More than just a mere model, the Honda Civic is an institution. With 9 million examples sold on American shores, and nearly 20 million worldwide, calling it “Honda’s most important car” doesn’t express the importance of getting the 2012 redesign right. Michael got his hands on the EX model last May, but today we’re looking at the green poster child of the Honda line-up. Visit TTAC next week as we get gaseous with the Civic CNG.
In a very small way, my family was involved in bringing the Honda CR-V to North America. As Honda hemmed and hawed about bringing their first in-house SUV to the continent, they quietly shipped over a few right-hand drive examples in late 1995 for employees to evaluate. As a car guy with two kids, my father, who was Honda’s in-house attorney at the time, was a perfect candidate, and got the bright blue CR-V for a few days. Festooned with chrome accents, graffiti-like graphics, a JDM fender mirror and brush bars, the right-hand drive CR-V got lots of attention. The CR-V finally came to North America two years later, without all the awful acoutrements that Japanese versions had in spades.
“Hey Brendan,” runs the e-mail from our illustrious ed., Ed, “I was wondering if you wanted to take on the most challenging story I’m currently facing: making the new Honda CR-V interesting.”
“Don’t get taken in by the free bacon!”
Wait, what now? Free bacon? I’M THERE.
Honda has never paid too much attention to how other car makers do things. In the past this led to many highly successful innovations. Today…well today we have the ninth-generation Civic, recently launched as an early 2012 model.
After reading Tal Bronfer’s review of the Euro spec Honda CR-Z, I made arrangements to get a North American model for a week. The car arrived the same day that Michael Karesh’s second review of the CR-Z ran on TTAC. Instead of a third review, Ed and I discussed doing a comparison with an original CRX and seeing what CRX fans think of the CR-Z. Well, it didn’t work out that way …. Read More >
Once upon a time I wanted a Pontiac Fiero. Then the original Honda CRX awakened me to the joys of driving a small car sideways. It was what the Fiero, similarly pitched as an economical commuter, should have been. In comparison, even the second-generation CRX seemed too large, too refined, and disappointingly dull. Fast forward a quarter century, and the Honda Insight is perhaps the most disappointing car I’ve driven in recent years. So when Honda announced that it would base a new two-seater on the Insight, and call it the CR-Z, I fearfully predicted that it would look like the CRX, but drive like the Insight. And?
It’s now way past bedtime, and I’m driving the new Honda CR-Z in one of those neighborhoods you wouldn’t be making your evening stroll in. Heads turn, necks stretch, fingers point. Blacked out windows of blacked out SUVs are rolled down. Everybody on the street seems to approve Honda’s new creation, but no one knows it’s a hybrid.
It was a gloomy April afternoon when I “won” my first “race”. Hours before, I had stood among a nervous, shuffling group of men as Tommy Byrne, the mercurial, self-destructive, and inhumanly talented Competition Director of the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, had explained what we would need to do to survive his “comp school”: Don’t crash the car, make sure you follow the rules, and don’t drive too slowly. Simple as that. I did not know at the time that I would finish the season with a controversial demotion down the podium of the NASA National Championship, and I certainly did not know that not all of the men around me would survive our first year racing together. I just knew that I wanted to win everything I could.
My car for that comp school was #26 in Mid-Ohio’s fleet of five-speed, four-cylinder Acura TSX A-Specs. (Correction: this was a six-speed. I never got it up to sixth. Thanks to hans007) Although I’ve raced other Hondas since, from the Pakistan Express ’89 Civic Si to the Compass 360R Mugen-motored Grand-Am ’08 Civic Coupe, that tough little sedan is burned into my mind. With this week’s announcement that Mid-Ohio has returned its fleet of 2006 TSX A-Specs to Honda, I thought I would take a moment to share my memories of the car with you. It’s depressing to consider, but in many ways that TSX was the last truly good Honda to come to these shores.
What is the purpose of the Crosstour? I asked as I waited for my test car to be readied. Pause. Finally an answer, The Crosstour is now the high-end Accord. It is designed to compete with the Toyota Venza. Ah, I get it: monkey see monkey do. What better way to give the marque a kick in the shorts than to pinch an idea from the market leader. And so they did. Almost. Partly. Sort of.
There are guys at my gym that work out hard, three times a day, chiseling their chests and abs to perfection, compensating for the fact that God didn’t give them High School Musical faces. They are masterpieces of strength, structure – everything other than looks. From now on, I will secretly call them Crosstours.
Eight years ago I was looking at the exact same speedometer in a Honda Helix scooter. No joke. The speedo in the Helix and Insight are absolutely one and the same. Now most of you may not know what a Honda Helix actually is. Fair enough. It’s a very large scooter that can go 70 mph, get 70 mpg, and puts you in a near recliner position when on the road. Honda happily made them for 20 years. The Insight? Well multiply the Helixes $5000 cost by five and you pretty much get all that and the most fun to drive hybrid on the road today.
Review: 2001 Honda Insight Car Review Rating
Overall Rating: 4/5 Stars
From the 1970s to the 1990s, Honda earned a reputation as the most technically innovative and ecologically sensitive Japanese automaker. Honda introduced the first hybrid to the American market. Unfortunately, its rep for green tech leadership took a big hit when the original Insight, an EV1ish tear-drop-shaped two-seater, was totally eclipsed by Toyota’s Prius. Hybrid versions of the Civic and Accord did little to stem Toyota’s PR gains. For 2010, Honda has introduced an all-new Insight hybrid. Does this car have a shot at ending Toyota’s dominance of the green car mindscape?
Review: 2010 Honda Insight Take Two Car Review Rating
Overall Rating: 2/5 Stars
Less than a generation ago, speed was the name of the game. Hands-on automotive enthusiasts would swap their car’s two-barrel carb for a four, replace the manifold, straighten the exhaust, anything and everything to make their ride go faster (at least in a straight line). Even the mechanically ignorant knew that power equalled status, whether under-hood or at their fingertips (windows!). These days, consumption is no longer a disease; it’s an addiction. Where once we laughed watching my buddy Artie’s ’69 Camaro’s fuel needle fall, the new Honda Insight has a needle showing me how much fuel I’m saving. It’s not a very clever insight, but the Insight is a very clever car.
Review: 2010 Honda Insight EX Car Review Rating
Overall Rating: 4/5 Stars
Sequels are tricky. With few exceptions they are worse than the originals. Empire Strikes Back and Godfather II are the only examples I can think of where the follow up exceeds the original. Rumor has it that Weekend at Bernie’s II is better than the first film, but I couldn’t tell you. And sometimes you have a part deux that misses the point. Like Terminator II. You know the one where the 12-year-old boy tells the ruthless cyborg from the future not to kill anyone. Hey look, as movie T2 is perfectly pleasant (though it does feature George Thorogood’s “Bad to the Bone”), but it’s nowhere as lean, mean, terrifying or fascinating as the original. I think you know where this is going.
Review: 2009 Honda Fit Sport Car Review Rating
Overall Rating: 3/5 Stars