(McLean, VA) -- (USA TODAY) -- Honda is going all out to re-establish the pre-eminence of its flagship family car, the Accord, with a new concept of the coupe that is lower and shorter than the present one, but has the same interior volume. The sedan is expected to look similar.
Honda also had a big surprise: the next Accord will come in a plug-in version that will take less than two hours to charge on a 240-volt charger, or four hours in a standard wall outlet.
The 2013 Accord could fix a few problems for Honda. The present version is decidedly bigger than the last one and most of its peers. It was classed as a full-size, instead of midsize, car -- and its bigger size hurt sales.
Making the car a tad smaller will help save more on fuel, says John Mendel, executive vice president of sales for Honda, who introduced the new prototype at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit today.
The new Accord will come with a choice of new powertrains, including the first 2.4-liter direct injection engine and two-motor plug-in hybrid in Honda's lineup. Plus, the Accord is getting a new continuously variable transmission, instead of a standard automatic transmission, that will save gas and be fun to drive. Mendel vows it will not have a "rubber band" feel.
The plug-in will use a lithium-ion battery, be good for up to about 15 miles of electric-only driving and a top speed of 62 miles an hour before the gas engine kicks in.