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.
It's Crate Engine Day, Apparently - This Time, It's the Honda Civic Type R Mill
Between Mopar’s 707-horsepower Hellcat engine and Honda’s 306-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter from the Civic Type R, the crate engine gods have smiled on both axles today.
Like Mopar, Honda took advantage of this week’s SEMA show in Las Vegas to announce the availability of the front-drive monster’s engine in standalone form. No doubt this news immediately inspired visions of the cobbled-together HR-V Type R you really wanted, but be warned. This engine comes with an asterisk.
Why Are Japanese Cars Starting to Look Different All of the Sudden?
While it’s impossible to imagine you haven’t already noticed, Japanese automakers are entering a new era of style. Disparate from each other and unabashedly novel, vehicles are beginning to crop up at trade shows and on the road that we couldn’t have seen coming a few years earlier.
Right now, the most obvious examples are from Toyota and Honda. But even Mazda, Subaru, and Mitsubishi have recently made a concerted effort to step up their styling game. The reason, according to manufacturers, is new competition.
It wasn’t all that long ago that Japan could offer a fairly dull automobile and bank on its superior quality and value to get prospective buyers to take it home. Things are different now. The quality gap is beginning to close and other manufacturers are getting better at providing most of the things that used to denote something as distinctively Japanese.
No Fixed Abode: Since You Won't Eat Your Vegetables, Honda Is Eating Crow With the NSX
Psst… Have I got a deal for you! There’s a low-profile $30,000 factory incentive out there on a really great mid-engined supercar. You could be looking at just $1,500 a month on a lease, which is about what you’d pay to buy a new Corvette Grand Sport over five years. Or you might get a car with a $165k sticker for just $122,000. Are you FREAKING OUT right now? Or are you waiting for me to tell you which one?
Well, let’s see… It’s not the Ford GT, because those are sold out. It’s not the Ferrari 488GTB, which is on a waiting list and subject to $100k worth of additional dealer markup. It’s not the Lamborghini Huracan, used examples of which are fetching close to MSRP. It’s not even the Audi R8, which has some nice lease programs at the moment but which still generally sells for sticker or close to it.
You know what I’m going to tell you, of course. You know it’s the Acura NSX. From day one it’s been a tough sell and, while I’d like to think that the 2017 Road & Track Performance Car Of The Year accolade helped the showroom traffic a bit, I’d be naive to think that it was enough to move the needle too far. Starting next year, NSXes will be special order only. If you want a car out of dealer stock, now’s the time to do it and Honda will throw $30k worth of cash on the frunk to make it happen.
Maybe it’s time to ask why this state of affairs came to pass — but I bet you already know that, too.
Honda Sports EV Concept: A Retro-futuristic Fastback
While I can’t say much for Honda’s concept-naming strategy, the company certainly knows how to make a retro-future-inspired dream machine. When the Urban EV Concept was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show, everyone wondered, “Why don’t we have more cars that look like this?'”
The two-tone hatchback was the perfect balance of new tech and vintage charm, yielding something semi-fantastical that still felt totally grounded.
Using that design language once again, Honda has brought the Sports EV Concept to the Tokyo Motor Show. Possessing an equally uninventive name, the Sports EV harkens back to a different automotive era. Similar to the Urban concept, which seemed to be a modernized interpretation of the first-generation Civic or S600, the bodywork of the sporting model is pure Toyota 2000GT — although not so much as to get anyone into legal trouble.
Despite Falsified Supplier Data, Japanese Automakers Claim Cars Are Safe
Kobe Steel, the disgraced Japanese metal supplier, apparently falsified quality data for its products for over 10 years, the company now admits. Some of those products were sheetmetal and aluminum components used by a slew of automakers, among them American, Japanese, French, German, and Swedish manufacturers.
Makers of trains and airliners also made use of the metals, the strength and durability of which is now in doubt. This week, the European Aviation Safety Agency warned against components made by Kobe Steel.
While Boeing and Airbus inspect their aircraft, automakers are doing the same. Ford has said there’s no reason to be concerned, as Kobe product only went into the hood of a Chinese-market sedan. Now, four other automakers have given their vehicles a clean bill of health.
2018 Honda Accord Hits Showrooms Today
If the 2018 Honda Accord tickles your fancy, you can head to your local Honda store and plunk down some cash on the hood (figuratively, of course – cash on the hood would just blow away in the wind).
We’ve driven the new Accord, which drops the V6 and coupe models, and we came away liking it but wishing for a little more sport.
Regardless, with the rival Camry also being all-new for 2018, Honda has made sure it has a fresh, new generation on hand to continue the rivalry. All this despite concerns about the mid-size sedan segment as a whole – concerns Honda has dismissed.
QOTD: Which Model Deserved One More Generation?
We’ve asked you before about the particular brand you’d resurrect if given the power to bring just one back from the dead. A different Question of the Day also inquired which models trumped the previous generation by bringing fresh ideas and improvements to the redesign.
Today, we follow similar lines and ask which model was killed off too soon; which vehicle deserved one more generation.
Ace of Base: 2018 Honda Civic LX
There’s a good argument to be made that Honda has its mojo back, at least when it comes to the Civic. The ninth-generation car landed on the market with all the appeal of a wet fart, yet sales remained relatively strong, proving – once again – that no one listens to auto journos.
The latest Civic is leagues ahead of the old model, so much so that it has a very good chance of ousting the Camry from its perch atop America’s passenger car pyramid. Can the cheapest Civic, the LX, capture some of the luminescence cast by its more expensive brothers, particularly the Type R? Let’s find out.
The 2018 Honda Accord 2.0T Is, in Fact, Quicker Than a 2017 Honda Accord V6
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?
2018 Honda Accord First Drive - Like It or Not, Honda Will Sell a Lot
Let’s get this out of the way up front – I’ve always had a soft spot for the Honda Accord. I wouldn’t go so far as to call myself a fanboy, but I am a former owner of an ‘90s-era Accord coupe (I bought it used in 2005 or so and sold it in 2012) and I always felt that the Accord was sportier, generally speaking, than most other mid-size sedans.
Sure, the Mazda 6 has been the best driver’s car in the class for a while, and the Ford Fusion is fun to drive, but I’ve long thought the Accord had a sporting character the Camry and others lacked, at least until recently. Honda seemed to get more vanilla with the Accord in the past generation or two, even though the car still presented a strong package overall. Would the newest Accord, which comes with a choice of turbocharged engines and is available with a three-pedal setup, bring back the flavor of yore?
Primed to End the Toyota Camry's 15-Year Run, Honda Does Not Mess With 2018 Civic's Recipe
George W. Bush was finishing his second year as president of the United States when Toyota reported 434,145 Camry sales in calendar year 2002. No other passenger car generated more U.S. volume that year.
Or the next year. Or the next. Or the one after that. In fact, the Toyota Camry’s reign as America’s best-selling car continued for a decade and a half, stretching from 2002 through 2016.
Unless the launch of the all-new 2018 Toyota Camry results in a superior final third of 2017, however, Toyota’s tenure atop the leaderboard will end this year. Ahead of the Camry by 1,153 sales through the first eight months of 2017 is the Honda Civic.
With 2018 Civics arriving in Honda showrooms on October 3, 2017, Honda is determined to leave well enough alone. The recipe is unchanged. Honda will not mess with success.
QOTD: What's the Best Utility Vehicle of the Past 10 Years?
Last week we took entries for the worst utility vehicle of the past decade. There were certainly plenty of submissions; it’s always easy to dream up crossover criticism (less dream, more nightmare in the case of the Acura ZDX).
This time around, we flip the question: What’s the best utility vehicle of the past 10 years?
2017 Honda Civic Si Review - a Bargain, and a Blast
Let’s get this out of the way right up front: The 2017 Honda Civic Si is not a baby Civic Type R. Yes, it shares the name and platform, but not only does it differ mechanically and stylistically in key ways, it also provides a different driving experience.
Different, but still excellent. Just a different kind of excellent. I’ll get to that right after I find my thesaurus.
Like its main competitors – the Ford Focus ST, Subaru WRX, and Volkswagen Golf GTI, the Civic Si is supposed to be the mid-level performance trim of a compact car (in Subaru’s case, the WRX is based on the Impreza but drops the moniker). As such, it’s not the outright burner the Type R is, and that’s just fine.
QOTD: What's the Worst Utility Vehicle of the Past 10 Years?
Utility vehicles have been a hot ticket personal transport item for some time, much to the delight of OEMs and their shareholders. As the definition around what should qualify as “utility” became more and more blurred during this (presently, CUV) craze, inevitably some entries missed the mark and floundered. Perhaps a redesign was in the cards if the manufacturer felt confident, or a product cancellation if it didn’t.
Either way, recent examples of bad utility vehicles are our subject today. What’s your pick for the worst utility vehicle of the past decade?