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North American Car, Truck of Year Finalists Announced

Big Three only gets one nominee this year.

by on Dec.08, 2015

The 2016 Nissan Titan XD will come in five grades, including this Pro 4X version. It's also a finalist for North American Truck of the Year.

Three cars and three trucks have been named finalists in the North American Car and Truck of the Year competition, which will culminate in an announcement of the winners in both categories at the opening of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

The finalists for the car of the year are the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu, Mazda MX-5 Miata and Honda Civic, while the list of truck and utility vehicles nominees include the Volvo XC90, Nissan Titan XD and Honda Pilot.

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Lindsay Brooke, one of the 53 NACTOY jurors who presented the nominees during a luncheon hosted by the Detroit’s Automotive Press Association, said the challenge for this year’s jurors was the large number of new vehicles that debuted during 2016. Forty-nine new vehicles made their debut during the year. (more…)

Best Cars for Tailgating

For Serious Tailgaters, the Car’s as Important as the Game Itself

by on Oct.23, 2015

The extended Janisse family chowing down at a Michigan State tailgate party.

He may live on the other side of the country these days, but Steve Janisse tries to get to East Lansing, Michigan as often as possible to catch the Michigan State Spartans in action.

It’s a tradition dating back to his days as an MSU student, and while it’s too long to drive in from California, he’s stayed in touch with old college friends who have made a tradition of arriving hours early to park and party. Tailgating is a pastime repeated around the country as football season gets underway, but to do it right takes more than just a ticket for the game and a parking pass. It also takes the right sort of car.

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“The tailgating is almost as much fun as the game itself,” says Janisse, a one-time auto executive who now works as a consultant in the entertainment industry. “But you want something like an SUV or a pickup that you can open up in back.”


Honda Shifting from Cars to Trucks

Maker searching for more “white space” opportunities.

by on May.21, 2015

Honda's 2016 Pilot begins rolling off the company's assembly line in Lincoln, Alabama, today.

Things will be getting busy at the Honda Manufacturing of Alabama plant today – make that busier – as the first of the maker’s new 2016 Pilot SUVs begins rolling down the line.

It’s the third-generation version of the three-row ute that has become not just one of the most popular vehicles in its segment but a symbol of some major changes at the Japanese brand. Long focused on sedans and coupes like the Accord and Civic, Honda is steadily shifting emphasis from passenger cars to sport- and crossover-utility vehicles.

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Already, truck models make up 49% of total U.S. production, noted John Mendel, Honda’s top U.S. executive, “and we could flex that even further,” he said during a teleconference with reporters marking the launch of Pilot production. “That depends on the car market and how much the truck market grows.” (more…)

First Drive: 2016 Honda Pilot

A minivan by any other name…

by on May.20, 2015

The 2016 Honda Pilot can push up above $40,000 in high-trim models.

What’s in a name, Shakespeare famously asked. He was, of course, referring to a rose. But we might ask the same about the word, minivan. Once one of the most popular body styles on U.S. roads, sales have slumped sharply in recent years as style-conscious buyers have migrated to SUVs and crossovers.

Honda, however, has come up with an interesting solution. Give buyers a minivan and just call it something else. Officially, the 2016 Honda Pilot is a utility vehicle. But for all intents and purposes, it’s a minivan minus the sliding doors.

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First introduced in 2003 and redesigned six years later, the third-generation Honda Pilot is more than just an update. It adopts a much more stylish exterior, an even more lavish interior, and plenty of new safety and creature comfort technologies. What stays the same is Pilot’s focus on providing the sort of comfort, functionality and flexibility that, in years past, would have drawn buyers to conventional minivans, including Honda’s own Odyssey model.


Honda Offers Closer Look at 2016 Pilot

Maker promises “beauty, brains and brawn.”

by on Apr.10, 2015

The 2016 Honda Pilot.

When Honda revealed the new 2016 Pilot at the Chicago Auto Show it promised a “dramatic shift,” and backed that up with a new, more modern design. But what was under the skin? Well, the automaker is finally ready to reveal more of the details as the three-row SUV finally gets ready to roll into showrooms.

The Honda Pilot, the maker boasts, packs in “beauty, brains and brawn.” We’ve already gotten a look at the new design, so, as for the rest, the 2016 remake is powered by a 280-horsepower V-6 and delivers power to the pavement through a new Intelligent Traction Management system that allows a motorist to instantly optimize a variety of vehicle settings for the road conditions they’re facing, whether dry pavement or snow and ice.

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The new crossover also gets some major updates to its digital infotainment and safety systems which offer features such as Forward Collision Warning and Collision Brake Mitigation.


Honda Upping its Truck Game

Maker expanding MDX production to 2nd plant, more to follow.

by on Feb.11, 2015

The 2014 Acura MDX has readily outsold all its competitors in the three-row luxury SUV category.

The only one of the major Japanese automakers not to offer a full-size pickup, Honda has long seemed reluctant to enter the lucrative truck market. But with buyers snapping up its SUVs and crossovers as fast they roll off the assembly line, Honda is finally getting serious.

It will introduce two utility vehicles at the Chicago Auto Show this week, a complete remake of the Honda Pilot, as well as an update of the Acura RDX. And, the maker says, it will invest $85 million to expand production of the bigger Acura MDX to a second plant in East Liberty, Ohio.

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Honda’s U.S. growth “will be driven heavily by our light truck business, such as HR-V and Pilot,” Executive Vice President John Mendel said during a Wednesday morning teleconference.


Honda Makes “Dramatic Shift in Design” with New 2016 Pilot

2016 CUV remake debuting in Chicago next month.

by on Jan.21, 2015

Honda is teasing the introduction of its redesigned Pilot at next month's Chicago Auto Show.

It’s going to be a big year for Honda, and after announcing an array of future new green machines during its Detroit Auto Show news conference, the Japanese maker is about to return to the present. Well, make that the very near future, as it plans to pulls the wraps off the all-new 2016 Honda Pilot during a news conference at the upcoming Chicago Auto Show.

The original Pilot was a boxy minivan alternative. The next-gen model got a little more stylish but maintained a clear emphasis on being a people-mover, rather than an off- or even soft-roader. Once again, the third-generation Honda Pilot is expected to target buyers who want minivan functionality – with seating for up to eight – but a bit more style.

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According to a statement from Honda, “The new Pilot represents a dramatic shift in design, while showcasing new standout technologies, versatility and dynamics currently unavailable in the mainstream SUV segment.” (more…)

Honda Recalling 250,000 Vehicles for Braking Problems

Campaign targets Pilot, two Acura models.

by on Mar.14, 2013

The 2005 Acura MDX is one of three models targeted by Honda's latest recall.

Honda continues to be plagued by safety-related problems that have resulted in it being at the top of the automotive recall list in recent years – the latest announcement targeting 250,000 vehicles sold worldwide due to potential brake problems.

More than 180,000 of the vehicles impacted by the new recall were sold in the United States through both the flagship Honda, as well as the upscale Acura, brands.  Some of the vehicles were sold in Japan, Canada, Mexico and other parts of the world, according to the maker.

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According to Honda, “If ann electrical capacitor on the VSA control unit was damaged during manufacture, the VSA system could malfunction and apply a small amount of brake force for a fraction of a second, without any input by the driver.”


Honda Recalls 750,000 Vehicles for Airbag Defects

Missing rivets, safety devices might not deploy in crash.

by on Jan.18, 2013

Recent versions of the Honda Pilot (shown here) and Odyssey are covered by the new airbag recall.

After having the second-highest number of recalls for any maker operating in the U.S. market, Honda is getting off to a rough start for 2013, this time announcing it will recall nearly three-quarters of a million vehicles because missing rivets could case their driver’s side airbags to fail to properly deploy in the event of a crash.

The latest safety-related problem involves 748,000 of the maker’s popular Pilot crossover Odyssey minivan models. Another 29,000 of the vehicles sold in Canada are also covered.

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It’s the latest in a series of problems Honda has had with airbags that have now resulted in the recall of several million vehicles in recent years.  That includes one problem in which airbags could inflate over-aggressively, causing shrapnel to fire into the passenger compartment.


The 10 Most Popular Mom-mobiles

Honda, Nissan dominate the distaff list.

by on May.10, 2012

The Honda CR-V, what Mom apparently would like more than flowers this Mother's Day.

Forget the flowers.  What Mom apparently wants for Mother’s Day is a new Honda CR-V.  Or so it would seem according to a closer look at the car American moms are driving.  The Japanese crossover tops the list, with Honda landing five out of the Top 10 Mom-mobiles, Nissan close behind with three of its own on the list.

Not surprisingly, what mothers drive depends on how big a brood they have, according to research by  But the one big surprise is the fact that for mothers overall only one minivan made the list, the Honda Odyssey.  For those with three children, the Chrysler Town & Country and the Toyota Sienna also made the list.

The CR-V is the most popular choice for those with one child.  For those with more kids, Honda is still the top brand – but the pick of this litter is the maker’s Odyssey minivan.

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“The data show moms prefer vehicles that combine practicality with style,” said Kristen Andersson, Senior Analyst at TrueCar. “Bigger is not always better when it comes to moms’ favorite vehicles as evidenced by the lack of any Large SUVs and only one minivan in the overall top ten.”