Tag: Honda

By on September 21, 2017

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Let’s get this out of the way right up front: The 2017 Honda Civic Si is not a baby Civic Type R. Yes, it shares the name and platform, but not only does it differ mechanically and stylistically in key ways, it also provides a different driving experience.

Different, but still excellent. Just a different kind of excellent. I’ll get to that right after I find my thesaurus.

Like its main competitors – the Ford Focus ST, Subaru WRX, and Volkswagen Golf GTI, the Civic Si is supposed to be the mid-level performance trim of a compact car (in Subaru’s case, the WRX is based on the Impreza but drops the moniker). As such, it’s not the outright burner the Type R is, and that’s just fine.

(Read More…)

By on September 20, 2017

Land Rover LR2

Utility vehicles have been a hot ticket personal transport item for some time, much to the delight of OEMs and their shareholders. As the definition around what should qualify as “utility” became more and more blurred during this (presently, CUV) craze,  inevitably some entries missed the mark and floundered. Perhaps a redesign was in the cards if the manufacturer felt confident, or a product cancellation if it didn’t.

Either way, recent examples of bad utility vehicles are our subject today. What’s your pick for the worst utility vehicle of the past decade?

(Read More…)

By on September 19, 2017

2018 Honda Accord Ohio assembly plant - Image: HondaAmerican Honda’s vice president for sales, Ray Mikiciuk, won’t provide a firm forecast for sales of the 10th-generation Honda Accord. But as far as next year goes, “I don’t expect to sell fewer Accords in 2018 with this great new product,” Mikiciuk tells CNBC.

With belief in the company’s new product, Honda has invested $267 million into its Marysville, Ohio, plant where the Accord, Acura TLX, and Acura ILX are assembled. With 300 additional employees, American Honda is following the lead of Toyota’s all-new 2018 Camry.

At the Camry’s Georgetown, Kentucky, assembly plant, production of the new TNGA-based Camry required Toyota to build up its employee count to the highest level ever. That’s certainly not the way rivals are approaching America’s midsize segment. You’ll recall that General Motors cut Chevrolet Malibu production — and consequently, jobs — in Kansas City earlier this summer. Prior to the new Camry’s launch this summer, the Malibu was the freshest midsize sedan on the block, yet Malibu sales have plunged by more than a fifth in 2017.

Ohio production of the 2018 Honda Accord began yesterday, September 18th. But what do Honda’s vague sales forecasts mean in the broader American midsize segment?

More market share. (Read More…)

By on September 12, 2017

Honda Urban EV Concept unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show - Image: Honda UK“This is not some vision of the distant future,” Honda CEO Takahiro Hachigo says of the Honda Urban EV Concept that debuts at the Frankfurt Motor Show. “A production version of this car will be here in Europe in 2019.”

Be a skeptic if you like. Honda’s recent history is full of pie-in-the-sky small car concepts that never came to production fruition: Remix, Step Bus, IMAS, Puyo, P-Nut, Gear. But there are also Honda concepts that ended up in the real world. The Model X Concept became the Element, the CR-Z Concept became the CR-Z, the SUT Concept arrived as the Ridgeline.

Honda has every intention to introduce the delightfully retro-modern Urban EV, albeit most assuredly without suicide doors, gigantic wheels, a front bench, or the unusually minimalistic interior. Yet if Honda can maintain the silhouette, a blend of early Civic and Mk1 Golf GTI, we’ll begin to wonder whether Honda’s lost decade – in which mistakes were made and costs were cut — is about to produce evidence of a reinvigorated Honda. (Read More…)

By on September 8, 2017

Adam Levine and James Valentine with Honda Civic

While Honda has a long and storied automotive history, it has lost much of its luster in recent years. We won’t fault the Accord, as many of us have deemed it miraculous, nor the CR-V, which continues to gain sales momentum as the rest of the industry slows. But something definitely went wrong.

Pinpointing the first misstep is difficult, however. It might have been that we became accustomed to decades of repeated success, followed by a series of middling models that weren’t bad but showcased limited progression in the new millennium — past Civics being a prime example. Maybe it started with the sudden influx of recalls, kicked off by a reputation-crippling 11 million units equipped with Takata’s infamous and extremely dangerous airbags. Perhaps it was when Honda thought it would be a good idea to replace a simple volume knob with a touch-sensitive slider or its untenable partnership with Maroon 5 and Nick Cannon in 2013.

We could speculate endlessly. But the point is that Honda knows it screwed up somewhere along the line and has become trapped by a more stifling version of the methodology that once made it great. It’s now seeking a way out.  (Read More…)

By on September 6, 2017

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Let me start this review off with a promise: I will try to avoid any “VTEC kicked in, yo” jokes.

That’s in part because the 2017 Honda Civic Type R doesn’t exhibit the behavior of past VTEC engines that inspired the jokes, but mainly because the meme is played out.

Full disclosure: Honda provided us with travel to the Seattle area, and provided us with airfare, food, and lodging. They even used a seaplane to get us from Seattle to the hotel and fed us dinner on a small cruise ship. We got some track time in the Type R in addition to on-road drives. Also, they gave us seat time in go-karts, in which I spun out a lot. They left us with a scale-model Type R which will likely never leave its box. If it does, I will use it for living-room races against a scale-model Ford Focus ST I have from a previous gig, if I ever take that one out of its box.
(Read More…)

By on August 31, 2017

2017 Honda NSX Red - Image: HondaIt’s early days for the second-generation Acura NSX, known in most global markets as the Honda NSX. After a decade-long hiatus, the Ohio-built NSX only returned in the summer of 2016.

Yet 577 copies of the NSX have been sold in America during the supercar’s first 14 months. In the much smaller and less supercar-friendly Canadian market, 82 copies of the Acura NSX have been sold since July 2016, including 29 in the last two months.

And in Australia? Down Under, sales of the Acura Honda NSX have been less, shall we say, numerous. So far, Honda Australia has reported… carry the one, find the inverse sine, if c is equal to a+b… a grand total of two NSX sales.

Two. Dos. Zwei. Ni. 

The reasons are obvious. (Read More…)

By on August 30, 2017

Minivan collage - Sienna Odyssey Pacifiica - Images: FCA/Honda/ToyotaIt was quicker, quieter, more fuel efficient, and less expensive, but the all-new 2018 Honda Odyssey failed to win its first Car and Driver minivan comparison test.

The fifth-gen Odyssey is also the newest minivan redesign. The Toyota Sienna was updated for 2017 with a new powertrain but remains in large part the same minivan that arrived for the 2011 model year. The first Chrysler Pacifica minivan — aka the second Chrysler Pacifica — has been on sale for nearly a year and a half. The Kia Sedona, having lost its previous Car and Driver comparison test, was not deemed eligible for the test. Likewise, the Dodge Grand Caravan, while currently America’s top-selling minivan, was rendered ineligible by past performance.

With only three minivans in the test, all upper-crust examples of their specific nameplates, each contender finished on the platform. But lofty expectations for the all-new Odyssey failed to come to fruition, and the segment progenitor’s party trick produced a solid victory.

Stow’N’Go isn’t the only differentiator, however. (Read More…)

By on August 28, 2017

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If you haven’t been within shouting distance of me in the last 12 months, or if you don’t live somewhere that has the internet, you might not be aware that I was the winner of the Unlimited class in the Sports Car Club of America’s inaugural Targa Southland event last year. Targa, along with Track Night in America, is part of the SCCA’s new Experiential program, which focuses not only on bringing new types of experiences to existing members, but also on attracting new members to motorsports.

Granted, I had a bit of an advantage, what with having a pre-production Acura NSX and all, and having the world’s best autocrosser, Jadrice Toussaint, as my co-driver for the cone-dodging events. But still, at the end of the event, I went home with the trophy, and if you ask any racer — any real racer — they’ll tell you that winning’s winning.

In fact, we had such a good time driving all over the Southeast last year that I was among the first to sign up for this year’s Targa when registration opened. Of course, I knew I couldn’t get the NSX again, but thanks to my friends at Honda, I had another secret weapon scheduled to make its way across the country to Charlotte (where Targa Southland 2017 would begin). Yes, I would be the first person to have the opportunity to win a national SCCA trophy in the 2017 Honda Civic Type R.

(Read More…)

By on August 23, 2017

2017 Acura CDX - Image: Acura ChinaThe long-established U.S. auto industry is essentially impossible to turn on its head. An automaker can’t simply show up with a new brand or a new philosophy or new design tactics and instantly upset the apple cart.

Just as you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, it’s difficult to teach an old automobile market to adopt new buying habits. Market share swings are incremental. Progress is slow. At Acura, for example, facelifts of the TLX and RLX sedans and improved availability of the MDX (after moving some production to Ohio) will likely not combine to increase the brand’s market share by even one-tenth of one percent.

Given the difficulties faced by Acura in America — sales have fallen by more than a quarter since 2005 — Honda’s premium brand is turning its gaze to a larger, fresher, less established market. A market where buying habits are not cemented, where market share is still up for grabs, where market-specific vehicles are the norm.

And if Acura can soon succeed in China, where the brand has high hopes for the near-term, then Acura stands a much better chance of succeeding in America. (Read More…)

By on August 21, 2017

2003 Honda Civic GX in California wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
The compressed natural gas-burning Honda Civic GX first appeared in the United States in 1998, for sale to fleet buyers, but individuals in California were able to buy Civic GXs soon after that. In spite of its extremely clean tailpipe emissions, few Californians opted to endure the hassle of trying to refuel the GX, and so these cars are very rare sights in the Golden State.

Here’s a crashed example I spotted a few weeks ago in a San Francisco Bay Area self-service wrecking yard. (Read More…)

By on August 18, 2017

Karen Radley Acura screenshot - Image: Karen Radley Acura websiteIt made perfect sense. In 2009, when Hyundai wanted customers to view its new Genesis luxury sedan as a premium bit of kit, Hyundai did not compare the Genesis to the Sonata. In an early marketing campaign, Hyundai’s voiceover said the Genesis is “as spacious as a Mercedes-Benz S-Class, yet priced like a C-Class.”

When the time came to market the Genesis R-Spec, Hyundai reached way upmarket to compare 0-60 mph times with the Porsche Panamera. Hyundai wasn’t under the mistaken impression that the Genesis would steal thousands of sales from $100,000 Benzes and Porsches. But Hyundai was crafting an image. Hyundai didn’t require you to believe that the Genesis was a viable S-Class alternative — the company just wanted you to understand that this is premium-oriented S-Class-sized sedan at a C-Class-like price.

Long before the Hyundai Genesis tried to cultivate a premium persona, Acura was failing to keep up with Lexus in the quest to be viewed as a true luxury rival for the German establishment. It’s still a problem. So Acura dealers are now just trying to make sure you understand that the Acura TLX is better than the Audi A4 Lexus ES Infiniti Q50 2018 Honda Accord. (Read More…)

By on August 16, 2017

2017 Honda Civic hatchback - Image: Honda

The lifespan of an average car-model usually lasts a half-decade before the automaker shells out for a full redesign, unless it’s a Nissan Frontier or Lincoln Navigator. That’s more or less the rule at Honda when it comes to the top-selling compact car in North America, the Civic.

While the eighth-generation Civic soldiered on for a lengthy six years, Honda sold the preceding seventh, sixth, fifth, and fourth versions of the model for either four or five years. Thanks to a boring design and lackluster reviews, the automaker spirited the ninth-gen model off of dealer lots after just four years, but not before adding extra content and style via an emergency 2013 model year refresh.

We’re now hearing the current generation — larger than ever before, radically redesigned for 2016, and a sales leader in a shrinking segment — won’t see a full redesign until the 2022 model year. That’s a six-year stretch. A stretch where automakers will be scrambling to hold on to compact-car market share in a land flush with small crossovers. (Read More…)

By on August 15, 2017

2018 Honda Accord Touring - Image: HondaThe Honda Accord is by no means a younger sibling, operating as the senior member of American Honda’s fleet.

More specifically, the 2018 Honda Accord will never be viewed as the little brother in the American Honda family, not with these substantial dimensions and MSRPs that reach deep into the $30Ks.

But the 10th-generation Accord is still a Honda. Just a Honda. Merely a Honda. Only a Honda. And while you might expect Honda to enjoy technological hand-me-downs from the automaker’s upmarket Acura brand, that’s not the way it works. Not when it comes to the Accord.

As a result, we’ll wait and see which hand-me-ups appear on the next all-new Acura, the third-generation 2019 Acura RDX. (Read More…)

By on August 14, 2017

2018 Honda Odyssey Touring – Image: © Timothy CainIn the 2016 calendar year, the Honda Odyssey was Canada’s 41st-best-selling vehicle.

In the first half of 2017, as the fourth-generation Odyssey’s tenure came to an end, the Honda van plunged 11 positions to 52nd. Odyssey sales were down 18 percent, year-over-year. Odyssey volume was on track to fall to a five-year low. Hashtag minivans dead.

Then, descending from the top of Mount Fuji with a Soichiro-shaped halo, hosting enough seats for the entire Odyssey SCCA pit crew, declaring 30 more horses than the original Acura NSX, equipped with enough gears in its transmission for 2.5 copies of the Toyota Yaris, and speaking with just enough of an Alabama twang to be authentically North Americanized, the 2018 Honda Odyssey appeared.

Canadian sales of the Honda Odyssey consequently rose to the highest level in 15 years. And so shall it ever be. (Read More…)

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