For the first time in a long time, Honda has a hit on its hands with the redesigned 2013 Accord. Click here for my review at Autos by Sympatico. In short, there is very nearly nothing wrong with this car.
Category Archives: Honda
Honda has worked its HFP (Honda Factory Performance) magic on the Accord coupe, but the spell didn’t quite turn it into the fabulous sporty car they’d like you to think it is. Click here to read my Autos.ca Test Drive.
Honda has lost the plot, compared to its world-beating ways of the 1990s, its reputation tarnished by some reliability troubles and a few sales duds. The eighth-generation Honda Accord, however, seems to live up to the brand’s ideals — well, mostly. Click here for my Autos.ca used car review of the 2008-2012 Honda Accord.
Click here to read my review of the new Civic coupe, a car that represents a Honda spooked by the cool reception to a number of its recent new products. Not much changes compared to the car this 2012 replaces. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but Honda has to watch it doesn’t get left in the dust by competitors that have already caught up to the Civic in the areas of reliability and fuel economy.
By Chris Chase
Concept vehicles are the ones normally seen at auto shows, often-radical styling exercises that suggest what’s in store for a carmaker’s future models. Honda’s concepts of late, though, have been more down-to-earth vehicles providing a very accurate preview of a coming-soon production model. Proof can be seen in the concept for the two-seat CR-Z hybrid (seen at the 2007 Tokyo auto show), and more recently, in the Civic concept (essentially a production model with blacked-out windows) that made the auto show rounds earlier this year.
Honda’s latest preview is of the 2012 CR-V Concept, unveiled July 25th. The CR-V is Honda’s entry in the compact crossover/SUV category, an important one in North America and one in which Honda has been a very important player since the first CR-V was introduced way back in 1997. This so-called concept is another thinly-veiled production model, the giveaway being Honda’s pronouncement that the 2012 CR-V will go on sale in Canada (and presumably in the U.S., too) early next year – far too soon to allow time for significant design changes.
The styling isn’t a total departure, but Honda’s being less cautious than with the 2012 Civic that just went on sale. Honda has more latitude here than it did with the Civic: the CR-V is important, but the Civic is practically the poster child for small cars in Canada. The concept’s front-end treatment is a kinder, gentler version of that found on the ungainly, unloved Accord Crosstour. The rear, from what’s visible of it in the single front three-quarter image Honda provided, retains the current model’s basic look, with bumper-to-roof taillights, but otherwise looks like a cross between the Volvo XC60 and Kia Sportage, neither of which are bad designs to crib style ideas from.
Based on the company’s press release, it seems Honda will stick with its strategy of offering a single four-cylinder engine in the CR-V, despite most of its competitors’ offering six-cylinder or turbocharged four-cylinder powertrains in uplevel models. Honda doesn’t say anything about performance upgrades compared to the current CR-V, but does boast of “top-of-class” fuel economy. Sounds impressive, but don’t expect miracles; a ten per cent improvement over the current front-drive model’s figures of 9.8/7.1 L/100 (city/highway) would be a generous estimate. The current CR-V is offered with just one transmission, a five-speed automatic. My guess is Honda will stick with it for 2012; the Sportage and Tucson already come with six-speed automatics, and the Toyota RAV4 still uses a four-speed with its four-cylinder engine.
Inside, Honda promises a “more accommodating and spacious design” and a lower cargo floor. The latter is the more interesting statement, as the CR-V is already one of the better vehicles in its class, along with the Toyota RAV4, for ease of cargo loading.
Honda’s on an unfortunate streak lately with many of its brand-new models being duds in the marketplace. It has had better luck redesigning existing successful vehicles, though, and the redesigned CR-V should do just fine. A lower price would help, and I do think Honda will cut the CR-V’s price for 2011, in order to keep competitive with Korea’s Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson – popular, well-designed vehicles that undercut the Honda by a significant amount. The 2011 CR-V’s MSRPs start at $26,290 for the base LX FWD model, and top out at $35,390 for the EX-L with navigation.
Notably, Honda will offer the CR-V in a Canada-exclusive Touring trim, and the 2012 model will be the first CR-V to be built at the company’s Alliston, Ontario manufacturing plant.
As a vehicle type, the minivan is nearly 30 years old. Therefore, most of the major innovations have come and, if they were good ideas, stuck around. Think along the lines of dual sliding doors, seats that fold away into the floor and, gimmicky as it might be, the swivelling second row seats and hideaway table offered in the Dodge Grand Caravan.
So, what’s left? Not much, but a handful of manufacturers have included a couple of small, but useful, features in their recently-redesigned minivans.
In the Honda Odyssey, the second-row seats can move a few inches side-to-side, providing space to set three child seats across. And here’s a why-didn’t-I-think-of-that feature: a garbage bag ring that folds out of the back of the front-seat centre console – no more searching for an out-of-the-way place to hang a trash bag during those rolling road-trip fast-food lunches.
Every minivan available at the moment has a third-row seat that folds away into the floor; the cavity it fits into can be used for cargo when the seat is upright. But Nissan did something unique in its 2011 Quest by designing the seat to fold forward, instead of toward the back, leaving that storage well free even when the seat is stowed. Hard panels that fit over the opening provide out-of-sight storage for valuables.
Less practical, but still cool, is the second-row lounge seat that can be optioned into the Toyota Sienna, creating the kind of luxurious seating normally reserved for ultra-luxury sedans.
What will they think of next for this most versatile of vehicle type? We’ll have to wait a few years, until the next round of redesigns, to find out.