2018 Honda Pilot Elite Review - Road Trippin'

The plan was, as are all great and awful ideas alike, both simple and last-minute. A family reunion, over Memorial Day weekend, with a couple dozen family members spread from all over the East Coast, and ages spread from 5 to 93. Let’s pick a small touristy town with limited lodging choices — all while a major regional soccer tournament is happening — just for fun.

And we were hauling my mother along with the kids, which meant we needed room for five and luggage for eight. Why does one person need a 29-inch spinner, while my kids, my wife, and I fit everything needed for the long weekend in a 22-inch carry-on? Trips like this typically mean minivan, but, despite my protests, nobody seems to buy minivans anymore. So a three-row crossover is the best alternative. I figured that since Honda makes a hell of a minivan, any crossover built in the same factory has to be at least okay.

Thus the 2018 Honda Pilot Elite became our steed for a long weekend road trip. Did it make me forget my beloved van?

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Another Model Loses Its Manual Transmission

There’s probably no shortage of eyeball rolling over this headline, as manual transmissions wouldn’t be fading out of the marketplace if buyers actually desired one.

Once upon a time, a stick-shift guaranteed better fuel economy, but those days are pretty much gone. It was also a great way to reduce the entry price of a particular model, but automakers’ thirst for larger margins and fewer configurations means what few base, stick-shift models roll off the line are often hidden from consumer view in the real world. This only serves to sink popularity even further.

The ongoing trend has apparently reached the Honda HR-V, which undergoes a mild refresh for the 2019 model year. As part of this update, say goodbye to the six-speed manual in Honda’s smallest ‘ute.

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Rare Rides: A 1987 Honda Civic Wagovan 4WD, the Everybody Wagon

This isn’t the first time we’ve presented a utility-minded multipurpose hatchback in the Rare Rides series. Rather, it’s very nearly the culmination of the major players in the segment. In addition to today’s ride, we’ve had the Colt Vista, and Nissan’s Prairie (now owned by an enthusiast collector), as well as a pristine and pricey Tercel 4WD Wagon.

After today, we’re missing just two: an Eagle Summit/Mitsubishi Expo, and the last-of-breed Nissan Axxess. Onward, to Wagovan.

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Honda's Largest and Smallest Crossovers Go Under the Knife for 2019

Despite early reviews featured on this site, ones that surely didn’t please Honda PR, the Honda HR-V subcompact crossover is a hit, has always been a hit, and that’s really all that matters to the automaker. American buyers quite enjoy the HR-V, so Honda felt the little ute deserved a mild makeover for the 2019 model year. It isn’t the only Honda-branded crossover to enter 2019 with a new face, however.

The three-row Pilot, always an upright, strong-selling foil to Toyota’s Highlander, sees its own refresh for 2019.

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Is the New Honda Insight the Perfect Honda Hybrid Two Decades Too Late?

Attractive. Well received. A winner on paper. Technologically advanced. Badged with a logo that keeps producing record sales numbers.

One would assume that this is all that’s needed for the Honda Insight to be a raging marketplace success, at least in 1999.

1999 this is most certainly not, which highlights one glaring problem: the 2019 Insight is an attractive, well-received, impressive-on-paper, technologically-advanced Honda sedan.

Sedan. Sedan? Yes, sedan.

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End-of-term Report: 37,000 Miles and Three Years in a 2015 Honda Odyssey EX

We weren’t the typical minivan buyers. Yet with only one child (at the time), and desirous of full-size pickups, and frequent travellers of off-road paths not designed for an especially low-slung vehicle, we acquired a new 2015 Honda Odyssey EX in June 2015.

Three years and 37,000 miles later, after mountains of dog hair and many pounds of cracker crumbs and sand from a couple dozen beaches proved the merit of the OEM floor mats, our Odyssey’s odyssey is complete.

Do minivans still make sense in 2018? Do Odysseys hold up to the rigors of a young family’s life? And was it worth paying a premium for America’s favorite (retail) van?

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Buy/Drive/Burn: 2018 Midsize Four-door Trucks

Today’s Buy/Drive/Burn trio was generated by an interesting conversation last week over in TTAC’s Slack room. The recent resurgence in midsize truck offerings has presented buyers with much more choice than just a handful of years ago. Should buyers pursue surety in resale value, comfort, and the newest design? Is it possible not to buy too much truck?

Maybe burning some trucks to the ground will help us answer these questions.

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2019 Honda Insight First Drive - Comfort and Value Meet Fuel Efficiency

A few months ago, I wrote about the Honda Clarity PHEV, saying it’s a fine but unremarkable fuel-saver sedan and commuter car.

Prepare for déjà vu.

You see, Honda has brought forth another Insight hybrid for 2019. And my take on this Civic-related sedan is much like that of the Clarity – well-built, great for commuters, and remarkably unremarkable.

I say “Civic-related” because the Insight does share bones with the Civic, but there are key differences, especially with its skin. Yet Honda also sets it up as the “mature” compact sedan in its lineup. More on that later.

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Seismic Activity Hampering Japanese Auto Production

A strong earthquake shook western Japan on Monday morning. The 6.1-magnitude quake destroyed property, left tens of thousands without power, stranded commuters, and disrupted Osaka’s industrial sector. Honda, Mitsubishi Motors, and Toyota’s Daihatsu unit all have production facilities in the area and were forced to shut down temporarily.

While Daihatsu remained confident its facilities could be reopened later in the day, Honda’s Suzuka factory in the Mie prefecture is one of the oldest plants on its roster. Despite being modernized over the years, it might not have been able to withstand the vibrations as well as newer facilities. The company said it would remain shuttered as employees perform safety and spot checks.

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Your Future Honda EV Might Have a General Motors Battery

Not if you’re planning on leasing a Clarity Electric, of course, though future iterations of Honda’s greenest model could use what General Motors is pushing. Which is: a far more energy dense battery.

On Thursday, the two automakers announced a partnership to develop smaller, longer-ranged batteries for use in electric vehicles, primarily those sold in North America. Once the two achieve a breakthrough, GM will become Honda’s supplier.

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Long-term Update: 2014 Accord EX-L V6 6MT at 60,000 Miles (and 2013 Accord EX-L V6 6MT, Too!)

I didn’t fear failure when I was young. I feared being just like everybody else, another face in the crowd. In a word, I feared being average. It seemed like a fate worse than death. Well, look at me now, living in suburbia, just another middle-aged white guy with a lawn and a 401(k) and a nagging worry that each and every racing physical I take will reveal that I do, in fact, have inoperable Stage IV cancer of the colon. “You have 42 pounds of undigested meat in there,” the doctor will sigh, “just like Elvis.”

The universe depends on my average-ness. I work three jobs and I pay a truly astounding amount of taxes to at least five separate governmental entities. I haven’t taken a non-working vacation since 2006. There is not a single assistance program anywhere for which I qualify. About a decade ago I decided to go back to school in the evenings and get my doctorate in literature. “As a 35-year-old white man,” the dean told me, “you wouldn’t be eligible for any of our assistantships.”

“Not a problem,” I replied, “I’ll pay cash. How much does the degree cost?”

“Well…” he huffed. “There’s no actual cash price per se because everybody is on assistance, which is only fair given today’s bigoted climate.”

“So I can’t pay to go to school, because nobody pays and you don’t know how much I would have to pay, because there’s no cash price for presumed bigots who are not on assistance because they’re ineligible for assistance.”

“I’m not sure that’s a fair way to phrase it.” Each and every day I have a better idea of what motivated the character of “D-FENS” in Falling Down. He, too, was an average fellow.

As fate would have it, I have a perfectly average car, and a perfectly average payment. Two of them, actually, although I only have a payment on one of them. Let’s see how they are doing.

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Ace of Base: 2019 Honda Fit LX

Regular readers of this Ace of Base series (all three of you) know a sure-fire way into my penny-pinching heart is for a manufacturer to offer a bright palette of no-charge colors on the cheapest trim of a particular model.

Helios Yellow? Aegean Blue? Milano Red? The fabulously-named Orange Fury shown here? Honda will slather them all (well, one per car) on its base Fit, the LX. Let’s dive in.

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Honda Thinks a Small, Cheap EV Is Just the Right Fit

You’d be forgiven for not remembering the Honda Fit EV. Hardly a Bolt or Leaf, the short-ranged electric was available for lease in California for a very brief time; some 1,100 examples arrived on U.S. shores between July of 2012 and October of 2014.

Right now, the only way to get into an electric vehicle bearing the Honda badge is to move to California or Oregon and take out a pretty decent lease on a Clarity EV. That could soon change, as Honda plans to build a successor to that early electric. Yes, it will still use the Fit as its muse.

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Buy/Drive/Burn: Sporty Liftbacks Hailing From 1994

Today’s edition of Buy/Drive/Burn was inspired by our previous Question of the Day on hatchback crapwagons.

In the North American vehicle timeline, the fading days of the Personal Luxury Coupe (PLC) saw the rise of a different kind of two-door for the masses. Gone was the upright formal vinyl roof, opera lamps, and trunk. En vogue was a sporty fastback profile and a strut-supported liftgate. Attainable and economic sporty driving is the name of the game, and our front-drive trio was right in the heat of things in 1994.

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Gaining Insight: Honda Begins Production of Hybrid Sedan, Challenging Market Awaits

The first-generation Honda Insight was a rare false-start for the company, marketed as a hatchback that had more doors than seats (three and two, respectively). Its atomic-egg styling enveloped a 67 horsepower 1.0-liter gasoline engine paired to a 10kW electric motor. The second-gen model, a more conventional car in terms of its styling and capacity, also fell a bit flat compared to the segment-leading Prius.

Honda’s betting the third time’s the charm, kicking off the mass production start of the all-new 2019 Honda Insight today at its plant in Indiana. Will this Insight electrify buyers or fizzle out? At first glance, it would at least appear they’ve got the styling right this time. Not everyone wants to shout that they’re driving a hybrid.

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If Only the Range Matched the Price: Honda's Clarity EV Leasing for $199 a Month

By that, we mean the figure “199,” not the overall cost of leasing. Moving on…

Honda’s only true EV, the Clarity Electric, began arriving at dealers in California and Oregon Thursday, completing a green trifecta that includes a plug-in hybrid variant and hydrogen fuel cell model. It also carries a lease price that undercuts its rivals by quite a bit.

While Clarity EV lessees stand to pay significantly less for their eco-conscious ride, both up front and on a monthly basis, they’d best familiarize themselves with the location of charging stations.

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Honda's Hottest Civic Sees a Second Price Bump

It’s a smokin’ deal compared to the first Honda Civic Type R to land on American shores. That vehicle, which carried a VIN ending in “1” without any numbers in front of it, went on the auction block at Bring-a-Trailer last June. A lucky(?) buyer took the Civic hatch home for $200,000.

Certain dealers marked up their own early examples, but greater availability and the passage of time soon had a predictable impact on the hot hatch’s window sticker. The Civic Type R remains an aspiration car with a mid-30k price tag.

Now it’s Honda’s turn to jack the Type R’s price, but it’s not likely to rattle anyone in the market for a compact four-door with a bad attitude.

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Honda Concept Previews a Smaller Type R, But Not for Us

Honda quietly unveiled the Small RS Concept hatchback at the Indonesia International Motor Show.

This concept is basically a mini Type R. It has a large rear wing, LED daytime running lights, gloss black accents, a small air intake in the hood, side skirts, wing mirrors, creases along the sides, a rear diffuser, and unique tailpipes.

Black wheels and orange paint round out the look.

No word on technical specs just yet.

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Teen Killed by Folding Third-Row Seat in Honda Odyssey

A 16-year-old boy was killed last week after being trapped behind the third-row seat of a 2004 Honda Odyssey.

The incident happened Tuesday in Cincinnati. Initial reports indicate that Kyle Plush was trying to retrieve tennis equipment from the cargo area of his family’s van when the third-row bench seat, which he was reaching over, unexpectedly folded. He was turned upside-down and stuck beneath the seat.

He managed to make two calls to 911, but died of asphyxia by chest compression before authorities arrived.

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Accord Sales Are Declining, so Honda Figures You Might Like a Cheaper Lease

There’s no danger of discontinuation, but customers aren’t beating a path to the Honda Accord’s door in the kind of numbers the automaker hoped for. Sales of the revamped-for-2018 midsize sedan fell 9.9 percent in the U.S. last month, with volume over the first three months of 2018 down 11.8 percent. That’s a problem.

What to do? If you’re Honda, the time-honored tradition of piling cash on the hood doesn’t seem all that attractive. Better to make those in the mood for a lease happy.

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Minivans Sales Show Some Buoyancy in the U.S., but Only Because of Two Automakers

You’d think the advent of dedicated electric vehicle platforms would breed a new era of flat-floored minivans, but most automakers just aren’t interested in going that route — internal combustion or otherwise. There’s no electric Chevrolet Venture on the horizon, nor will Ford resurrect the Aerostar in EV form and name it after a late ’60s muscle car.

Even in our clean, green future, SUVs reign.

The present, however, hasn’t abandoned the minivan, even if the segment is a shadow of its former self. March minivan sales in the U.S. topped that of last March, and year-to-date sales are up compared to 2017, despite the disappearance of two nameplates. Unlike SUVs and crossovers, however, there’s just not enough demand to put wind in every minivan model’s sales. It’s easy to imagine a near future where Fiat Chrysler and Honda own the segment.

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2018 Honda Clarity PHEV First Drive - Seeking Clarity North of NYC

Honda’s Clarity is an interesting, and likely oft overlooked, entry in the brand’s lineup. Available in electric, fuel cell, and plug-in hybrid versions, the Clarity is part of Honda’s strategy to electrify two-thirds of its global lineup by 2030.

Other key vehicles in this effort that are already on sale (or are soon to be) are the hybrid version of the latest Accord and the Civic-based Insight hybrid.

This first drive was different than the norm – our drive route wasn’t as comprehensive as most. I was behind the wheel for about 30 miles, with part of the drive taking place on gently curving suburban parkway and the rest in New York City traffic. No long stretches of interstate, no curving canyon roads.

Which is fine, since most Clarity buyers are going to use it as a commuter car. That’s certainly the case with the plug-in hybrid version I sampled north of New York City.

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2018 New York Auto Show Recap - Optimism in the City

Outside of my hometown of Chicago, New York City remains one of my favorite metropolises. I don’t know why – Manhattan is overstuffed with cars and people, garbage is put out on the sidewalks, hotel rooms are no oasis from street noise, and most goods and services are way too expensive.

Perhaps New York has a unique sort of charm that compensates for all its flaws, some sort of charisma that continues to exist despite the continuing transformation of Manhattan into a living Disney city for the wealthy.

I mean, in what other city would I be brazenly approached by a young man trying to sell me cocaine as I walked back to my hotel after some late-night pizza (partake, I did not. Drugs aren’t my thing. Pizza was good, though) while almost within sight of the most famous urban intersection in the world – one that was undoubtedly crowded to the gills even at that hour? In what other city would I have a surreal on-street argument with a fellow pedestrian over an innocent, touristy picture I took of a street sign? There’s this “only in New York” feeling, a sense that certain things happen to you that just wouldn’t elsewhere.

It’s the kind of place where you can swear bloody murder because the F train didn’t show, but find value in the 40-minute walk across lower Manhattan you undertake instead, all because you don’t feel like doing the logical thing and hailing a cab. SoHo, Little Italy, and Chinatown all look much better from on foot.

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Prototype No More: 2019 Honda Insight Prepares to Wade Back Into the Hybrid Fray

Honda’s remarkably fleshed-out Insight prototype has now emerged in production form, looking remarkably like the prototype. Go figure, that.

With the 2019 Insight now positioned between the compact Civic, from which it borrows a platform, and the midsize Accord, Honda wants to tempt green car buyers with an upscale appearance (and experience) they can’t find in the Toyota Prius line. If Honda’s estimate pans out, the sedan will boast better city fuel economy than the stalwart Prius.

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The Thin Green Line: 2018 Honda Accord Hybrid Heads to Dealers, Undercuts Nemesis in Price

The epic battle known as Honda Accord vs. Toyota Camry won’t end until we’re all sitting in the backseat of a driverless electric Ford shuttle bus, content in knowing we’re doing the right thing for society. Future cities, man.

Until then, there’s cars to sell, and nothing motivates buyers like price. As re-skinned and improved 2018 Honda Accord Hybrids head to dealer lots, the automaker has clearly staked itself out as the value green buy, slashing $4,505 from the previous model’s entry price. That puts the hybrid’s chief rival in an unenviable position. A base Camry hybrid now retails for considerably more, but, if overall sales numbers tell us anything, Toyota probably won’t break into a sweat after reading this news.

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Buy/Drive/Burn: Oddball Semi-premium SUVs From 1998

The Buy/Drive/Burn series has been stuck in a time warp lately. After tackling domestic minivans from 1994 with luxury appointments, we moved on to 1997 and some nontraditional imported minivans.

Once again, we’re going to keep it in the ’90s and determine which of three imported, alternative semi-luxury SUVs should burn at the stake. Are you ready for gold badges and two-tone? Rhetorical question.

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Buy/Drive/Burn: Alternative Japanese Minivans From 1997

In the first van edition of Buy/Drive/Burn, we inquired which luxurious minivan from 1994 you’d relegate to each category. Using typical One Simple Trick methodology, I lured everyone in with a picture of the Previa (above). Then, when the Previa was not a choice in the transportation trio, you all doused me in Haterade.

Well, here you go. Import vans — including the Toyota Previa. Douse me in clicks!

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Retro Is Your Future: Honda Confirms Production of an EV That's Hard Not to Love

Electric vehicles. Yawn, right? It’s easy to be cynical about the high-flying production promises tossed about by practically every automaker, but if the real-life version of Honda’s Urban EV Concept looks half as quirky as the show car, the big H might have a bonafide green hit on its hands.

As the Geneva Motor Show opens to journalists, Honda has announced a production version of the retro-styled hatchback. It turns out CEO Takahiro Hachigo wasn’t lying when he said the Urban EV wasn’t just auto show eye candy.

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Buy/Drive/Burn: Three Flaming Hot Compacts; One Will Actually Burn

With his last Ace of Base segment, Matthew Guy got everyone talking about the base Volkswagen GTI S. It went so far as to cause certain members of the TTAC staff to build GTIs over at the Volkswagen website. I didn’t do that, because I was busy ruminating on the difficult choices a Buy/Drive/Burn entry on hot hatches might offer. It’s difficult to write said entry the way I want, because the STI isn’t available as a hatchback anymore. So we’ve got hot compacts today.

Three hot hatches grr, compacts, from different manufacturers. One gets purchased, one you borrow, and one burns to the ground. Last time, it became apparent that some of you don’t know the rules, so here are the rules and you should read them before you scroll further. Let’s get speedy.

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Attention, Cheapskates: Here Are the Most Affordable Cars to Own in Every Segment

There are few things sweeter in life than bragging to your friends and family about the good deal you just negotiated on a new car. They certainly won’t care, but the amount of self-satisfaction received from reminding yourself that you are a force to be reckoned with at the dealership is immeasurable.

Of course, the bargain in the driveway can turn into a money pit once you calculate all the costs associated with vehicle ownership. Fuel costs, financing, insurance, and depreciation can all add up — especially if you purchased the wrong model. So what’s a thrift-obsessed shopper to do, calculate the total cost of ownership on every model in every segment over a five-year period to determine which is the best value overall?

Don’t be ridiculous, someone has already done that.

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2018 Honda Fit Sport Review - Manuals, Saved

I’m on the record with my assertion that the minivan is the perfect family vehicle. A low floor and high roof combine to provide maximum space for both humans and cargo. For those who don’t need to haul five kids to Walley World every week, however, the classic hatchback gives much of that minivan flexibility in a condensed, occasionally fun-to-drive package. The modern subcompact hatch isn’t the penalty box that littered American roads in the late Malaise Era.

My two kids had a packed weekend between softball, soccer, and cheerleading. Carrying all the required equipment, including camp chairs and coolers, would be taxing for nearly any car. And yet, we had one of the smallest cars I’ve ever driven at our disposal, a 2018 Honda Fit Sport. Did the Fit fit everything that needed to, um, fit?

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The Nineties Return As Honda Revives 'Passport' Name: Report

The name of a long-defunct Honda-badged vehicle that was based on an Isuzu and built at a joint Isuzu-Subaru assembly plant will grace a new crossover, a report claims. Yes, it’s looking like Honda applied for a new Passport.

According to Automotive News, sources with knowledge of Honda’s product plans say the Nineties are indeed poised to return. The name will allegedly grace the brand’s upcoming two-row midsize crossover, slated to fill the space between the wildly popular CR-V and the range-topping Pilot.

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QOTD: Which Cars Failed to Meet the OEM's Hype?

Back in December, Matthew Guy penned an interesting QOTD post soliciting your picks for the most outrageous new car introduction. In the case of the new-for-1993 Jeep Grand Cherokee, Bob Lutz drove Chrysler’s new (and important) SUV up a set of stairs at Cobo Hall and through a plate glass window. History revealed the hype to be justified: the Grand Cherokee became an instant success, finding its way into suburban middle-class driveways across America.

Sometimes, though, the new product doesn’t live up to the manufacturer’s hype before introduction. Let’s talk disappointment.

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Why Bring Back the Insight? Because a Hybrid Civic Just Isn't Done

Honda raised a few eyebrows by announcing the return of the Insight hybrid for 2019, this time as a larger and plusher four-door sedan. While the model holds the title of America’s first hybrid car, its groundbreaking status didn’t carry over into the model’s second generation, which, despite selling better than the two-seater first-gen model, quietly (and slowly) disappeared from the market after its 2014 discontinuation.

The automaker sold three “new” 2014 Insights last year, and 67 the year before.

Throughout the second Insight’s run, and continuing through 2015, the Civic Hybrid was also available to lower-end electrified car shoppers. Which begs the question: why didn’t Honda just make a hybrid version of its wildly popular 10th-generation Civic?

Oh no, Honda couldn’t do that.

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Subcompact Crossovers Are Depreciating Faster Than Any Other Segment

Remember how Beanie Babies were a national phenomenon in the mid-1990s? The country couldn’t seem to get enough of the little darlings and many ended up going for astronomical prices. But, like most stupid trends, their popularity was short lived. It wasn’t long before the once-collectible toys held the same value as a used pair of underwear.

Subcompact crossovers may be suffering a similar fate. With the CUV craze in full tilt, automakers have been capitalizing by providing budget-minded shoppers with small and affordable variants. However, the group currently faces the heaviest depreciation of any automotive segment.

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QOTD: What Models Were on Your First Car Shopping List?

Recall the days all those years ago (probably over a century for some of you), as the time approached for you to start driving. Some of you may have been prescribed a vehicle by the gift of a generous or perhaps spiteful relative. Others received a set stipend from the Bank of Parentus, while the rest worked at a low-end job to scrape up funds for an automotive purchase.

Today, we want to know what your aspirations were at the time; which vehicles did you desire and shop for as your first car?

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2019 Honda Insight: America's Oldest Hybrid Climbs the Social Ladder

Third time’s a charm, they say, and Honda surely hopes it’s true. As the third iteration of the on-again, off-again dedicated hybrid model, the newly enlarged 2019 Honda Insight is putting on airs and climbing up from the bottom of the automaker’s model lineup.

For the coming model year, the reintroduced Insight will occupy the third rung of the brand’s car portfolio, above the Fit and Civic, but below Accord. Thanks to a pre-Detroit auto show release, we now have a better idea of what’s going on inside the new Insight, as well as under the hood.

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So, Which of These Two Models Won the Race Last Year?

Coke and Pepsi. Colt and Smith & Wesson. Bert and Ernie. Camry and Accord.

The greatest rivalries inspire both loyalty and loathing among fans on either sides of the fence, but there can be only one victor. In the automotive world, sales are the yardstick by which success is measured, as passion alone can’t keep a car model alive.

For the sedan segment, no rivalry is fiercer than that of the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, both longstanding standouts in the midsize class. With both models taking a larger and larger share of the shrinking market, and having both received an extensive revamp for the 2018 model year, how did the two challengers perform in 2017?

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Positives and Negatives: Honda Weighing Benefits of Solid-state Batteries

Tightening global emission regulations are pushing the world’s automakers to put all fuel-saving options on the table. Electric cars are an obvious answer, but range anxiety and consumer concerns about battery life continue to dog vehicles powered solely by electrons.

With a finite amount of space in their vehicles, manufacturers are constantly looking for efficiencies when laying out plans for EVs. According to a report from Reuters, Honda is considering developing solid-state batteries for use in their future EVs.

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Bigger, Classier Honda Insight to Bow in Prototype Form in Detroit

Sitting at the summit of the Honda vehicle range is the Acura NSX — a complex, advanced hybrid two-seater that goes like stink but can’t seem to find many takers. At the bottom, at least until 2014 models dried up sometime in 2015, was the Insight.

Ah, the Insight. The model best remembered as the teardrop-shaped two-seater that gave North America its first taste of hybrid motoring in December 1999 was soon eclipsed in sales by the Toyota Prius. Its main rival never looked back.

After a four-year gap, a second-generation Insight powered back onto the hybrid scene for the 2010 model year. Boasting room for five passengers and a significantly lower fuel economy rating, the follow-up Insight didn’t sent Honda’s sales charts aflame. Volume in 2010 was one-seventh that of the Prius, dropping quickly thereafter.

With a third-generation 2019 model on the way, Honda seems determined to mimic The Little Engine That Could. It’s a bigger and better Insight, the company claims, but will the third time be a charm?

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2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid First Drive - Star Captain Joins the Team

(In keeping with our goal of providing interesting and varied content, we sometimes bring you stories published by TTAC’s sister sites that we feel will satisfy your discerning tastes. This first drive review of Honda’s Clarity plug-in hybrid comes to us from a familiar name. It was first published by Hybrid Cars.)

Honda has rolled out its newest salvo in the effort to wean drivers off gasoline.

In a three-pronged approach, a team simultaneously deploys multiple solutions to solve a particular problem. We see this tactic at work when your humble author tries to assemble furniture or harried parents attempt to get their toddler to eat dinner.

Rather than placing all their eggs in one particular alternative-fuel basket, Honda has decided to pursue a cadre of options: a plug-in hybrid, a battery-powered all-electric, and a hydrogen fuel cell car. So confident are they in their gambit, the company has developed a car that can be equipped with either of these three powertrains.

The machine you see here is the Honda Clarity.

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Still Hot After All These Years: Not Every Passenger Car Model Has One Foot In the Grave

I often joke that not only are we all destined to buy a crossover in the near future, we’ll one day become crossovers. Oh, how the TTAC guys laugh…

Still, it’s hard to avoid the crossovers-are-replacing-cars narrative, as it isn’t some far-out theory — it’s a cold, hard reality. Crossover and SUV market share grows each year as buyers abandon traditional passenger cars in favor of a vehicle that does everything at least marginally.

That said, not every model faces the same rate of abandonment. Certain cars — through a hazy combination of performance, value, nameplate recognition, and other, more nebulous factors — haven’t yet been dropped off on the front steps of the orphanage by their once-loving guardians.

Let’s take a look at some surprisingly healthy performers in the non-premium, non-sports car class. Cars that aren’t declining in popularity, as this analysis isn’t about overall volume. Guess what? None of these vehicles are the Toyota Camry or Honda Accord, two models currently locked in a battle for midsize sedan supremacy (and worthy of their own singular coverage).

Hard to believe, we know, but there’s loyalty and desire to be found elsewhere.

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Ask Jack: Isn't The Civic Just… Smashing?

We all have our perversions, and here’s mine: I will always have a soft spot for ugly-duckling products that were eclipsed by the competition or cannibalized by their own relatives. First example: the Apple 3 (properly yclept Apple ///). We don’t have time here to discuss how and why the “business-focused” 8-bit Apple failed, but I will forever cherish the fact that Apple put out a service bulletin for improperly seated microchips where the fix was to pick it up and drop it like it was hot — because it was, in fact, too hot.

I could go on… and I will! The Fender Jazzmaster, the Omega Seamaster, the Members Only jacket that cost slightly more because it had a zipper breast pocket instead of the elastic-clinch one, the F-111. Show me something that didn’t quite catch the imagination of the public, and you will have my complete attention. If the reason for that lack of public attention has to do with the product involved being just a little bit too complex, demanding, fussy, or eccentric — well then, my friend, we are really cooking.

One such example of that in the automotive world was the fifth-generation Maxima, sold here from 2000-2003, with particular emphasis on the 3.5-liter, six-speed, limited-slip bad boys produced in the second half of the run. Those were slick-looking, powerful, deeply satisfying automobiles… that had absolutely zero appeal for the credit criminals and shifty-eyed fast-food night managers who, by my scientific calculations, make up ninety-six-point-three percent of Nissan’s customer base. Those people didn’t see the reason to buy a Maxima when they could get an Altima for less.

As a consequence, the sixth-generation Maxima became a giant Altima, the seventh-generation Maxima became a rarity, and the eighth-generation Maxima became a rental car.

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Rare Rides: The 1984 Honda City, a Microscopic Cabriolet From Japan

Our last Rare Ride was a little first-generation Honda Civic from 1977. Since everyone seemed to like that little red box, today we bring you a little blue box from Honda. It’s a bit newer, and also a bit worse.

It’s the Honda City, and other applicable adjectives include Cabriolet and Pininfarina.

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Rare Rides: Honda Civic CVCC - Conserving Various Carbons, Circa 1977

Way back in the polyester era, there was a little thing called the Oil Crisis (circa 1973). And right about the time giant American barges were coughing and wheezing their way to the (empty) fuel station while managing eight miles per gallon, Honda had a little idea.

Say hello to the “Civic.”

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So, Who's Winning the Midsize Sedan Battle?

In a shrinking segment increasingly dominated by two longstanding nameplates, the battle for sales supremacy is quickly resembling a U.S. election. Two main players, plus a handful of also-rans. (In Europe, this would be a very different — and probably quite confusing — affair.)

For all players in the U.S. midsize sedan market, it’s really a battle to hold on to market share, to keep sales from sliding further, as more and more customers look elsewhere for family transportation. Two Japanese offerings, the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, loom over all other challengers. In November, one of these nameplates began putting some serious distance between it and its main competitor.

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When the Open Road Soothes Your Existential Angst

The year was 1992. Your mullet was uncomfortably shaggy, your jeans unfortunately baggy, your personality unbecomingly braggy.

And Admiral Stockdale famously asked a vice presidential debate audience, “Who am I? Why am I here?”

Midst massive life transitions over the last 10 months — a website sale, a house sale, a much bigger TTAC role, a move to another province, a real job, a smaller TTAC role — I have more than once asked the very same questions, though often to myself, with nothing more than the sound of a Spalding clanging off the rim as I practice free throws in the driveway. These are not easy questions to answer, but I have discovered that jumping into a car and driving into the darkness is a great way of sourcing internal feedback.

I learn by asking questions. I often find answers tucked away somewhere between a perfectly timed downshift in a 2004 Mazda MX-5 Miata and a jaw-dropping upshift in a 2018 Honda Civic Type R.

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All the Issues With the Civic Type R and How Honda Is Fixing (One of) Them

The Honda Civic Type R finally showed up on our shores this year, packing polarizing styling and over 300 horsepower going to its front wheels. Demand has been high and dealers have taken advantage by adding ADM on top of the model’s MSRP. Many customers are happy to pay the premium.

We’ve had the Type R on the road and on the track and, while the opinions on styling vary, everyone seems to be impressed with the performance. However, while it keeps up with much more powerful cars on track, it hasn’t escaped the struggles of a first-year model.

Issues such as overheating, rev-match errors, and gear grinds have been reported by owners and journalists alike. Our own Bark M. experienced a few of these issues while taking the Type R from track to track across the Southeast, and I was there to see some of them and evaluate their impact.

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Ace of Base: 2017 Honda Pilot LX

Yes, I know. It’s a crossover and most TTAC readers would rather be locked in a room with a rabid weasel than drive a three-row box that’s oriented towards families. The rest of the nation does not feel this way, however, with American shoppers hoovering up these types of machines at an exponential rate.

Three rows, nearly 300 horsepower, and 3.5 liters: let’s see what a base model Honda Pilot offers for just over $30,000.

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You Asked; Honda Answered? Mysterious Crossover Appears in Design Patent

Given the way the industry’s going, this website might soon have to change its name to The Truth About Crossovers. Thankfully, the acronym remains the same.

A U.S. design patent granted to Honda on Tuesday reveals that three utility vehicles might not be enough for the Japanese automaker’s American lineup. As car companies both domestic and foreign scramble to fill in gaps in their showrooms, it seems Honda hasn’t yet reached the crossover saturation point.

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No Fixed Abode: LaneWatch, We Hardly Knew Ye

I don’t know who coined the term — I suspect it was Car and Driver, which was then at an all-time peak of editorial excellence — but this is probably one of those cases where success has many fathers, and the child in this case was the phrase “idiot light.”

Let’s say that you were a new-car buyer in 1977. The vast majority of the cars you saw in a dealership would have just two gauges: speedometer and fuel level. Any other information was conveyed in binary fashion by a set of light-up warnings. The typical Seventies American car would have TEMP (for overheating), OIL (for lack of oil pressure), ALT (alternator/battery), and BRAKE (for low brake fluid), but some models had additional lights for low coolant and other functions.

The self-appointed automotive cognoscenti were very contemptuous of these lights, because they didn’t convey much information and they usually didn’t convey it until things had gotten drastic. Why not have a temperature gauge to let you know that your car was getting hot on the way up the Grapevine? Or an oil-pressure gauge, to give you a general idea of your engine health? Why couldn’t the driver be trusted to know the real information and to act accordingly?

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Rare Rides: A 1987 Sterling 825, the Luxury Legend From Merry England

Though we wrote about the Sterling brand in a previous QOTD post from earlier this year, we’ve never covered one as a Rare Ride. It’s not often one finds a Sterling for sale these days, as most examples fell into disrepair and disuse by the late 1990s. But B&B commenter FreedMike managed to find a very tidy Sterling for sale at a dealer in Wisconsin, which is near Canada.

Come have a look at the not-quite Honda from Blighty.

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Ace of Base: 2018 Honda Ridgeline RT 2WD

Most readers are well aware of my infatuation with trucks. Blame my rural upbringing, or chalk it up to the innate Canadian friendliness of helping everyone move house, but a pickup truck will always reside in my driveway.

The Honda Ridgeline, newly designed for the 2017 model year, is available in a range of trims, starting with the RT at $29,630. This author was unsure about the Ridgeline’s practicality as a truck when it was introduced, given its lineage. Can a base Honda pickup pass the Ace of Base test?

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Midsize Sedan Deathwatch #17: Trouble In October 2017, Unless Your Name's Honda Accord

U.S. sales of midsize cars plunged 16 percent to fewer than 130,000 units in October 2017, the lowest-volume month for the midsize sedan category since the winter doldrums of January.

For almost every player, from the forgotten Mazda 6 to the recently revamped Hyundai Sonata to the all-new Toyota Camry, there were fewer U.S. buyers in October 2017 than in October 2016. In most cases, far fewer. Hyundai Sonata volume plunged 49 percent, year-over-year, as Hyundai pulls away from daily rentals, clarifying just how little retail demand the Sonata truly musters. Double-digit percentage drops were also reported by the Kia Optima, Subaru Legacy, Volkswagen Passat, and Mazda 6.

But the sharp October tumble wasn’t reserved for each member of the midsize category. Newly launched this fall, U.S. sales of the 10th-generation 2018 Honda Accord predictably improved in October, driving Honda’s share of the segment up four points to 21 percent.

It’s a familiar story.

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Nine Speeds and Another Problem for Honda's Gear-iest Transmission

Acura has a tough job ahead of it. As the brand tries to grow volume and retain some of the clout it lost in past years, it finds itself with too many cars and two few SUVs in a market that demands more of the latter, not the former. Meanwhile, the impressive reborn NSX, now a hybrid, hasn’t captured the imagination of sports car fans in the same way as its long-lived predecessor.

Keeping up with — and in some cases, getting in front of — technological trends is part of Acura’s comeback plan. Naturally, in the interest of technological advancement and environmental appeasement, it was necessary to bring a multi-cog automatic transmission on board. However, a series of manufacturer service bulletin point to two potential weak points in the company’s nine-speed.

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It's End-of-year Incentive Time, but One Deal Stands Out

Snow has already touched Minneapolis pavement, meaning it’s time for automakers to hurry up and clear out 2017 models. Special offers, like the coming winter, are rolling in fast.

Not surprisingly, many of the end-of-year incentives target the increasingly unloved passenger car segment. If two or four doors and a trunk is your bag, you’re in luck, though crossover shoppers aren’t being ignored in the rush to unload old inventory. However, if you’re a fan of the Big H, and especially its sportier offerings, Christmas might have just arrived early.

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QOTD: Automotive Tech Flops - Past, Present, and Future

TTAC commenter Bruce suggested today’s Question of the Day, and he wants to talk tech features. Specifically, the kind which are all the rage for a short period of time, then fizzled into nothingness.Today we ask you to tell us about automotive tech flops – past, present, and future.

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Truck Buyers Made a Choice in October (and Chose the Bigger One)

So diverse are the trim levels available in a modern pickup truck, it wouldn’t be shocking to see automakers begin offering a “Scotsman” edition, complete with three-on-the-tree shifter, for buyers accustomed to eating beans out of a can. On the other end of the ladder, surely “Limited,” “Platinum,” and “Tungsten” fall short in the luxury trappings offered within their leather-trimmed cabins. Buyers clearly need a wood-panelled humidor for their stogies.

Suffice it to say that automakers are making the purchase of a pickup truck more appealing than ever, and in October, buyers did their duty. October 2017 was a boffo month for light truck sales, with every full-size truck line recording rising year-over-year sales in the United States. Unfortunately, but not all that unfortunately (according to accountants, anyway), buyers offered a raised middle finger to mid-size pickups sold by those same automakers.

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Crapwagon Outtake, Viral Sensation Division: 1996 Honda Accord Coupe

It’s a running joke around here, but like the best humor, it comes from a kernel of truth: TTAC should always write about Hondas. Every article — Honda. Readers just can’t seem to get enough of the Big H.

California filmmaker Max Lanman knows what’s up. Either he’s been lurking in TTAC’s Slack, or he’s hacked our Google Analytics — but in the course of a day, nearly half a million people have tuned in to his commercial showcasing an eBay auction for his girlfriend’s well-used 1996 Honda Accord.

As expected, it’s working.

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Ace of Base: 2018 Honda Accord LX

The 10th-generation Accord sedan has been thrust into a marketplace infatuated with crossovers and all-wheel-drive machines of every type and description. Lower, wider, and with more interior room than its predecessor, the Accord’s new clothes wear well, tapering to the rear with a fastback flair. You just know there’s at least one Honda sales person out there using the words “four-door coupe.”

Thing is, some folks are so brand loyal to the Honda marque that they’ll buy one simply because the word “Accord” is hammered onto the trunk lid. For the rest of us, let’s take a look at this year’s base model Accord and see if it measures up to our Ace of Base yardstick.

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  • Steve Biro Frankly, while I can do without Eyesight and automatic start-stop, there is generally less B-S with Subarus in terms of design, utility and off-road chops than with many other brands. I just hope that when they adopt Toyota’s hybrid system, they’ll also use Toyota’s eCVT.
  • The Oracle These are all over the roads in droves here in WNC. Rarely see one on the side of the road, they are wildly popular, capable, and reliable. There is a market for utilitarian vehicles.
  • 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?