The Truth About Cars » Honda CR-V http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sat, 18 Oct 2014 16:29:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Honda CR-V http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com 2015 Honda CR-V: Will it Hang On To Compact SUV Sales Crown? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/2015-honda-cr-v-will-hang-compact-suv-sales-crown/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/2015-honda-cr-v-will-hang-compact-suv-sales-crown/#comments Tue, 30 Sep 2014 13:28:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=921713 The Honda CR-V has been the compact SUV sales champion for 7 of the past 10 years. But with competition in the segment heating up, Honda is hoping that their mid-cycle refresh will keep the CR-V attractive to buyers in the fastest-growing segment in the new car market. Styling tweaks aside, the CR-V gains a […]

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The Honda CR-V has been the compact SUV sales champion for 7 of the past 10 years. But with competition in the segment heating up, Honda is hoping that their mid-cycle refresh will keep the CR-V attractive to buyers in the fastest-growing segment in the new car market.

Styling tweaks aside, the CR-V gains a new direct-injection 2.4L engine. Horsepower is unchanged, but torque is up 11 percent to 181 lb-ft, while a CVT replaces the venerable 5-speed automatic gearbox. The interior has also undergone a restyling that adds a more modern look and what appear to be better materials.

As of September 1st, the CR-V led the Ford Escape by just under 10,000 units in year-to-date sales. The new mid-cycle changes should help put a bit more distance between the two vehicles, but the CR-V must also contend with new entrants like the Nissan Rogue, Jeep Cherokee and Subaru Forester, which are vying for market share in a segment ripe with conquest sales.

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2015 Honda CR-V Gets New Look, New Transmission http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/2015-honda-cr-v-gets-new-look-new-transmission/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/2015-honda-cr-v-gets-new-look-new-transmission/#comments Mon, 22 Sep 2014 14:23:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=916346 Our own Jack Baruth is full of praise for Honda’s CVT transmission, and it looks like the 2015 CR-V could be the next vehicle from the Big H to adopt it, replacing the 5-speed automatic gearbox. While Honda has released just a single photograph of the 2015 CR-V, we have it on good authority that […]

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Our own Jack Baruth is full of praise for Honda’s CVT transmission, and it looks like the 2015 CR-V could be the next vehicle from the Big H to adopt it, replacing the 5-speed automatic gearbox.

While Honda has released just a single photograph of the 2015 CR-V, we have it on good authority that the CVT will be part of the CR-V’s mid-cycle refresh. It’s unlikely that consumers will notice the changeover, despite the howls of protest from certain corners of the enthusiast community. And the CR-V is unlikely to lose its dominant spot on the top of the crossover sales charts.

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Yes, Honda Sales Are Down, But Key Hondas Aren’t http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/yes-honda-sales-key-hondas-arent/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/yes-honda-sales-key-hondas-arent/#comments Thu, 21 Aug 2014 11:36:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=897314 Honda sales are decreasing in a market that’s increasing, a fact to which Honda drew attention when the company’s U.S. sales boss called out the industry for short-term tactics that artificially expand the size of the market. U.S. new vehicle sales are up 5% through the first seven months of 2014, yet sales at the […]

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2014 Honda CR-V EX-L AWDHonda sales are decreasing in a market that’s increasing, a fact to which Honda drew attention when the company’s U.S. sales boss called out the industry for short-term tactics that artificially expand the size of the market.

U.S. new vehicle sales are up 5% through the first seven months of 2014, yet sales at the Honda brand are down 1.3% and sales at Acura are down 1.8%.

The good news at Honda includes their lack of reliance on fleet sales, the strong loyalty-building resale values of their vehicles, and their lack of emphasis on incentives.

Yet lost in the overarching statement that says, “Honda sales are down,” are the sales figures displayed by their core models.

Sales of the best-selling Acura, the MDX, are up 55.5% through the first seven months of 2014. The MDX is nearly 20,000 sales back of the dominant premium brand crossover, Lexus’s RX, but it leads the Buick Enclave and Cadillac SRX and easily outsells the Mercedes-Benz M-Class and BMW X5. With RDX sales sliding slightly and Acura’s car division in the throes of undesirability (ILX and RLX) and major model changeovers (TL and TSX to TLX), the MDX’s strength is a true bright spot.

Over at the headlining Honda brand, the company’s three best-selling models are collectively up 3.1% this year. The Accord, Civic, and CR-V account for more than three quarters of the Honda brand’s U.S. volume, and sales of this trio are not less common this year than they were last year.

July sales of the Accord jumped 11.3%, taking the midsizer’s year-to-date tally up to 220,351 units, a 0.9% increase. Among America’s five top-selling midsize cars, the second-ranked Accord’s growth is slowest: Camry volume is up 8.3%, Altima sales are up 2.9%, sales of the Fusion are up 4.3%, sales of the Sonata are up 5.8%. But midsize sales overall have fallen 1.6% in 2014 as the Malibu, Optima, Passat, 200, defunct Avenger, and Legacy have all declined. The overall passenger car market has not expanded at the same rate as the Honda Accord, either, rising just 0.7% year-to-date.

Meanwhile, while compact car sales have risen just 1.2% this year, Honda Civic volume is up 3.1%. It is now America’s second-best-selling small car, having led the compact category in both 2012 and 2013. While sales of the Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra, Volkswagen Jetta, Mazda 3, and Dodge Dart have fallen, Civic sales have risen.

Finally, the Honda CR-V is America’s top-selling SUV/crossover through the first seven months of 2014. The CR-V owns a much smaller portion of the utility vehicle market this year than last, however, as overall utility vehicle sales are up 17% in 2014 and the CR-V’s own category is up nearly 19%. CR-V volume has grown 5.9% year-over-year.

Simply put, Honda’s most successful models aren’t the models holding the brand back. As Acura will surely be helped to some degree by the new TLX, there is anticipated growth from Honda via the HR-V and a replacement for the aging Pilot, sales of which are down 19% in 2014.

Combined sales of the Odyssey, Pilot, Ridgeline, Crosstour, CR-Z, Fit, and cancelled Insight are down 13.3% in 2014, a loss of 28,192 units over the span of seven months.

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2015 Honda CR-V Adopts CVT http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/2015-honda-cr-v-adopts-cvt/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/2015-honda-cr-v-adopts-cvt/#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 14:27:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=872058 The last word in functional, utilitarian crossovers will now move even further towards the middle of the road, as the Honda CR-V adopts a CVT for its mid-cycle refresh. Replacing the outdated 5-speed automatic, the CVT gearbox is, by our own EIC’s admission, a fantastic transmission. Furthermore, nobody buying the CR-V will know the difference, […]

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The last word in functional, utilitarian crossovers will now move even further towards the middle of the road, as the Honda CR-V adopts a CVT for its mid-cycle refresh.

Replacing the outdated 5-speed automatic, the CVT gearbox is, by our own EIC’s admission, a fantastic transmission. Furthermore, nobody buying the CR-V will know the difference, or care enough about it. The bland, practical formula that Honda appears to have perfected has made the CR-V the top-selling crossover for years and years. Don’t expect that to change any time soon.

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In Defense Of: The Honda CR-V http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/in-defense-of-the-honda-cr-v/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/in-defense-of-the-honda-cr-v/#comments Mon, 03 Mar 2014 15:17:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=760329 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 […]

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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.

Having just had seat time with an Ecoboost-powered Escape and a Mazda CX-5, I am pretty sure that if I ever needed some kind of two-box vehicle, those would be at the top of my list. Both the Escape and the CX-5 are the only entrants that could be called “fun to drive” with a straight face. The Ecoboost powered versions of the Escape have plenty of power and decent chassis dynamics, while the Mazda trades some of that grunt for a much better chassis, and an overall car-like feeling. The Escape gets pretty awful fuel economy, while both are hobbled by frustrating infotainment systems – the Mazda’s looks like something from the 32-bit era of video gaming, while the Escape’s options range from “unusable” to “distracted driving hazard waiting to happen”.

I could find a way to cope with their respective quirks, but that’s because I value some kind of driver engagement, no matter what kind of car it is. The CX-5 would make a great daily driver for someone like me. But I am not most people. Most people don’t care about how a crossover drives. If they’re asking for advice on any car, it likely means that they need the simplest, most trouble-free experience possible. If they’re asking for advice on a crossover, it’s probably somebody in Daniel Latini’s shoes, who has a young family, and is looking for something that makes their life easier.

This is where the Honda CR-V comes in. I’ve driven the CR-V plenty of times. It’s about as exciting to drive as eating Bran Flakes. The interior looks like a more contemporary version of 1990’s Honda fare (lots of hard plastic, plenty of buttons). It’s a little noisy and a little down on power, like most Hondas tend to be. But it’s one of the most brilliantly packaged CUVs ever created.

Rather than lift objects up and into the cargo compartment, the floor sits at about knee height, eliminating the much of the strenuous motion required to put strollers and suitcases into the cargo area. For anyone who has to load and unload something like a stroller or suitcases, it’s a wonderfully thoughtful touch. If more room is required, a pull-tab located on the rear seatback will let the rear bench fold with just one pull. No fiddling with headrests and levers – it’s easily accessible from the cargo compartment and takes two seconds. The cherry on top for the CR-V’s triad of useful gadgets is a backup camera, which was integrated with the navigation unit on our EX-L test car. The backup camera has three modes; a standard view, a wide-angle lens and a 90 degree downward view, akin to a periscope, that gives the driver a better view of protruding objects (pillars, poles and the like) that can cause expensive bumper damage with only light contact.

Instead of going for the Ford or Mazda route with fancy tech or engaging dynamics, Honda chose to focus on little incremental improvements, things that will sell the car on the showroom floor during the dealer’s sales pitch. It seems to be working. The CR-V was the best-selling crossover last year, with over 300,000 units moving off showroom floors. I don’t expect that lead to evaporate any time soon. As long as people like Daniel come knocking for advice, my recommendation will stay the same.

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Chart Of The Day: Here’s What The Jeep Cherokee Is Up Against In 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/chart-of-the-day-heres-what-the-jeep-cherokee-is-up-against-in-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/chart-of-the-day-heres-what-the-jeep-cherokee-is-up-against-in-2014/#comments Tue, 21 Jan 2014 14:00:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=704050   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 […]

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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?

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Small crossovers may not be popular with enthusiasts, but it’s impossible to deny how important this is to the industry at large. In 2013, five of the top 10 best selling SUVs in America were small crossovers, while the Honda CR-V and Ford Escape (the top selling small crossovers) were the 8th and 10th best selling vehicles in America. Together, those two made up just under 1/3rd of the segment’s volume. Add in the third place Chevolet Equinox and fourth place Toyota RAV4 and you have 57 percent of the segment represented in just four nameplates.

The graph above represents the uneven distribution of the segment’s sales, with the top four nameplates sitting comfortable, while a number of small players compete for scraps at the bottom of the graph. This isn’t unique in the market either – Juan Barnett’s analysis of the midsize market shows a somewhat similar distribution of nameplates clustered at the top and bottom. Like the midsize segment, the small crossover category is a crowded one, and the addition of the Cherokee just adds to the competition.

Assuming the 15,000 unit pace holds through 2014, that would give the Cherokee 180,000 units at year end, placing it above the Nissan Rogue (which sells roughly 160,000 units) but below the RAV4. In that context, the 15,000 unit per month figure being bandied about is far less impressive, but it’s important to note a couple things.

The Toldeo, Ohio factory that builds the Cherokee is capacity limited to about 250,000 Cherokees per year. Even running flat out, Jeep wouldn’t be able to catch the CR-V or Escape. Considering that some of the 250,000 units will go to Canada and other global markets, 180,000 is a respectable number. Even more significant is what the Cherokee will do for the Jeep brand compared to the Liberty (as demonstrated in the chart below).

 

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The comparison with the Rogue will be an interesting one. In the same way that the 200 should sell at the level of the Optima, Malibu or Sonata, the Cherokee and Rogue will likely inhabit the same stratosphere in the segment. The new Rogue has also undergone Nissan’s patented process of making cars suitably bland for American tastes, through their expanded dealer network. Similar to the Altima’s gradual climb through the midsize ranks, the combined capacity for 180,000 units of the Rogue (100,000 in Smyrna, Tennessee and 80,000 at the Renault-Nissan facility in Korea), combined with additional units of the Rogue Select (which Nissan will likely not break out from Rogue sales) should enable to Rogue to post higher sales figures by the end of 2014. On the other hand, don’t expect things to change at the top.

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Cain’s Segments: Crossover Sales http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/cains-segments-crossover-sales/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/cains-segments-crossover-sales/#comments Thu, 19 Sep 2013 13:00:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=523393 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. Together with […]

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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.

Together with their rivals, they accounted for 14.4% of industry sales in August and 13.4% of the new vehicles sold in the United States in the first two-thirds of 2013. The vehicles listed in the accompanying table represent more than four out of every ten SUVs or crossovers sold in the United States.

Allow the popularity net to spread further afield and the Honda CR-V isn’t America’s favourite crossover. Combining the Chevrolet Equinox and its twin, the GMC Terrain, results in a General Motors total that’s 31,885 units better than what Honda has managed with the CR-V so far this year. It takes two to tango, and two to top the CR-V and Escape.

2012 marked the first year in which Chevrolet sold more than 200,000 copies of the Equinox. The Equinox’s total should top 240,000 units by the end of the year.

GM benefits from also selling the fleet-only Captiva Sport, which sells more often than the obviously retail-oriented Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, Mitsubishi Outlander, and the Volkswagen Tiguan.

Honda appears set to top 300,000 U.S. sales with the CR-V this year. Ford’s current pace could see the Escape top the 300K barrier, as well. After setting a Rogue record in 2012, Nissan’s continued clear-out of the outgoing Rogue has resulted in a 15,659-unit increase through eight months. The Rogue nameplate should easily top 150,000 units in 2013. Subaru last sold more than 85,000 Foresters in 2010 but is on pace to climb above the 100K mark by New Year’s Eve. In all cases, supply will be an issue.

In seven attempts, Mazda has yet to report a year-over-year CX-5 result in the negative. In fact, all of the CX-5’s monthly gains have been above 50%. Dodge will set a Journey sales record this year thanks in no small part to a pricing strategy imported from Canada by Reid Bigland. (The Journey is typically one of the four top-selling crossovers in Chrysler-friendly Canada. http://www.goodcarbadcar.net/2013/09/canada-suv-crossover-sales-rankings-by-model-august-2013-ytd.html)

Kia’s overall inability to keep up with the market’s rate of growth is partly the fault of its two SUVs. Sportage volume is down 23% (6248 units) after falling 31% in 2012. Sorento sales slid 9% in 2012 and the arrival of the a revamped 2014 hasn’t generated an improvement as Hyundai steals some capacity for the Santa Fe. In ten of the last eleven months, Hyundai’s own Tucson has reported year-over-year declines. The Volkswagen Tiguan, meanwhile, is selling only slightly more often this year than it did last year, in a market which is up 9.5%; in an SUV/crossover market that’s up more than 13%.

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Auto
August 2013
August 2012
August
% Change
8
mos. 2013
8
mos. 2012
YTD
% Change
Chevrolet Captiva Sport
5735 2464 + 133% 33,045 24,299 + 36.0%
Chevrolet Equinox
25,073 20,231 + 23.9% 169,977 151,027 + 12.5%
Dodge Journey
8890 7922 + 12.2% 57,834 51,724 + 11.8%
Ford Escape
26,714 28,188 - 5.2% 205,683 176,927 + 16.3%
GMC Terrain
11,120 9143 + 21.6% 69,651 63,340 + 10.0%
Honda CR-V
34,654 23,877 + 45.1% 207,643 207,643 + 8.6%
Honda Element
2 3 - 33.3%
Hyundai Santa Fe
8102 4524 + 79.1% 56,105 43,583 + 28.7%
Hyundai Tucson
3886 5376 - 27.7% 30,042 33,271 - 9.7%
Jeep Compass
5249 3756 + 39.7% 37,249 28,368 + 31.3%
Jeep Patriot
7170 5056 + 41.8% 52,857 43,633 + 21.1%
Kia Sorento
10,568 10,529 + 0.4% 73,531 78,098 - 5.8%
Kia Sportage
3140 3097 + 1.4% 21,037 27,285 - 22.9%
Mazda CX-5
8506 4665 + 82.3% 54,388 24,904 + 118%
Mazda CX-7
204 - 100% 1 11,187 - 99.99%
Mazda Tribute
502 - 100%
Mitsubishi Outlander
1233 607 + 103% 7588 5306 + 43.0%
Nissan Rogue
17,273 12,626 + 36.8% 113,316 97,657 + 16.0%
Subaru Forester
13,163 6956 + 89.2% 73,752 50,505 + 46.0%
Suzuki Grand Vitara
381 - 100% 1037 3416 - 69.6%
Toyota RAV4
23,502 15,685 + 49.8% 144,314 120,371 + 19.9%
Volkswagen Tiguan
2948 2746 + 7.4% 20,744 20,652 + 0.4%
Total
216,926
168,033 + 29.1% 1,429,796 1,263,701 + 13.1%

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Disclaimer: We’ve included the Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorento in the mix, although they’re potential competitors for larger two and three-row SUVs. The Santa Fe Sport, for example, is more than six inches longer than the class-leading Honda CR-V with four more cubic feet of passenger volume. But it’s also nearly seven inches shorter, bumper to bumper, than the Honda Pilot, and it offers significantly less overall passenger volume. The price points for the CR-V and Santa Fe/Sorento also line up more appropriately than if we were to compare the Hyundai and Kia with the Pilot. Automakers don’t consult an official TTAC B&B Encyclopedia of Dimensions before development of a new vehicle gets underway, and models don’t always fit into the boxes labelled small, midsize, and large.

17,277 more small crossover sales came from the Buick Encore, Mini Countryman, Mini Paceman, Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, Nissan Juke, and Subaru XV Crosstrek in August. And of the 18,297 sales collected by the Toyota FJ Cruiser, Nissan Xterra, and Jeep Wrangler, the Wrangler attracted 86%, or 15,825, of the trio’s volume.

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The Top 10 Best-Sellers World Wide In 2012 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/the-top-10-best-sellers-world-wide-in-2012/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/the-top-10-best-sellers-world-wide-in-2012/#comments Tue, 16 Apr 2013 11:00:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=484953 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 […]

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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.

1. Ford Focus:  1,020,410 units sold

 

 

2. Toyota Corolla: 872,774 units sold

3. Ford F-Series: 785,630 units sold

4. Wuling Zhiguang: 768,870 units sold

5. Toyota Camry: 729,793 units sold

6. Ford Fiesta: 723,130 units sold

7. VW Golf: 699,148 units sold

8. Chevrolet Cruze: 661,325 units sold

9. Honda Civic: 651,159 units sold

10. Honda CR-V: 624,982 units sold

autoblog_cn_img_8770 Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail Focus-SE-front-quarter-550x412. Photo courtesy TTAC Corolla-Axio-11-450x300 Photo courtesy TTAC 2011f1504-550x307 Photo courtesy TTAC Wuling Sunshine. Photo courtesy vwvortex.com Camry-SE-4-side-550x412 Photo courtesy TTAC Ford_Fiesta_Mk7_seit_2008_front_MJ-450x269 Photo courtesy wikipedia Golf lineup side-550x315 Photo courtesy Chevrolet 2013-honda-civic-450x275 Photo courtesy Honda IMG_51901-550x366 Photo courtesy Brendan McAleer

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Analysis: In The Land Of Boring, Honda Is King http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/analysis-in-the-land-of-boring-honda-is-king/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/analysis-in-the-land-of-boring-honda-is-king/#comments Tue, 26 Mar 2013 23:04:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=482404   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 […]

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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.

It’s funny that despite their astounding sales success and frequent ingenuity, the automotive press persists with the “Honda has lost its way” narrative.  The CR-V is the top selling crossover. The Civic is the best selling compact car, and the third best selling car in the land 0 the Accord was in second place, behind the Toyota Camry. The Odyssey is the second best selling minivan, right behind the Dodge Grand Caravan. Among the top selling vehicles in the United States last year, three of the top 10 were Hondas, more than any other OEM. And they did it barely any fleet sales.

The CR-V is a great example. It frequently gets taken to task by the automotive media for being “boring/soulless/an appliance/whatever demeaning adjective” but I’ve long maintained it has three items that effectively sell the car to buyers; a standard backup camera, one-touch rear folding seats and a cargo floor that is at knee level. No amount of Skyactiv technology, stick shifts or European inspired handling can make up for those three things, not when all of them are directly functional in the context of grocery shopping or picking up the little ones from daycare. The proof is in the sales charts. On the other hand, it’s an interesting reflection on how relevant the automotive press is to the average consumer  and their needs. “Not at all” looks to be the answer.

Honda’s lineup may be boring, sterile and unattractive to the people who bought Integra GS-Rs in 1995. But for the people actually in the market for a new car, these are the things that make them sign on the dotted line. I may have lost faith that we’ll ever see another CRX or S2000, but if Honda keeps up this sort of ingenuity, they will be around long after other niche makers fall by the wayside during the industry’s inevitable consolidation.

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In The SUV Sales Race, Boring Is King http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/463346/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/463346/#comments Wed, 10 Oct 2012 16:38:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=463346 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 […]

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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.

In the small SUV segment, the CR-V is still king. While the Ford Escape edged out the CR-V in September, the year-to-date figures show the CR-V on top by about 13,000 units. We are investigating rumors that Ford has been dumping hail-damaged Escapes onto fleet customers at cut rate prices, while Honda traditionally avoids fleet sales. I’ve long maintained that the CR-V has the kinds of features that matter to buyers in this segment, and as nice as some of the more upscale offerings are, it’s hard to argue with a vehicle that just works in ways you need it to.

The Explorer has a near 6,000 unit lead over the second-place Jeep Grand Cherokee in the YTD rankings. September sales were much closer, with only 1,500 units separating the two. The incentive war heading into the final months of 2012 should make this race particularly interesting.

The full-size SUV standings are pretty much decided in favour the Chevrolet Tahoe, and one can only wonder how much GM’s massive government fleet sale in June helped push the Tahoe to the top of the standings. As gas prices continue to climb, this segment will matter less and less. Most of the field saw double digit declines in September.

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Meanwhile In Europe, Honda Can’t Get Enough Capacity http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/meanwhile-in-europe-honda-cant-get-enough-capacity/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/meanwhile-in-europe-honda-cant-get-enough-capacity/#comments Thu, 06 Sep 2012 15:52:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=459167 Auto makers in Europe are freaking out about excess capacity, but Honda can’t get enough of it. With a $424.9 million investment in its Swindon, England plant, Honda is doubling down on European production, and for good reason. A report by Reuters claims that 40 percent of Honda’s sales in Europe are imports, and that […]

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Auto makers in Europe are freaking out about excess capacity, but Honda can’t get enough of it.

With a $424.9 million investment in its Swindon, England plant, Honda is doubling down on European production, and for good reason. A report by Reuters claims that 40 percent of Honda’s sales in Europe are imports, and that means exchange rates are playing havoc with profitability.

The wire service also mentions that Honda is looking for a big push in localized manufacturing

“Honda, which has seen three straight year of losses in Europe, aims to be profitable in Europe in 2013/14, when 80 percent of cars sold in the market will be sourced from the Swindon plant.”

According to the article, Britain is now a net exporter of vehicles for the first time since 1976, and Honda says that 60 percent of Swindon production will be exported. Currently, the Civic, CR-V and Jazz (our Fit) are built at the plant.

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The CAW’s Long, Futile Road To Organizing Honda Plants http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/the-caws-long-futile-road-to-organizing-honda-plants/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/the-caws-long-futile-road-to-organizing-honda-plants/#comments Mon, 02 Jul 2012 15:56:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=450997 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 […]

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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.

You may not know that, if the only thing you’ve seen so far are totally inaccurate, poorly aggregated articles like “CAW Begins to Organize Workers at Honda’s Ontario Factory“. This is simply not true. The CAW isn’t begging to organize workers at Alliston. Nor are Honda’s Canadian plant employees a bunch of pinkos who want to revolt against their foreign overlords while reaping the benefits of a union card. The truth is far more mundane and less exciting, as it usually is.

Honda hasn’t gone on the record with any publication regarding the CAW’s attempts – but we have sources that are familiar with the company, and are willing to talk to us. According to our source, the CAW has been trying this since at least the early1990s, but has never had much success.

There are assembly line workers at Alliston who want to unionize, but the majority apparently have no desire; wages are competitive and union dues don’t have to be paid. The union hasn’t been warmly received in the past either.  Alliston, which builds the Honda Civic, CR-V, Acura MDX and ZDX, is one of Honda’s crown jewels in North America, and to Honda brass, the idea of unionization is anathema to the Big H’s corporate culture.

“It runs counter to the Japanese concept of loyalty,” our source said. “The whole idea is that if you’re loyal to the company, they’ll look out for you and your best interests. The workers shouldn’t need a union for that.” Honda also doesn’t want an outside force interfering in the way their plants are run. As our source put it “…[Organizing] interferes with the management structure of the plant itself – which is unacceptable to them.” As for what would happen if Alliston, or another Honda plant unionized? “Well,” said my source “remember what happened to Wal-Mart in Quebec?”

The idea that the union is making “progress” like so many blog headlines suggest, may be relative to say, being nearly dead in the water over the past two decades. The CAW is, to put it lightly, f***ed if they don’t sign up new members, and in a world where even the Oshawa plant is at risk, their future is precarious at best.

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Review: 2012 Honda CR-V Take Two http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/review-2012-honda-cr-v-take-two/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/review-2012-honda-cr-v-take-two/#comments Tue, 06 Mar 2012 22:12:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=433942 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 […]

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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.

12 years have passed, and the CR-V really isn’t that much different from its first iteration, a rare quality in a segment where everyone from Ford to Kia to Mazda is trying to re-invent the segment. Avant-garde styling, high-tech engines and motion-activated tailgate sensors are all well and good, but the CR-V continues to be the sell strongly, despite its utterly utilitarian packaging.

The CR-V has neither a fancy Ecoboost engine or Laguna Seca-capable handling. Instead, it proudly boasts the segment’s lowest loading floor – a dubious accomplishment among the “CUVs drool, wagons rule” segment, but a brilliant feature for doing normal people things like grocery shopping or going to IKEA. My family bought a CR-V in 2003 – 6 months prior to that, my mother was bedridden for 6 months due to a severe gastrointestinal illness – while she was able to drive, she wasn’t strong enough to load groceries into the CR-V, and I had to accompany her. Hardly an arduous task for a teenage boy, but the low loading floor would have been a help for her at that time. Rather than lift objects up and into the cargo compartment, the floor sits at about knee height, eliminating the lifting motion. For anyone who has to load and unload something like a stroller or suitcases, it’s a wonderfully thoughtful touch. If more room is required, a pull-tab located on the rear seatback will let the rear bench fold with just one pull. No fiddling with headrests and levels – it’s easily accessible from the cargo compartment and takes two seconds. The cherry on top for the CR-V’s triad of useful gadgets is a backup camera, which was integrated with the navigation unit on our EX-L test car. The backup camera has three modes; a standard view, a wide-angle lens and a 90 degree downward view, akin to a periscope, that gives the driver a better view of protruding objects (pillars, poles and the like) that can cause expensive bumper damage with only light contact.

In motion, the CR-V drives how you would expect it to. Not remarkable in any area, but hardly the porridge pile that most car guys expect from a small crossover. The 2.4L 4-cylinder makes 185 horsepower, an adequate amount of power for a vehicle this size. Why didn’t Honda opt for a more powerful engine, along with something more advanced than the 5-speed automatic transmission? Simple – customers don’t care how many forward gears it has. On the road, the combination works seamlessly and delivers 22 mpg in town and 31 mpg on the highway. The all-wheel drive system has been revised to always send a nominal amount of torque to the rear wheels – again, this wasn’t noticeable on the road, but a CR-V conquering anything more severe than a light dusting of snow on a paved road would surprise me. Steering feel is no longer the lifeless “oars in a bowl of yogurt” feel that was present in my mother’s 2003 model, but it doesn’t provide much feedback. Really, the only extreme driving that happened on the entire drive was a panic stop, and the CR-V’s brakes helped prevent a Honda/Corolla sandwich from occurring.

The interesting thing about the CR-V is that when everyone else is trying to advance the game to new levels of equipment, technology and gadgets, the CR-V is making incremental improvements to a formula that has proved successful. In a sense, Honda is placing a bet that consumers don’t care that the drive to Costco is more important than driving with Ecoboost or SKYACTIV technology. Honda made a similar bet with the Civic – and while sales are strong, Honda is throwing a lot of cash on the hood as it clears out the current car before a refreshed design debuts in 2013. Nevertheless, I am confident that Honda got it right here.  The CR-V was tops in small SUV sales last month – don’t look for that to stop any time soon.

Brendan McAleer previously review the CR-V here

 

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What’s Wrong With This Picture: The 2012 Honda CR-V (In Concept) Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/07/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-the-2012-honda-cr-v-in-concept-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/07/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-the-2012-honda-cr-v-in-concept-edition/#comments Mon, 25 Jul 2011 16:57:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=404198 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: […]

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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.

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