I’ve spent a fair amount of time driving and writing about crossovers. It’s not exactly the way I wanted things to work out, but we can’t all be Chris Harris. Having spent the last few months behind the wheel of the segment’s big players, I’ve come to a conclusion that seems to be a frequent theme of my automotive recommendations: what I’d pick for myself is not what I’d recommend to anyone else.
Tag: Honda CR-V
With the first month of 2014 sales nearly wrapped up, we’ll soon get our first look at how the Jeep Cherokee has fared, following the initial shipment of delayed units. Much has been made of the Cherokee selling 10,000 units in November and 15,000 units in December: it was a great storyline for Chrysler to promote in the run-up to NAIAS, and one for the hometown media (in both Detroit and Toledo) to rally around. Left out of the cheerleading was the fact that these figures accounted for the 25,000 units reportedly sent to dealers in one fell swoop. Can you say “pent up demand”?
But even if the Cherokee continued to sell at that pace – say, 15,000 units per month as an optimistic projection, where would that place it in the larger picture of the small crossover segment?
In every month since April, the four best-selling utility vehicles in America have fallen under the “small” banner. In July, the five top sellers were small. With one-third of 2013 remaining, the Honda CR-V, Ford Escape, Chevrolet Equinox, and Toyota RAV4 are both America’s top-selling small crossovers and America’s four leading crossovers overall.
Polk released their list of 10 best-selling nameplates in 2012 - and while the list led to a bit of a spat between Toyota and Ford over who won had the race – the rest of the list gives us a picture of what’s popular around the world. While Bertel is claiming that Toyota came out on top, I am merely reporting the Polk data. Any disputes or accusations pro or anti (insert nationality here) bias can be meted out in the comments. I’ll go grab the popcorn.
Honda’s 2014 Odyssey doesn’t have any of the stuff that enthusiasts care about. Never mind the fact that it’s a minivan, but there’s no powertrain upgrades or shiny rims for its midcycle refresh. But you know what it does have? A vacuum cleaner. Honda partnered with ShopVac to create a vacuum cleaner for the Odyssey, one that can run indefinitely with the engine on, or for as long as 8 minutes with the engine off. If you have small children or pets, this is a god send. I won’t label it a game changer or say that Honda is about to dominate the minivan market, but it is going to sell a lot of buyers on the showroom floor when they see this.
What do the Honda CR-V and Ford Explorer have in common? Both recieved lukewarm receptions from the automotive press. The Explorer was doomed from the get-go for abandoning its body-on-frame construction and whatever connotations of rugged off-road capability that came with it. Of course, nobody understood that CAFE and economies of scale, the two driving forces behind every decision in today’s automotive world, were responsible for the switch. The CR-V lacked exciting EcoTurboPowerBoost engines and swoopy styling, and so it was largely forgotten by the press. But now both trucks have the last laugh.
Auto makers in Europe are freaking out about excess capacity, but Honda can’t get enough of it.
If you believe Ken Lewenza, president of the Canadian Auto Workers union, the CAW is well on its way to organizing Honda’s Alliston, Ontario assembly plant. Lewenza told Ward’s Auto that “We’re getting some enthusiastic and strong support, but we’re not there yet.” The biggest problem for Lewenza is that the CAW has been in that position for almost two decades with respect to Alliston and hasn’t made any progress.
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.
Has Honda been gazing longingly at the new crop of Kia crossovers? From the pulled-back, smoked headlights to the sharp Hofmeister kink in the C-pillar, this “concept” version of the forthcoming 2012 Honda CR-V looks like it’s been stealing cues from Peter Schreyer’s sharp-looking lineup. Which is not to say the design is wholly unoriginal: the grille protruding into the headlights is one cue that I’ve seen precisely nowhere before. And lest we draw too many conclusions from this “near production” design, let’s just remember that the real thing won’t debut until later this fall.