It ceased being fun working at American Honda around the summer of 1993. Most of our senior managers in the sales division had recently been fired. In May, the New York Times published the first story about our executives soliciting bribes from dealers. The Justice Department was snooping around our US headquarters in Torrance, CA. The year before, our geniuses in Japan had dropped the ground-breaking CRX two-seater and stuck us with the dull del Sol. Over at Acura, our Honda Division castoffs were busy trying to figure out why the tepid 5-cylinder Vigor was not selling.
We were still stuck in the Civic-Accord-Prelude-del Sol mode. “We will never build trucks,” our execs had often proudly proclaimed. Now we found ourselves caught flat-footed as we followed the success of the Ford Explorer, Nissan Pathfinder and Toyota 4Runner SUVs. We needed a sport-ute yesterday, and it would take us a minimum of four years to develop one. We did what any self-respecting, high quality, loved-by-its-customers car company would do in this situation.
We called Isuzu. (Read More…)
Thanks for sending along your email address, and for you all that you do to demystify the process of buying and owning cars. I find myself in a unique situation, and I would like your thoughts.
My wife is considering taking a job that is 135 miles away from our home. She will commute up once and return 3 days later. We have 3 young kids, and they attend a school that is about 15 miles from home and a similar distance from my office. Should she take the job, I will be in charge of picking them up 3 days a week, in addition to dropping them every day already.
Moonlighting is as much a part of the job as donuts and Crown Victorias. As municipal budgets have gotten squeezed over the past few years, the overtime honey holes that I and many of my fellow officers had become accustomed to shrunk as well. In order to make my nut I’ve had to go back to hustling off- duty gigs. My neighbor runs his own security company on the side and had a detail for this weekend. The catch was that it was outside of my sworn jurisdiction, which meant that I’d have to use one of my own cars instead of the city’s Crown Vic. My options were my ’02 Camaro SS, my ’01 Silverado, or the wife’s ’06 Honda Odyssey. I decided to channel my inner Roger Murtaugh and commandeered the family truckster.
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.
One of the most enduring narratives in the past few years has been the idea that somehow, Honda has lost it’s way. The maker of affordable, high-quality and fun to drive cars had suddenly become a purveyor of bland appliances that were the furthest thing from what they built their name on.
The Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country accounted for 49 percent of all minivans sold in America last month – and their year to date sales total isn’t that far off either.
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.
Back when we reviewed the Chevrolet Orlando, we noted that it had trouble catching up to its chief rivals, the Mazda5 and the Kia Rondo. No longer.