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.
We learned in June that the 10th-generation Honda Accord, launched this fall for the 2018 model year, would lose its optional V6 engine. The impact in the marketplace would scarcely be felt, as the overwhelming majority of buyers didn’t select the V6 engine, which had steadily become an option only at the top end of the range.
Honda also made clear that the conventional Accord lineup would still include manual transmissions, would not include a coupe bodystyle, and would be exclusively linked to turbocharged engines. The basic 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, rated at 192 horsepower and 192 lb-ft of torque (at 5,500 rpm and 1,600 rpm, respectively) provided an upgrade from the 2017 Accord’s 2.4-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder, which produced 185 horsepower and 181 lb-ft of torque at significantly higher rpm.
Meanwhile, the 278-horsepower, 252-lb-ft 3.5-liter V6 is replaced by a 2.0T detuned from duty in the Civic Type R. The 2018 Accord loses 26 horsepower (and at 6,500 rpm, needs 300 more revs to hit peak bhp) but adds 21 lb-ft of torque while producing peak twist just off idle at 1,500 rpm, 3,400 rpm sooner than in the old V6. Paired now to a 10-speed automatic and not the six-speed of 2017, and tipping the scales with around 120 fewer pounds in top-spec guise, the 2018 Honda Accord 2.0T is expected to be only marginally more fuel-efficient than the old V6.
But what about acceleration?
If Australia is an effective test bed for American tastes — and it most definitely isn’t — then the three-row version of the fifth-generation Honda CR-V would be a hit stateside.
We told you way back in April that there were plans afoot at American Honda for a utility vehicle to slot in between Honda’s two-row CR-V and three-row Pilot. We then watched, intrigued, at the level of interest among TTAC readers when we showed you images in July of Honda Australia’s three-row CR-V. Could this be the SUV Honda plans to squeeze between the CR-V and Pilot? At the time, Honda told TTAC, “We can’t make comments about any future possibilities.”
There likely is only the most limited sort of possibility. The third row can’t be linked with all-wheel drive, for starters. It’s obviously snug. And American Honda already has the Pilot, which Honda does not offer in Australia.
Nevertheless, if the Australian test bed is looked upon as a case study, American Honda would discover a three-row, seven-seat CR-V that turns out to be more popular than expected.
American Honda launched the 2017 Honda Civic Type R in a single, fully equipped variant. Although you don’t see it in emblem form on the back of the car, the 2017 Honda Civic Type R is sold exclusively in Touring trim. The model code, evidenced by NHTSA certification papers filed by American Honda and located by TTAC’s own Bozi Tatarevic, is FK8G7.
But Bozi found an extra Civic Type R in American Honda’s NHTSA filings for 2018. It’s still a Type R, it still uses the K20C1 engine that sends 306 horsepower to the front wheels through a six-speed manual transmission. But this is the FK8G3 Civic Type R, sans Touring.
There’s reason to believe it’ll be distinctly more affordable.
It has become increasingly evident that America’s compact sedan consumers aren’t terribly interested in a semi-premium-branded version of a previous-generation Honda Civic.
But for 2018, the Acura ILX gains a new Special Edition. Ah, that’ll do the trick.
American Honda’s vice president for sales, Ray Mikiciuk, won’t provide a firm forecast for sales of the 10th-generation Honda Accord. But as far as next year goes, “I don’t expect to sell fewer Accords in 2018 with this great new product,” Mikiciuk tells CNBC.
With belief in the company’s new product, Honda has invested $267 million into its Marysville, Ohio, plant where the Accord, Acura TLX, and Acura ILX are assembled. With 300 additional employees, American Honda is following the lead of Toyota’s all-new 2018 Camry.
At the Camry’s Georgetown, Kentucky, assembly plant, production of the new TNGA-based Camry required Toyota to build up its employee count to the highest level ever. That’s certainly not the way rivals are approaching America’s midsize segment. You’ll recall that General Motors cut Chevrolet Malibu production — and consequently, jobs — in Kansas City earlier this summer. Prior to the new Camry’s launch this summer, the Malibu was the freshest midsize sedan on the block, yet Malibu sales have plunged by more than a fifth in 2017.
Ohio production of the 2018 Honda Accord began yesterday, September 18th. But what do Honda’s vague sales forecasts mean in the broader American midsize segment?
More market share.
The long-established U.S. auto industry is essentially impossible to turn on its head. An automaker can’t simply show up with a new brand or a new philosophy or new design tactics and instantly upset the apple cart.
Just as you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, it’s difficult to teach an old automobile market to adopt new buying habits. Market share swings are incremental. Progress is slow. At Acura, for example, facelifts of the TLX and RLX sedans and improved availability of the MDX (after moving some production to Ohio) will likely not combine to increase the brand’s market share by even one-tenth of one percent.
Given the difficulties faced by Acura in America — sales have fallen by more than a quarter since 2005 — Honda’s premium brand is turning its gaze to a larger, fresher, less established market. A market where buying habits are not cemented, where market share is still up for grabs, where market-specific vehicles are the norm.
And if Acura can soon succeed in China, where the brand has high hopes for the near-term, then Acura stands a much better chance of succeeding in America.
The Dodge Dart is dead. The Ford Fiesta is likely on its last legs in the United States. Ford Focus production is moving to China, off the North American continent where demand for Ford small cars is rapidly declining. General Motors is scaling back production at the Chevrolet Sonic’s Orion Township, Michigan, assembly plant.
That’s the Detroit small car picture, or at least part of it. From Japan’s perspective, however, small cars are entirely worth it, not just because of the sales success enjoyed by the Honda Civic (currently America’s best-selling car through 2017’s first seven months) and Toyota Corolla, but because of the demographic small cars target.
It made perfect sense. In 2009, when Hyundai wanted customers to view its new Genesis luxury sedan as a premium bit of kit, Hyundai did not compare the Genesis to the Sonata. In an early marketing campaign, Hyundai’s voiceover said the Genesis is “as spacious as a Mercedes-Benz S-Class, yet priced like a C-Class.”
When the time came to market the Genesis R-Spec, Hyundai reached way upmarket to compare 0-60 mph times with the Porsche Panamera. Hyundai wasn’t under the mistaken impression that the Genesis would steal thousands of sales from $100,000 Benzes and Porsches. But Hyundai was crafting an image. Hyundai didn’t require you to believe that the Genesis was a viable S-Class alternative — the company just wanted you to understand that this is premium-oriented S-Class-sized sedan at a C-Class-like price.
Long before the Hyundai Genesis tried to cultivate a premium persona, Acura was failing to keep up with Lexus in the quest to be viewed as a true luxury rival for the German establishment. It’s still a problem. So Acura dealers are now just trying to make sure you understand that the Acura TLX is better than the [s]Audi A4 Lexus ES Infiniti Q50[/s] 2018 Honda Accord.
The Honda Accord is by no means a younger sibling, operating as the senior member of American Honda’s fleet.
More specifically, the 2018 Honda Accord will never be viewed as the little brother in the American Honda family, not with these substantial dimensions and MSRPs that reach deep into the $30Ks.
But the 10th-generation Accord is still a Honda. Just a Honda. Merely a Honda. Only a Honda. And while you might expect Honda to enjoy technological hand-me-downs from the automaker’s upmarket Acura brand, that’s not the way it works. Not when it comes to the Accord.
As a result, we’ll wait and see which hand-me-ups appear on the next all-new Acura, the third-generation 2019 Acura RDX.
Although it seemed hard to believe, we were under the impression up until a few weeks before the 10th-generation Honda Accord’s launch, that the 2018 Honda Accord would spawn yet another Honda Accord coupe.
On July 14, 2017, we learned the Honda Accord coupe would die an honorable death. The 10th-generation Accord sedan, according to Honda, will hold sufficient appeal for those former Accord coupe buyers — Accordians, who made up roughly 5 percent of Honda’s midsize clientele.
But the Honda Accord coupe, while futureless, isn’t dead yet. There are more than 5,000 on dealer lots across the United States right now. And according to CarsDirect, they’re pretty cheap.
The 2018 Honda Accord will be assembled in Marysville, Ohio. The overwhelming majority of its sales will occur in the United States of America. Its dimensions, inside and out, suit the U.S. market. In 2016, the Accord ranked second on Cars.com’s American-Made Index.
Open its trunk and a family of bald eagles fly out, having successfully incubated apple pies, having binge-watched every season of Keeping Up With The Kardashians. There’s a subtle Statue of Liberty easter egg on the windshield, Hollywood signs engraved in its cupholders, and a 3D hologram of Mount Rushmore featuring a fifth character — Soichiro Honda — that emerges from the glovebox if you shift the manual transmission into sixth, say VTEC three times, and spit over your left shoulder.
The Accord, according to lead exterior designer Tetsuji Morikawa, “is an American car.”
To make sure of that, however, Morikawa said the design team, “wanted to feel like Americans.” And they wanted to finish their design of the 10th-generation Accord in the United States, not Japan.
With the launch of the seven-seat Honda CR-V in another ASEAN market, this time Australia, one wonders about the potential popularity of a three-row CR-V in the United States.
The Honda CR-V, America’s top-selling utility vehicle in each of the last five years, currently tops American Honda’s sales charts. The CR-V now accounts for more than one-quarter of Honda’s U.S. sales and generated more volume in the first half of 2017 than in any of the CR-V nameplates’s first 10 calendar years.
Broadening the already popular CR-V’s appeal sounds, at first glance, like an entirely reasonable plan.
Suggesting that the automaker is “providing a more compelling value,” American Honda is removing the second-from-the-bottom RTS trim level from the 2018 Honda Ridgeline lineup and extinguishing the all-wheel-drive option on basic RT Ridgelines.
As a result, after a 2017 run in which all-wheel-drive Ridgelines could be purchased for $32,315, the 2018 Honda Ridgeline AWD now has a base price $3,695 higher than before.
The 2018 Honda Accord is not a refresh. It’s not a refurbished, reconditioned revamp.
The 2018 Honda Accord is very much a new car, a 10th-generation follow-up to the five-year, 2013-2017 run of the outgoing Accord. That’s obvious when you look at the design of the new Accord — another midsize car attempting to banish boredom in an attempt to maintain healthy U.S. car sale volumes when more and more people want crossovers. You see it in the 2018 Toyota Camry, the 2018 Hyundai Sonata’s new grille, and the 2018 Accord’s squarer nose and faster roofline.
But Accord buyers will spend far more time inside the car than they do looking at its exterior. For owners, Honda wanted to make the 10th-generation Accord roomier, more capacious, better suited for ferrying five passengers.
So Honda moved the two front passengers closer together.