The Truth About Cars » Honda http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 28 May 2015 20:00:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 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 » Honda http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Piston Slap: Minivan or SUV to Take the “A” Liner? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/piston-slap-10/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/piston-slap-10/#comments Mon, 25 May 2015 11:30:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1074810   Clark writes: Sajeev, We plan on buying a hard-side folding camper (a.k.a. an Aliner) with a dry weight of about 2,100 lbs. Which minivan or SUV would you recommend? Sajeev answers: I would be remiss if I didn’t admit I kinda want a pop-up camper to tow behind my Ranger. Kinda the same thing…sorta. Anyway, if […]

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Get to where you’re goin’ in a hurry. (photo courtesy: roamingtimes.com)

Clark writes:

Sajeev,

We plan on buying a hard-side folding camper (a.k.a. an Aliner) with a dry weight of about 2,100 lbs. Which minivan or SUV would you recommend?

Sajeev answers:

I would be remiss if I didn’t admit I kinda want a pop-up camper to tow behind my Ranger. Kinda the same thing…sorta.

Anyway, if you stick with an Aliner and don’t totally overload both the trailer and exceed the tow rig’s GVWR, almost any late-model V6 powered CUV or minivan is fine. I’d go vanning, for practicality and stretch out comfort; ideal for a small family, a couple, or just one person with mucho outdoor stuff. And their boxy shape (usually) punches a larger hole in the air for the trailer to “rest” inside.

Consider these minivan parameters, in no particular order:

  1. The option for a large, standalone, transmission cooler. And maybe the same for power steering. Or, as previously discussed, a super trick bolt-in setup in the aftermarket. Or perhaps give up and get the largest universal-fitting tranny cooler you can slap in. The latter could be the best and most affordable alternative.
  2. Size of brake discs and, to a lesser extent, any variance in caliper surface area between manufacturers. While I’m not holding my breath for a minivan with 4-piston front calipers, that would be sweet.
  3. Towing Capacity: checking the manufacturer websites, Chrysler wins the minivan towing race for MY 2015. Not only does it have available trailer sway control, there’s an extra 100 lbs of tow rating beyond every 3,500 pound rated minivan. But is that extra rated 100 lbs a tangible improvement?
    1. Another option: The Nissan Quest offers the same 3,500 pound towing capacity, but is the CVT gearbox is a good or bad thing? Good: CVTs work so well to put down power with efficiency, no steps for downshifting must be nice with the extra demands from towing. Bad: well, who here actually knows people who tow with CVT gearboxes over long periods of time?
  4. Tires: with all that load, finding the van with the most tow-worthy rubber is also important. Or switch to LT tires.
  5. Ease of adding aftermarket camping accessories: if you want it, can you get it for non-Chrysler minivans?
  6. U-body with LS4-FTW. Obviously, the rightest of the most righteous answers, if not the easiest to acquire. How sad for everyone!

What say you, Best and Brightest?

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Forget 2016: Is Now The Time To Buy A 2015 Honda Pilot? Many Thousands Say It Is http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/forget-2016-now-time-buy-2015-honda-pilot-many-thousands-say/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/forget-2016-now-time-buy-2015-honda-pilot-many-thousands-say/#comments Fri, 22 May 2015 12:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1071794 After U.S. sales of the Honda Pilot soared to a seven-year high in calendar year 2013, the fifth year for the second-generation Pilot, sales predictably declined 14% last year. Even in a booming SUV/CUV market, the Pilot was old and boxy; the Toyota Highlander was new and, well, less boxy. Yet over the final two […]

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2014 Honda Pilot

After U.S. sales of the Honda Pilot soared to a seven-year high in calendar year 2013, the fifth year for the second-generation Pilot, sales predictably declined 14% last year. Even in a booming SUV/CUV market, the Pilot was old and boxy; the Toyota Highlander was new and, well, less boxy.

Yet over the final two months of 2014 and the first four months of 2015, Pilot volume has shot through the roof. During this six-month span, U.S. sales of the outgoing Pilot have improved by 44%, a gain of nearly 21,000 sales, year-over-year.

You know why, of course. Deals on the Pilot finally became wonderfully attractive. Right now, for example, just as Honda finally allows publications to render their verdict following Kentucky test drives from weeks ago, American Honda is advertising lease deals on the Pilot SE AWD with payments of $289 over three years with $2,899 due at signing.

As Pilot inventory dwindles – there are fewer than 9,000 in stock at U.S. dealers according to Cars.com for a vehicle which is routinely selling more than 11,000 copies per month – dealers are offering significantly more than $5,000 off 2015 Pilots. A TrueCar Pricing Trend example suggests the average price paid for a Pilot fell by 9% over the last five months.

2016 Honda Pilot Elite

The new Pilot will be more efficient, safer, arguably more attractive, and more spacious (particularly behind the second row) but the base price for the 2016 model will only be $125 higher than it was in 2015. That slight MSRP differential ignores the out-the-door price paid for a remaining 2015 model and the no-incentives price of the brand spanking new Pilot that’ll be roaming parking lots near you very shortly.

So is now the time to buy a 2015 Honda Pilot, seven years after its launch, with crash test results like this, AWD city fuel economy of 17 mpg rather than 19, and a cargo area shaped like this rather than this?

Over the last four months, 48,103 U.S. buyers have answered with a resounding, “Yes,” to that question, compared with 30,796 at this time last year.

Healthy Pilot sales have been vital for American Honda this year, as the Accord, Civic, Crosstour, CR-Z, Insight, Odyssey, and Ridgeline have all posted notable sales decreases. Excluding the CR-V (America’s best-selling utility vehicle) and the Pilot, Honda brand sales are down 7%, a 20,000-unit loss.

Lineup fully intact, Honda sales are up 1% through the first four months of 2015.

Indeed, the numbers for the outgoing Pilot may be so strong that, one year down the road, what should turn out to be generally healthy sales for the forthcoming third-gen Pilot may appear weak in comparison. That’s one sign of an aggressive clear-out.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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Honda Continues Shift Toward SUVs, Crossovers With 2016 Pilot Production http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/honda-continues-shift-toward-suvs-crossovers-with-2016-pilot-production/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/honda-continues-shift-toward-suvs-crossovers-with-2016-pilot-production/#comments Thu, 21 May 2015 20:00:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1072322 With the 2016 Pilot leaving the assembly line starting Thursday, Honda continues its progress toward more SUVs and crossovers over passenger cars. According to American Honda sales boss John Mendel, 49 percent of the automaker’s U.S. production consists of SUVs and crossovers, and could go further depending on the growth rates between passenger car and […]

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2016 Honda Pilot Elite

With the 2016 Pilot leaving the assembly line starting Thursday, Honda continues its progress toward more SUVs and crossovers over passenger cars.

According to American Honda sales boss John Mendel, 49 percent of the automaker’s U.S. production consists of SUVs and crossovers, and could go further depending on the growth rates between passenger car and light-duty truck markets, The Detroit Bureau reports.

The increase is being aided by Honda’s Lincoln, Ala. factory, where the Pilot, Odyssey and Acura MDX are assembled. The facility is expected to produce 120,000 Pilots annually once production is at full bore, and will begin production of the second-gen Ridgeline in the near future. Mendel says the factory has “some upside potential” as more new product and capacity comes online.

In addition, Honda’s new plant in Celaya, Mexico is helping the automaker enter the U.S. subcompact crossover market with the introduction of the HR-V, whose competitors include the Jeep Renegade and Chevrolet Trax.

Mendel says Honda is looking for more opportunities to expand, though the search for so-called “white space” may diminish over time, prompting the automaker to seek better fortunes over “an incremental 5,000 units of sales.”

[Photo credit: Honda]

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Crapwagon Outtake: 1988 Honda CRX Si http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/crapwagon-outtake-1988-honda-crx-si/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/crapwagon-outtake-1988-honda-crx-si/#comments Thu, 21 May 2015 12:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1071858 I needed a car. Any car. My dad and I were limping my dying ’85 Nissan Maxima around town to multiple car dealers, looking for an appropriate replacement. I was 19, I think, and since I commuted thirty miles a day to college (when I went to class) I needed reliable, efficient transport. A second-generation […]

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1988 Honda CRX

I needed a car. Any car. My dad and I were limping my dying ’85 Nissan Maxima around town to multiple car dealers, looking for an appropriate replacement. I was 19, I think, and since I commuted thirty miles a day to college (when I went to class) I needed reliable, efficient transport.

A second-generation CRX, much like this one, caught my eye and we climbed in. One problem arose, however, as both my dad and I were well north of 300 pounds each, and the stock springs were sagging a bit. Oh, and the streets near the dealer had rough, rutted cobblestones. We were lucky to return with an intact exhaust, and I reluctantly moved on to a roomier Accord coupe.

This 1988 Honda CRX Si looks nearly showroom fresh, especially to a guy from the salt-encrusted Midwest – those rear wheel wells would be perforated up here. Black on black looks quite good, though the supposedly-cursed Y-49 Barbados Yellow is my preferred shade. Most of these have seen the darkest aisles of Pep Boys, so an unmodified car is refreshing.

$6,800 seems steep for a twenty-seven year old Honda, but the CRX is a truly special car, and we may see the really good ones fetch serious money someday soon.

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QOTD: Which Manufacturer Has Most Lost Its Way? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/qotd-which-manufacturer-has-most-lost-its-way/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/qotd-which-manufacturer-has-most-lost-its-way/#comments Thu, 21 May 2015 11:00:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1071938 If someone mentions the name Buick, a certain image is conjured: comfortable, plush, American motoring just on the blue-collar side of luxury. Buicks used to be the working man’s Cadillac, an association doctors leveraged when making house calls. After all, showing up in a Cadillac would really show the patient how much you were about to […]

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2015 Buick Encore

If someone mentions the name Buick, a certain image is conjured: comfortable, plush, American motoring just on the blue-collar side of luxury. Buicks used to be the working man’s Cadillac, an association doctors leveraged when making house calls. After all, showing up in a Cadillac would really show the patient how much you were about to screw them upon leaving the bill on the nightstand.

But, in more recent times, Buick has become more of a Chevrolet+. Taut suspensions, journo brown interiors and lukewarm engine choices. Oh, and there’s the Encore, a cute ute powered by one of the roughest, smallest engines you can buy in North America. What gives?

Before people start thinking I’m on a General Motors focused tirade, there are a number of other marques out there as well that have seemingly “lost their way.”

Honda, for instance, used to be a technical powerhouse of gung-ho engineers turning efficiency into fun. Instead, we are given the CR-Z to chew on for years instead of a properly fun hatchback to act as the spiritual successor to the CRX.

Suzuki was another company that lost its appeal with customers as they chased larger and larger models. Sure, the Grand Vitara wasn’t a bad truck and the driving dynamics embodied by the Kizashi were fairly spot on. But, when the Samurai and Sidekick died, Suzuki abandoned the segment they were best known for: rough, tumble, pure off-roaders that were dead simple to own and operate.

Which manufacturer do you think has most lost its way?

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It’s Time To End The Non-Sporty Coupe http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/its-time-to-end-the-non-sporty-coupe/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/its-time-to-end-the-non-sporty-coupe/#comments Wed, 20 May 2015 12:12:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1071410 Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to bring an end to an automotive segment that simply needs to die: the non-sporty coupe. For those of you who aren’t sure what I mean when I say “non sporty coupe,” allow me to describe the two types of coupes that currently exist today. One is the sporty coupe. […]

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2015 Honda Civic

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to bring an end to an automotive segment that simply needs to die: the non-sporty coupe.

For those of you who aren’t sure what I mean when I say “non sporty coupe,” allow me to describe the two types of coupes that currently exist today. One is the sporty coupe. This is a car with sleek styling, and a cool interior, and a lot of power, and some modicum of performance suspension, or performance brakes, or something performancey, like a faux carbon fiber door panel.

Examples of the sporty coupe include the Porsche 911, the Ford Mustang, the Subaru BRZ, and – if you ask the Germans – the BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe, though the rest of us just consider that to be an overpriced sedan.

And then you have the other type of coupe. The non-sporty coupe. This is a car that was a sedan, until some auto industry geniuses got ahold of it and decided they could create an entirely new segment by just throwing on a new, two-door body and marketing it as “sporty.” Examples include the Honda Civic, the Honda Accord, and, well, that’s about it.

2015 Honda Accord EX-L V-6 Coupe

There’s a reason those are the only options: because everyone else has gotten out of this segment. For years, we had the Toyota Camry coupe, later called the Camry Solara. It’s gone. The Chevy Monte Carlo. It’s gone. The Chevy Cobalt coupe, the Chevy Cavalier Coupe, the Ford Tempo coupe, the Ford Focus coupe (look it up!), the Dodge Avenger, the Chrysler Sebring coupe. Gone, gone, gone, gone, gone. All gone. The Nissan Altima Coupe. Gone. All because this segment is a massive dud; the automotive equivalent of Kevin Costner’s Waterworld.

So why is Honda still in it?

My theory is Honda has abandoned every other sporty car they’ve ever had – from the NSX and the S2000 on down to the CR-Z – so they feel like they have to offer some piece of “performance” somewhere in their lineup. So they offer the Civic in sedan and coupe varieties, even though virtually everyone else has realized the actual place to be, when it comes to compact cars, is sedans and hatchbacks.

Interestingly, it seems like Honda still doesn’t have the hatchback memo. At this year’s New York Auto Show, Honda displayed a bright green Civic intended to preview what’s to come for the compact car’s next generation. So what body style did it use? The highly popular sedan model, which accounts for more than 80 percent of all sales? A hatchback to let us know they’re finally going to take on the Ford Focus, the Mazda3, the Kia Soul, and the Volkswagen Golf?

No: they showed off a Civic Coupe, suggesting they plan to continue the non-sporty coupe even after everyone else has jumped ship.

It’s the same situation with the Accord. Every time there’s an Accord redesign, I expect Honda to finally announce that they’re doing away with the Accord Coupe. And every time there’s an Accord redesign, Honda instead surprises me and brings it back for another round.

The question I have for people who buy these cars is: WHY?????

If you really examine the Civic Coupe and the Accord Coupe, what you’ll find is that both models are really just less practical versions of the sedans. Neither one is a sports car. Neither one offers especially sleek styling. In fact, if you ask me, the Civic Coupe is actually a bit ungainly in its current form, in the sense that it appears, at any moment, that it may be blown over by a strong gust of wind.

So basically, the “non sporty coupe” is just a sedan with less practicality. Same Accord styling. Same Accord engines. Same Accord equipment, and platform, and suspension, and brakes. The only difference: in the regular Accord, you can get out of the back seat without making the front passenger get up and exit the vehicle first.

I’ve talked to a few people who own these vehicles, and I’ve come to learn they actually believe these are sports cars. “Well,” they say. “I couldn’t afford a 370Z. So I decided to get an Accord Coupe.” As if the two are equals. This would be like saying that you couldn’t afford a place overlooking Central Park, so you instead decided to get a studio apartment in downtown Newark.

So I guess the simple truth here is that Honda is going to continue to make these things as long as people keep buying them. But as the market shrinks, and as people realize they’d really rather have a sedan, and as the tens of buyers disaffected by the cancellation of the Chevy Cobalt coupe move on to something else, I hope Honda wises up and gives us hatchbacks instead. Because the days of the non-sporty coupe are coming to an end.

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While You Were Sleeping: 2016 Honda Pilot Reviews, Toyota HiLux Leaks (Again) and McLaren 540C Not Coming to U.S. http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/while-you-were-sleeping-2016-honda-pilot-reviews-toyota-hilux-leaks-again-and-mclaren-540c-not-coming-to-u-s/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/while-you-were-sleeping-2016-honda-pilot-reviews-toyota-hilux-leaks-again-and-mclaren-540c-not-coming-to-u-s/#comments Wed, 20 May 2015 11:50:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1071370 The first reviews are in for the 2016 Honda Pilot as the Japanese automaker lifts their embargo. Honda’s new SUV will be the most expensive model ever sold in the U.S. 2016 Honda Pilot Review (AutoGuide) Honda turns their top line SUV from utilitarian family box to near-luxury, sleek family box. Updated Pilot to become Honda’s priciest U.S. […]

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2016 Honda Pilot Elite

The first reviews are in for the 2016 Honda Pilot as the Japanese automaker lifts their embargo. Honda’s new SUV will be the most expensive model ever sold in the U.S.

 

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While You Were Sleeping: Chevrolet Sub-Camaro, Toyota/Honda Best Supplier Customers and Aston Martin’s Crossover http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/sleeping-chevrolet-sub-camaro-toyotahonda-best-supplier-customers-aston-martins-crossover/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/sleeping-chevrolet-sub-camaro-toyotahonda-best-supplier-customers-aston-martins-crossover/#comments Mon, 18 May 2015 08:59:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1070074 As I fly down to Nashville to drive Nissan’s latest iteration of their 4DSC (“four-door sports car”) – the Maxima – we will have all the articles you expect on a Monday. Here’s what happened over the weekend. Aston Martin likely to shun Mercedes’ platform for DBX crossover (Automotive News) It seems Aston Martin won’t […]

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2016 Nissan Maxima

As I fly down to Nashville to drive Nissan’s latest iteration of their 4DSC (“four-door sports car”) – the Maxima – we will have all the articles you expect on a Monday.

Here’s what happened over the weekend.

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While You Were Sleeping: Mercedes-Benz A-Class Coupe, Monteverdi Sierra and More Takata Recalls http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/while-you-were-sleeping-mercedes-benz-a-class-coupe-monteverdi-sierra-and-more-takata-recalls/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/while-you-were-sleeping-mercedes-benz-a-class-coupe-monteverdi-sierra-and-more-takata-recalls/#comments Fri, 15 May 2015 11:07:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1068850 What will the next Mercedes-Benz A-Class look like? Theophilus Chin gives his take on a coupe version with the render above. Mercedes-Benz A-Class coupé (Theophilus Chin) Based on a report from Autocar in late April, Theo gives his own take on a TT fighter from Stuttgart. Random Car Review: The Monteverdi Sierra – Putting A […]

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Mercedes-Benz A-Class Render

What will the next Mercedes-Benz A-Class look like? Theophilus Chin gives his take on a coupe version with the render above.

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While You Were Sleeping: The K-Car Alphabet, Oil Prices Falling and Belarus Has a New Parade Car http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/sleeping-k-car-alphabet-oil-prices-falling-belarus-new-parade-car/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/sleeping-k-car-alphabet-oil-prices-falling-belarus-new-parade-car/#comments Mon, 11 May 2015 10:53:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1065586 Chrysler has built a lot of cars atop the K platform. BangShift has put together a handy guide to figure them all out. Is danger lurking in junkyards? (Automotive News) “American Honda estimates that more than 24,000 recalled airbag modules made by Takata are scattered among thousands of salvage yards and auto recyclers across the country.” Oil […]

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12 - 1986 Dodge Aries Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin

Chrysler has built a lot of cars atop the K platform. BangShift has put together a handy guide to figure them all out.

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While You Were Sleeping: Jeep GC Pickup Render, Brilliance V3 Debut and Jobs, Jobs, Jobs (Or a Lack Thereof) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/sleeping-jeep-gc-pickup-render-brilliance-v3-debut-jobs-jobs-jobs-lack-thereof/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/sleeping-jeep-gc-pickup-render-brilliance-v3-debut-jobs-jobs-jobs-lack-thereof/#comments Fri, 08 May 2015 10:11:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1064017 As trucks ride a heat wave of interest from consumers, I look at this Grand Cherokee render and think, “That’ll do.” Jeep Trailhawk (Theophilus Chin) Self-titled Automotive Manipulator Theophilus Chin has put together a compelling image of a Jeep Grand Cherokee pickup. Exclusive: Honda Australia pensions off Civic diesel (GoAuto) As car enthusiasts scream for diesel […]

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Jeep Trailhawk Truck Render

As trucks ride a heat wave of interest from consumers, I look at this Grand Cherokee render and think, “That’ll do.”

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Mockup Of 2016 Honda Civic Spec Sheets Fools Autoblog http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/mockup-2016-honda-civic-spec-sheets-fools-autoblog/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/mockup-2016-honda-civic-spec-sheets-fools-autoblog/#comments Thu, 07 May 2015 14:12:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1063554 [UPDATE: Autoblog owned up to its mistake with the following: “Alright, we made a mistake. Turns out this “leak” was actually just a mockup done by a CivicX forum member, and we totally went along with it. Sorry, folks. You’ll have to wait a little longer for your hot Civic pricing news.” – CA] Earlier […]

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2015 Honda Civic Concept

[UPDATE: Autoblog owned up to its mistake with the following:Alright, we made a mistake. Turns out this “leak” was actually just a mockup done by a CivicX forum member, and we totally went along with it. Sorry, folks. You’ll have to wait a little longer for your hot Civic pricing news.” – CA]

Earlier this morning, Autoblog published a leak regarding the pricing of the 2016 Honda Civic. In its rush to be first, however, it forgot to confirm.

The specs sheets were originally pulled from a CivicX forum around speculation of the upcoming compact’s pricing and other features. Those sheets were a mockup from member RobbJK88, a graphic designer who wrote the following about them:

I just did this for fun, i was bored at work. It’s in no way official, just speculation based on what we know about the civic already, the current civic, and what honda has mentioned in various interviews. I based most of the standard equipment listed on the features for the current civic while moving a few things around based on Honda’s promises of more standard equipment and such. Any speculation on what we might see, or would like to see that i may have missed?

RobbJK88 adds that he pulled the specs from from the Civic models currently listed on Honda’s website, then tweaked them and the prices to match up with speculation.

[Photo credit: Honda]

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This Six-Wheeled Williams FW07D Never Turned A Single F1 Lap in Anger http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/six-wheeled-williams-f1-fw07d-never-turned-single-racing-lap-anger/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/six-wheeled-williams-f1-fw07d-never-turned-single-racing-lap-anger/#comments Mon, 04 May 2015 18:53:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1061050 The Tyrrell P34 wasn’t Formula 1’s only car to sport six wheels. This six-wheeled Williams-Cosworth FW07D was developed by the team in Grove as a bit of aerodynamic trickery, but sported its extra axle behind the driver instead of in front. Based on the ground effect FW07 chassis from 1979, the six-wheeled single-seater used six front […]

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Williams-Cosworth FW07D

The Tyrrell P34 wasn’t Formula 1’s only car to sport six wheels. This six-wheeled Williams-Cosworth FW07D was developed by the team in Grove as a bit of aerodynamic trickery, but sported its extra axle behind the driver instead of in front.

Based on the ground effect FW07 chassis from 1979, the six-wheeled single-seater used six front wheels and tires as a way to the reduce frontal area – and drag – in 1981. It was all an elaborate plan to compensate for a lack of power from their Cosworth DFV, then producing a paltry 500 horses.

“We were all intrigued to see if we could balance a car that had such a large contact patch at the rear and we quickly discovered that we could. I remember (test driver) Jonathan Palmer telling me that he couldn’t really tell that there were four wheels at the back, although the traction out of slow corners was phenomenal,” Patrick Head, then technical director at Williams, told Auto123.

Even though the resulting FW08B, another six-wheeler based on a four-wheeler chassis, was “bloody heavy” according to Head, the weight issue wasn’t what buried the idea.

“In the end, the six-wheeler was banned after someone in a FOCA meeting said it would drive up costs and cause chaos during pit stops. The regulations were changed to say a car could only have four wheels, of which only two could be driven.”

The resulting four-wheeled, Honda-powered FW09 (in B-spec) went on to win only single race in 1984 at the hands of Keke Rosberg, father of current F1 pilot Nico.

[Photo: Williams]

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Honda Civic Hatch “Near Identical” To NY Coupe Concept, Will Get Hybrid http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/honda-civic-hatch-near-identical-ny-coupe-concept-will-get-hybrid/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/honda-civic-hatch-near-identical-ny-coupe-concept-will-get-hybrid/#comments Fri, 01 May 2015 10:59:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1058010 If a report from Britain’s AutoExpress is to be believed, the front clip of the next-generation Honda Civic hatchback – due to arrive in North America for the first time since 2000 (in non-Si form) – will look “near identical” to the Civic Coupe concept revealed in New York. Head of Honda UK, Philip Crossman, […]

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Civic Concept

If a report from Britain’s AutoExpress is to be believed, the front clip of the next-generation Honda Civic hatchback – due to arrive in North America for the first time since 2000 (in non-Si form) – will look “near identical” to the Civic Coupe concept revealed in New York.

Head of Honda UK, Philip Crossman, told the UK outlet the next Civic hatchback will only differ from the coupe at the rear third of the car and all sheetmetal fore of that will be the same. In addition to a coupe, sedan, and hatchback, AutoExpress also posits a new Tourer model will likely be available, though we can’t see this version of the Civic coming to our shores.

The Civic will ride on a common architecture for both European and North American models. Under hood will be a brand new drivetrain with a hybrid version available later.

“We’ll come back with a class-leading hybrid powertrain in the next five years,” said Crossman, “and it’s likely to make as much impact as the VTEC valve system.”

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2016 Honda HR-V Arriving May 15, Starting At $19,115 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/2016-honda-hr-v-arriving-may-15-starting-19115/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/2016-honda-hr-v-arriving-may-15-starting-19115/#comments Thu, 30 Apr 2015 18:00:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1057050 The 2016 Honda HR-V is set to hit showrooms May 15 with a beginning base price of $19,115. Three trims will be available when the five-passenger compact crossover goes on sale – LX, EX and EX-L Navi – with price of admission beginning at $19,115 for the base LX model, $21,165 for the base EX, […]

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2016_HR_V_115

The 2016 Honda HR-V is set to hit showrooms May 15 with a beginning base price of $19,115.

Three trims will be available when the five-passenger compact crossover goes on sale – LX, EX and EX-L Navi – with price of admission beginning at $19,115 for the base LX model, $21,165 for the base EX, and $24,590 for the base EX-L Navi. Front- and all-wheel drive are available, though the latter only comes with a CVT. A six-speed manual directs power to the front corners alongside the optional CVT.

Power is generated by a 1.8-liter SOHC 16-valve i-VTEC four, creating 141 horsepower and 127 lb-ft of torque. Fully independent front and torsion-bar rear, electric power steering, and power-assisted anti-lock braking keep the crossover’s 17-inch alloys mounted on all-season tires in check.

Interior volume is split between 100.1 cubic feet of occupant space and up to 58.8 cubic feet of cargo room with help from a center-mounted fuel tank and configurable second-row seating. Fuel economy varies between 25/34/28 mpg with the LX and EX FWD models with manual, and 28/35/31 mpg with the LX, EX and EX-L Navi FWD models with CVT.

Other available features include: Bluetooth; one-touch turn signals; 7-inch touchscreen; rear privacy glass; hill-start assist; dual-stage, multiple-threshold front airbags; Honda LaneWatch; leather seating and trim; sat nav; paddle shifters for CVT models; and push-button electric parking brake.

[Photo credit: Honda]

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Ask Jack: CRX No Longer In Effect? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/ask-jack-crx-no-longer-effect/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/ask-jack-crx-no-longer-effect/#comments Tue, 28 Apr 2015 12:00:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1053625 It’s the return of Ask Jack, one of my your favorite sections! You can now ask me questions about nearly anything, as long as there’s a kinda-sorta automotive aspect to it. Kinda-sorta. In the meantime, check out today’s question: Hey Jack, I’m in a bit of a dilemma. I’m a self-employed delivery driver (delivering restaurant […]

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CRX

It’s the return of Ask Jack, one of my your favorite sections! You can now ask me questions about nearly anything, as long as there’s a kinda-sorta automotive aspect to it. Kinda-sorta. In the meantime, check out today’s question:

Hey Jack,

I’m in a bit of a dilemma. I’m a self-employed delivery driver (delivering restaurant meals, not pizza) and until recently I’ve been using a 1989 Honda CRX HF for that duty. I was averaging about 48mpg in 80% city driving and it was good for parking in downtown Portland, OR (as good as it can in a city where cars are practically banned). And the A/C actually worked!

About a week ago, a Range Rover cut in front of me and we came together, with predictable results. The mechanical components all survived, but the body damage is just on the bad side of drivable. Currently, the body shop and insurance company are arguing about whether to repair the car or total it. Assuming they do total it, I’m going to need a replacement. Right now I’m doing my deliveries in a 1999 Dodge Dakota 5.9 R/T, which eats more fuel than a burning oil refinery.

At this point, I don’t know how much money I would be getting in that situation. I paid $1800 for the car just a few months ago. A quick search of Craigslist reveals that the Countach LP400 is much more common than a stock-engine CRX HF. As one Honda enthusiast put it: “I didn’t know they made ’em stock.” Assuming a budget of $2500, and with a top priority on gas mileage, park-ability, and not sucking, what would you recommend to replace the HF?

You bought a decent-condition CRX HF for eighteen hundred bucks? Don’t bother playing the lottery for the rest of the year – that’s all the good luck you’re going to have, in one single transaction. As you’ve discovered in your initial searches, lightning is unlikely to strike twice for you. The second-generation CRX is now firmly established in the pantheon of all-time great Hondas, and prices reflect that. I’ve seen a couple solid examples for sale between four and six grand. That’s big money for quarter-century-old cars that often have nearly 200,000 miles on them.

As fate would have it, you’re not the first person I know who’s had to replace a CRX due to a crash. My friend Sam, who’d been racing Hondas in NASA as a team owner and manager for over a decade, started off with two second-gen Si rollerskates. One of them hit the wall several times during a particularly difficult race year, forcing him to contemplate a replacement. His answer? The 1989 Civic DX. Fortified with an 8000-rpm handbuilt motor, it was fast enough for me to lose a major endurance race by approximately the amount of a fuel-spill penalty. He’s been running a pair of them for more than five years, with tremendous success.

Even without the race prep, however, the 1988-1991 Civic DX is a brilliant replacement for the CRX. It has virtually all of the two-seater’s virtues with the further advantages of cargo and people space behind the front chairs. It’s also just as fast around a racetrack, assuming you have the same engine in both cars. Don’t tell anyone.

Of course, Civics of that generation aren’t much cheaper than CRXes. If you’re willing to consider a left-field alternative, you might want to think about a Breadvan Colt. These cars were basically Mitsubishi copies of the Civic. They’re not nearly as good, but they’re not bad. More importantly, they don’t have that remarkable Honda resale value.

If you’re looking for a genuinely courageous choice, how about this Geo Metro XfI on eBay? When you’re done using it for delivery duties, you can put a junkyard Hayabusa engine in it and rule the backroads. A motorcycle engine, in a Geo Metro, complete with chain drive and definitely not complete with reverse gear? It’s been done!

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Fifth-Gen Honda Step WGN Debuts With New 2016 Civic Engine, Tailgate System http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/fifth-gen-honda-step-wgn-debuts-new-2016-civic-engine-tailgate-system/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/fifth-gen-honda-step-wgn-debuts-new-2016-civic-engine-tailgate-system/#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 17:00:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1052169 Honda revealed the fifth-gen Step WGN for the Japanese market Thursday, which not only features a new flexible tailgate, but the same engine planned for the 2016 Civic. The main draw for the seven-passenger Step WGN is the “Waku Waku” tailgate, which can be lifted up in most circumstances, or can be opened from the side […]

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Honda Step WGN 01

Honda revealed the fifth-gen Step WGN for the Japanese market Thursday, which not only features a new flexible tailgate, but the same engine planned for the 2016 Civic.

The main draw for the seven-passenger Step WGN is the “Waku Waku” tailgate, which can be lifted up in most circumstances, or can be opened from the side via the tailgate’s sub-door. The sub-door has three levels of opening angles, allowing greater ease of access to cargo for occupants when the kei van is parked in a tight space, such as a shopping center or home garage. Third-row passengers can also use the door to exit without opening the full tailgate when the door is paired with the third-row 60-40 Magic Seat.

Under the hood is the 1.5-liter direct-injection VTEC turbo set to provide power for the 2016 Civic. Horsepower and torque figures were not mentioned at this time, but Honda claims output is “equivalent to that of a 2.4-litre engine even while driving with multiple passengers and on hilly roads.” Power is directed to the front or all four corners via CVT.

[Photo credit: Honda]

Honda Step WGN Gallery

Honda Step WGN 01 Honda Step WGN 05 Honda Step WGN 09 Honda Step WGN 02 Honda Step WGN 06 Honda Step WGN 10 Honda Step WGN 07 Honda Step WGN 08

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No Fixed Abode: They Paved Manuals, and Put Up a Four-Door Coupe http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/no-fixed-abode-paved-manuals-put-four-door-coupe/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/no-fixed-abode-paved-manuals-put-four-door-coupe/#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 12:00:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1051649 I come to bury Derek Kreindler, not to praise him. No, wait. I come to praise Derek, not to bury him. Scratch that. I come to agree with Derek, and to disagree with him. And to agree with him again. Wait a minute, it will make sense. One of the several admirable ways in which […]

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inteior

I come to bury Derek Kreindler, not to praise him.

No, wait.

I come to praise Derek, not to bury him.

Scratch that.

I come to agree with Derek, and to disagree with him. And to agree with him again. Wait a minute, it will make sense.

One of the several admirable ways in which my erstwhile boss and even more erstwhile employee diverged from conventional auto-journo thinking was his relentless focus on the real reasons behind automobile manufacturers’ product-planning decisions. Every time some writer for Social Justice Hooning And European Vacations trotted out the usual complaints about the lack of brown diesel-powered, stick-shifted, MB-Tex-interior, E30-sized station wagons, Derek would unleash hell on the poor fellow, pointing out that American consumers get the model mix they’re getting because it is the model mix for which they have voted, again and again, with their wallets. He never tired of forcibly redirecting the assignment of responsibility for today’s tepid dealership inventory from the OEMs to the buyers.

In doing this, he was breaking the fourth wall of automotive journalism a bit. Everybody in the business talks to the same product planners and has access to the same numbers, but nobody wants to annoy the reader by pointing out his culpability in the disappearance of enthusiast-focused automobiles. It’s a funny double standard. You’re allowed to injure the customer by pretending that the Porsche IMS issue and a hundred other similarly offensive quality problems don’t exist, you’re allowed to screw him over by puff-piecing junk product, but you’re not allowed to add insult to those injuries. Instead, the writer conspires with the reader after a fashion, by pretending to believe that the reader is ready to buy a brown diesel manual wagon the moment one appears. This gratifies the reader, who as a consumer of automotive media fancies himself to be quite different from the two million other people who took delivery of a CR-V-shaped nonentity-mobile in the past year. All those other people bought CR-V-esque things because they are idiots, but he did so because the hipster wagon of his dreams did not happen to be available. This mild conspiracy is widely held to benefit all parties involved and it leads to many people writing very complimentary things in the comments section – but Derek didn’t play that.

Young Mr. K’s refusal to give new-car buyers a pass on that matter, even if they were valued members of the B&B, was both admirable and charming. Yet as a grizzled old veteran of the showroom sales floor, I have to wonder if all of the blame for – say, the existence of the BMW X4 – can be placed directly on the shoulders of the American middle class. Could there be another reason that we, the *ahem* enlightened cognoscenti showing our black fleece in uneven and miniscule distribution among endless flocks of white sheep, cannot get the cars that we are truly ready to buy?

Or, to strip the veneer of genericity from the question – why the fuck did I have to buy a two-door car in order to get a manual transmission in a Honda Accord V6?

08accordex-l-v6_27.jpg

Let’s apply Derek’s reasoning to that question. Is it because nobody wants a V6 manual Accord sedan? I doubt that. Somebody wants it. I want it. I’ve talked to other people who bought a stick-shift coupe or an auto sedan because they couldn’t have the manual sedan they wanted. The problem is that we, the Would-Be Stick Sedan Buyers Of America (WBSSBOA), are not Honda customers. We think we are, and the auto-journo-industrial complex pretends that we are, and the TV ads pretend that we are, but we are not.

We are the customers of Honda dealerships. Honda dealerships, in turn, are the customers of Honda. When Honda sells a car to the floorplan bank of a dealership, son, that car is sold in Honda’s eyes and it doesn’t matter if it sits behind the detail shop for seven years before getting a temp tag on it. In practice, of course, dealerships almost always move the metal sooner than that, even when the metal is garbage. And in exchange for agreeing to borrow money to buy millions of dollars’ worth of inventory that they then have to sell using regional TV spots and newspaper ads and free popcorn and deceptive business practices and whatnot, the dealers get to tell Honda just how the fuck it’s gonna be. Their power is not absolute – note that you can now have A/C and/or a stereo factory-installed in a Honda, which breaks the heart of the scumbag dealers who loved the profit from those add-ons the way John Bonham loved alcohol – but it is formidable.

1995 Ford Explorer

Now let’s sit down for a moment so Uncle Jack can tell you a story. In 1995, I worked at a very small Ford dealership. We had room on our lot for fewer than 200 cars and trucks of all kinds, period, point blank. But you can bet your sweet bippy that at least ten of those trucks would be absolutely identical Explorer 4WD XLT 945A package trucks in Medium Willow Green. Why? Because we could sell every one we got. If an eleventh Explorer 4WD XLT 945A package truck in Medium Willow Green showed up and we didn’t have room for it, we’d make the service employees park down the street.

How many Explorer Eddie Bauer trucks did we have? Never more than two, and usually none. It was simple. The Bauers didn’t sell in volume significant enough to justify keeping one in stock. Ninety-five percent of the people who came on the lot looking for a Bauer could be moved to an XLT 945A. The reverse was not true, because the Bauer cost so much more to lease due to its lack of “top to bottom sticker discount”, a concept on which I shall perorate further some other time.

“But Jack,” you say, “why didn’t you keep five Willow Green XLTs in stock and five Bauers (or, G-d help me, Limiteds) in stock?” Good question. The answer is simple. We could never be assured of a constant allocation stream for Willow Green XLTs. So we needed to get every one we could get, even if it meant occasionally having fifteen in stock, because that way we didn’t ever face a situation where we sold six of them in a weekend (happened All. The. Time.) and had none left. Faced with a choice between the certainty of selling a Willow Green XLT and the possibility of selling a red Bauer, we chose the XLT, in bulk, constantly.

Every Ford model had the equivalent of the Willow Green XLT. For the Escort, it was the cheapo LX hatchback in Jade Green. For the Taurus, it was the GL sedan in silver. For the F-150, it was the XLT supercab in red. We could not afford to be out of stock on these items. Being out of stock on these items would lead to losing the customer to another dealer who had these items in stock.

As a result, our under-200-unit dealership lot, viewed from the air, had a very monocultural look to it. We really only sold about twenty different combinations of model and equipment. Everything else was a special order. If you special ordered, you could have that black Explorer Limited 2WD. But you’d wait. And this is America, where people don’t wait.

Skoda Showroom, UK

If you go to Europe, on the other hand, you’ll see that car showrooms are just that — showrooms. You look at the car they have, then you order the car you want. You are the customer. The dealership is the delivery method. This method is so radically different in all of its implications for the underlying business practices that I feel it should be repeated:

And swear I meant that there so much that they give that line a rewind

In Europe, You are the customer. The dealership is the delivery method.

In America, the dealer is the customer. And the dealer wants quick-turning inventory. He does not have a lot of space to store that inventory and he doesn’t have unlimited funds with which to purchase it. Therefore, it isn’t just important a potential in-stock unit have a buyer; it’s important it have a buyer right now.

Let’s say that Honda brought the V6 manual sedan back. And let’s say that they needed a minimum production run of 10,000 in order to make it worthwhile. That’s about eleven units for every Honda dealer in America. Can the dealers sell eleven manual V6 sedans each in a year? I bet they could. But they would rather have that spot for an automatic I-4 sedan, because that car is a guaranteed quick sale. They can sell that spot in the lot more than eleven times a year with an I-4 automatic EX. And here’s the thing: they can use that spot on their lot for an I-4 EX in another color, which keeps customers on their lot. Customers like seeing all the available colors of a car in stock. It helps sell cars that aren’t in that color, because it creates the illusion of choice. Towards that end, we always had one white XLT 945A next to the green ones – so people could look at it and then buy the green one. So the reason you can’t get a manual V6 sedan is simple: the dealer loses money keeping it in stock, even if/when it sells, compared to the potential for stocking more popular choices in that space.

Why can’t you special-order a V6 manual sedan? The same reason Honda wouldn’t sell me a brown V6 manual coupe, even if I paid extra and waited for it. Manufacturers are extremely allergic to small-batch production. Honda does not want to sell 2,000 special-order manual V6 sedans a year. It creates an entire extra model to EPA certify and put in the brochure and observe for recalls. It’s too much hassle. Similarly, they don’t want to sell 500 brown V6 manual coupes. Better to force that small buyer group into just a few colors.

“But Jack,” you’re saying, “you’re describing conditions that have been in place for thirty years. What’s changed?” Well, what’s changed is the model mix, particularly at manufacturers like BMW. It’s exploded. They used to make one 3 Series – the 320i – and it had two doors, no choice. Now they make so many variants of the Three that some of them are called Fours and others are called X3s and others are called X4s and cut-down ones are called X1 and 2 Series.

The BMW dealer of 1980 just needed space for a few 320i coupes. Today’s BMW dealer needs guaranteed in-stock inventory of no fewer than a dozen highly popular variants of the 3 Series. When the X4 debuted, your local BMW dealer needed to make room on its lot to stock, say, five X4s in silver with Premium and cold weather packages. Where’d that space come from? Did it come from high-profit stuff like the 760Li or M6 Gran Coupe?

Of course not. It came from oddballs, the 328i Sport manuals, the Z4s, the non-DCT M3s. The space came from inventory that doesn’t have a guaranteed turn. The same is true for the V6 manual Accord, which used to be available for sale even though it was low-volume. That space can be better used for the HR-V or a Pilot Touring or any of the dozen-plus other vehicles Honda didn’t sell in this country twenty years ago. Where do you think the space for the repugnant CLA comes from at your local Benz shop? Not from gloss-black S-Classes with basic option packages. Not from GLE350s or whatever they’re called now. It comes from manual SLK250s and C250 Sports.

Is there a fix for the situation? In the short term, absolutely not. In the long term, it is possible that local assembly and more flexible supply lines could reduce the wait time for new-vehicle orders to a window that the average American could accept. Say, one week. I think if BMW could deliver a 3-Series to its customers seven days after they specced it out, as many as half of those customers would choose a custom order. Too bad that scenario won’t come true until long after the last vestige of character has been entirely removed from all available automobiles. By the time Honda can just-in-time me a brown V6 manual Accord with cloth interior and 17″ wheels, it won’t be possible to make one.

In the meantime, what can you do? It’s simple. Buy something weird. Order something the dealer doesn’t have. A different color. An odd combination of options. A lime-green coupe with a brown interior. Vote with your wallet for something else. Doesn’t matter what it is. Because when you order a car from the factory and refuse to consent to taking a dealer-traded vehicle or the next-best thing they have in stock, you become something you’ve never been before.

You become an automaker’s customer.

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Attack Of The Orphaned Acuras http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/attack-orphaned-acuras/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/attack-orphaned-acuras/#comments Wed, 22 Apr 2015 15:00:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1042906 My friend and fellow auto journo Tyson Hugie is the ultimate Acura fanboy. He owns a 2013 Acura ILX 6-speed with the personalized plate ILX, a 1994 Legend GS Sedan 6-speed and a 1992 NSX 5-speed which just hit 100,000 miles. He was honored by American Honda for passing 500,000 miles on his 1994 Legend […]

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My friend and fellow auto journo Tyson Hugie is the ultimate Acura fanboy. He owns a 2013 Acura ILX 6-speed with the personalized plate ILX, a 1994 Legend GS Sedan 6-speed and a 1992 NSX 5-speed which just hit 100,000 miles. He was honored by American Honda for passing 500,000 miles on his 1994 Legend LS Coupe 6-speed. And he is currently searching for a Vigor 5-speed in Arcadia Green.

Hugie clearly has a case of ADHD – Acura Definite Hyperactivity Disorder.

So naturally we had to take his orphaned Acuras along with the greatest discontinued Honda ever – a S2000 roadster, my 2008 with 32,000 miles – for a run up Tucson’s twisty Catalina Highway to Mount Lemmon and bemoan the demise of these late, great Honda cars. All in the name of automotive research, of course.

We were joined by the owner of a 144,000-mile 1993 NSX 5-speed and a group of Southwest auto writers credited at the bottom of this post. We tried in vain to find an example of the other great discontinued Acura, an Integra R or GSR. We recently wrote about this 1997 R in Phoenix, but it was in the process of being sold for $43,000, and every other one we spotted on Craigslist had aftermarket rear wings too tall for the low hanging trees on our drive. Apparently original 1990s Integras are as rare as original 1990s Legends.

IMG_9472

Kulikowski joked about us doing a running Le Mans start to see who could grab an NSX for first leg. I hopped in Hugie’s 1992 and was first struck by how low the car sits; I was actually looking up at the S2000. The mid-engine NSX is simply sensational to drive, with 270 horses over your shoulder, the precise Honda stick shift and near-neutral cornering. Said Jason, “The NSX was intimidating to me at first but in typical Honda tradition, the car instantly felt familiar and easy to drive. Everything feels raw and mechanical. This is a sensation you just can’t find anymore.”

Both NSXs had over 100,000 miles on their clocks but you could barely tell, a testament to Honda durability. They were rock solid with not a squeak or rattle to be heard. I doubt there are many 100K Ferraris to be found in such condition. Whether you fall into the “it can’t be an exotic because it is a Honda” camp or the “it is built by Honda so it is an exotic that will not break” group, most will agree that the NSX is one of the greatest sports car ever sold in America.

Acura Fanatic: Tyson Hugie's 4 Acuras have a combined 901,224 miles

Tyson’s Corner: Acura fanatic Hugie’s 4 Acuras have a combined 901,224 miles

I had one of the first Gen 2 Legend Coupes as a “demo” back in 1991 and I still remember what a sensation it was at the time. I doubt I will ever drive a 500,000+ mile car as strong as Hugie’s coupe. We only drove the car briefly due to a dying clutch. The suspension was also a little iffy but the silky 6-cylinder motor pulled as willingly as the sedan’s. Amazingly, this Legend has only been towed once – when its original fuel pump let go at 399,750 miles. The car has been through seven timing belts and Hugie’s goal is seven more.

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It is no surprise that everyone loved the S2000. I told the gang that below 6,000 RPM, the Honda is the World’s Crappiest Miata: rough-riding, loud and not much torque. At that point the VTEC kicks in (yo!) and the motor screams towards its 8,200 rpm redline. This may be Honda’s greatest engine ever: 2.0-liter 4-cylinder with 240 horsepower in the original AP1 version, 237 horsepower from 2.2 liters in this second-generation AP2, or 7 more than in the Legends’ engines.  All agreed the convertible was the best car for the serpentine and smooth Catalina Highway and the sunny 70 degree weather we enjoyed.

As for that lack of low-end umph: I did have a ride in high school that had less torque. I don’t remember the model but I remember it was made by Schwinn.

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We all agreed on the car that surprised us the most: the 147,000-mile Legend Sedan. The last flagship Acura sedan available with a manual transmission, it was quiet, quick and comfortable. Said Pawela, “The big glass greenhouse and low dash made for an excellent view out. When it came time to toss this big boy around some corners, I was amazed how composed and level the body remained.” Thanks to Acura’s designers and its stealthy Desert Mist Metallic paint, the sedan was also voted the car “Most Likely to be Ignored by the Highway Patrol.”

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Both Legends came standard with a cool now-discontinued feature: AN ACTUAL NAME rather than being an “Acura RTIGLX.” Stop me if you have heard this one before: if Acura had kept the name “Legend” and stuffed a V8 under its hood, the luxury car landscape would be vastly different today.

Our chase car was a new Lexus RC350 (which we all loved for its great seats alone), allowing us to put the cars in perspective. Said Lee, “Having the Lexus kind of gave a unique experience – here, you have all these cars designed to be “driving” cars; there was a certain connection between the driver and the car. As the driver you felt a sense of control; in fractions of a second you have to decide if you need more or less steer, adjust your throttle or your braking. Going between the NSX, S2000, and the Legend 4-Door and then back into the Lexus you can see a massive difference in how and what a car is suppose to do.”

NSX in Mirror

Honda and Acura still sell mainstream cars with a sporty twist, but none like these. There is a revived S2000 and NSX on the horizon but they will feature turbos and hybrids, be bluetoothed and 27 air-bagged, and probably even have power steering which two of our testers lacked. In other words: the days of basic (read manual transmission and normally aspirated) unique, fun luxury and sports cars are dwindling due to the realities of today’s auto business. Build a screaming 4-cylinder convertible that only gets 18 mpg in town today? No way due to CAFE regulations. Put a stick shift in a luxury coupe? Who would buy it? Build an exotic mid-engine sports car? Sure, that will be $150,000 please – or more like $250,000 after Acura dealers are done ADMing the new NSX.

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The greatest compliment we can pay these classic vehicles is this: go check out the soaring prices being asked for clean, unmodified examples.

We plan to do Part Two this fall and it may take that long to find decent copies of an Integra GSR, CRX Si, CRX HF, and 4th generation Prelude. Or if Honda drops the CR-Z as they did recently with the Crosstour and Hugie finds his Vigor, we will find a Honda del Sol and take all four cars on another run – the Crappy Orphaned Hondas Tour…

Thanks to Tyson Hugie, James Lee, Jason Pawela, Peter Kulikowski, Kelvin Chang and photographer Beau MacDonnell for making this event happen!

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Patent Search Reveals Images Of 2016 Honda Civic Coupe, Sedan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/patent-search-reveals-images-2016-honda-civic-coupe-sedan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/patent-search-reveals-images-2016-honda-civic-coupe-sedan/#comments Mon, 20 Apr 2015 10:00:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1047785 Recently unearthed by an enthusiast forum, above is just one of the renders for the upcoming 2016 Honda Civic. CivicX.com conducted a patent search for the 10th-gen model of the storied Civic, whereupon the forum found “official patent images” of the production-ready coupe and sedan variants; only the hatchback was not found as of this writing. […]

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2016-civicsedan-2

Recently unearthed by an enthusiast forum, above is just one of the renders for the upcoming 2016 Honda Civic.

CivicX.com conducted a patent search for the 10th-gen model of the storied Civic, whereupon the forum found “official patent images” of the production-ready coupe and sedan variants; only the hatchback was not found as of this writing.

A few differences from the very-green concept that turned up in New York earlier this month include: less-aggressive, smaller lines and vents in the front and rear bumpers; the lack of a rear spoiler on the coupe — though said piece may likely be offered on high-performance models; and revised headlamps that retain the concept’s LED daytime lights. The coupe also retains the wraparound tail light on the concept, while the sedan does not receive the treatment.

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Japan’s Misfit Crossover Era Is Over http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/japans-misfit-crossover-era/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/japans-misfit-crossover-era/#comments Thu, 09 Apr 2015 12:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1041265 First it was the Toyota Venza. Now the Honda Crosstour is being sent to the farm where it can be with other, odd-looking pseudo-CUV type vehicles. According to Ward’s Auto, sales of the Crosstour plummeted by nearly 40 percent since the start of the year. The Crosstour has always had a dedicated core of loyal […]

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crosstour

First it was the Toyota Venza. Now the Honda Crosstour is being sent to the farm where it can be with other, odd-looking pseudo-CUV type vehicles.

According to Ward’s Auto, sales of the Crosstour plummeted by nearly 40 percent since the start of the year. The Crosstour has always had a dedicated core of loyal followers, but evidently that wasn’t enough to sustain its sales.

Like the Toyota Venza, the Crosstour was a black sheep. While the CR-V is America’s favorite crossover, the Crosstour never found anywhere close to the same reception that the CR-V, Pilot or Odyssey did. The homely looks and more appealing stablemates didn’t do it any favors. But buyers similarly rejected the Venza, which looked more traditional and offered a more practical package.

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Bark’s Bites: The Good, The Not-As-Good, and The Ugly: Part Three http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/barks-bites-good-not-good-ugly-part-three/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/barks-bites-good-not-good-ugly-part-three/#comments Thu, 02 Apr 2015 11:30:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1033673 In today’s installment, we’ll examine the lineups of the big Japanese three: Nissan, Honda, and Toyota, as well as their luxury variants. I should have said this in the first installment, but never let it be said that I am above admitting mistakes, so let me say it now: I never had plans to comment […]

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camry xse

In today’s installment, we’ll examine the lineups of the big Japanese three: Nissan, Honda, and Toyota, as well as their luxury variants. I should have said this in the first installment, but never let it be said that I am above admitting mistakes, so let me say it now: I never had plans to comment on every single model from every single manufacturer—just the ones that stand out to me in some way, or ones that I have about which I might have a contrary opinion. If I don’t mention a model, it’s likely because I haven’t driven it, or I don’t have an opinion about it that is in any way meaningful or insightful.

Since we’ve already established the format in the first and second installments of this series, let’s just jump right into it, shall we?

NISSAN

The Good:

Nissan continues to own the B segment in the States with the Versa and Versa Note. It’s spacious (as people reminded me when I reviewed the Rogue Select recently), it’s inexpensive, gets good gas mileage, and it has a decent reliability record. What else do you expect at this price point?

The Leaf is really much better to drive than you’d expect, and I totally dig the quirky looks of it. Since I spend a fair amount of time in Atlanta, I’ve gotten pretty used to the idea of the Leaf, and I’d definitely consider leasing one if I lived there due to the massive tax subsidies available. If you don’t live somewhere that the Focus EV  or Spark EV is available, and you’re not prepared to go Full Tesla, then the Leaf is for you.

The Not-As-Good:

I’ve always loved the Z. There was a time, when the 370Z was launched in 2009, that only an idiot would consider anything but the Z in this price range. But this iteration is getting a bit long in the tooth, and the pony cars have caught and surpassed it. The version you really want is the Sport trim, and with an MSRP of around $34K, can you really make a case for it over a Mustang GT? I don’t think so.

The Altima isn’t bad. It’s competent. It’s adequate. I could go to thesaurus.com and find some other words to describe just how ambivalent I am about it, but I think you’ve got the point by now. It’s not as good as the Mazda6, the Fusion, the Accord, or the Camry, and it’s probably better than the Malibu and the Sonata. I think that means it fits here. I certainly never pick one on purpose on rental row, but I don’t get upset if it’s all that’s available.

The GT-R has served its purpose for Nissan, despite what our former EIC had to say about it all those years ago. It’s been a good halo car. It’s had a few refreshes over the years so that it doesn’t seem as old as it actually is. I just don’t dig it. It seems like it’s the dream car of teenagers and twentysomethings, but by the time they grow up enough to buy one, they’ve also grown up enough to move on to either the 991 or the Viper/Corvette. Nevertheless, it is a technological marvel, and Nissan should be commended for being the only Japanese automaker to currently have a genuine supercar in the lineup.

The Ugly:

I’m just gonna go ahead and leave INFINITI here. The brand needs a complete reboot—or a complete execution. They have exactly one car in the top 100 in 2015 YTD sales—the Q50 sneaks in at #96—and their naming convention is so odd that I have no problem admitting that I have no idea what car people are talking about anymore when they mention an Infiniti. It would have been nice of Johan de Nysschen to turn the lights out when he left.

The Rogue Select goes here, too. I haven’t driven a newer Rogue yet, so I’ll reserve judgment.

Sometimes I forget that Nissan makes the Sentra. I find it to be the least attractive, least compelling vehicle of anything in the C segment. Where the Altima is knocking on the door of the Camry for top-seller in its segment, the Sentra languishes behind not only the Corolla, but also the Civic, the Cruze, and the Focus. I can’t imagine why anybody buys this car.

HONDA

The Good:

The Accord…what can you say? It’s the Accord. It’s the Ohio State of cars—it might have its haters, but it’s consistently good every single year. It’s the last of it’s kind to keep offering a two-door variant. It’s a good car. I got nothin’ else.

The MDX/Pilot. I might be one of the few people who’s towed a race car with a Pilot across the country. It always demonstrated great gas mileage, a comfortable ride, enough storage space for eight wheels and tires and tools, and it was reliable as the sun. No complaints here.

The Fit—it’s #fitforyou! I think it’s too expensive for what it is, and I wouldn’t even consider buying one over something like, oh, I don’t know, a FIESTA ST, but it suits the needs of lots of people perfectly. In all seriousness, it really is pretty good. Why no performance variant though?

In the most competitive segment in today’s marketplace, Honda has a clear winner—the CR-V. It’s pretty hard to believe that it outsells both the Civic and the Accord, but it does. Welcome to 2015! The CR-V has a long tradition of being a reliable, smart decision—nobody will mock you at the PTA meeting for buying one. With the small CUV becoming the new mid-size sedan, it makes sense that the CR-V is as popular as it is.

The Not-As-Good:

What the hell has happened to the Civic? It’s too big, it’s too bloated, it’s too boring. I respect Honda’s decision to react quickly in regards to the Civic after the relative disaster of the 2012 Civic, but for those of us who remember what the Civic (specifically the SI) used to be, the modern Civic is just okay. I can guarantee you that Toretto’s gang wouldn’t be using Civics to rob semis anymore.

The Ugly:

The Crosstour. No, I mean, it’s literally ugly. I know it’s just an Accord, but what can I say—I’m superficial.

If there was ever a car that needed to be completely re-imagined, it’s the CR-Z. Poorly conceived, poorly designed, and poorly executed. It’s neither economical nor sporty—so what would you say ya do here, CR-Z?  It’s a travesty.

But, to me, the ugliest part about Honda is that the company has completely abandoned its enthusiast base. The company that used to make the Integra Type-R and the S2000 feels like just another appliance maker now. You can feel it when you’re in a Honda store, as I often am. There’s no passion, there’s no excitement. The showrooms feel like mausoleums. You know what Honda needs? A Fit SI. Get the kids excited about the brand again. Create some future Honda enthusiasts.

TOYOTA

The Good:

Maybe there’s something in the water around here, because I used to hate the Camry and everything that it stood for. After a few dozen track laps in a four-cylinder SE, I kinda like it. Of all the mid-sizers, the Camry is definitely to most rewarding to drive. It wouldn’t be my first pick in the segment, but it would definitely be in my top three. That’s good enough to get it up here.

The IS350 is the one car that has a legitimate potential claim to the throne that the 3-Series has owned for decades. I was fortunate enough to drive the F-Sport variant from San Diego to Beverly Hills last October, and it’s hard to think of a car that I would have rather made the trip in. If you don’t like the new 3-Series, the IS might just be for you.

Do you know how you  know you’ve made it as a mom at my son’s school? You have a Swagger Wagon. The Sienna is the top choice of non-working women everywhere. Unfortunately, it can slide into the high $30K range pretty quickly once you start optioning it up into AWD V6 trim.

I struggle with where I should place the RX. It’s been wildly successful (has any platform ever made into as many top sellers as the Camry?). It’s overpriced. It’s largely loved by people who hate cars. But…it’s virtually unkillable. I see RX 300s everywhere, still effortlessly plugging along, well into six figures of life. By that measurement, it belongs in the “Good” category.

The Not-As-Good

The Corolla…well, it’s just a Corolla. I personally can’t get excited about it, but is it a good car? It’s not a bad one. That means it goes here.

I got the chance to go to the launch of the Highlander last year, and it’s pretty Highlanderish. I said this at the time: “This new Highlander will do nothing to keep satisfied Highlander drivers from buying another one, and will do a lot to convince happy owners of competitors to take a look. That is, assuming, they can get past that ugly grille.” That’s still true. It’s not great. It’s not terrible. It goes here.

The Avalon is boring, yes, but in the segment of full-sized FWD sedans, you could do worse…well, you couldn’t do much worse. But you could buy a Taurus. That would be worse.

The Ugly:

The Yaris just needs to be discontinued—it’s not competitive in any way, shape, or form. It’s truly amazing to see how well the Camry and Corolla sell, and yet the Yaris just languishes. It goes to show that the Toyota name only goes so far.

Guess what? I don’t like the FR-S, either. But this gives me a great opportunity to reply to those who questioned my placement of the BRZ in the “Ugly” category.

  • The BRZ/FR-S has plenty of competitors, most obviously the EcoBoost Mustang, the MX-5, GTI, Focus ST, WRX…pretty much any performance-oriented vehicle under $30k is a real-world competitor of the Toyaburu twins. It doesn’t have to be a rear-wheel drive coupe to be cross-shopped with them.
  • Yes, I think the BRZ is underpowered, but that’s not my main complaint with it. Remember, I owned an RX-8. I am the proud lessee of a Fiesta ST. Cars can still be low-powered and fun—this just isn’t one of them.
  • Between the two models, they’ll be lucky to sell 20k of them this year. It’s not destined to be with us for much longer.

That being said, it’s a commendable effort. All they needed to do to make it good was offer an F Sport FR-S, or something. I’m hardly the first person on the internet to suggest a turbocharged version. Just a mild boost in power—maybe 260 HP—would be perfect.

N/A:

I’d really love to tell you what I think about the RC, but I haven’t driven one. Sad face.

 

All righty—one more installment to go. We’ll cover the Big Three next. Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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New York 2015: Honda Civic Concept Revealed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/new-york-2015-honda-civic-concept-revealed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/new-york-2015-honda-civic-concept-revealed/#comments Wed, 01 Apr 2015 19:17:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1036593 Want to know what the 2016 Honda Civic will look like? The Honda Civic Concept is a sign of what’s to come. The 2016 Civic lineup will include sedan, coupe and five-door hatchback styles, with Si and Type R trims coming to the party. Power will include a VTEC 1.5-liter direct-injection turbo-four paired with either […]

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Civic Concept

Want to know what the 2016 Honda Civic will look like? The Honda Civic Concept is a sign of what’s to come.

The 2016 Civic lineup will include sedan, coupe and five-door hatchback styles, with Si and Type R trims coming to the party. Power will include a VTEC 1.5-liter direct-injection turbo-four paired with either a six-speed manual or CVT.

Other upcoming features include Honda’s Honda Sensing safety suite, as well as improvements in NVH levels and fuel economy.

The sedan will be first to hit showrooms this fall, with the coupe and hatchback to follow. The hatch will be the only Civic not made in North America, being shipped from Honda’s factory in Swindon, England.

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New York 2015: Honda Civic Type R Coming To America http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/new-york-2015-honda-civic-type-r-coming-america/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/new-york-2015-honda-civic-type-r-coming-america/#comments Wed, 01 Apr 2015 18:57:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1036473 It has happened: The United States will finally get its Honda Civic Type R. AutoGuide reports the announcement was made during the unveiling of the 2015 Honda Civic Coupe Concept, though the date of arrival is still not yet known. Our Type-R will likely be built on an all-new platform, whereas the recently unveiled Type-R […]

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Honda-Civic-Type-R-01

It has happened: The United States will finally get its Honda Civic Type R.

AutoGuide reports the announcement was made during the unveiling of the 2015 Honda Civic Coupe Concept, though the date of arrival is still not yet known. Our Type-R will likely be built on an all-new platform, whereas the recently unveiled Type-R is a swan song for the current car, which has more in common with our Fit than the next Civic.

The Type R gets its power from a VTEC 2-liter turbo-four making 305 horsepower, and can leave the line from nil to 62 in 5.7 seconds.

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Honda Production Announcement Provides Best Indication For Imported Civic Hatchback http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/honda-production-announcement-provides-best-indication-imported-civic-hatchback/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/honda-production-announcement-provides-best-indication-imported-civic-hatchback/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 18:47:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1033665 On the heels of an announcement that Honda’s Alliston, Ontario plant will be the lead plant for the next generation Honda Civic, the same plant will also be responsible for building the next-generation CR-V for the European market. According to the CBC, as many as 40,000 CR-Vs could be exported to Europe. While the CR-V […]

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Honda-Civic-Type-R-2

On the heels of an announcement that Honda’s Alliston, Ontario plant will be the lead plant for the next generation Honda Civic, the same plant will also be responsible for building the next-generation CR-V for the European market.

According to the CBC, as many as 40,000 CR-Vs could be exported to Europe. While the CR-V is a hot seller in Canada and the USA, its success in Europe hasn’t quite matched the NAFTA zone. Nevertheless, the announcement is a boon for the Canadian auto industry, which sees most of its output go to Canada or the United States.

At the same time, Honda announced that the CR-V would leave its Swindon, UK plant to make way for the next-generation Civic hatchback. The Civic hatch is rumored to be coming to North America, and Honda’s own announcement states that “the Civic five door will be produced for the European market as well as being exported to key global markets.” So far, that’s the best hint we have about a 5-door hatch for North America.

Thanks to a pending but nearly completed free trade deal with the EU, production of the CR-V and imports of the Civic hatchback should result in minimal trade barriers for the Canadian market. In the United States, where such an agreement doesn’t exist, it might be a bit more complicated – but the low volume Si 3-door of the early 2000’s proves that it can be done.

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