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Honda is the largest engine-maker in the world, producing more than 14 million internal combustion engines each year. In addition to motorcycles, jets, lawn mowers and generators, Honda is known for their reliable and fuel efficient passenger cars.
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.
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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.
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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.
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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
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
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
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
This morning I rolled out of bed, performed my morning ablutions, downed a bowl of Raisin Bran, dropped my sons off at school and started my stop-and-go commute to work. A never-ending stream of blinking taillights precedes me up and down the interstate through the pre-dawn din. Wannabe comedians inanely chatter and squawk through my radio. Finally my exit arrives: a lightly traveled mile-long arcing two-lane spur that connects interstate to turnpike. In a brief burst of adrenaline energy that widens my bleary eyes, I break away from the gridlock and shoot up the ramp. In third gear I push up to 80 mph as my car confidently hunches down and steers precisely through the sweeping turn. By the time I join the turnpike I coast down and assimilate into the flow of the traffic. These brief thrills make me glad that I opted for a sportier, nimble handling family sedan. But I drive an ’01 Accord. The 2009 Accord LX is no fun at all.
Comparison Test/Review: Third Place: 2009 Honda Accord LX Car Review Rating
An accord is, by its nature, a compromise. While enthusiasts bemoan the Honda Accord’s increased size and lowered fuel efficiency, in truth, the automaker’s done the right thing. They’ve relentlessly identified and ruthlessly removed every possible reason why a cost-conscious American car buyer wouldn’t sign-up for a four-cylinder Accord. In my responsibility to my readers, I can highlight a couple of places where they’ve missed the bloat, I mean boat. But it ain’t easy…
Take Two: 2009 Honda Accord LX Review Car Review Rating
Honda was the first automaker to offer Americans a car-based SUV with a third row of seats. It didn't matter that an Odyssey minivan was more fun to drive. Families wanted a third row without the stigma of a minivan or the bulk of a conventional SUV. The Pilot outsold all other midsize car-based SUVs. Then new competitors piled into the segment: Hyundai Veracruz, GMC Acadia, Mazda CX-9 and more. Honda lost its place at the head of the class. For the 2009 model year, Honda has responded with a fully redesigned Pilot. Have they done enough to reclaim their supremacy?
2009 Honda Pilot Review Car Review Rating
The Subaru Legacy GT, Infiniti G35 and Acura TSX are paid-in-full members of the practical power automotive niche. They cater to financially responsible enthusiasts who want their reliability served with a supersized side of hoon and a la carte cog-swapping. Although Honda’s new Accord V-6 packs a 268-horsepower punch, the four-door’s a pedal short in the row-your-own department. Fortunately, the Accord EX-L coupe boasts a six-speed manual transmission. So is the EX-L a category killer or just another vanilla thrilla?
Honda Accord EX-L Review Car Review Rating
I remember sitting in a park with my father a quarter-century ago, pointing at a nearby car. “What do you think that is?” “A BMW?” Nope, but his guess was not without reason. The second-generation Accord lifted more than a few design cues from the storied German marque. The 1982 sedan was also notable for its astounding attention to detail, compactness and efficiency. For those “in the know,” the Accord revealed Detroit’s sedans as over-sized, over-powered and indelicate. Now that Honda’s eighth-generation Accord faces a supposedly chastened Detroit, does the new model maintain the mechanical high ground?
Honda Accord Review Car Review Rating
According to market researchers, American car buyers are more likely to ask “will I look cool in this thing?” than “is this the most efficient way to get from point A to point B?” Despite Honda’s rep for building the automotive equivalent of sensible shoes, CEO Kochi Kondo understands that America’s love affair with the automobile gets kinky from time to time. Well if he didn’t before, he does now, after Honda’s bizzaro Element somehow found favor with American grey panther platform refugees. You can almost hear him at the karaoke bar singing “You gotta fight, for your right, to paaaaaarrty!”
Honda Element Review Car Review Rating
Herbie Hancock is a jazz pianist with a lesser known passion for all things electronic. After trading his sublime Steinway for some cutting-edge synthesizers, Hancock’s musical career Rockit-ed into interstellar space. It’s unclear why Honda reversed Hancock's career path for their eighth generation Civic. Here we have a machine that harkens back to the time when funk-fusion hit the airwaves and flying wedge concepts littered the world's design studios. What’s up with that?