sell a lot more Toyotas, Hondas and Mazda3s," O'Dell said.

But as a driver, he'd prefer to drive the diesel Audi or BMW, he added.

"Diesel just has a different feel, and they’re very fun to drive," O'Dell said. "And if you also get close to 40 miles per gallon for it, that’s also pretty good."

The A6 TDI gets 38 highway miles per gallon and the 328d gets 45. A diesel car has not won the award since 2009, when the Audi A3 TDI was honored. 

Among other benefits of diesel cars, O'Dell says, is that maintenance for these cars is required less frequently than cars with gasoline engines, although the initial price and routine maintenance is more expensive on diesels.

The nominated cars also offered a glimpse into the future of the automotive industry, O'Dell said.

The Mazda3's SKYACTIV suite makes the car lighter and includes engine tuning that improves the car's fuel economy. The A6 TDI and the 328d offer start-stop technology, which turns off the car's engine when it comes to a full stop to save energy. By 2020, O'Dell said he predicts that 80% of cars sold will have start-stop technology.

As these options become more commonplace, they will become standard features in all cars, he said.

"That's how stuff gets scaled in," he said. "Guys see it on a BMW and say 'Why can't I get it on my Corolla?' And ultimately, it gets down to the Corolla."

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