By on June 4, 2012

An editorial in Car and Driver given the subtitle “Deep Thoughts” tackles a favorite subject of the peanut gallery; the Decline and Fall of Honda’s Empire. Unfortunately, rather than being a critical analysis of the real problems that Honda is prone to (which author Dave Mable mentions, albeit in passing), it’s simply yet another softball lobbed at the sophists who have opinions on everything and know very little. Like C/D commenter “GolfTDI”, profiled in the above photo.

Mable is able, in some respects, to cut through the bullshit and get to the core problem. While a bunch of journalists are bemoaning the loss of the RDX’s turbo engine and SH-AWD, Mable calls out Honda product planners for green-lighting the car to begin with. Before anyone protests in the comments, it was not a good engine to begin with. The RDX is symbolic of the stifling stubbornness that plagues Honda, the belief that, as Mable puts it they are “smarter than the market” and that whatever they are doing at that moment is the right way, the only way and to suggest anything else is an act of capital idiocy. This is unfortunately a symptom of the fearless iconoclastic streak that runs at the core of Honda. This attitude brought us VTEC, the Integra Type-R and the NSX, but it also leads to the Crosstour, and a weak Acura lineup.

Where Mable falls apart is falling into the typical enthusiast trap of thinking that his desires, and the desires of C/D’s readers are also those of the market. All the world’s damnation can’t stop the Civic from being America’s third-best selling car (just barely behind the second place Altima). The Accord, Odyssey and Pilot are also selling well. The CR-V, despite its lack of fancy technology or interesting styling is far and away America’s best-selling crossover this year.

This is what separates the Honda of 2012 from the GM of 1981, despite what Mable thinks. GM did create ”…highly engineered but woefully underdeveloped products.”  Honda, on the other hand, is making  products that may not be on the cutting edge of engineering, but actually add value and make the lives of customers easier. Nevermind the enormous delta in quality between the two companies.

While most critics (and the B&B) were lukewarm on the CR-V because it didn’t have GDI, turbocharging or whatever flash-in-the-pan technology was being touted by the buff books, I went long on the CR-V because Honda had created a well-thought out crossover with features that actually mattered to the people buying the cars. 9.9 times out of 10, a low load floor and rear seats that fold with one touch will beat MyFord Touch or Fluidic Sculpture styling. Mable also admonishes the current Accord for offering a V6 when others are moving to turbocharged 4-cylinder engines, while noting the irony of Honda taking forever to offer a V6 despite dealers and customers begging for one. Mable must have forgot that the best selling car in America, the Toyota Camry, still offers a V6, while smaller players, like the Hyundai Sonata, the lackluster Chevrolet Malibu and still-unreleased Ford Fusion are moving to the blown 4-cylinders. If you’re Honda, then you’re gunning for the Camry, not the bit players.

I’m starting to wonder if the press has reached their breaking point with Honda. No matter how hard they try to malign their products as boring, a waste of money or behind the curve, they keep selling. Could Honda really have their finger on the pulse of what the consumers want. You know, the people who actually spend their own money on cars? For every single segment Honda competes in, I can easily think of a competitive product that I’d rather have (ok, maybe not in the minivan segment). It never used to be that way. But if you really are only as good as your last product, well…maybe Honda isn’t in such trouble after all?

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112 Comments on “Editorial: The Accord Might Not Make The 10 Best List Come December...”


  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    “The RDX is symbolic of the stifling stubbornness that plagues Honda, the belief that, as Mable puts it they are “smarter than the market” and that whatever they are doing at that moment is the right way, the only way and to suggest anything else is an act of capital idiocy. This is unfortunately a symptom of the fearless iconoclastic streak that runs at the core of Honda. This attitude brought us VTEC, the Integra Type-R and the NSX, but it also leads to the Crosstour, and a weak Acura lineup.”

    They could have paid me for that copy, because I’ve been saying Honda typifies engineer’s arrogance and that when they fail, it’s because of pride, and yes, a thousand times yes, they’re the Japanese General Motors.

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      The saddest thing about the RDX was the failed implementation of that motor and drive system.

      Enthusaists have been begging for a factory turbo K-series, and to pair it with SH-AWD would have been even better. Make that powertrain to a hi-spec civic and you get a WRX fighter too!

      It was so poorly implemented, didn’t make good power, and didn’t get good mileage, failing at everything it was designed for. Of all their mistakes, the RDX to me is a complete dissapointment.

      I’ve seen better turbo setups put together piecemeal on RSXs

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        The RDX’s powertrain wasn’t bad per se, it’s just that a turbo is a bad choice for a crossover.

        Even current media darlings like Hyundai/Kia are having real trouble getting decent real-world mileage out of turbocharged crossovers: they heavy enough and have enough frontal area that you stay on-boost a little too much.

        Turbocharging (or any variable-displacement technology) works really well when you rarely need the power. The EPA highway cycle, in a light, slippery, front-drive car is just just such a use case. Make the vehicle a little boxier, a little more upright and/or drive it in the city and your turbo four will end up sucking fuel like a six.

      • 0 avatar
        Speed Spaniel

        At the risk of being beat up by those who still think Honda is God and presumably wear big hair, Girbaud jeans, neon colored shirts and one inch wide polka dotted ties, I think one of the worst decisions I made was acquiring a 2008 RDX. The build quality was horrendous (one example, a rear tail light unscrewed itself and popped out, eye dangling)and to this day I have nightmares of the engine cooling fan that would shake the vehicle when it snapped on when idling. It was also terribly noisy too, but, “they all do that”. This is a modern vehicle with luxury pretensions? – really? – but it did after all have VTEC, SH-AWD, BF-D and SH-it. So Honda never again for me (nor other car companies that start with ‘H’)*. It wasn’t a financial travesty however. I would never call the RDX popular, but somehow I traded it for 62% of what I paid for it, gotta love that resale value and got a great deal on a 2011 4Runner Limited to boot. Although the Toyo isn’t nearly as quick nor does it handle as well as the Acura, it is actually more fun to drive, more solid, has impressive build quality, and infinitely more comfortable. That high seating position with the massive 20 inch wheels ROCKS!!

        * disclaimer, we are all entitled to opinions. Please note my opinions are generally based on lifetime experiences and thus somewhat based on fact. So I thought I’d post this before the reaming begins. Hondaphiles, defend your God now!!!!

    • 0 avatar
      Dirk Stigler

      Toyota is closer to being the Japanese GM, with too many models to keep current and interiors that are falling further and further behind the market standard. If anyone carmaker is coasting on its reputation, it’s Toyota. Though they’re still worlds better than late-80s GM.

      Honda is more like the Japanese Ford – plucky and noticeably less prone to ultimate badness than the other bigs, yet still not quite leading edge compared to mature competitors.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        No, Toyota is very different from GM. There’s two** reasons: one, Toyota still doesn’t make epidemically unreliable products. Two, Toyota is paranoid, whereas GM was (is?) arrogant.

        Honda, similarly, is arrogant.

        ** I’d also hazard that Toyota doesn’t actually have that much intra-company competition. Oh, sure, there’s Scion, the Avalon/ES and the Land Cruiser/LX, but that’s nothing compared to what GM does.

      • 0 avatar
        Zykotec

        tbh, you are both right. Honda does act more like GM did, and Toyota do act more like Ford did, but still Hondas remind me more of old Fords (somewhat unboring and stylish), and Toyotas more of GM cars :P (boring and on the safe side)

      • 0 avatar
        luvmyv8

        +1 on the current 4Runner. I just got one myself; a ’12 SR5. Can’t complain about the MPG it’s giving me either for being a true body on frame SUV and the 4.0L V6 performs well, not rocket fast, but more then enough. I agree too, it has personality too.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “Honda typifies engineer’s arrogance and that when they fail, it’s because of pride”

      That seems to be true. But there’s more to it than that.

      Honda is a relatively small automaker. It can’t afford to carry the R&D budgets of TMC, GM or VAG.

      Honda also does a poor job with luxury branding. That failure prevents it from doing what TMC and VAG are able to do with reasonable success — develop common platforms that can be repackaged for higher margin vehicles.

      The smaller producers are necessarily going to have problems competing in the R&D wars because they can’t afford to pay for them. So when everyone is busy slapping extra gears or whatnot into their cars, Honda has to ration and skip pursuing some of those initiatives. Combine that with an overvalued yen that further squeezes the budget, and the problem will inevitably grow.

      • 0 avatar
        wsn

        Pch101: “Honda is a relatively small automaker. It can’t afford to carry the R&D budgets of TMC, GM or VAG. ”

        HMC is valued at 55B, 60% larger than GM (33B).

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “HMC is valued at 55B, 60% larger than GM (33B).”

        Here you go again.

        R&D gets funded through operations. Valuation has nothing to do with it.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        “It can’t afford to carry the R&D budgets of TMC, GM or VAG.”

        I agree, but the nature of their failures don’t smack of insufficient R&D, but of a poor understanding of their market. Or rather, a willful misunderstanding of it that stems from success and praise.

        Because the Civic, Accord, CR-V, Pilot and Odyssey all sell very well, the assumption on the part of Honda’s management, is that they can do no wrong, that what they do is right because it’s what they’re doing.

        I don’t disagree that they’re small and feeling the squeeze, but it’s not the reason they’ve made the “delusions of grandeur”-style mistakes that they have.

  • avatar
    28-cars-later

    “admonishes the current Accord for offering a V6 when others are moving to turbocharged 4-cylinder engines, while noting the irony of Honda taking forever to offer a V6 despite dealers and customers begging for one.”

    Oh yes the irony is thick indeed. Honda will be wise to continue to offer a V6 even if Camry drops it.

  • avatar
    toxicroach

    Honda developed a serious base of buyers over the years based on quality alone with fuel economy as a perk. Their cars may not be the most exciting products but nobody has even implied that the quality is down. Until that happens you’re not going to see Honda in too much trouble. They’re in a boring streak; that’s doesn’t even begin to match 1981 GM’s problems, and it still took them 27 years to go down.

    • 0 avatar
      mikedt

      Sure they’re in a boring streak, but for 80%+ of the market, that’s what is wanted. Stone cold reliability beats fun for most car owners. At this point they could come out with a Honda-ized Trabant and as long as owners never have to see a dealership for anything other than an oil change it would sell.

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        “At this point they could come out with a Honda-ized Trabant”

        I think you’re wrong. They are rapidly becoming a reliable penalty box. You drive a loud, tinny, cheap plastic clad Civic vs. a quite, comfortable, well appointed Focus or Cruze. Yeh, you may have an extra dealer trip every 18 months but does that make it worth while to drive a penalty box?

      • 0 avatar
        28-cars-later

        I agree you should enjoy what you drive, after all you spend X hours a week in it. I haven’t driving Hyundai’s offerings but having driven a ’10 Corolla and ’11 Civic, I found both to be expensive ‘penalty boxes’ and I just can’t get the appeal.

      • 0 avatar
        28-cars-later

        I don’t disagree but I wish someone would show they have some cojones and build something stone cold reliable and *fun* to drive.

        The BRZ may be a step in that direction I hope it triggers some competition from other automakers. Bland may always have a place but it shouldn’t be the majority of the market.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        The 2012 Focus is not more comfortable than the Civic. The interior is cramped for its size.

        And let’s just say that, based on the Cruzes and Focuses I’ve sat in and examined, both companies haven’t matched Honda’s build quality.

        The Focus I sat in this weekend was apparently possessed by electrical demons, as closing the door caused the car alarm to sound (this was at the Carlisle All-Ford Nationals).

        The Cruze engines are no match for those in the Civic.

        While Honda needs to work on the Civic’s interior, the Cruze and Focus aren’t quite the slam-dunk their boosters would like them to be.

      • 0 avatar
        supersleuth

        “While Honda needs to work on the Civic’s interior, the Cruze and Focus aren’t quite the slam-dunk their boosters would like them to be.” And the sales figures are starting to show that customers are catching on.

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        “The 2012 Focus is not more comfortable than the Civic. ”

        Yes, it is. It’s far quieter and smoother riding.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        If you’re taller than a nine year old, the Focus is a 2+2. Ride and NVH aren’t there either, but a sedan should at least fit adults before someone makes absurd claims about it being comfortable.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        jmo: Yes, it is. It’s far quieter and smoother riding.

        It’s more cramped, especially in the back seat. A quiet ride isn’t much good if the car is cramped.

        At any rate, given that the two Focuses on display at the Carlisle All-Ford nationals had visible fit-and-finish issues, and shutting the driver’s door on the Titanium hatchback would periodically set off the car alarm, I’ll pass. Which is a shame, as I really did like the car.

      • 0 avatar
        Firestorm 500

        I saw a Focus at a Ford dealership this weekend.

        MSRP over $28,000.

        Nope. Not for me.

      • 0 avatar
        Ubermensch

        “I saw a Focus at a Ford dealership this weekend.

        MSRP over $28,000.

        Nope. Not for me.”

        *sigh* Not this again. Then buy a lower spec model…they all aren’t $28k you know.

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        “It’s more cramped, especially in the back seat. A quiet ride isn’t much good if the car is cramped.”

        How much time does the typical driver spend in the back seat of their own car?

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        “How much time does the typical driver spend in the back seat of their own car?”

        About as much time as you spend being considerate of people other than yourself. I spent my rental penalty box time with my knees in my face so whoever was sitting behind me at the time had a gap between my seat back and their seat cushion to slip their calves through. The 1990 JVC boombox looking center stack didn’t shout sophistication at me either. I’d take a Civic over a Focus every time.

    • 0 avatar
      threeer

      Like I said in an earlier post for the Top 40 selling vehicles…boring sells. The Accord and Civic are no enthusiast vehicles to be sure, but they are selling (as is the Camry for Toyota). The enthusiast crowd (okay, “crowd” is relative when compared to the general buying public) may bemoan the perceived fall from grace, but the American buying vote has been cast. I, too, miss the light and tossable days of the CRX, the 88-92 (or so) generation of Accord and the 3rd gen Prelude. But go back to the Top 40 chart and review what’s selling. Honda, despite the relative boredom, sells reliable toasters, and that’s what we apparently want…

    • 0 avatar
      28-cars-later

      I think to reach GM 1981 status alot would have to happen, but the chief events would have to be committing seppuku with their product line and/or offering a series untested engines which blow up as spectacular as the Fourth of July. Honda is actually doing something smart by keeping their products bland and inoffensive, and not going all out into untested waters with some kind of new engine technology.
      Its good to offer new technology, but its not so good to take too much of a gamble and make is standard across the board, a la the Cadillac 4100 fail. I think as long as they keep bringing home the bacon you won’t see them in too much hot water.

  • avatar
    redav

    “the typical enthusiast trap of thinking that his desires, and the desires of C/D’s readers are also those of the market”
    - That’s such an important point that it should be the first thought of any car reviewer.

    “9.9 times out of 10, a low load floor and rear seats that fold with one touch will beat MyFord Touch or Fluidic Sculpture styling every single time.”
    - So I guess like baseball, 90% of selling cars is half mental.

    • 0 avatar
      Type57SC

      9.9 times out of 10, a buyer makes the initial selection on which vehicles to look at with no idea about the comparisons of load levels and other features. reputation, deal, big features like fuel economy and safety are the big ones.

      I agree that “when they go into the showroom” it matters, but they don’t all automatically check out the CRV like they used to check out the accord or civic. And furthermore, why is there an assumed tradeoff? why can’t Honda’s have well thought out features and be nice to look at, smart phone oriented and have nice interior materials?

      • 0 avatar

        When a CR-V customer goes into the showroom and the dealer does his product demo, the prospect of a low load floor that makes loading groceries or strollers easier is going to be much more attractive than the latest infotainment or swoopy styling. With such small differentiation between cars these days, it really is the little things that end up lining the pockets of auto makers.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        That might explain in Honda’s base manufacturing state, Ohio, I only see old people driving CR-Vs. Low lifts, power rear seats, and high seating position, along with the older, uninformed don’t know that wagons will haul more and get slightly better fuel economy.

        Are new Honda owners just that uninformed where a marketing blitz is blindsideing buyers increasing sales? The Kool-Aid must be thirst quenching this summer.

    • 0 avatar
      Poncho

      “9.9 times out of 10, a low load floor and rear seats that fold with one touch will beat MyFord Touch or Fluidic Sculpture styling every single time.”

      100% Agree – When we bought our CRV I was initially leaning towards the Ford Escape – But the having to take apart the headrests (come on that is sooooo 1980′s) to fold the seats down and a complicated over-engineered center stack were big turn offs. Yes I know that I may only need to fold down the seats a few times every year but I don’t want to worry about loosing the head rests (Like my father did in another car…).

      Most people what a car that makes their life easier not more complicated and Honda seems to understand that.

    • 0 avatar
      Firestorm 500

      It would be more accurate to say that 90% of buying cars is emotional.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    Like it or not, Honda continues to be the better mousetrap.

  • avatar
    stuntmonkey

    “symbolic of the stifling stubbornness that plagues Honda”

    For all of the Honda dog piling that has occurred these two years, nothing comes close in the department of stubbornly failing gloriously than the oval piston four stroke motorcycle engines in the 2-stroke GP era. An incredibly over complicated solution to a problem nobody was looking for, and yet a cornerstone of motorcycle history.

    Nearly ever other misstep looks benign in comparison.

    I like Honda’s for the same reason that I like Crumpler messenger bags and Clarke’s walking shoes. They cost more than average, but are not necessarily the best or most luxurious, but they work brilliantly for everyday life. When you are finished with the current one, you’ll know what you get when they have a new one. If it sounds boring, that’s the point… for all three, they work great because they don’t draw attention to themselves (Okay, the more flamboyant Crumpler designs do). If you notice your shoes, they’re not the right pair! But the point, is, that’s the kind of ethos that drives a Honda/Toyota buyer.

    Hyundai is like an IPA, when you drink it, you notice it, but it might not before everybody, and it doesn’t go well with everything. Honda is like a pale ale, it goes well with lots of things and is liked by more people, but you can drink lots of it without it drawing attention to itself.

    • 0 avatar

      One point I couldn’t really fit in but I feel is worth mentioning; during the “golden age” of Honda, there was a major qualitative difference in automobiles, both in terms of subjective driving characteristics and quality. Now, the gap has closed in both respects. When my Grandpa bought a 1991 Accord EX after ditching his Chevrolet Corsica, it was a revelation. I suspect the difference between a 2012 Accord and a 2012 Malibu would be nowhere near as large.

      The fallacy of hindsight may be impeding judgement here. Yes, those Honda products were great, but they were also helped by the relative crapiness of the competition.

      • 0 avatar

        For years Detroit has thought that if they could just match Toyota’s and Honda’s quality numbers, then millions of buyers would come flooding back.

        But there’s a lot of inertia involved in most consumer buying decisions, even big ones like cars. Unless there’s an obvious large benefit to switching, most people don’t switch.

        For reliability, and perhaps many other attributes, this means that only a big difference (or at least a difference perceived as big) will get people to buy something different than they have been buying. If the car you’re trying to beat is doing pretty well, then there probably isn’t enough room for improvement to create this big difference.

        BUT some people are first time buyers, and others are prone to switching brands (even if they like their current car). If you look only at these buyers, is Honda faring so well?

        Even Detroit didn’t lose customers overnight. Instead, the loss happened over a large number of years, partly through disappointed past customers, but also by steadily losing in the contest for first time buyers and those always looking for the next hot thing.

      • 0 avatar
        onyxtape

        Interesting you brought up the Malibu. They said the same for the 1999 Malibu (the car that brought us back into American-made again). Ours fell apart promptly after warranty ended. Catastrophically. Our 2002 Ford-made rebadged-Escape Mazda Tribute fell apart spectacularly after warranty ended as well. The same revelations were made every decade about “the gap” having been closed.

        I’ll believe it when I regularly see 25-year-old Malibus delivering pizza like I do Accords.

    • 0 avatar
      stuntmonkey

      MK > If the car you’re trying to beat is doing pretty well, then there probably isn’t enough room for improvement to create this big difference.

      I think that Hyundai is doing it right. If you are the underdog, you have to compete on points, features and value for money, and they’re doing a good job of it. I think that ultimately, it’s product, product product. But it’s the same in every era. When I got my 5th Gen Civic so many years ago, the Neon was new on the market and made a terrific splash. If the quality had been there and they hadn’t had the 3-speed auto it might be a different story now.

  • avatar
    Type57SC

    Honda has lost share in the US market in May vs April and in CYTD. Of course they are up may over may, but not even close to Toyota. They slipped more than nissan, and haven’t bounced back like Toyota who also slipped more than Nissan in the double whammy of 2011. Toyota is up in share in May vs april and up CYTD. They have more days supply on the ground than Toyota, so it’s not inventory availability like so many mention. if they claw their way back to 10% share for the year, something they were not in danger of before 2011 problems, then it will be by incentives. Civic and CRV as selling well, but offset by acura, accord and Fit, so really, pointing to the Civic and CRV looks very one sided. They used to have Civic and Accord as the default choice for many. They seem to be losing that. They’ll be just another car company after that goes.

    I’d buy your “keep it simple” if they were putting up the fuel economy or power numbers others do with DI, diesel, more gears etc. For each “unproven tech” they pass on to your cheering, there are bizarre interiors like to double stacked old civic pod and shockingly cheesy center stack that just make them look a step behind and off kilter. When Chrysler is putting 8 speed transmissions, why is Honda putting 5 speeds in the TSX and 6 speeds in the TL and RL? Is direct injection a new and unproven technology? doesn’t seem that way anymore.

    • 0 avatar
      28-cars-later

      Maybe I’m the sort of buyer who is in the minority, but if I am purchasing a primary vehicle I intend to get X years and X miles out of it minimum for the money. I’m not looking for a 30 speed transmission, turbo anything, or a new type of fuel injection, because until those technologies are proven, they could muck up my investment of time and money. Why did the Panther continue as long as it did? Why does Toyota sell 500K bland Camrys? TCO, and it matters to alot of people.

      The other thing to look at is for this risk of new technology, what am I getting in return? How much more economical is an 8-spd transmission over 4? How much more horse/torque Direct FI over multi-port FI? How much more fun is a Turbo 4 over a torquey V6? Unless I’ve missed something, the gains are negligible given the risks.

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        I think you are in the minority. There is only so much poor NVH and cheap materials folks will put up with to avoid an extra trip to the dealer every 18 months.

      • 0 avatar
        jimmyy

        I have a lot of newer cars, and I do not know how many gears are in the transmission. I don’t know if any of the cars have direct injection. I find this kind of stuff as useless info. All I care about is reliability, resale, and safety. I do not want to waste a single hour taking my car in for service. I hate oil changes. I think the majority of buyers on the east coast are like me.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        jimmyy wrote, “All I care about is reliability, resale, and safety. I do not want to waste a single hour taking my car in for service. I hate oil changes. I think the majority of buyers on the east coast are like me.”

        Not just on the east coast, bud. All over the nation. All over the world!

        Those are exactly the reasons that there was a mass exodus away from the domestic brands to the better quality foreign brands, factors that eventually led to GM and Chrysler going belly up.

        There were other reasons as well, such as the UAW constantly digging the graves of their employers with mounting demands for higher wages and more benefits, while threatening crippling strikes.

        But lack of sales is a killer in its own right. If you don’t sell enough to be profitable, you die.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      I always found 4 and 5 speeds to be good enough, 8 speed sounds like it’ll change gear every-time I touch the pedal.

      • 0 avatar
        supersleuth

        I’m convinced that quite a lot of this stuff is mainly about gaming EPA numbers. One can compare Hondas with, say, comparable Hyundais on fuelly.com for some real-world perspective.

        (I’d have to go 90 mph all the time in my Fit to get highway MPG as low as the EPA’s number.)

      • 0 avatar
        28-cars-later

        That’s how fast you are supposed to drive, the question is why aren’t you already

      • 0 avatar
        bkmurph

        Agreed. IMHO five feels like the right number of gears for an automatic. Six and up feels like overkill.

    • 0 avatar
      dvdlgh

      8 spd transmission. Is that enough? Maybe 10 or eleven would do it.

    • 0 avatar
      Charliej

      Direct injection is still having problems with intake valve fouling. When that is cleared up, I will consider a direct injection engine. I don’t own a Honda, but I have owned them in the past and I may own one again. I certainly would consider a Honda more than any GM vehicle.

  • avatar
    duffman13

    You might be on to something here.

    If one looks at the fall of the American manufacturers in the 80s through the 90s, it wasn’t due to power numbers; it wasn’t due to initial feel, or cheap pricing of the imports, or even mileage. It came down to quality/reliability.

    If you look at bread and butter Honda models in the late 80s through their heyday in the 90s, on paper and in person they were not much different new than your domestics. The interior and exterior quality of an EF, EG, or EK series Civic was really no better that the Cavalier or Escort of the time. The driving dynamic arguably was, but that’s not why the Hondas sold better. The same can be said for the Accord versus the Taurus/Lumina/etc.

    Over time though, those American cars turned to crap while the Hondas stayed at about 80-90% of their initial quality. Whether it be inferior engineering in the powertrains, interiors that fell apart, or just that the Hondas held up better to abuse/neglect, the fact is they lasted while the domestics fell apart.

    Sans V6 autotragic issues in the 2000ish timeframe, and including the fact that most Hondas sold are of the 4-banger indestructible variety (not a fact I bothered to look up, correct me if necessary), and including the assumption most people just want to get to B, from A, with the least amount of inconvenience on their schedules from their cars, Honda is going to have to produce some inferior engineering *that consistently is less reliable* than the competition for some time before people stop buying them.

    Say what you will for innovation, and the lack of DI, turbos, etc., but Honda’s playing it safe by incrementally improving their traditional powertrain platforms will probably pay dividends. As we see other manufacturers work out the kinks of these newer technologies and show lower long-term reliability numbers for them, it will hurt them in the long run. Then Honda comes in with a more perfected system, with reliability numbers to match, and come out smelling like a rose.

    Though on a different note, my former RSX-S and my current S2000 both agree: Honda has lost its mojo.

    • 0 avatar
      28-cars-later

      Honda losing its mojo? Such a shame because if there is one Japanese automaker I don’t want to fail its Honda. I could happily lose the rest as punishment for their beige and bland crimes save maybe Subaru, but I always had a soft spot for Hondas. I think starting with the original CR-V though Honda descended into driving mediocrity.

    • 0 avatar
      chrishs2000

      My S2K also agrees. My wife is looking for a new(ish) car, so we drove a brand new Civic Si, Accord and Fit. Bleh. It’s hard to believe these cars come from the same company as the S…what happened to the people who built that car?

  • avatar
    jogrd

    Sales will be there for a while I’m sure. Losing die-hard Honda types like myself who is a an enthusiast is probably no big deal. But when my Father In Law who is a 30 year Honda guy as well, goes to test the new Civic and finds it too bland and uncomfortable for his tastes I begin to suspect that the numbers will still be there but it will be a different set of customers and that will affect the public perception of the brand.

    • 0 avatar
      stuntmonkey

      > goes to test the new Civic and finds it too bland and uncomfortable

      One point that gets lost in print is that the current Civic is almost equivalent to the 90′s Accord. The current Accord/Camry is what passed for what used to be large US cars like the Chrysler LH series or and what used to be Civic would actually be the Fit, if they were sold in any number.

      In my early driving years, the Civic was just right, and we looked at the early 90′s Accord as “that car our parents drive that is just about as big as we would want to go when we get older.” And lo and behold, that car is here and it’s still called the Civic. It’s a little bit what our dads used to drive, hence the extra boringness.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Nice article. To some degree, I think Honda has fallen into the “success trap.” It has been very successful, often by taking a different path from other manufacturers, especially in engineering. However, – Acura’s disastrous 2008 restyling aside — Honda seems to taking it very conservative, especially in engineering. The result is mostly very reliable cars, but ones that are not segment leaders in engineering.

    What is disturbing is that when Honda does step into more advanced engineering — e.g. the turbo in the now-discontinued version of the RDX, or hybrids — the results are unimpressive. The turbo engine in the RDX had the bog-surge response typical of turbo’ed engines of the 1980s. The turbo engine in my 10 year old Saab 9-5 of the same displacement and more output exhibits far more linear throttle response. And Honda’s hybrids seem to offer the worst feature of hybrids (underpowered) while missing out on the best (spectacular fuel economy).

    And more than other Japanese “badge engineered” luxury lines, Acura feels and looks more like a premium-version Honda. It certainly fails in a luxury car’s mission of making its owner and driver feel “special” unless you define “special” as the feeling you get from owning a car that looks like the Japanese version of the Pontiac Aztek.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Critics have been lambasting both the latest Civic and Corolla, yet they still sell very well, better in fact than those new models being hailed as best in class and Honda beaters, so either the consumers are stupid or the “experts” are full of it.

    • 0 avatar

      Detroit apologists said this for years about GM and Ford cars. “If Hondas are as good as the magazines say, then why do GM and Ford sell far more cars? Because they provide what car buyers really want.” Detroit’s cars were the top sellers, until they weren’t.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        Makes sense, though DK’s calling the Fusion a bit player does not. Mitsubishi would be what I call a bit player, despite being decently made.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      “so either the consumers are stupid”

      Consumer preferences don’t change overnight, look at how long Detroit coasted on past glories.

      “the latest Civic and Corolla, yet they still sell very well,”

      http://bestsellingcarsblog.com/1981/01/14/usa-1980-oldsmobile-cutlass-reigns-supreme-or-chevy-citation/

      I wonder how many 1980′s GM executives said exactly the same thing about the Cutlases and Chevettes?

      • 0 avatar
        supersleuth

        Hondas are boring (for the most part). Those Old GM cars were junk. There’s a big difference between boring appliance and junk- people will keep buying the former but not the latter.

      • 0 avatar
        28-cars-later

        “consumers are stupid”

        Haha consumers *are* stupid. A good salesman can market ice cubes to Eskimos.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    The enthusiasts of any area of interest, whether it be cars, trains, ships or planes is a very small demographic. If the car mags and some on here have issues with Honda, the marketplace will eventually decide.

    My advice to anyone who needs a good used car is to buy a Civic Or Corolla. Why? They are known to be reliable, and until it’s proven otherwise, I’ll continue to recommend them first, as much as I hate to. Right now, the marketplace supports the perceived value in these cars, if not reality, but I haven’t found anything to dispute that claim.

    I wouldn’t buy one for myself, however, but that’s the difference. I am an enthusiast – perhaps not always in high-performance areas necessarily, but in character, style and to an extent, nameplates.

    I admit my Impala isn’t an enthusiast’s dream, being plain as plain can be, but that car has an historic meaning in my life, and I’m quite enthusiastic about that.

  • avatar
    Hank

    Or, shock of shocks, it could just be that the reality on the ground is that most consumers just don’t actually care what Ferrari-tossing car magazine journalists and blog/forum fanboys/haters blather on about. Could it be that most consumers are actually thinking on their own, and know what they want, and that they personal experience with Hondas trumps all the online gnashing of teeth?

    Nah, surely it’s all about the writers and commenters, so it’s some sort of sick rebellion by the public, or a wave of mass stupidity. Right? ;-)

  • avatar
    Dirk Stigler

    It also occurs to me that Honda may not be “playing it safe” so much as “unable to fund serious development of new technology” due to tsunami damage, recession-caused slow growth etc. Car manufacturing is highly dependent on cash flow, which is highly dependent on profits, which are highly dependent on volume, and Honda is one of the smaller independent makers. They may be having similar issues to Mazda, and it just hasn’t hit the news yet.

    • 0 avatar
      supersleuth

      Not remotely the case. They have a lot of technology they haven’t seen fit to employ in US cars up to now. For example they’ve had GDI engines for years. And they’ve invested in a whole new line of “Earth Dreams” GDI / CVT powertrains that will be rolled out in the US beginning with the new Accord. On the other hand, precisely that fact would send me to my friendly local Nissan dealer if I were in the market for a midsize car- I don’t trust the long-term reliability of GDI engines at this time.

    • 0 avatar
      Chicago Dude

      I wonder if the HondaJet has siphoned off too many resources. It’s late and (probably) over budget, like all new airplanes. Perhaps Honda arrogantly thought that all the other airplane companies were exactly like Detroit – but it turns out that building jet aircraft is difficult, time-consuming, and expensive.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Think Rutan technology on a down-to-earth scale. Some applications and uses of material and airframe tech is new, untested and unique.

        Ceramic engines may not be new, but casting them to this scale and power range is a challenge. New lightweight metallurgy poses other issues with future availability controlled by China’s control over available rare-earth materials.

  • avatar
    billfrombuckhead

    I wonder how much of Honda’ and Toyota’s current sales are subprime loans?

    I remember the conventional wisdom was that Honda had passed Chrysler for good. Now word is out that Honda is going to use the same ZF 9 speed as Chrysler. Watch Marchionne and the boys pull further ahead in the coming year.

    • 0 avatar
      nikita

      Probably a lot lower percentage of sub-prime customers than Nissan, Kia, Dodge….

      The big local Nissan dealers seem to market that type of financing, along with Kia and Dodge. Toyota, and especially Honda advertize lease and finance deals that require Tier 1 or 2 credit, more like BMW. I realize I am not average, but both our Tundra and Fit were cash deals.

      • 0 avatar
        billfrombuckhead

        Chrysler doesn’t have a captive lending arm, so that Dodge dealer is doing it on it’s own. Around here the Honda and Toyota dealers endlessly troll for B.H.P.H. customers on the local country western stations.

        How about Car and Driver picking the new Dodge Dart as the new compact car benchmark?

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        A survey from about four years ago showed that, among Honda, GM, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota and Nissan, Honda buyers were the wealthiest and best educated.

  • avatar
    wsn

    Well, using the new GM’s IPO as a benchmark, GM’s market worth has decreased 38.6%, Honda decreased 19.7%, Toyota decreased 5.5%.

    My money is on that we will do a second round of Death Watch for GM, before Honda can be considered.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    I had a rental 2011 Civic for a weekend while a family member was borrowing my Impala. It was the most unimpressive late model compact I have driven. The powertrain was weak and raspy sounding. The transmission was odd and quirky. The interior was cheap and not holding up very well. The car lacked many features that other competitors had and road noise/braking and radio sound quality were inferior. Even the headlights sucked. My neighbor two houses down has a 2007 Odyssey van that has suffered a transmission replacement, multiple power door issues, electrical gremlins and the A/C refuses to stay working. A teacher at work has a 2005 Civic LX automatic with only 45K miles and the interior is literally falling apart. The door panel padding is coming away from the plastic on both sides of the doors, numerous pieces are wearing or breaking, the plastic clips that hold the bumper covers have broke, the center console squeaks and wobbles and the glovebox door is misaligned and hard to close. She also told me the A/C just quit and the car has been in the shop multiple times for electrical issues. No Honda is not where GM was in 1981. But from my own experiences and other owners Honda is hardly a perfect car company and makes plenty of mistakes and suffers from quality control glitches just like everyone else. It’s a much more level playing field today than ever before.

  • avatar
    B Buckner

    Honda used to be know as an engine company, they produced great engines that took a back seat to no one. The CVCC stratified charge engines in the late 70s early 80s. They were the first to offer mass market variable valve timing engines. Now GDI engines are risky? Is there any evidence of a mass market GDI being a problem? 6 or 8 speed transmissions are unreliable? These are flash-in-the-pan technologies? Maybe Honda needs to go back to carburetors to move away from those risky fuel injection systems.

  • avatar
    ranwhenparked

    This is absolutely dead-on. Its interesting that the cars that the professional auto journalists and car enthusiasts gush over invariably flop on the marketplace (Suzuki SX4, Mazdas, Pontiac G8, etc) or remain bit players (Subaru), while the most boring and mundane products emerge as the winners (Toyota and Honda, also General Motors for an amazingly long period in the 70s, 80s and 90s).

    At the end of the day, the public doesn’t care about handling, performance, engineering, technology, or even really about build quality. They want safety, reliability, resale value, practicality, a good warranty, and fuel economy. If you can deliver all those things and make the outside of the car still look cool without offending anyone’s fragile taste sensibilities, all the better for you, but if the car comes out looking dull as dishwater, that’s still fine, because most the competitors are in the same boat.

    You can almost predict how badly a new model will sell based on how effusive the enthusiasts praise it at launch. The better the reaction, the worse the market performance.

  • avatar
    SteveMar

    It’s interesting to read the back and forth on Honda circa 2012 having recently bought an immaculate 1982 Prelude. It’s been a window into the world Honda created 30 years ago when it was in its ascendance. It’s also revealing — the car has a personality, while not a speed rocket, that asks to be driven enthusiastically. It’s also built like a tank — having been driven in no-salt climates most of its life, it also avoided the tin worm. The original paint still shines, the sunroof works and the a/c blows cold. Amazing for a car with 140K miles.

    I mention this because Honda came on the scene with a “keep it simple” ethic and high quality design/build. Cars like the early Accord, Civic and Prelude made Honda’s reputation. Somewhere in the late 90′s, the ditched the simplicity focus and their build quality has suffered somewhat, depending on the model. But, if they didn’t deliver any of what their original rep was built on, they would be going nowhere. That isn’t the case. Some of Honda’s current models are disappointments by their high standards, and even by some peer standards. But, overall, what the company provides is close enough to the mark to keep folks coming back. Could they do better? Yes. Will they do better? Maybe. Every time I drive my Prelude, it becomes a rolling advertisement for what the company has done right over the years.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    1. They should have replaced the Element.
    2. The CR-V needs HIDs, but otherwise it’s spot-on….stylish and comfortable.
    3. The Accord is still a default choice regarding competent sedans…except for some road noise, you know you are getting a modern, respondsive, reliable sedan with a great engine.
    4. They really need a Mazda5 sized wagon, and use that same platform for a 4 door pickup.

    Acura could use a complete reboot….15 years ago they really had their game on…..

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Honda, as of late, has been neglecting its motorcycles, cars and gas-engine-powered equipment, and putting the greater emphasis on developing their own airframe, a new direction Honda wants to pursue.

      Honda’s goal is to develop the best airplane possible within their available resources. They are putting as much effort into it as they did at first with motorcycles, gas-engine-powered equipment and then later with cars and race engines.

      What Honda brings to the market are capable cars, motorcycles, gas-engine-powered equipment and race engines. Their car-styling may leave a lot of potential buyers cold but that is subjective.

  • avatar
    mshenzi

    The growth of Prius, to that point that it’s an unofficial sub-brand within Toyota, is an example of the where Honda has stumbled over itself in the last decade or so.

    Honda got to the US hybrid market first, but with such a niche car that it never had a chance to be a big success, nor was it treated as a platform for further innovations, (maybe because it rpresented too costly an approach). The first Prius deservedly CRUSHED it in sales, and Toyota never looked back. Now both the Prius V and the Prius C are looking like very successful introductions, and the Prius range is a major success story for Toyota, both in the past decade and going forward.

    Honda meanwhile: a string of mild-hybrid Civics that got little market traction and even less notice, a V6 hybrid Accord that sold like icemakers in the Arctic, an Insight that kept preaching the mild-hybrid line when the market had clearly shown it wasn’t listening to that sermon. Everything but the sweet spot. The newest Civic hybrid is more of the same, and will be obviously uncompetitive against the obvious competition.

    Pride? Stubbornness? Limited budgets? Dunno, but any way you slice it, it’s a lot of ‘Live and Don’t Learn.’ The hybrid ship has sailed, and Honda is standing on the dock watching it pull away. Admittedly, a lot of other manufacturers are in the same position, but none of them were actually trying to compete in this market from Day 1.

    • 0 avatar
      supersleuth

      Honda deserves to get a lot of heat for stumbling on hybrids, but what about Ford? Unlike Honda, they actually have technology comparable to Toyota’s, yet have done very little with it in the marketplace.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        Supersleuth – I agree with you, although Ford is now putting more emphasis with C-Max and Fusion both having a hybrid and plug-in plus the Electric Focus. They are certainly in a better position than VW, Hyundai, GM etc.

        Also the CRZ was forgotten from the list of Honda hybrids – that in itself say something.

  • avatar
    mshenzi

    Oops! Good point about the CRZ– it promised something to several different segments and ended up… forgettable. Maybe that’s early onset alzheimers, but maybe it’s the car.

  • avatar
    carguy

    The Civic may be selling well but is doing so with old school domestic style cash on hood discounts. The Edmunds TMV is now well below invoice. Looks like the Civic will be competing more with the Sentra than the Focus or Cruze.

    • 0 avatar
      supersleuth

      I just looked at the current incentives info on Edmunds. Honda is offering 0.9% financing on Civics (which you can bet is only to buyers a lot more qualified than the typical Sentra buyer) but no cash on the hood. Chevy is offering $1000 cash on the Cruze’s hood or 2.9%. I also guarantee there are few Civics being sold to fleets but plenty of Cruzes. Sorry, this is just more uninformed Honda-bashing; the market is just not agreeing with you. I can understand how frustrating that must be.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      Compare the number of Civics, Cruzes and Focuses that are sold to rental fleets.

  • avatar
    alluster

    Honda knows what they are doing. The stubborn yen is killing them and making exports unprofitable. To make up for this loss in revenue they had to increase margins on locally built cars. Honda either needed to increase prices which will not fly in this highly competitive environment or cheapen the interior and cut costs in the redesign. They did their homework and figured Chevy, Ford and Hyundai were taking their compact offerings upscale. This was going to leave a huge void for bargain basement cars and all Honda had to do was capitalize on this by offering a cheapened sub standard car. Worked well for them so far and sales are through the roof. The Civic is a decent car, with good reputation and resale value at a great price while not being any worse than a more expensive Cruze, Focus or Elantra. In fact is cheaper than the Sonic and Fiesta if priced for content. A perfect car for non auto enthusiasts, the kind of people who are actually out there buying cars.

    This doesn’t mean Honda is out of trouble though. Every one of their new releases has been a major flop. Incentives, rebates and consumer cash backs have stayed high even after the market has picked up since 2009. As a pioneer of gas electric hybrids, their 3 offerings, combined barely outsell the twice as expensive Chevy Volt. Acura is a mess. Acura better cleanup their act before its douchey north eastern customer base who proudly flaunt these ugly monstrosities die off. A bigger problem is how 3 models make up 70% of their sales. With immense competition and reliability a given, Honda will continue to bleed market share with GM, Ford, Hyundai and VW making better cars. For the time being Honda will hold the sales numbers by catering to a new customer base usually reserved to Hyundai and Kia. That won’t hold for long though.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Enthusiasts just can’t seem to grasp the concept that what they want generally isn’t what sells. Whatever was lost between the last Civic and the current one is irrelevant to the folks buying them, and Honda is stupid to listen to the cries of the internet auto executive.

    Nothing is more hilarious than to hear folks who exclusively buy used cars at a <$10K price point express their anger with manufacturers not making the new cars they like. I suppose griping in this manner affords folks power they don't ordinarily have.

    I am saddened by the course Honda has taken over the last decade, but I can't fault them for putting their business ahead of everything else. That's the thing that really separates GM from Honda and is why this comparison is invalid from the get go. No matter what, Honda makes money and does what it has to to continue making money. Much of what GM did in whittling away its market share and brand cachet is beyond reason. Any comparisons/similarities between the two companies are ancillary.

  • avatar
    gasser

    Honda has a variety of problems.
    First is $$$$ my first Honda was a 1980 Accord. It was about $7500 with an automatic and without a radio. The yen was 225 to the dollar. Now, my daughter just bought a new CRV for a bit over $25 K, the CRV was built in Japan. Honda just got darn close the the same number of yen for a vehicle 32 years later. Also the CRV contains much more raw materials and a ton of more technology which costs a lot (air bags, antilock brakes, stability control, pollution control devices, etc.)
    Styling, My daughter used to drive a 2003 Honda Accord, bought new. The new Accord is too big and has the feel of sitting in a bunker, elevated cowl and trunk. That lack of good outward visibility cost Accord a sale. The reliability of the 2003 and its resale, kept her in the Honda family.
    Acura is a dog in looks. The old Legend was a car that Honda owners lusted for. Now the horrible noses on the TLs and the horrendous ZDX are costing sales. The MDX is pretty stale. The TSX looks OK to me, but that is a bit pricey. The ILX is a bit new to tell: from reviews its underpowered except for the manual only 2.4 lliter.
    Technology. Yes Honda used to be the leader. Now with 5 speed automatics and port injected engines, not so much. After the go around with the 5 speed autos in the Acuras of 10 years ago, I’m not sure I’m ready to try a new Honda design automatic. Also the issue of GDI and EGR coating intake valves makes me nervous.
    Honda dominates in very few models and needs to spend a lot of $$$ to redesign most of the Honda range and almost every Acura. I just don’t know if they can do it with Korean entries eating their lunch.

  • avatar
    VA Terrapin

    If Soichiro Honda was still running his company, would Honda have built the Ridgeline, CRZ Crosstour and Acrua ZDX? Would the Accord be as big as it is? Would Honda not build a sports car or a dedicated sports coupe (Civic Si and Accord Coupe don’t count since they share branding with more ordinary Hondas). Would Acura have killed off the Integra/RSX? I doubt it in all of these cases.

    Honda seems to have lost its way some time ago, and now more people are just starting to notice. What Honda could be the backbone of the import tuner scene like the 90s era Civic? Since Hondas are less reliable than Toyotas, what do bigger, uglier Hondas have to offer over any other car company? The upcoming Acura NSX looks promising, but that remains to be seen. Meanwhile, people will have to settle with the Civic Si, Accord Coupe and ugly SH-AWD Acura sedans if they want a sporty Honda.

    • 0 avatar
      chicagoland

      Doesn’t seem so in recent sales. Paying customers is the key, not ‘street cred’ from slackers on iPads judging the world, on their smoke break as a ‘barrista’.

      • 0 avatar
        VA Terrapin

        As recently as 2010, Honda was comfortably ahead of Chrysler in terms of market share. Now, Chrysler is ahead of Honda, and this should continue with the introduction of the Dodge Dart, a C segment sedan that Chrysler hasn’t had since the last Neon was sold.

        Nissan is catching up to Honda. While the next generation Accord and supposedly highly refreshed Civic might help out Honda later this year, Nissan will sell their next generation Altima and Sentra later this year as well.

        I haven’t even mentioned how much better Hyundai, Kia, Volkswagen and Subaru have done relative to Honda recently.

        By the end of this year, we’ll have a much better idea if Honda has regained its touch, or if continues to have problems fending off its competitors.

  • avatar
    stuntmonkey

    > If Soichiro Honda was still running his company

    Myth. Soichiro Honda the boss was a very pragmatic fellow. His philosophy was to “lead people into the attic, and then to give them a ladder to come back down”. Meaning that yes, Honda was about ideas, but somebody had to make sure those ideas got to market. You read everywhere that Honda-san would never have axed the Integra. If he face the same market dynamics, my bet is that yes, he would. Even during his lifetime, Honda did not have a continuous presence in F-1, leaving when it did not suit them.

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    “No matter how hard they try to malign their products as boring, a waste of money or behind the curve, they keep selling. Could Honda really have their finger on the pulse of what the consumers want. You know, the people who actually spend their own money on cars?”

    Amen

    Fanboi’s want 1992 Si ‘tuner cars’, but it’s 20 years later, and saftey/economy is the key selling point, not weaving in traffic trying to be Vin Diesel.

  • avatar
    FJ60LandCruiser

    It takes a long time after you’ve become acclimatized to a car brand to jump ship.

    Most lifer Honda buyers come from the “Japanese” quality crowd or their kids. For better or for worse we were conditioned to believe that all imports were gas sipping, bulletproof, solid, reliable transportation.

    There was an entire generation born and raised, including myself, in these miserable, boxy, cramped “imports,” but by the late 80s and early 90s they began to originate out of Ohio and Canada.

    I think Car and Driver has no damn clue what the car-buying public wants, but then again I’m not sure what Honda’s success is either. You cross shop ANY of their models and you’ll find something better and cheaper.

    Is it just in the current market that “mediocre, but good enough,” is sufficient? No Honda will strand you, break endlessly, or devaluate miserably. Does this reinforce those stereotypes we all grew up with that Hondas and Toyotas were THE MOST reliable cars out there and in an era where a Hyundai is a better car than a Honda none of that matters anymore but the perception?

    The real secret behind all of this may be that all Honda has to do is maintain its mediocrity to keep up sales, since expectations are far lower than Car and Driver seem to expect.

  • avatar
    olddavid

    Am I the only one who saw correlation between the reduction of prestige and Soichiro’s death?

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      Honda started to lose the plot when they yanked double-wishbone front suspensions from the Civic!

      Time was, Hondas had a “premium” feel for not much more $$$; you had great handling and performance, and yet even if you didn’t exploit that potential, you still had an all-around performer, even for the lowest-common denominator driver. (And of course, you could mod to your heart’s content.)

      Now that’s changed. Now handling is an afterthought, and that “feel” isn’t there so much. Hondas still handle, but it’s more of an “OK, can we slow down now” versus the “Suhhhwwweeeeeeet!!!! WOOOOO-HOOOOOOOO!” attitude of the previous Hondas. And with the exhaust manifold integrated into the block of the K-series fours, forget mods, which means the “Fast & Furious” crowd will look elsewhere!

      We’ll see what happens with the new Accord this fall–perhaps it will signal a change; it’s supposed to be a little smaller and lighter, with class-leading changes to the V6.

      As a three-time Honda owner (from a Honda family) who’s disappointed with some of Honda’s efforts of the past several years (“porky” 8th-Gen Accord, Acura ZDX and its Honda cousin, the CrossTurd, 9th-Gen Civic fail, Acura “Power Plenum” (beak–especially the overdone one on the ’08-’10 TL)), I hope the rushed Civic refresh means that they’ve learned some lessons and may start a return to their past, when bean-counters didn’t run the company.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    There are obvious fixes here:
    1) Better styling
    2) Richer interiors

    Improve those, and keep the quality and reliability on track, and Honda should be fine.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Regardless of styling and interiors, there are a lot of Honda fans and repeat buyers in the real world. They will continue to buy Honda as long as quality and reliability remain on track.

      There are two Honda vehicles in my extended family that are sneaking up on the five-year mark and there is no reason to think that they will be replaced by anything other than Honda vehicles.

      Why switch brands if you’re a happy camper?

  • avatar
    Haakman

    I know Honda has stumbled a few times in recent years, but they do make a good product. I’ve owned three 80s Accords, one 90s Accord and one 80s Prelude, all of which were reliable and fun to drive. In 2009, my wife and I bought a new ’09 Accord EX-L with the 190-hp motor and manual trans. It’s roomy, dead-nuts reliable, plenty quick, and yes, fun to drive. 42,00 miles so far and not a single problem. We paid $23,650 out the door. I can only speak for this particular model — not the V6 or automatic or base 4-cyl– and no, it’s not 100% perfect, but show me another car at that price that combines those qualities.


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