Analysis: In The Land Of Boring, Honda Is King

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler

Honda’s 2014 Odyssey doesn’t have any of the stuff that enthusiasts care about. Never mind the fact that it’s a minivan, but there’s no powertrain upgrades or shiny rims for its midcycle refresh. But you know what it does have? A vacuum cleaner. Honda partnered with ShopVac to create a vacuum cleaner for the Odyssey, one that can run indefinitely with the engine on, or for as long as 8 minutes with the engine off. If you have small children or pets, this is a god send. I won’t label it a game changer or say that Honda is about to dominate the minivan market, but it is going to sell a lot of buyers on the showroom floor when they see this.

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

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

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

Derek Kreindler
Derek Kreindler

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  • CelticPete CelticPete on Mar 29, 2013

    This is actually very "Honda". This idea that Honda at heart a Japanese version of BMW is the real misguided idea. Honda leaned A LITTTLE BIT to the fun side in the 90s with cars like the GS-R. But people bought those because they were very reliable and practical as well. They still werent exactly equivalent to a fox body mustang with a V8 in terms of fun potential..

  • Corey Lewis Corey Lewis on Apr 09, 2013

    Next up, 2014 Accord EX-L with Mobile Director!

  • Stephen My "mid-level" limited edition Tonino Lambo Ferraccio Junior watch has performed flawlessly with attractive understated style for nearly 20 years. Their cars are not so much to my taste-- my Acura NSX is just fine. Not sure why you have such condescension towards these excellent timepieces. They are attractive without unnecessary flamboyance, keep perfect time and are extremely reliable. They are also very reasonably priced.
  • Dana You don’t need park, you set auto hold (button on the console). Every BMW answers to ‘Hey, BMW’, but you can set your own personal wake word in iDrive. It takes less than 5 minutes to figure that that out, btw. The audio stays on which is handy for Teams meetings. Once your phone is out of range, the audio is stopped on the car. You can always press down on the audio volume wheel which will mute it, if it bothers you. I found all the controls very intuitive.
  • ToolGuy Not sure if I've ever said this, or if you were listening:• Learn to drive, people.Also, learn which vehicles to take home with you and which ones to walk away from. You are an adult now, think for yourself. (Those ads are lying to you. Your friendly neighborhood automotive dealer, also lying to you. Politicians? Lying to you. Oh yeah, learn how to vote lol.)Addendum for the weak-minded who think I am advocating some 'driver training' program: Learning is not something you do in school once for all time. Learning how to drive is not something that someone does for you. It is a continuous process driven by YOU. Learn how to learn how to drive, and learn to drive. Keep on learning how to drive. (You -- over there -- especially you, you kind of suck at driving. LOL.)Example: Do you know where your tires are? When you are 4 hours into a 6 hour interstate journey and change lanes, do you run over the raised center line retroreflective bumpers, or do you steer between them?
  • Mike Bradley Advertising, movies and TV, manufacturing, and car culture have all made speeding and crashing the ultimate tests of manhood. Throw in the political craziness and you've got a perfect soup of destruction and costs.
  • Lou_BC Jay Leno had said that EV's would be good since they could allow the continued existence of ICE cars for enthusiasts. That sentiment makes sense. Many buyers see vehicles as a necessary appliance.