Inequality Among Minivans? Canuck Buyers Face a Pricier Honda Odyssey

Facing off against a stalwart Chrysler Pacifica and reborn Voyager, all-new Kia Sedona, and newly hybridized Toyota Sienna, the 2021 Honda Odyssey lopes into the coming model year with a mild refresh in tow.

Minor trim and content enhancements complete the mid-cycle overhaul, but Odyssey aficionados living north of the border are in for a shock.

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Grey Skies Gonna Clear Up: Honda Reports Bigger Loss, Sees Light at the End of the Year

Honda reported a $765 million loss in the fiscal quarter ending June 30th, a marked downturn in its financial standing when compared to the quarter before.

Hardly shocking, though, given the virus-related global sales plunge and the production shutdown that afflicted the American manufacturing scene in April and May. Honda’s characterizing it as a “nowhere to go but up” scenario.

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Beancounters to the Rescue? Office Staff Keep Honda Production Afloat in Ohio

This isn’t the first time we’ve learned of an “all hands on deck” situation taking place at a U.S. assembly plant. Recall this report from earlier this month, in which sources claimed managers and other white-collar employees hit the floor at General Motors truck plants in a bid to cover absent workers.

It was inevitable, given the reality facing companies hoping to maintain full production amid a viral pandemic. The latest report comes out of Marysville, Ohio — home to an enormous Honda assembly operation. Seems even accountants had to don hardhats.

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2021: A Honda Odyssey

It’s true that the once-hot minivan segment was shrinking rapidly even before the pandemic hit. Since then, things have only gotten worse for a vehicle type once seen as the go-to conveyance for growing families.

How bad is it? Our own Tim Cain recently traded in his Honda Odyssey for a shiny new Ridgeline pickup. We were aghast.

Well, this turn of events hasn’t stopped Honda from putting what it feels is its best minivan forward. For 2021, the Odyssey returns with a fresh(ened) face and new content. But can it budge the sales needle when it goes on sale next month?

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Joining the 1 Percent: I Bought a Honda Ridgeline

1 out of every 100 pickup truck buyers in the United States chooses the Honda Ridgeline.

That sounds to me like exclusivity. That’s a strong whiff of individuality I sniff. It’s positively road-less-traveled kind of material. And I’m hopelessly drawn toward vehicles that operate way outside the mainstream.

Therefore, in the third model year of the second-generation Ridgeline’s tenure, I swapped our Honda Odyssey for a 2019 Honda Ridgeline to use as the family steed. What else are you going to buy when your vehicular wish list includes exterior and interior cargo space, four driven wheels, reasonable fuel economy, comfortable seating for five, high safety ratings, killer resale value, and a ton of standard equipment?

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Singing the Manual Transmission Blues

Last week’s biggest automotive product story was the unveiling of the next Ford Bronco.

Last week’s second-biggest automotive product story was that if you want the Bronco with the off-road-oriented Sasquatch package, you won’t be able to get it with a manual transmission.

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Honda Swings Axe, Ends Life of One Model, Two Fun Variants

Honda, perhaps taking a cue from domestic manufacturers, has decided to diminish its passenger car ranks.

Reported today by Automotive News, the automaker has decided to discontinue the Honda Fit in the U.S., while also killing off the Honda Civic coupe and ending manual transmission availability in the Accord.

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Reader Review: 2019 Honda Accord Sport 2.0T - Peak Sedan

I have long been a family sedan buyer and was looking at replacing my aging ride. I have enjoyed rowing my own gears for more than two decades now, with the occasional automatic transmission thrown in the mix.

This time was a little different, in that there are so many extracurricular activities with three kids. My wife and I frequently find ourselves having to divide and conquer to get it all done. Making the challenge more difficult has always been the fact that I prefer a manual transmission, while she avoids driving a stick-shift like the plague, despite being fairly well versed in the three-pedal dance. I guess, like the market in general, she just doesn’t find joy in that level of engagement.

So, the writing was on the wall: An automatic transmission was in my future when I began hunting for a new whip.

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Rumor Mill: Honda Civic Type R to Get Even Wilder

The Honda Civic Type R isn’t exactly subtle.

Its boy-racer styling and big wing announce its presence and mission with authority. It’s as if Honda is saying, “Hey, you want subtlety in a hi-po Civic? Get a Si.” Note: The Si is easily identifiable because of a spoiler of its own, albeit one that’s far less ostentatious.

If the current Type R doesn’t exactly blend, what does one make of the rumors swirling across the Internets this morning?

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Junkyard Find: 1980 Honda Accord Sedan
In rust-prone regions, first-generation Honda Accords oxidized to oblivion well before the 1980s were finished, but elsewhere they held together for decade after decade. I still see the occasional 1977-1981 Accord when I walk the rows of car graveyards in Colorado and California, though nearly all of those cars are hatchbacks.Here’s a hard-to-find ’80 Accord sedan in Denver.
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2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid First Drive - Smooth, Green Power

I’m not, generally speaking, a crossover fan. That said, I’m not a full-on hater, either — I understand that sometimes people need the utility offered by crossovers. And some of the compact five-seat crossovers, the small ones that aren’t rolling barges, seem to be decent tools for automotive multitasking, at least to my eye.

Take Toyota’s RAV4. Always a hit with the public, if not with enthusiasts, and the newest version is quite good.

And just like the Accord/Camry battles that have been fought since before I could legally drive, the CR-V and RAV4 are fighters in opposite corners, duking it out for buyer’s bucks. Including those buyers who want to go green.

There are many reasons one buys a hybrid — the fuel-economy gains, the green cred, or the “green” posturing/posing — but no matter what the why is, there are buyers out there who want that badge.

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QOTD: Which Tailgate Is the Best Tailgate?

Wandering the 2020 Chicago Auto Show floor on the second media day, I entertained myself by playing with trucks.

More specifically, I tinkered with the trick tailgates found on GMC and Ram models, plus the in-bed cooler offered by Honda’s Ridgeline. Also springing to mind is the available roll-up tonneau cover offered by Jeep’s Gladiator, as well as that old stalwart, the RamBox.

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Buy/Drive/Burn: Japanese Two-doors for a New Century

Last time on Buy/Drive/Burn, we took a look at three two-door, mid-market offerings from American brands for the 2001 model year. Most people hated such a Sophie’s Choice.

Perhaps things will be a bit better today, as we cover the same market segment with offerings from Japan.

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2019 Honda Civic Type R Review - Haunting My Dreams

As I’ve mentioned before, reviewing cars here at TTAC is not my primary career. At best, I get a few hours a week working in my basement office to pound out prose that the Best and Brightest loves to critique. As such, I don’t always get around to writing about each car I’ve driven until several weeks (or more) later.

As the calendar pages tear away furiously toward a new year, like many I’ve taken stock of what I’ve done over the past eleven months. I’m realizing that of the cars I’ve had the pleasure of wheeling, there are only a few that I can legitimately picture myself buying. These cars are objects of desire and obsession for a gearhead like yours truly.

The 2019 Honda Civic Type R is at the top of the list, certainly. The blend of incredible performance and everyday utility make it a favorite of many reviewers. But that’s the problem – everybody’s written about it. What can this part-time auto scribe say about it that hasn’t yet been said?

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Buy/Drive/Burn: Early Eighties Converted Convertibles From Japan

Think back to the Eighties, that optimistic decade when automakers hired aftermarket companies to create convertible versions of their two-door models. The big three Japanese brands each offered their own aftermarket “sports themed” convertible in the first half of the decade.

Which masterpiece is worth a Buy?

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Junkyard Find: Furiously Modified 1995 Honda Accord Coupe
In the 1970s and 1980s, American roads were full of Detroit machinery with loud exhaust, aftermarket fiberglass hood scoops, fat tires, and air shocks lifting the rear end high enough to show the slapper bars on the leaf springs. A couple of decades later, automotive-modification fashions had changed, with Japanese and South Korean cars covered with futuristic plastic body kits and sporting 6-inch diameter tailpipes (on 1.5-inch exhaust systems).Here’s a good example of a mid-1990s Accord, done up with mid-2000s-style “import tuner” add-ons, found in a Colorado automotive graveyard.
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2020 Honda Civic Si First Drive - Still a Bargain and a Blast

The biggest news concerning the mildly updated 2020 Honda Civic Si is either the changed final drive ratio, the addition of a volume knob, or the inclusion of Honda Sensing — the company’s safety suite of driving aids — as standard equipment.

Obviously, this means the car hasn’t changed a whole hell of a lot.

That’s a very good thing.

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Junkyard Find: 2004 Acura EL

Last year, I found a 2009 Chevrolet Chevy (a Mexican-market Opel Corsa) in a Denver car graveyard, presumably driven here on Mexican plates and then abandoned and towed away when it couldn’t be registered in Colorado.

We can assume that today’s Junkyard Find came to the Mile High City in the same way, but via the northern border rather than the southern one.

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2019 Honda Passport Review - Go (Almost) Anywhere

For those who don’t know, my day job isn’t in the automotive industry. Rather, I’m in sales – I represent various product lines in an industrial setting, and I talk to countless small business owners and technicians who look to me to help get their job done.

I’d like to think that the better part of two decades in sales has inoculated me to obvious marketingspeak – I can see through the jargon and bullshit most of the time, as I’m usually the one distilling the bullshit for my clients. It carries over outside the office, of course, so I was skeptical when presented with Honda’s tagline for this two-row crossover: “Passport To Adventure.” Surely the 2019 Honda Passport isn’t an overlanding rig meant to tackle the worst terrain the world can offer. That said, some of Ohio’s roads must be some of the worst terrain to be called “paved” in the western world.

Every commute is an adventure.

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Honda's Got a Brand New (Air)bag

Late last week Honda announced its new airbag. Designed to reduce the potential for injuries, especially those encountered in frontal collisions that aren’t perfectly head on, the system is designed to keep vulnerable, human noggins from rolling off and impacting something firm. It’s like a sandwich of safety — where your head is the meat.

Shown to journalists at Honda R&D Americas complex last week, the bags will begin seeing active duty in new models sometime next year. Developed in conjunction with Autoliv, not Takata, the auto manufacturer claims it’s the next level automotive safety.

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Sensible Sport: Honda Civic Si Racks Up Some Changes for 2020

Not surprisingly, one change bound for the 2020 Honda Civic Si is its price, but fans of Honda’s sensible middle ground between Civic Sport and Civic Type R won’t be driving away empty handed.

For the coming model year, the bearer of Honda’s hotter 1.5-liter gains a mild change in appearance, additional content, and a nod towards improved performance.

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Small Changes Coming to 2020 Honda Civic Hatch; at Least There's Another Stick

Unlike its predecessor, the accolades heaped on the 10th-generation Honda Civic far outweigh any criticism levelled against it. And yet while a next-gen model looms just over the horizon (a 2021 model year intro seems likely), Honda’s not resigning the Civic to the status quo for 2020.

The hatchback variant undergoes a minor refresh for the coming model year, a year after its sedan and coupe siblings, but you’ll probably have to carry a photo of a 2019 model to tell them apart. Most notable of the changes is something a dwindling number of people care about: manual transmissions. No, the base LX will not gain the six-speed stick found on the base sedan, but Civic hatch buyers who like nice things will soon be able to row their own.

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The Pullout Continues: Honda to End Argentina Auto Production

The consolidation of Honda’s production landscape continues, with the automaker announcing Tuesday that it will cease production of passenger vehicles in Argentina next year. Honda builds the subcompact HR-V at its Campana assembly plant; come 2020, the facility will revert back to building only motorcycles.

It’s just the latest move by an automaker eager to bolster its bottom line and build defences against a possible recession by streamlining its operations on a global scale. Like other companies, Honda is eager to rid itself of excess plant capacity and source vehicles from cost-effective locales.

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In Honor of Its 25th Birthday, Honda Cranks the Odyssey up to '10'

Ten speeds, that is. While the 2019 Odyssey only offered a 10-speed automatic in the lofty Touring and Elite trims, for 2020 the tranny becomes standard across the range. What’s the occasion? Well, a quarter century of life, for one, but the continued decline of the once-hot minivan segment can’t be discounted.

For buyers eager to unload an extra $1,500 on their 2020 Odyssey, Honda has a birthday package ready to go for all trims. Minivan ownership is already a special experience, but Honda wants owners to rub it in everyone’s face.

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Fewer Honda Sedans Emerging From Midwest After Production Cut

Two Honda plants in Indiana and Ohio bear the brunt of a decision made last spring to tap the brakes on Civic and Accord production. At the start of the month, Honda of America suspended the second shift on one of two lines at Ohio’s Marysville Assembly Plant, the result of flagging sales that show no signs of reversal.

While Honda categorizes the move as temporary, the second shift’s return will have to wait “a few years.”

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The Honda E is Starting to Sound Like a Lot of Fun

Honda has released a few new details regarding its upcoming, and adorable, electric runabout. Based on the Urban EV concept we saw debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2017, the Honde E has endured some minor changes. Rounder than before, the vehicle’s headlamps are no longer partially obfuscated by the hood. The tail lights have also been converted to circles, giving the car a slightly goofy — but not unpleasant — external demeanor.

Having opened the (refundable) reservation booklet in May, Honda promised a quintet of color options and a standard side-mounted camera mirror system that effectively makes the model impossible to get in the United States. For now, the Japanese automaker seems content targeting European city dwellers who need more than a bicycle to get around or just happen to be in the market for a cute little electric car that might be a lot of fun to drive.

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2019 Honda Accord Sport 2.0T - The Long-Awaited Sixth Generation Prelude Si

It’s back, baby! Enthusiasts cried in 2001 when, amid The Fast and the Furious fever, Honda pulled the plug on their bigger sports coupe offering, the Prelude. It wasn’t selling well, as the Civic had grown to fit American tastes, and the beloved Acura Integra had just been supplanted by the more powerful RSX. Still, there are enthusiasts who lament the loss of the beloved coupe.

While I detest the “four-door coupe” moniker being applied to sedans with a steeply raked backlight, it doesn’t take a big stretch of imagination to see a coupe atop this page if you squint. Thus, I’m calling it – this 2019 Honda Accord 2.0T Sport is the return of the Prelude. The postlude, perhaps.

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Rare Rides: Discovering the Honda Crossroad of 1993

Throughout the 1980s, and into the middle of the nineties, Honda reassured themselves that the sports utility vehicle craze was just a fad. The company spent years refusing to develop their own SUVs of any caliber, and instead turned to other companies (eventually) to fill gaps in the model lineup.

Honda did rebadging work to various extents, and then sold the borrowed SUVs around the world. Today’s Rare Ride is one such offering, though it’s more obscure then all of its stablemates down at Honda Rebadge Corral. Let’s check out a Honda Crossroad, from 1993.

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Junkyard Find: 1989 Honda CRX

The Honda CRX is one of my very favorite 1980s cars, hailing from an era when Americans paid well over MSRP and/or waited for months for the privilege of getting a new Honda. Twenty years ago, I owned a few early CRXs (before giving up on the carbureted CVCC examples, which were impossible to get through California’s strict emissions tests due to the “Map of the Universe” tangle of vacuum lines), and I often thought of getting a fuel-injected late CRX.

Such cars were expensive back then, but values have plummeted to the point where I now see 1988-1991 CRXs at U-Wrench-type yards. Here’s one in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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2018 Honda Civic Type R Review - It's Still All That

My first press trip as the M.E. at this august website had me driving the Honda Civic Type R on a track outside Seattle. And on road, as well. I pronounced it worthy of the hype.

So naturally, I had to see how it handled the daily grind. There’d be no track driving – I asked, but Honda would’ve needed to do special prep, so that was a no-go – so treks to the grocery store and the suburbs would have to suffice.

Was it still “all that?” In a word, yes.

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2019 Honda Passport First Drive - Passport to Sales

Honda really wants to prove that its 2019 Passport five-seat crossover has off-road chops.

To that end, it’s possible I had more wheel time on washboard-surfaced gravelly roads than I did on paved surfaces during my day with the newest trucklet on the block. Some of this was by my choice – I chose to get more time off-road for the sake of photos. Still, Honda definitely wanted to show that the Passport is capable off-road.

Which it was, at least on the route we drove. Frankly, most crossovers with decent ground clearance would’ve survived our trek through the cold and sunny high desert, although two of the Passport’s benchmarked competitors, the Ford Edge and Nissan Murano, might not be included in that “most.” More on that in a bit.

Thing is, and this refrain dates back to the earliest days of the SUV – few buyers will ever take the Passport off-road. Few buyers of any vehicle in this class take their rigs off-road. Only the owners of the highly capable Jeep Grand Cherokee and Toyota 4Runner are likely to, and even then, I’d bet the percentage who actually do is small.

Why all the hullabaloo from Honda about off-roading, then? Is the Passport truly on par with the JGC and the ‘Yota when out in the sticks? Is the Passport so bad on-road that Honda emphasized off-road driving? Or did someone on Honda’s PR team just really want to see southern Utah?

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QOTD: Which Entrant Is Losing at the Game of Trucks?

You hear it time and time again on the internet. “There are no bad cars today.” It’s proclaimed by those who lived through the Malaise Era and have personally experienced the build quality and reliability of an new Renault Le Car or Chevy Monza. And while things are most definitely better than they were, nothing’s perfect. Bring out your critical fingertips.

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TTAC Staff Thoughts on the Best and Worst Cars of 2018

A little over a month ago, we ran the results of our best/ worst cars of 2018 poll. At the end of each post, I reflected a bit on the results, but I wanted to dig a bit deeper.

While I had hoped to do this a bit sooner, other work got in the way. So Steph and I decided it would be a good way to close out the year.

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2018 Los Angeles Auto Show Recap - Move Aside, Mobility, the Cars Were the Stars

Outside of a Nissan-hosted panel preceding the first media day, the typically mobility discussion was muted at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show (and even that panel wasn’t nearly as eye-roll inducing as the usual Ford pronouncements — at least this panel included actual experts making reasonable points, even if I disagree with some of them.)

L.A. was all about the cars – cars you’ll soon be able to buy, should you have the means.

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The Possibility of a Hotter Honda HR-V Emerges

Suffice it to say no one was talking about Honda’s HR-V subcompact crossover until this news broke. It sells well, quite well, but the little ute — like most subcompact crossovers — may as well be invisible.

What are people suddenly talking about? The emergence of an HR-V Sport on the other side of the Atlantic, boasting a turbocharged 1.5-liter VTEC four-cylinder that’s good for 180 horsepower — just like the one found in the Civic Sport.

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2019 Honda Passport - Only the Name Is Old

LOS ANGELES – Chevrolet brought the Blazer name back, and Ford is about to bring back the Bronco. What’s next, a Honda Passport?

That’s not a joke – the company really is resurrecting the Passport moniker. It will be slapped on an all-new five-seat crossover for the 2019 model year.

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Honda Teases a Passport That's a Real Honda

The space between compact and midsize crossovers, automakers have discovered, is ripe for the creation of a wholly new segment. A tweener, essentially, that bridges the gap with two rows of seating but more cargo room, power, and (often) luxury than a compact can muster.

Ford learned this long ago with its Edge, and General Motors recently discovered it with the reborn 2019 Blazer. Nissan’s Murano stakes out the same ground, positioning itself as the slightly upscale alternative to the Rogue and Pathfinder. Then there’s the former Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, now just Santa Fe. Not to miss out on an opportunity for big crossover bucks, Honda’s preparing to enter the fray with a new iteration of the Passport.

Unlike the Passport that came before, there’s no Isuzu hiding beneath these clothes.

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TTAC Readers' Choice: The Best Vehicles of 2018

The votes are in, and out of the 20 nominees for best vehicle, here are the winners.

It was a difficult campaign full of mudslinging, negative ads, and scandal – oh wait, that’s that other election campaign that ended earlier this month. Sorry, my bad.

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HELL YEAH: 2019 Honda Civic Si Comes With Larger Cupholders, Other Stuff

Honda has already revealed updates for the 2019 Civic, announcing a handful of interior changes and adding a new sport trim last August. However, the sporting Civic Si wasn’t included as part of that corporate proclamation. Fortunately, Honda didn’t forget about it. The brand simply wanted to leave some breathing room between announcements, as this is a big one.

That’s right, this is the one you’ve been waiting for. The Honda Civic Si is finally getting bigger cupholders.

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Junkyard Find: A 1993 Honda Civic DX Sedan With 323,486 Miles
As the owner of a very battered fifth-generation Honda Civic, I’m always aware of examples of Honda’s 1992-1995 subcompact when I spot them during my junkyard travels. I see plenty of these cars with odometers showing better than 300,000 miles, but it has taken a frighteningly wretched-looking one to get me to whip out my camera while on a junkyard-photographing mission.On a recent trip to grab a heater-temperature control knob for my car (lost in my garage clutter when I removed the dash during an ill-advised engine-swap-related rewiring job), I found this used-up ’93 sedan and decided that this high-mile veteran ought to be documented before it heads to The Crusher.
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2019 Honda Civic: Dig Deeper If You Want a Two-door Stick

The Big H rolled out additional details for its 2019 lineup today, including trims and pricing for the Civic and Civic Coupe. As Steph detailed last month, the Sport trim will be added to the coupe and sedan, giving buyers who don’t want the hunchback hatchback an extra model in which they can get the 158-horsepower 2.0-liter engine.

Buried in the details is a rejiggering of transmission availability. With the six-speed manual no longer available on the base coupe, shoppers who want a two-door Civic with a stick shift will be paying more in 2019.

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Buy/Drive/Burn: The Japanese Family Wagons of 1995

On the last installment of Buy/Drive/Burn, we chose from three family-friendly luxury wagons from the Malaise year of 1975. Several members of the B&B peanut gallery quickly retorted that all three options were awful, and that only wagons from the 1990s were worth pondering.

Bam. We’re back on wagons, 20 years later. It’s now 1995.

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Tipping the Sales Scales: Honda's Light Trucks Continue Filling the Hole Left by Cars

It’s nothing new in the industry, nor is it at all uncommon, but Honda’s distinctly balanced product mix continues to tip ever further towards the trucks and SUV side, despite the assertion of American Honda’s assistant VP of sales, Ray Mikiciuk, that cars will continue as the brand’s mainstay.

With the same number of selling days as August 2017, last month showed the automaker’s volume on the upswing, propelled by the strength of light truck sales. In keeping with the theme of balance, only one mainstream car saw its sales increase, year over year, while only one light truck model saw its sales decrease.

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A Tenuous Balance: Honda's Still Bullish on Cars, but Even Segment Leaders Have Weaknesses

While the Ford F-150 will likely still be America’s top-selling vehicle when each of us dies a natural death, the entries below it will surely be subject to change. In the near future, at least, expect to see passenger cars sink further down the best-seller list.

Last year, Honda — a manufacturer with a fairly even car/light truck split — showed up three times on the U.S. Top Ten list: in seventh, eighth, and ninth place, with the compact CR-V leading the way, followed by Civic and Accord. This year’s sales haven’t been as kind to the Accord as it has its segment rival, the Toyota Camry, but at least the Civic’s almost holding its own.

Publicly, Honda remains optimistic about the continuation of cars, claiming they’ll remain its primary focus. Unfortunately, even for models that seemingly can do no wrong, there’s danger signs aplenty.

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2019 Honda Pilot First Drive — A Great Buy That May Be Hard to Come By

From 2009-2012, I spent some of the most frustrating days of my life behind the wheel of a Honda Pilot. My good friend Marc and I traveled the entire eastern half of this great nation in a Pilot with a 2008 Honda S2000 Club Racer in tow—literally—as we competed on the SCCA national Solo and Pro Solo circuit. If you haven’t done autocross at the highest level, you don’t know the frustration of having driven 12 hours each way for six minutes of total seat time over two days, only to lose a spot on the podium by less than a tenth of a second. My favorite memory is the time when Marc was so frustrated by the combination of a loss and being lost that he put his fist directly through his windshield-mounted Garmin GPS system.

The point of this opening paragraph is to let you know that I am one of the extremely few people who’ve actually done anything truck-related with a Honda Pilot besides taking it to Home Depot and Bed Bath and Beyond for a pretty nice little Saturday. The folks at Honda want to change this perception of the Pilot for 2019, and thus I was flown out to SoCal for two days to spend some time getting dirty with Honda’s three-row “light truck” SUV.

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Rollin' in My 2.0: Honda Debuts 2019 Civic Sport in Sedan and Coupe Form

It was possible to get into a Sport-trimmed Honda Civic before the 2019 model year, but you’d have to agree to the hatchback bodystyle first. Not everyone gazed upon that particular Civic’s styling with admiration and desire.

Not a problem. If buyers don’t want a five-door Sport, we’ll give it to ’em in coupe and sedan form, Honda figured. And so it is for 2019. However, checking the box for this slightly more aggressive treatment fails to bring aboard one of the hatchback version’s best attributes.

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Toyota and Honda Have Good Reason Not to Abandon Sedans

Ford’s already brought the axe down on all but one of its car models, and General Motors looks ready to do the same. Other automakers, however, know that ditching sedans would mean abandoning key groups of customers.

For Toyota and Honda, models like the Camry and Civic resonate far more among some demographics, and leaving that segment risks losing those buyers to other brands. Not everyone wants a crossover. Among Asians, Hispanics, and African-Americans, four Japanese nameplates keep popping up at the top of the most-bought list, but one domestic model poses a growing threat.

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Friday Night Adventures Prove Yet Again That Minivans Are the Best Vehicles the World Has Ever Known

The wind is gusting above 40 miles per hour on New Brunswick’s Northumberland shore. I’m standing beside an oversized ATV trailer, desperately trying to figure out how one of three ratchet straps holding an ATV snowblower to the trailer tore itself to shreds, launching the blower into the trailer’s front box.

It’s the kind of wind that limits one’s cognitive function. Though often guilty of running multiple trains of thought along one set of tracks, I realize as I stare at the shredded strap that virtually all of my brain activity is presently devoted to maintaining a semi-socially acceptable level of snot spray and, concurrently, keeping my shirt from blowing up neck-high, Marilyn Monroe-style.

In the wee hours of Saturday morning, a whirlwind journey that began by leaving work early with the digital handshake of a deal, ended in my driveway with the blower intact. Hours later, our new 2018 Honda Odyssey EX ATV tow vehicle – a replacement for the 2015 Odyssey EX we victimized for three years – opened its tailgate to reveal a cavernous cargo area and hauled a wide array of 4x4s, 2x4s, and cement blocks home from the lumber yard. “Pickup trucks don’t take this much stuff in one load,” the teenaged attendant said. That afternoon, the Odyssey was back to hustling children across Prince Edward Island, three rows of seating full.

Can a minivan be beaten at life?

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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  • Sgeffe Bronco looks with JLR “reliability!”What’s not to like?!
  • FreedMike Back in the '70s, the one thing keeping consumers from buying more Datsuns was styling - these guys were bringing over some of the ugliest product imaginable. Remember the F10? As hard as I try to blot that rolling aberration from my memory, it comes back. So the name change to Nissan made sense, and happened right as they started bringing over good-looking product (like the Maxima that will be featured in this series). They made a pretty clean break.
  • Flowerplough Liability - Autonomous vehicles must be programmed to make life-ending decisions, and who wants to risk that? Hit the moose or dive into the steep grassy ditch? Ram the sudden pile up that is occurring mere feet in front of the bumper or scan the oncoming lane and swing left? Ram the rogue machine that suddenly swung into my lane, head on, or hop up onto the sidewalk and maybe bump a pedestrian? With no driver involved, Ford/Volkswagen or GM or whomever will bear full responsibility and, in America, be ambulance-chaser sued into bankruptcy and extinction in well under a decade. Or maybe the yuge corporations will get special, good-faith, immunity laws, nation-wide? Yeah, that's the ticket.
  • FreedMike It's not that consumers wouldn't want this tech in theory - I think they would. Honestly, the idea of a car that can take over the truly tedious driving stuff that drives me bonkers - like sitting in traffic - appeals to me. But there's no way I'd put my property and my life in the hands of tech that's clearly not ready for prime time, and neither would the majority of other drivers. If they want this tech to sell, they need to get it right.
  • TitaniumZ Of course they are starting to "sour" on the idea. That's what happens when cars start to drive better than people. Humanpilots mostly suck and make bad decisions.