Honda Accord Hybrid in New York City
Got my Accord Hybrid (HAH) in mid-May. So far, 2650 miles, half of that is out-of-state highway miles. Recently got an oil change. Excellent car; it handles and performs well in every situation.
However, my advice and thoughts for any fellow New Yorkers looking to go hybrid with gas prices going up ($2.69 for regular here at time of this post):
Most of my driving is out in Queens, Manhattan and parts of the Bronx. My mpg range when I set my trip calculator (the mpg calculator will be based off one of the two trip meters in your dashboard, one mpg for each trip meter) goes 16-24 mpg. That's almost the equivalent of the other gas-only Accords and many other mid-sized cars.
The electric motor (IMA) will not kick in or maintain at low speeds. Most often the ASST meter will light up during fairly hard acceleration from stop when that green traffic light comes up. You can't drive at 20mph and expect the IMA to be doing most of the work. In fact, it's only helping the gas engine and remember it only accounts for 10% of the overall capable HP (if you believe that whole 240+15=255, which it doesn't... they're two separate entities). If you insist on the HAH, driving on the major avenues or boulevards with long green light stretches is the only solace I can offer.
Most of your gas-savings come if you can maintain a constant speed. The VCM kicks in and the "ECO" light comes up, telling you you're driving at the most optimal gas consumption efficiency. However, if you're a New Yorker like me, you know that driving at a constant speed here is impossible; the crowds, traffic lights and New Yorker attitude in the car behind you... you can never get in a comfortable situation.
If you're a cruiser and take long trips on the highway, that's a different creature altogether. The HAH from my observation excels in this. Easy to drive fast (unfortunately) and in a good cruise you can get the mpg up to 45, which is rated higher than EPA.
In next year's Accord and Civic hybrid, they're planning to get the electric motor to do most of the work at low speeds. Based on those news releases, I suggest you should wait until next year and read about 2006 models if you want to go Honda. If you're needing a hybrid right now, take a hard look at the Toyota Prius. It's ~$10K cheaper and fills your requirements for low speed and/or stop-and-go driving on electric. A colleague of mine stated that in "optimal" traffic conditions in Manhattan, he was able to go from downtown Manhattan up to the upper East side and run about 90% of the trip on the electric. Take that quote for what it's worth. Some may concur, others will think that's garbage.
Honda Accord Hybrid in New York City
Couple of other notes on the HAH:
1) In principle, your battery charges when you're braking. On the HAH, this is only true if you were driving somewhere above 25mph and are then coming to a stop. If you were driving at lower speeds, the car does not have enough momentum to bother charging the battery. It will also charge to some extent when you've let go of the gas pedal when driving at medium to high-speeds (so you can expect to be slowing down a little faster than other cars where the gas pedal is not pressed due to this energy capture resistance).
2) When your car was travelling above 10mph and you slow to under 10mph, the HAH will shut its engine off through the IMA system while the brake pedal is held and putting it in "Auto-Stop" mode. As a result, you can expect discomfort if you were gently holding the brake pedal, but then experience a slight jarring effect when the engine shuts off. This discomfort is even more profound when you slow to make a turn at an intersection, and then proceed to accelerate in mid-turn. You may not feel any response from the car when you're pressing the gas since it spends about a good (1) second shifting gears and recovering from the "Auto-Stop" state.