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. Tue, 28 Jul 2015 18:00:36 +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 Average Gas Engine Specific Output Isn’t Quite 100 HP/L, Yet http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/average-gas-engine-specific-output-isnt-quite-100-hpl-yet/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/average-gas-engine-specific-output-isnt-quite-100-hpl-yet/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 16:00:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1126465 It was nearly 15 years ago that Honda was touting their magic number — 118.5 hp/L. This was the specific output for the U.S.-spec Honda S2000 powered by a high-strung, 237-horsepower, 2-liter engine and it was a marvel of engineering, trumping the Viper and many other more expensive machines. Fast forward to today and there […]

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Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG. Photo courtesy Autoblog

It was nearly 15 years ago that Honda was touting their magic number — 118.5 hp/L. This was the specific output for the U.S.-spec Honda S2000 powered by a high-strung, 237-horsepower, 2-liter engine and it was a marvel of engineering, trumping the Viper and many other more expensive machines.

Fast forward to today and there are only a few naturally aspirated vehicles that top Honda’s claim to fame, but many that easily beat it with some form of forced induction. Yet, even with this plethora of new high-output, small-displacement engines, the average specific output of gasoline and flex fuel vehicles in the United States is still below the record set by Honda back in 1999.

Thanks to data provided by iSeeCars, we came up with some interesting data when it comes to specific output for 2015 model year vehicles.

For one, the Mercedes-AMG CLA45 (pictured above) and the GLA45 with which it shares its turbocharged, 2-liter, four-cylinder engine are the top performers with specific outputs of 177.5 hp/L. It should be no surprise that turbocharged engines dominate the top 100 engines ranked by specific output, but there are some exceptions. The top naturally aspirated mill in the mix — the 597-hp, 4.5-liter V-8 in the Ferrari 458 Speciale — has a specific output of 132.7 hp/L. Porsche’s 911 GT3 is solidly mid-pack with 125 hp/L.

On the other end of the scale, trucks score quite low on the specific output meter, as the Ford F-350 equipped with a 316-hp, 6.2-liter V-8 struggles to make 51 hp/L. The lower output may not be representative of a behind-the-times engine, but rather it could be characteristic of their applications. Trucks need torque more than horsepower to do the work they were built to do.

Overall, the average for specific output for non-hybrid, gasoline and flex fuel engines sits at 93.3 hp/L, just 25.2 hp/L shy of the naturally aspirated benchmark set by the Honda S2000. However, as more automakers downsize their engines and boost output with turbocharging, we may just see the overall average crest this high-water mark in the coming years.

Below is a list of the top and bottom 10 vehicles available on the retail market for the 2015 model year ranked by specific output.

Top 10

  1. Mercedes-AMG CLA45/GLA45
    2-liter turbocharged I-4, 355 horsepower
    177.5 hp/L
  2. McLaren 650S Coupe/Spider
    3.8-liter twin-turbocharged V-8, 641 horsepower
    168.7 hp/L
  3. Nissan GT-R NISMO
    3.8-liter twin-turbocharged V-6, 600 horsepower
    157.9 hp/L
  4. Volvo S60/XC60
    2-liter twincharged I-4, 302 horsepower
    151.0 hp/L
  5. Porsche 911 Turbo S
    3.8-liter twin-turbocharged H-6, 560 horsepower
    147.4 hp/L
  6. Audi S3/Volkswagen Golf R
    2-liter turbocharged I-4, 292 horsepower
    146.0 hp/L
  7. Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution
    2-liter turbocharged I-4, 291 horsepower
    145.5 hp/L
  8. Nissan GT-R
    3.8-liter twin-turbocharged V-6, 545 horsepower
    143.4 hp/L
  9. Bentley Continental GT3-R
    4-liter twin-turbocharged V-8, 572 horsepower
    143 hp/L
  10. Ferrari California T
    3.9-liter twin-turbocharged V-8, 553 horsepower
    141.8 hp/L

Bottom 10

  1. Ford F-350 Super Duty
    6.2-liter V-8, 316 horsepower
    51.0 hp/L
  2. Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra 3500HD
    6-liter V-8, 322 horsepower
    53.7 hp/L
  3. Nissan Titan/NV Cargo/NV Passenger/Armada
    5.6-liter V-8, 317 horsepower
    56.6 hp/L
  4. Chevrolet Express/GMC Savana (Cargo/Passenger/Cutaway)
    6-liter V-8, 342 horsepower
    57.0 hp/L
  5. Volkswagen Jetta
    2-liter I-4, 115 horsepower
    57.5 hp/L
  6. Ram Chassis 3500
    6.4-liter V-8, 370 horsepower
    57.8 hp/L
  7. Toyota Tacoma
    2.7-liter I-4, 159 horsepower
    58.9 hp/L
  8. Toyota Tacoma
    4-liter V-6, 236 horsepower
    59.0 hp/L
  9. Chevrolet Express/GMC Savana (Cargo/Passenger/Cutaway)
    4.8-liter V-8, 285 horsepower
    59.4 hp/L
  10. Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra 2500HD/3500HD
    6-liter V-8, 360 horsepower
    60.0 hp/L

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Honda Lifts Cover Off Updated Accord, Now With Apple CarPlay http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/honda-lifts-cover-off-updated-accord-now-apple-carplay/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/honda-lifts-cover-off-updated-accord-now-apple-carplay/#comments Fri, 24 Jul 2015 21:00:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1125041 Honda unveiled its refreshed mid-sized sedan on Thursday, complete with facelift and available 19-inch wheels on the Acura Accord. The new car also sports updated technology, including Apple’s CarPlay and Android Auto systems and a 7-inch touchscreen on EX and higher trims. The Accord will continue to use its 2.4-liter four and 3.6-liter V-6 engines. In addition […]

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2016 Honda Accord

Honda unveiled its refreshed mid-sized sedan on Thursday, complete with facelift and available 19-inch wheels on the Acura Accord.

The new car also sports updated technology, including Apple’s CarPlay and Android Auto systems and a 7-inch touchscreen on EX and higher trims.

The Accord will continue to use its 2.4-liter four and 3.6-liter V-6 engines.

In addition to the new nose and updated technology, Honda says its signature sedan will offer a suite of safety features including frontal collision warning and collision mitigation braking, lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning and a hint of correction.

According to our own Tim Cain, sales of the Accord have remained relatively steady since the ninth-generation Accord went on sale in 2013. Honda quietly killed the plug-in hybrid Accord this year, which is statistically just as rare as a Porsche 918 Spyder.

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Hyundai May Bring Subcompact Crossover, but It Won’t Be Creta http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/hyundai-may-bring-subcompact-crossover-wont-creta/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/hyundai-may-bring-subcompact-crossover-wont-creta/#comments Thu, 23 Jul 2015 21:00:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1124249 Hyundai is looking to jump into the subcompact crossover fold in the States with the Nissan Juke, Honda HR-V, Chevrolet Trax and everyone else, but it won’t be with the Creta, Edmunds is reporting. The Creta recently went on sale in India, but executives in America told Edmunds that it wasn’t the right fit for U.S. […]

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Hyundai is looking to jump into the subcompact crossover fold in the States with the Nissan Juke, Honda HR-V, Chevrolet Trax and everyone else, but it won’t be with the Creta, Edmunds is reporting.

The Creta recently went on sale in India, but executives in America told Edmunds that it wasn’t the right fit for U.S. buyers.

“We have decided to wait a little bit longer to get the right vehicle,” said Dave Zuchowski, president and CEO of Hyundai Motor America.

The Creta would enter an already crowded field of subcompact crossovers that’s getting more crowded every day. Already the HR-V, Trax and Juke duke it out with the Jeep Renegade and Subaru XV Crosstrek, with the Mazda CX-3 on its way this year. (EcoSport, Ford?)

According to Zuchowski, the Creta was too conservative for the segment and too closely resembled a smaller version of the Santa Fe.

“In our opinion, as we go into this segment, it is a great segment for Millennials, for Gen Y. It is a good youth vehicle and we think in order to tap that market, the thing should be styled less conservatively and more aggressively,” he said.

Last month, Hyundai released a rendering of the Creta that would have fit the “aggressive” bill, but as always many features didn’t make it into the production version.

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Mazda Says 2016 CX-3 Will Start Under $20,000 (Kinda) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/mazda-says-2016-cx-3-will-start-under-20000-kinda/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/mazda-says-2016-cx-3-will-start-under-20000-kinda/#comments Thu, 16 Jul 2015 20:00:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1118137 The new mini crossover from Mazda will start at $19,960 (not including $880 destination) when it goes on sale after next month, the automaker reported Thursday. That puts the CX-3 in leagues with the Chevrolet Trax, Nissan Juke, Honda HR-V and Jeep Renegade as sub-$20,000 crossovers in an increasingly crowded and competitive segment. Like the […]

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2016-Mazda-CX-3-11

The new mini crossover from Mazda will start at $19,960 (not including $880 destination) when it goes on sale after next month, the automaker reported Thursday.

That puts the CX-3 in leagues with the Chevrolet Trax, Nissan Juke, Honda HR-V and Jeep Renegade as sub-$20,000 crossovers in an increasingly crowded and competitive segment.

Like the rest of its competition, it’s not hard to hike the CX-3’s final price up in a hurry.

The base price gets Mazda’s 2.0-liter inline four and a 6-speed automatic transmission. Standard on all models will be a rear-view camera, 7-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth push button starter and power windows and doors. All-wheel drive can be added for $1,250.

The middle-of-the-range CX-3 Touring (with heated seats, leather wrapped wheel, blind-spot monitoring, et al.) runs $22,840. The top-of-the-line CX-3 Grand Touring (navigation, moon roof, leather, Bose sound, etc.) comes in at $25,870. And presumably, the most you could pay for a CX-3 coming from the factory would be a Grand Touring CX-3 with all-wheel drive and Mazda’s optional safety package would be $29,040.

If you need any further proof the segment is ultra competitive and willing to cut to the very bone for the best price on a headline, consider that you can still buy a Jeep Renegade without air conditioning and 16-inch steel wheels for $18,880.

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Honda Has Alarmingly Few Female Managers in Japan, and They Know It http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/honda-alarmingly-female-managers-japan-know/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/honda-alarmingly-female-managers-japan-know/#comments Wed, 15 Jul 2015 15:00:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1114881 Last month, Honda released its annual Sustainability Report outlining the company’s position and direction under its new CEO Takahiro Hachigo. Outlined on Page 73 of its 104-page report, Honda admits its number of female managers in Japan is quite low. Well, actually 0.5-percent low. Even compared to other regions where Honda does business, the number of […]

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Auto Worker at Japanese Honda Factory

Last month, Honda released its annual Sustainability Report outlining the company’s position and direction under its new CEO Takahiro Hachigo.

Outlined on Page 73 of its 104-page report, Honda admits its number of female managers in Japan is quite low.

Well, actually 0.5-percent low.

Even compared to other regions where Honda does business, the number of female managers in Japan is quite low. According to the report, 12.4 percent of managers in Honda’s Asia/Oceania region and 17.5 percent of managers in the North America region are female.

Compared to other automakers, the number of female managers at Honda isn’t much better. Nissan reported that 8.2 percent of its managers in Japan are female, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles reported that 13.1 percent of its worldwide managers are female.

Matt Slouster, a spokesman for American Honda outlined a few steps by Honda in Japan:

“Increasing female representation in management positions is among Honda’s
top priorities. In Japan, Honda Motor Co. has assigned full-time staff to
the newly formed Diversity Promotion Office (DPO) to provide direct support
to female associates and accelerate their advancement within the company.
Moreover, the DPO has implemented new programs to support associates who
are managing their careers while starting families and raising children.
As part of its ongoing responsibilities, the DPO will work continuously to
ensure equal opportunity for women throughout the organization.”

The problem isn’t Honda’s alone, however. In 2011, only 4.5 percent of division heads in Japan were women, according to a regional study. Less than 1 percent of senior-level, executive managers in Japan were women. That’s compared to 9 percent in China and 15 percent in Singapore.

A 2014 story by The Economist details the struggles women in Japan are working to overcome. According to the report, 70 percent of women stop working for a decade or more after having children, compared to just about 30 percent in America. Of the women who work, many don’t work full-time or in permanent positions. In 2012, about 77 percent of Japan’s part-time and temporary workforce were women, the story reports.

It’s a widespread problem Japan has faced for decades and one that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has specifically targeted to help revitalize the country’s aging and shrinking workforce — and even that may not help.

By 2020, Abe said women should occupy roughly 30 percent of “leadership” positions in Japan — government and business. Honda has a ways to go.

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American Honda Boss Knows, But Tight-Lipped, About ‘Baby NSX’ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/american-honda-boss-knows-baby-nsx-car-isnt-talking/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/american-honda-boss-knows-baby-nsx-car-isnt-talking/#comments Tue, 14 Jul 2015 17:00:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1115137 American Honda CEO John Mendel says he could tell us about the “baby NSX” that popped up in a patent filing, but that would probably get him fired, AutoGuide is reporting. Whatever the patent filing is — whether it’s a smaller NSX, perpetual prototype or a late-night CAD fantasy — it could find a home in Honda’s lineup […]

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Mystery-Honda-Sports-Car-04

American Honda CEO John Mendel says he could tell us about the “baby NSX” that popped up in a patent filing, but that would probably get him fired, AutoGuide is reporting.

Whatever the patent filing is — whether it’s a smaller NSX, perpetual prototype or a late-night CAD fantasy — it could find a home in Honda’s lineup that’s decidedly missing a sports car.

When asked if there’s room for a driver’s car, Mendel responded: “Absolutely there is.”

Details on the renderings released last month are incredibly murky. The smaller car wouldn’t likely get the NSX’s twin-turbocharged V6 with three electric motors to help propel it, but it could get some assist from electrons. Honda engineers were feverishly testing electric powertrains at Pikes Peak this year, including an all-electric CR-Z in the exhibition category.

The Civic Si is the automaker’s lone performance car in the U.S. The 305-horsepower Civic Type R is destined for U.S. shores, but it’s unclear when that will happen.

Production of the two-seater S2000 ended in 2009. Production of the CR-Z continues.

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Piston Slap: The Cons of Recon Before Trade-in? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/piston-slap-cons-recon-trading/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/piston-slap-cons-recon-trading/#comments Tue, 14 Jul 2015 11:00:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1113713 TTAC commentator cwallace writes: Sajeev, Here’s what’s probably an easy question for you: Is it ever worth the money to update wear items on a car before trading it in? My trusty 2007 Accord EX V6 is suddenly about to cost me some real money. With 154,000 miles on it, the tires are about shot, […]

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dirtycar

Low Miles, One Owner… (photo courtesy: www.parknshine.com)

TTAC commentator cwallace writes:

Sajeev,

Here’s what’s probably an easy question for you: Is it ever worth the money to update wear items on a car before trading it in?

My trusty 2007 Accord EX V6 is suddenly about to cost me some real money. With 154,000 miles on it, the tires are about shot, it needs new struts, there’s a crack in the windshield, and the rear main seal is starting to make a mess of my driveway. Plus, my commute just got a lot longer, so the lack of creature comforts (like sound insulation, for heaven’s sake) make me think I’ve got my money’s worth from this car.

Other than those things, it looks good for its age, and everything else works just as it should. All that dealership service paid off, is what I tell myself.

Anyway, should I bother fixing the windshield and maybe putting a new set of tires on it before trading it in? If I were selling it to another person, I’d do that only because I am an ardent believer in karma, but I’m sure a dealer can do that work more cost effectively than I can — so should I bother?

(P.S., I’m taking over command of my wife’s Mazda CX-9 and she’s getting a Toyota Sienna, so it isn’t going back to a Honda store, if that makes a difference somehow.)

Sajeev answers:

Good question. Perhaps a Honda store likes new tires as part of reconditioning your trade into a Certified Pre-Owned vehicle, but not with your Honda’s age and mileage. Reconditioning for trade-in is a slippery slope. Dealers usually expect to recondition (or dump at auction) and your “value add” won’t mean as much to them as to you.

More to the point: Leave service records on the passenger seat and clean from bumper to bumper to get the most value on trade-in. Dirty, cluttered cars are both hard and/or time consuming to appraise and (more importantly) allude to overall vehicle neglect.

Why? Because it’s a sad reality of trading in a vehicle. Your car — unless Certified Pre-Owned, with the assumed quality from that asking price — will likely be sold to someone who doesn’t care about the quality of the reconditioning. New Michelin Pilot tires? The Kelly-Springfields look just as black and round to me. New glass? Nice, but the dealer probably gets it done for less.

Seeing a clean interior, fresh fluids, good (enough) tires, decent brakes, a solid Carfax and everything working on the test drive is a 99 percent guaranteed sale to someone.

While it’s possible to demand more for your trade-in because of reconditioning, you must include that in the negotiation. If not, you’ll get pennies on the dollar invested. Sell fully reconditioned cars for private party money on the open market for maximum profit. Otherwise, dump it as-is, and trade-in like everyone else yearning for a new ride.

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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With New Honda CEO, Possible FCA Partnership? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/new-honda-ceo-possible-fca-partnership/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/new-honda-ceo-possible-fca-partnership/#comments Tue, 07 Jul 2015 17:00:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1109249 New Honda CEO Takahiro Hachigo told media Monday that the automaker wouldn’t aim for a specific global sales figure to drive growth and would be open to partnerships with other automakers, Automotive News reported. The speech also emphasized sharing global manufacturing resources within Honda’s six regional divisions and to create “challenging products.” (Which may or may […]

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Photo courtesy Honda

New Honda CEO Takahiro Hachigo told media Monday that the automaker wouldn’t aim for a specific global sales figure to drive growth and would be open to partnerships with other automakers, Automotive News reported.

The speech also emphasized sharing global manufacturing resources within Honda’s six regional divisions and to create “challenging products.” (Which may or may not — probably not — mean “Challenger.”)

The speech was Hachigo’s first public address since taking the reins of Honda last month. In a sustainability report released in June, Hachigo signaled that the Japanese automaker would adopt English as its official language by 2020.

The news yesterday is particularly interesting as speculation ramps up around FCA and Sergio Marchionne’s plan for consolidation with General Motors. Any alliance with Honda could help FCA gain a sales foothold in Japan and could revitalize FCA’s hybrid program. In turn, Honda could capitalize on FCA’s European market share and network.

In the speech, Hachigo outlined several different initiatives Honda will undertake in the next few years, which include building a smaller, turbocharged Civic and other production efficiencies. For example, the CR-V, which is produced in Canada, will be exported worldwide. Civics produced in England will be shipped to Japan, and Japanese-built Fits will be sent to the U.S. In addition to those announcements, Hachigo said Honda will begin building Accords in Nigeria for African markets. More than 80 percent of Honda’s car building is outside Japan.

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Honda Making English Its Official Language by 2020 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/honda-making-english-official-language-2020/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/honda-making-english-official-language-2020/#comments Fri, 03 Jul 2015 16:00:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1107121 In its 104-page annual sustainability report, Honda announced it would make English its official language by 2020, requiring all interregional communication be conducted in English. Similarly, English-language proficiency would be a requirement for promotion to management. The new mandate appears on Page 70 of the report. Despite burying the lede, it’s a seismic change for the Japanese […]

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Takanobu Ito

In its 104-page annual sustainability report, Honda announced it would make English its official language by 2020, requiring all interregional communication be conducted in English. Similarly, English-language proficiency would be a requirement for promotion to management. The new mandate appears on Page 70 of the report.

Despite burying the lede, it’s a seismic change for the Japanese company. According to Automotive News, five years ago then-boss Takanobu Ito said — possibly in Japanese — that making English the official language of Honda was “stupid.” Five years from now, presumably all of Honda’s workforce, which includes more than 200,000 people — nearly three-quarters of it outside of North America — will be speaking the language.

Honda’s official stance on English isn’t wholly surprising, or new.

According to a report by The Economist in February 2014, Honda was keen on adopting “Corporate English” throughout the company and following suit with many other global manufacturers. Chinese tech giant Lenovo made English its lingua franca. Same goes for Nokia, Renault and Samsung.

Only one quarter of Honda’s workforce is in North America, but accounted for nearly one third of its new hires for 2015. Honda’s move to English is emblematic of its reality: 40 percent of Honda’s sales are in North America and 81 percent of its vehicles are assembled outside of Japan.

Included in the report is an outlook for the future of Honda’s manufacturing in North America.

The U.S. will add more than 3.4 million manufacturing jobs in the next 10 years, the report states, but will have only 1.4 million people to fill those jobs. Honda says they will implement a program in Ohio — where Honda builds cars — to teach middle- and high-school students how to fill those jobs with video games, or by directly funding STEM programs in some schools.

There’s been no word on whether Buick will be making the switch to Mandarin.

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Nissan, Toyota, Honda Team to Build Fuel-Cell Infrastructure in Japan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/nissan-toyota-honda-team-build-fuel-cell-infrastructure-japan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/nissan-toyota-honda-team-build-fuel-cell-infrastructure-japan/#comments Thu, 02 Jul 2015 17:00:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1106169 According to Toyota, three Japanese automakers — Honda, Toyota and Nissan — are working together to build hydrogen fuel stations around for future fuel-cell cars. The program, which will subsidize fueling stations up to 11 million yen ($89,500) per year for each station, is meant to boost the nation’s infrastructure for hydrogen-powered cars. The agreement […]

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According to Toyota, three Japanese automakers — Honda, Toyota and Nissan — are working together to build hydrogen fuel stations around for future fuel-cell cars.

The program, which will subsidize fueling stations up to 11 million yen ($89,500) per year for each station, is meant to boost the nation’s infrastructure for hydrogen-powered cars.

The agreement was formed in February between the large automakers, but began accepting applications July 1.

The program also boosts “awareness” of the FCVs by offering incentives for stations to stay open longer and offer more services.

A similar alliance between automakers in the U.S. could boost FCV participation rates, but maybe we can’t have nice things.

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Piston Slap: What’s so Hellabad about Hellaflush? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/piston-slap-whats-hellabad-hellaflush/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/piston-slap-whats-hellabad-hellaflush/#comments Thu, 02 Jul 2015 11:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1100985   Casey writes: Hello Sajeev, I had a coworker who had an older Acura NSX that was lowered. He complained about having to buy new tires because they were worn on the inside edge (down to the belts!). He had, what I thought to be, extreme negative camber due to an improper lowering. He said […]

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Nice, Slammed, eXtreme? (photo courtesy: www.nsxprime.com)

Casey writes:

Hello Sajeev,

I had a coworker who had an older Acura NSX that was lowered. He complained about having to buy new tires because they were worn on the inside edge (down to the belts!). He had, what I thought to be, extreme negative camber due to an improper lowering. He said it was supposed to be like that. I have seen other cars running the negative camber and I’ve seen cars that were lowered without. So question, is there a reason to run extreme negative camber or is this just a bad lowering job? 

Sajeev answers:

I agree with your assessment. Very few, if any, performance cars come from the factory aligned aggressively enough to wear tires that unevenly. I reckon that NSX was lowered, tweaked to reflect well upon the Stancenation. To live the Hellaflush lifestyle! To embrace the image of performance, without necessarily improving actual performance.

No seriously, facades are awesome like that. Because I’d be a hypocrite if I said otherwise.

New Cadillacs and Lincolns = Cooler in Houston

Now to make inferences, and foolishly justify them.

There’s always a reason for this: a subtle lowering can improve performance and stance at the same time. On an NSX? Probably not, since it isn’t a buffalo-butted, blunt nosed family sedan jacked up to the sky by the factory. I reckon the fastest NSX on a less-than-perfect track has the factory ride height with a slightly more aggressive wheel alignment. A hellaflush NSX will lose…if that was the point.

It’s totally not the point. We all have a need to look cool, even those who claim otherwise in the comments section below. To wit, I put 1.5″ front lowering springs (factory spring rate) from these guys on my Fox Cougar to both look cool with my 17×8.5″ reproduction Cobra wheels and retain factory-like ride/handling traits. The rears have a small (1/8″) spacer because of the mishmash between wheel offset and new axles from a rear disc brake conversion. All this effort for a modest lowering job is important on a suspension as half-baked as a Fox body Ford.

I avoided the “improper” or “bad lowering job” you mentioned. Well, at least I think so.

Some folks think more aggressive suspension and wheel/tire modifications add extra cool factor to their lives. Perhaps I might be one of them, even if I bristle at the sight of most Hellaflush rides. But Hellaflush riders certainly don’t give a shit about what you or I think.

So let your coworker buddy enjoy his cool looking NSX. If you can’t resist the urge to twist the knife, take him to a track day and let serious racers give him an education that he might deserve. Or not.

UPDATE: TTAC commentator “Sketch” corrected me about the NSX’s factory tire wear issues, sadly my Google-fu failed us all. My apologies. 

 

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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No Fixed Abode: Walljobbed. http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/no-fixed-abode-walljobbed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/no-fixed-abode-walljobbed/#comments Tue, 30 Jun 2015 14:00:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1102601 I grew up in the back of two-door family cars ranging from a ’67 Camaro to an ’83 Civic 1500 “S”. It never seemed like a hardship to me. Nor does it seem like a hardship to have my six-year-old son in the back of my Accord Coupe. He knows how to let himself in […]

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I grew up in the back of two-door family cars ranging from a ’67 Camaro to an ’83 Civic 1500 “S”. It never seemed like a hardship to me. Nor does it seem like a hardship to have my six-year-old son in the back of my Accord Coupe. He knows how to let himself in and out of the back seat. It’s no different from having a four-door sedan and letting him out of the back door. Ninety-nine percent of the time I don’t even think about it.

The other one percent of the time is when I clean the interior of the car. It takes the strength of Hercules and the flexibility of a Cirque du Soleil headliner to get the explosion of fast food, Legos, school paperwork, and miscellaneous unidentifiable items out of the cave behind the front seats. And then I have to condition the leather, you see, which would work better if my arms were between six and eighteen inches longer. So having done all that this past Sunday, I figured I’d do my other least favorite job: brake dust removal. I was already in a bit of a bad mood, crouching next to my Griot’s Garage bucket and shaking out my favorite horse-hair wheel brush, when I saw it.

Oh, hell no.


It was just a two-inch scratch on the rim of the rear wheel, from parallel parking downtown. Most people wouldn’t think twice about it. But I just about lost my mind, because:

a) I don’t scratch wheels. In more than fifteen years of owning cars with low-profile alloy wheels, I’d only scraped one wheel prior to Sunday.
b) That wheel also being one of the wheels on my Accord. I’d scraped it a few months ago on a curb. But two weeks ago I had the tires rotated as part of a 22,500-mile service, which meant that this was a second scrape, likely from the same thing.

The idea that I’d scraped two wheels in under a month was enough to make me consider tearing up my license and riding a bicycle downtown from now on. I was still in a foul mood as I put some Armor All on the front tires, which were torn up from a couple of trackdays.

Wait.

I’d just had the tires rotated front to rear. By rights, the worn shoulders should have been on the back now. But they were still up front. And a quick check of the other three wheels revealed that none of them were scraped. That was good news because it meant that my lifetime wheel damage count was stuck at one. But it meant that I’d been walljobbed.

Car and Driver’s brilliant and innovative technical editor, Patrick Bedard, wrote a column entitled “The Wall Job” back in the magazine’s glory days. A “wall job”, if you haven’t already figured it out, is when a shop takes a car in for service, parks it against the wall for a few days, then returns it to the customer along with a bill for work that the customer cannot readily verify. The various consumer-protection laws that require  the customer be given the option of getting the “old parts” back are meant to address the wall-jobbing problem. I don’t know how effective they are. To begin with, most people can’t tell the difference between a control module for a Rolls-Royce Ghost and a distributor cap for a Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, and they aren’t interested in getting a bag full of mystery junk with their credit-card receipt.

Furthermore, much of modern automotive service leaves no parts behind. The five hours of diagnosis with a Bosch “Hammer” tool that your dealer supposedly put in before figuring out why your 964 Carrera stalls at lights? The road testing that was necessary to figure out that mystery vibration? How do you know how much of it was done, if any?

The first thing I did when I realized I’d been wall-jobbed on my tire rotation was to pop the hood on the Accord and look carefully at the oil. Oil changes are famous walljob candidates, but in this case the dealer had done right: the oil was clear and clean. The filter, too, looked new. So that much, as least, was correct. On the other hand, I had serious doubts that the “multi-point visual inspection” required by Honda, and paid for by me, had been performed.

I looked at the receipt and saw that I’d paid $19.95 plus tax for the rotation. That’s something I can do myself, but it takes me a bit of time and annoyance to do it. Twenty bucks to save a dirty half hour of my time is a deal with which I can live. But twenty bucks for nothing? The hell with that.

This morning I called the dealership. My service advisor was brusque at first. “Why do you think your tires haven’t been rotated?” I explained. She seemed doubtful. “What do you want me to do?”

“I want my twenty bucks back.”

“Are you willing to bring the car by so we can look at it?”

“Absolutely.”

“Sometimes it’s hard to tell if the tires have been rotated.”

“Not in this case.” And then I discussed the nature of my part-time job as an automotive writer and how I could earn twenty dollars back by mentioning the name of the dealer in an article.

“We’ll call you back.” Which they did, an hour later. Good news! My entire seventy-eight dollar service had been refunded. And they’d be happy to rotate my tires for free. I told them I’d handle it myself, and that I was satisfied with the deal. In truth, I wasn’t. Not really. From now until the time my car is out of warranty, I’ll be verifying everything they claim to have done myself. I could change dealers, but what’s the point? The new dealer could be just as bad, or worse. Better to deal with these people. Maybe they’ll be more likely to do the work now.

I’ve written time and time again about how far more of the car business revolves around dealers than most people realize. Everything from product mix to warranty terms is a product of interactions with dealers. They are enshrined by state laws that the dealer associations purchase at considerable expense. They are the true customers of the manufacturers. And when their interests conflict with yours, they will nearly always win the battle.

After hanging up the phone, I asked myself if this incident would keep me from buying another Honda. The truthful answer is: probably not. I don’t like Honda dealers in general, and I’ve yet to see one that treats the customer with the consideration and truthfulness that I’ve experienced as an owner of BMWs, Audis, Mercedes-Benzes, and even Land Rovers, but that’s what you get for shopping in the discount aisle. Wal-Mart doesn’t treat its customers the way that Nordstrom does, and Honda dealers don’t treat their customers the way that Audi dealers do. Moreover, Honda can’t do much to change the state of affairs any more than a husband in a thirty-year marriage can dictate terms to his wife, and for pretty much the same reasons.

If the manufacturers had any real power on the ground of customer/dealer interactions, they’d make damned sure dealers didn’t endanger their next thirty-three-thousand dollar transaction to make a quick twenty bucks on a walljob tire rotation. But dealers don’t look at it that way. They see the chance to make a few hundred, or even a few thousand dollars, every day. That adds up in a hurry, and it makes a lot more difference to the bottom line than another “mini-deal” to some jerk who has the invoice price and the incentives printed out in a manila folder and doesn’t want to pay a penny of net profit on his next car.

So from now on, I’ll treat my dealer like Reagan treated Gorbachev. Trust, but verify. And if the day ever comes that my opinion or my vote might possibly matter to anyone as regards the possibility of manufacturer-owned stores in Ohio, I’ll be right there in the ballot box. But really, what chance is there of that? What chance do mere voters have against people who make twenty dollars a shot all day, every day, for precisely nothing? How do you out-vote someone who uses your own money to buy votes? Didn’t there used to be a political party that promised to rebalance the scale in the favor of the consumer? What about the Supreme Court? I hear they’ve been doing a lot for individual liberties lately – but when it comes to dealer franchise protection, they sided with the multi-millionaire “little guys”, not the customer.

I guess you really can put a price on change. That price is $19.95.

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Honda’s LMP2 Prototype Withdrawn From 2015 Pikes Peak Hill Climb http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/hondas-lmp2-prototype-withdrawn-from-2015-pikes-peak-hill-climb/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/hondas-lmp2-prototype-withdrawn-from-2015-pikes-peak-hill-climb/#comments Fri, 26 Jun 2015 18:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1100713 Honda’s HPD ARX-04b LMP2 prototype set to climb Pikes Peak this weekend has withdrawn from the annual event. The ARX’s withdrawal comes after a turbocharger failure created extensive damage to the prototype’s engine, GTSpirit reports, preventing it and IndyCar driver Justin Wilson from practicing Tuesday and Wednesday. As the practice sessions were necessary in order […]

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Honda HPD ARX-04b Circa Spa 6Hr 2015

Honda’s HPD ARX-04b LMP2 prototype set to climb Pikes Peak this weekend has withdrawn from the annual event.

The ARX’s withdrawal comes after a turbocharger failure created extensive damage to the prototype’s engine, GTSpirit reports, preventing it and IndyCar driver Justin Wilson from practicing Tuesday and Wednesday. As the practice sessions were necessary in order to compete, there was no other option but to pull out of this year’s field.

According to HPD CEO Art St. Cyr, entering the ARX was done as “an exploratory exercise” meant to gather information for further improvements to the prototype’s V6 engine and chassis, a goal achieved in spite of the mechanical failures experienced. St. Cyr aims to return to Pikes Peak in 2016 with the ARX.

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Renault-Nissan’s Carlos Ghosn Banks $16M In 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/renault-nissans-carlos-ghosn-banks-16m-in-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/renault-nissans-carlos-ghosn-banks-16m-in-2014/#comments Tue, 23 Jun 2015 16:00:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1097801 Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn did well for himself in 2014, banking around $16 million in compensation compared to the salaries of other automotive CEOs. Breaking down the numbers, Nissan paid Ghosn ¥1.035 billion ($8.39 million USD) during 2014, Reuters says, up 4 percent from what he made in 2013. On the Renault side, Ghosn took […]

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Carlos Ghosn

Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn did well for himself in 2014, banking around $16 million in compensation compared to the salaries of other automotive CEOs.

Breaking down the numbers, Nissan paid Ghosn ¥1.035 billion ($8.39 million USD) during 2014, Reuters says, up 4 percent from what he made in 2013. On the Renault side, Ghosn took home €7.2 million ($8.17 million), bringing total compensation to $16.56 million.

Ghosn’s combined paycheck is in line with compensation paid to two of the Detroit Three’s CEOs, where both Ford CEO Mark Fields and General Motors CEO Mary Barra made $16.8 million and $16.2 million respectively at the end of their first year helming their companies. Meanwhile, FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne’s compensation paints a complex portrait, with figures ranging between $8 million and $72 million depending on the source.

Among the rest of the ToHoSan Zaibatsu, Toyota’s Akio Toyoda made ¥229 million ($1.84 million) in 2014, while Honda’s Takanobu Ito brought home ¥150 million ($1.21 million).

In Germany, the Teutonic Trinity’s CEOs took home €6.57 million ($7.35 million – Audi’s Rupert Stadler), €7.25 million ($8.11 million – BMW’s Norbert Reithofer) and €9.35 ($10.5 million – Mercedes’ Dieter Zetsche).

Finally, under the remaining stripes of the Tricolore Français, PSA Peugeot Citroën CEO Carlos Tavares received €2.75 million ($3.07 million).

(Photo credit: Nissan)

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Honda Brings LMP2 Prototype To 2015 Pikes Peak Hill Climb http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/honda-brings-lmp2-prototype-to-2015-pikes-peak-hill-climb/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/honda-brings-lmp2-prototype-to-2015-pikes-peak-hill-climb/#comments Fri, 19 Jun 2015 19:00:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1096017 Having taken on Daytona and Sebring, Honda will bring its HPD ARX-04b LMP2 prototype to Pikes Peak for the 2015 edition of the historic hill climb. The HPD ARX-04b will be piloted by IndyCar and former F1 driver Justin Wilson, with power to come from a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6, AutoGuide reports. The car will also […]

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Honda HPD ARX-04b

Having taken on Daytona and Sebring, Honda will bring its HPD ARX-04b LMP2 prototype to Pikes Peak for the 2015 edition of the historic hill climb.

The HPD ARX-04b will be piloted by IndyCar and former F1 driver Justin Wilson, with power to come from a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6, AutoGuide reports. The car will also be the first full-carbon monocoque vehicle sanctioned by Pikes Peak authorities, where it will compete in the Unlimited class.

Honda says the effort is to test how the HPD’s chassis handles the climb, and what the high altitude will do to the production-based V6.

The 2015 edition of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb will occur June 28.

(Photo credit: Honda)

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Chart Of The Day: The Discontinued Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid Was All Kinds Of Rare http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/chart-day-discontinued-honda-accord-plug-hybrid-kinds-rare/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/chart-day-discontinued-honda-accord-plug-hybrid-kinds-rare/#comments Wed, 17 Jun 2015 13:00:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1093281 You thought you saw one once, didn’t you? A hint of blue trim was visible in the distance; some unique badging, as well. But then when you Googled the images at home later, you realized that no, the front fascia was too normal. You saw the ninth-generation Honda Accord’s hybrid model, not the plug-in hybrid. […]

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Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid Sales Chart

You thought you saw one once, didn’t you? A hint of blue trim was visible in the distance; some unique badging, as well.

But then when you Googled the images at home later, you realized that no, the front fascia was too normal. You saw the ninth-generation Honda Accord’s hybrid model, not the plug-in hybrid.

Indeed, spotting a Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid is now statistically not all that different from catching a glimpse of a Porsche 918 Spyder. You roar ahead, trying to get a closer look, but it’s already pulled into Jerry Seinfeld’s exclusive parking garage. Or in the case of the Plug-In Hybrid, a Honda executive’s enclosed charging station.

As if Honda dealers haven’t had a hard enough time stocking Accord Hybrids, the Accord Plug-In Hybrid was so rarely built that only 1,030 have been sold in the United States since the car arrived in January 2013. That’s an average of 36 sales per month. No wonder Honda is, wait for it, pulling the plug

Yes, the current version of the Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid is done for. Only fifteen have left showrooms over the course of the last three months. We’re now some 20 months removed from the Plug-In’s best ever month of 71 sales. After reporting 526 Plug-In sales in 2013, volume slid 15% to 449 units last year. Year-to-date, the Accord PHEV is down 64% to just 55 units.

accord pi hybrid

Meanwhile, May 2015 turned out to be the non-Plug-In Accord Hybrid’s best month in a year with 1,463 sales, equal to 4.5% of the overall Accord lineup’s volume last month. In 2014, for every Accord PHEV sold, American Honda sold 31 copies of the Accord Hybrid. Over the course of its 29 months, the Plug-In accounted for just 0.12% of all U.S. Accord sales.

Total Accord sales are down 16% so far this year, which makes it America’s fifth-best-selling car, down from third at this stage of 2014.

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 Civic Hybrid, CNG and Accord Plug-In Hybrid Models Get the Axe http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/honda-civic-hybrid-cng-and-accord-plug-in-hybrid-models-get-the-axe/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/honda-civic-hybrid-cng-and-accord-plug-in-hybrid-models-get-the-axe/#comments Mon, 15 Jun 2015 16:58:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1092913 UPDATE: Clarification on CR-Z at bottom. Honda is doing a bit of late spring cleaning as it looks to get its hybrid house in order. The automaker announced production of the Civic CNG has ended and multiple hybrid models will soon get the axe. Honda isn’t abandoning hybrid technology, however, as John Mendel, Executive Vice President, […]

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2015 Honda Civic Hybrid

UPDATE: Clarification on CR-Z at bottom.

Honda is doing a bit of late spring cleaning as it looks to get its hybrid house in order. The automaker announced production of the Civic CNG has ended and multiple hybrid models will soon get the axe.

Honda isn’t abandoning hybrid technology, however, as John Mendel, Executive Vice President, Automobile Division of American Honda Motor Co., Inc., hinted there are replacements in the pipeline in a release sent out today.

According to his statement – titled “Advancing Environment a Natural Fit in Honda Vehicle Lineup” – the Honda Civic CNG and Civic Hybrid will end with the ninth-generation compact. The tenth-generation Civic will instead offer two engines – one normally aspirated and one turbocharged, in addition to the Type R – and Honda will abandon its single motor hybrid system in favor of two- and three-motor variants.

Another model to get the axe is the Accord Plug-In Hybrid. Mendel states it won’t be offered going forward, but a new Accord Hybrid will debut early next year. Also being introduced next year is Honda’s next-generation fuel cell vehicle along with an “all-new battery electric model and the all-new plug-in hybrid model.”

The latest hybrid cull at Honda comes a little over a year after the company killed of the Honda Insight due to slow sales.

The end of the single motor hybrid IMA system also spells the end for the Honda CR-Z, at least in its current form, though when that will take place is uncertain.

Robyn Eagles, spokesperson for Honda North America, stated the CR-Z will continue into MY2016 and Honda is still committed to green technologies, but the CR-Z’s technological makeup beyond 2016 is uncertain.

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Patent Filing Reveals Smaller Sibling To Honda NSX http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/patent-filing-reveals-smaller-sibling-to-honda-nsx/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/patent-filing-reveals-smaller-sibling-to-honda-nsx/#comments Thu, 11 Jun 2015 20:00:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1090761 While the Honda S660 may never see these shores, the automaker may have a baby NSX in mind for the U.S. market based on a recent patent filing. Seven CAD illustrations culled from the filing show a vehicle pulling cues from both current and first-gen NSXs with some S660 for good measure, AutoGuide notes. The […]

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Mystery-Honda-Sports-Car-01

While the Honda S660 may never see these shores, the automaker may have a baby NSX in mind for the U.S. market based on a recent patent filing.

Seven CAD illustrations culled from the filing show a vehicle pulling cues from both current and first-gen NSXs with some S660 for good measure, AutoGuide notes. The illustrations are said to have been created in Honda’s U.S. design studio.

Based on is there, the model may likely have either a mid- or rear-engine layout; whether it will follow in the NSX’s hybrid tire tracks — a setup featuring a twin-turbo V6 and three electric motors good for 550 total horsepower — with its own version remains to be seen.

For now, though, this is close as anyone is going to get to a U.S.-market Beat or S2000 revival. It also wouldn’t be the first time Honda has contemplated such a vehicle, as the automaker has been working on similar designs since at least 2012.

Mystery-Honda-Sports-Car-01 Mystery-Honda-Sports-Car-02 Mystery-Honda-Sports-Car-03 Mystery-Honda-Sports-Car-04 Mystery-Honda-Sports-Car-05 Mystery-Honda-Sports-Car-06 Mystery-Honda-Sports-Car-07

[Image credit: Honda]

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Fatal Accident In Louisiana Could Be Seventh Linked To Takata Airbag Recall http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/fatal-accident-in-louisiana-could-be-seventh-linked-to-takata-airbag-recall/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/fatal-accident-in-louisiana-could-be-seventh-linked-to-takata-airbag-recall/#comments Thu, 11 Jun 2015 18:00:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1090689 A fatal accident in Louisiana involving a Takata-equipped Honda may be the seventh fatality linked to the supplier’s ongoing airbag crisis. Kylan Langlinais of Lafayette, La. lost her life in early April of this year when her 2005 Honda Civic crashed into a utility pole at 4 a.m., Bloomberg says, at which point the driver-side […]

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Takata Agua Prieta Mexico Facility

A fatal accident in Louisiana involving a Takata-equipped Honda may be the seventh fatality linked to the supplier’s ongoing airbag crisis.

Kylan Langlinais of Lafayette, La. lost her life in early April of this year when her 2005 Honda Civic crashed into a utility pole at 4 a.m., Bloomberg says, at which point the driver-side airbag catastrophically deployed, spraying metal shrapnel throughout the cabin.

As noted in the complaint filed in federal court Monday, a recall notice for her Honda arrived in the mail two days after the crash, two days before her passing.

The most recent fatality linked to Takata’s airbags came in January, when Carlos Solis IV of Spring, Texas lost his life following a crash in his 2002 Honda Accord, marking the fourth fatal accident in the United States reported by Honda prior to Langlinais’ accident. Three other confirmed deaths, another under investigation, and at least 60 injuries were also reported by the automaker for the U.S. market, while another fatality was confirmed in Malaysia.

The report of a new accident possibly linked to Takata comes nearly a month after the supplier admitted as many as 34 million vehicles in the U.S. could be affected, leading to one of the largest product recalls in U.S. history.

[Photo credit: Takata]

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QOTD: What OEM Wheel Designs Make Their Respective Cars Look Cheap? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/qotd-which-oem-wheel-designs-completely-ruin-the-look-of-their-respective-cars/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/qotd-which-oem-wheel-designs-completely-ruin-the-look-of-their-respective-cars/#comments Wed, 10 Jun 2015 16:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1089081 Regulation. It dictates the majority of modern car design. Whether it be for pedestrian safety, crash worthiness, economies of scale, or fuel efficiency, the basic building blocks of modern cars are decided well before pencil is met with freshly-bleached paper (or, these days, before stylus meets tablet). That last item – fuel efficiency – is […]

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06 - 2013 Scion FR-S - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden

Regulation. It dictates the majority of modern car design. Whether it be for pedestrian safety, crash worthiness, economies of scale, or fuel efficiency, the basic building blocks of modern cars are decided well before pencil is met with freshly-bleached paper (or, these days, before stylus meets tablet).

That last item – fuel efficiency – is as much a matter of aerodynamics as it is what’s under the hood, and aerodynamic efficiency isn’t just about fenders and trunk lids.

Which brings me to wheels – specifically, OEM wheels – and how absolutely ugly they’ve gotten the last few years.

Honda-Accord-Coupe-2000-1680x1050-001

Back in 2000, the Accord Coupe rocked some simple, stylish, but decidedly less flat-faced wheels. Assuming you can find a set that hasn’t been oxidized to the point of resembling Brittany Spears’ pre-Proactiv face, be prepared to pay dearly as they still command over $100 a corner on eBay.

2015 Honda Accord EX-L V-6 Coupe

Even the latest Accord Coupe, official subject of many a Jack Baruth editorial, has some of the most handsome wheels on the market today fitted to a car priced significantly less than a Vanderbilt nut. They give the Accord an upscale appearance without relying too much on what’s fashionable now but won’t be this fall. Hopefully, like their predecessors, these dubs will age well with time.

Also, knowing Honda, the wheel design probably exceeds any aerodynamic specs given to the Engineer in Charge of Precision Circular Metallic Tire Mounting Apparatuses.

Unfortunately, this kind of design foresight isn’t always the case.

2013 Subaru BRZ. Photo courtesy Subaru.

I’ve never seen a wheel design that’s so unnecessarily fashion-driven while still being utterly yawn-worthy as the wheel used on the Toyobaru twins with its H&M painted pockets and overall Overstock.com cheapness.

For starters – and this isn’t the fault of the wheel design, but – on a sports car, the last thing I want is a wheel to sit way inside the fender. If the wheel face isn’t flush with the fender, I want it to be damn close to it. The rear wheel on the Toyobaru twins look like a cowering dog hiding in the corner after eating the entire thanksgiving turkey.

Secondly, this wheel design makes the twins look like they’re riding on casters, no doubt accentuated by rubber that’s seemingly narrower than the wheel itself.

And, to top it all off, why – WHY – couldn’t Toyota and Subaru design One. More. Wheel? Looking at a BRZ and FR-S from a side profile perspective, one can only differentiate the two by their center caps. And if you’re going to pick just a single wheel design, why go with one that makes the rest of the car look cheap?

Every single time I see a BRZ or FR-S from the front, I think, “Hrrmmm, why haven’t I bought one of these?” And after realizing it’s because I’m poor but I could still, probably, maybe, possibly justify living in automotive enthusiast indentured servitude, I look at the side of one of these cars and go, “Nope. This is cheap. Cheap. Cheap. Cheap.”

Same goes for the new Scion iM, from concept to reality…

2014_LAAS_Scion_iM_Concept_015

EXPENSIVE!

2015_NYIAS_Scion_iM_003

CHEAP!

What wheel do you think completely ruins the overall design of its respective automobile?

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While You Were Sleeping: Subcompact Crossover Meth, Rare Cars Are a Drug and Saturn Dealer Wants His Money Back http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/while-you-were-sleeping-subcompact-crossover-meth-rare-cars-are-a-drug-and-saturn-dealer-wants-his-money-back/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/while-you-were-sleeping-subcompact-crossover-meth-rare-cars-are-a-drug-and-saturn-dealer-wants-his-money-back/#comments Tue, 09 Jun 2015 16:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1088329 They’re potent, popular and can’t be stopped. Everyone wants to buy one. Every dealer wants to sell one. Just like the crack-like epidemic of SUVs in the ’90s, the subcompact crossover is the blue meth of today. Here’s what happened overnight. Bored Yet? U.S. Subcompact Crossover Sales Jumped 95% In May 2015 (Good Car Bad […]

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2016 Honda HR-V

They’re potent, popular and can’t be stopped. Everyone wants to buy one. Every dealer wants to sell one. Just like the crack-like epidemic of SUVs in the ’90s, the subcompact crossover is the blue meth of today.

Here’s what happened overnight.

2016 Honda HR-VBored Yet? U.S. Subcompact Crossover Sales Jumped 95% In May 2015 (Good Car Bad Car on Kinja)
May was a great month for the HR-V and many of its rivals.

1288840260658991018This Has To Be The Coolest, Weirdest Home For A Slant 6 (Jalopnik)
“The 3700 was basically just a slightly modified Spanish Dart (which sounds like a euphemism for something violent or gross).”

AR-306089974Saturn was a loser for years — but who knew? (Automotive News)
Dealer “files suit against Deloitte seeking $13.8 million in compensation for his post-2005 Saturn investments.”

driving-licence_2975873bDVLA website crashes on launch day leaving motorists facing car hire fiasco (The Telegraph)
“DVLA tells motorists to destroy the papers from June 8, as they are no longer needed,” but website crashes and leaves license holders stranded.

Costco-Car-SalesCostco Sold Nearly 400,000 Cars Last Year (AutoGuide)
“That figure is twice as high as it was back in 2008 and this performance puts them on the back bumper of AutoNation.”

car-transport-six-ring-01-660x346Car Transport Trucks are Big in China (CarNewsChina)
“The enormous vehicle measured at least 25 meters long, and transported only a wrecked Porsche Cayenne when I met it.”

73058vau-insignia_ct_0539Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer axed in the UK (Autocar)
“It has been dropped due to high re-engineering costs of fitting the new ‘Whisper’ diesel engine.”

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Piston Slap: Dear Honda, What is Love? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/piston-slap-dear-honda-what-is-love/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/piston-slap-dear-honda-what-is-love/#comments Tue, 02 Jun 2015 11:15:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1080353   Chris writes: Hello Sajeev, Like many of the people who write to you, I am having trouble deciding if I should keep my current car or trade it in for a new one. I currently own a 2010 Honda Civic EX-L with 140,000 miles. It has been the single most reliable car I have […]

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Civic_Pride_Delche

Baby Don’t Hurt Me. (photo courtesy: OP)

Chris writes:

Hello Sajeev,

Like many of the people who write to you, I am having trouble deciding if I should keep my current car or trade it in for a new one.

I currently own a 2010 Honda Civic EX-L with 140,000 miles. It has been the single most reliable car I have ever owned. I keep it meticulously maintained and generally change its oil every 6 to 8 weeks. Otherwise, I have only paid for a set of brakes and new tires.

A week ago, I test drove a brand new Honda Accord Touring and fell in love. The dealership has offered me an excellent deal that includes trading in my Civic. My dilemma is that I feel an allegiance to the Civic. The car has the soul of a toaster and is not exciting to drive, but like a trusty horse, it gets me everywhere I want to go without any complaints. The Civic will eventually need repairs as it approaches 200K but I feel like I would be letting it down by trading it away. On the other hand, I can easily afford the payments for the Accord, but I generally try to avoid debt.

What should I do Sajeev? Should I cut the Civic loose and replace it or keep on driving until she can carry me no more?

Sajeev answers:

Define that moment you “fell in love” with the new Accord.  Love can be fleeting and loyalties/commitments break shortly afterwards.

Also consider the information given after that statement of love. I question your resolve: you feel like you’re letting down your Civic? You generally try to avoid debt?

No way are you in the game for a new car. Considering the mileage and your (rather aggressive) maintenance routine, the Civic is worth more to you than anyone else. Keep it until the repairs cost more than its value on the open market…or to you. Right now big-ticket repairs like transmissions, rust damage, blown head gasket, etc. are the only reasons you’ll change your course.

If that resonates with you, run with it.

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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FCA, Ford, Honda Expand Respective Takata Airbag Recalls http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/fca-ford-honda-expand-respective-takata-airbag-recalls/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/fca-ford-honda-expand-respective-takata-airbag-recalls/#comments Fri, 29 May 2015 17:00:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1078090 FCA, Ford and Honda are adding more models to their recalls involving Takata’s airbags, the first following the supplier’s admission on the issue last week. FCA is recalling 1.8 million units equipped with Takata’s airbags, while Ford and Honda are recalling 950,000 and 350,000 units, Automotive News reports. The new recalls follow the supplier’s statement […]

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2006 Ford GT Heritage Edition

FCA, Ford and Honda are adding more models to their recalls involving Takata’s airbags, the first following the supplier’s admission on the issue last week.

FCA is recalling 1.8 million units equipped with Takata’s airbags, while Ford and Honda are recalling 950,000 and 350,000 units, Automotive News reports. The new recalls follow the supplier’s statement last week, where it admitted as many as 34 million vehicles were equipped with defective airbags.

FCA’s recall adds 1.4 million units with driver-side airbags to the 2014 recall of 3.3 million vehicles covering 2004-2007 Dodge Ram pickups, Chrysler 300 and Dodge Dakota, among other models within the timeframe. An additional 437,947 Dodge Rams from the 2003 model year are being recalled for their passenger side airbags.

Over at Ford, 593,000 units will receive recall notices for both driver- and passenger-side airbags. The affected models are the 2005-2014 Mustang built at Flat Rock, the 2005-2006 GT assembled at Wixom, the 2004 Ranger put together at Edison, and the 2004-2006 Ranger brought to life at Twin Cities. The new figure brings the global total to 1.5 million models, of which 1.49 million are in North America, 1.3 million in the United States.

Finally, Honda will recall 350,000 2005 Civics and 2006-2007 Accords for their passenger-side units, and could recall more “if Takata or the NHTSA later determine that a defect exists in vehicles sold or registered beyond” the 13-state-and-territory region where the current passenger-side airbag recall campaign is being carried out, according to representative Chris Martin.

[Source: Mecum Auctions]

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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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