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Posts Tagged ‘honda reviews’

Honda Tells Dealers, Clear Out Old Civic for “Emergency Refresh”

Early update aimed at resolving compact's many problems.

by on Oct.23, 2012

Honda will have an "emergency refresh" of the Civic in showrooms several years earlier than the normal mid-cycle update.

Honda will reveal an “emergency refresh” of its much-faulted Civic model next month, likely at the annual L.A. Auto Show, hoping to address the numerous problems that generated a critical drubbing of the long-popular Civic after its 2011 redesign.

In the meantime, the maker is pressing dealers to clear out leftover 2012 Civics as quickly as possible because the coming update will make it “a difficult model (to) sell,” according to an exclusive report by

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The irony is that despite taking hits from many reviewers – including some downright hostile words from normally Honda-friendly Consumer Reports – the current Civic, flaws and all, has continued to be a strong force in the U.S. market.


First Drive: 2013 Honda Accord

Gunfight in the Midsize Corral.

by on Sep.10, 2012

Honda hopes to land back on top of the midsize segment with the 2013 Accord.

Be prepared for one of the nastiest gunfights the auto industry has seen in years.  The 2013 model-year will bring the launch of an assortment of new entries into the always-competitive midsize sedan segment, including an all-new Ford Fusion, Chevrolet Malibu and Nissan Altima.  And now comes the new 2013 Honda Accord.

Once the dominant player in the midsize market, Honda has had to settle for second, for much of the last decade, chasing the Toyota Camry.  But with all the new sheet metal, leadership is up for grabs.  Nissan has openly declared its desire to topple the midsize king-of-the-hill.  And you can bet that’s Honda’s goal, as well.

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“It’s playing out like an arms race,” Honda product planner Vicki Popponi said during a media preview of the new Accord. And Honda is going to need to deliver the big guns.  The maker took a critical drubbing when it launched an all-new Accord, two years ago, and has had some serious sales setbacks with other recent models including the Insight, CrossTour and CR-Z.  So, there’s little room for error with the 2013 Honda Accord.

Honda initially will offer three new powertrain packages with the 2013 Accord - a fourth to follow.


Revisiting the Honda Civic Hybrid

Beauty is in the eyes – and pocketbook – of the beholder.

by on Dec.12, 2011

The 2012 Civic Hybrid continues to use Honda's "mild" IMA hybrid system.

You can barely read the auto section of your local newspaper, never mind the enthusiast magazines, without getting immersed in the new world of “electrification.”  That is, of course, a fancy term for what most folks would call battery power.  And regular readers of know that I’ve been making it a point to look at some of the latest offerings to use batteries in their bid to go clean and green.

This time, however, I wanted to spend some time with a relatively conventional HEV model, rather than a pure “BEV” or “PHEV.”  And, oh yeah, in case you’ve forgotten, a PHEV is a plug-in hybrid, a BEV is battery-only which means it has to be pluggable, and HEV is hybrid gas+electric power.

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So, here is a closer look at my time behind the wheel of the latest-generation Honda Civic Hybrid.  My fellow auto scribes have been beating up on Honda’s newest Civic because they perceive the interior trim doesn’t meet their collective mob standards. Well, most of them have a lot more opportunity than I do to eyeball all the competitors in the 2011/12 market place, so I can’t really challenge them on their views.


First Drive: 2012 Honda CR-V

Aiming to gain the advantage.

by on Nov.16, 2011

Honda weighs in with the fourth-generation CR-V getting its official launch at the L.A. Auto Show.

The folks with the fancy MBAs like to call it the “first-mover advantage.”  Discover a need or niche and fill it before the competition does.  If your product resonates with consumers you’ll likely get a lock on the market.

And that’s precisely what happened when Honda introduced the original CR-V, 15 years ago, creating what is now one of the fastest-growing niches in the automotive market: the compact crossover.  The Honda CR-V has been the perennial favorite among American shoppers – though the king has tumbled down the hill in recent months as the result of production shortages caused by the earthquake and tsunami that struck northeast Japan last March.

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Now, as its plants slowly get back to normal, the Japanese maker is ready to roll out a fourth-generation of its compact CUV, but whether the 2012 Honda CR-V can regain its lead remains to be seen.  It has a lot going for it, like an easy-to-use, 1-touch system for folding down the rear seats. But the crossover also suffers from a few glaring flaws — notably a numb new steering system — that could provide an opening for the next-generation 2012 Ford Escape, the outgoing domestic model already outselling the CR-V.


Honda Bumps Up Mileage Hoping to Salvage Slow-Selling Insight Hybrid

Highway fuel economy now at 44 mpg – but is that enough?

by on Oct.17, 2011

Honda has updated the interior and exterior of the 2012 Insight - but the big selling point may be the hatchbacks improved mileage.

Honda is hoping to pump some life into its slow-selling Insight hybrid for 2012 by adding more features, giving it a more high-tech appearance – and bumping up its mileage.

There’s no question the Insight needs some help.  Sales have lagged significantly below expectations for a vehicle Honda had once hoped might pose a real challenge to the gas-electric segment’s king-of-the-hill the Toyota Prius.

The question is whether the newly-updated 2012 Honda Insight – with its revised styling and 44 mpg highway rating – can lure buyers in at a time when fuel prices have retreated and conventionally powered products, such as the comparably sized Hyundai Accent, are also delivering highway numbers in excess of 40 mpg.

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Changes to the 2012 Honda Insight’s exterior include a more distinctive grille with a thin, blue accent bar to underscore its identity as one of the maker’s hybrid models.  The ’12 also features restyled front and rear bumpers and updated head and taillamps, as well as restyled wheels. Meanwhile, changes meant to improve airflow under the vehicle yield a 2% improvement in overall aerodynamics.


Honda Insists Sagging Ridgeline “Here to Stay”

Japanese maker considers major changes to edgy pickup.

by on Oct.04, 2011

Honda hopes the 2012 Ridgeline Sport will improve flagging demand for its quirky compact pickup.

Mark Twain could have written the script, it seems, officials at Honda asserting that reports of the demise of the slow-selling Ridgeline pickup have been greatly exaggerated.

Despite a slew of speculative articles sweeping the Internet insisting the Japanese maker has decided to kill off the compact truck, Ridgeline will remain part of the Honda line-up for “the foreseeable future,” according to the manager of truck planning.

But what’s unclear is whether that means we’ll continue seeing the Ridgeline as we know it.  The once critically acclaimed pickup adopted an unusual crossover, or car-based, platform rather than the traditional frame-based chassis.  Analysts now are speculating whether a next-generation Ridgeline would migrate to something more classically truck-like.

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“I would like to lay to rest any rumors about the future of the Honda Ridgeline,” said Honda Truck Product Planning Manager Sage Marie. “In no uncertain terms, the reports in the media that we have plans to discontinue the Ridgeline pick-up truck are false. To the contrary, Ridgeline has a significant role in the Honda line-up and it is expected to continue in the foreseeable future.”


First Look: Honda CR-V Concept

Cute ute finally ready after 3-month delay.

by on Sep.22, 2011

The fourth-generation Honda CR-V makes its belated debut - albeit in "concept" form.

Honda’s cute ute is finally taking its bows, the 2012 CR-V delayed by about three months due to the March disaster in Japan that set all that country’s makers on their ears.

The CR-V has been one of Honda’s strongest sellers over the years – besting the likes of the Toyota RAV-4 and Ford Escape to top the compact SUV charts for the last four years in a row — and the maker is betting it will remain a solid contender going forward.  It will need a hit.  Honda has taken some unexpected lumps, in recent months, the new 2012 Civic slammed by critics that included the influential Consumer Reports magazine.

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Officially, the 2012 Honda CR-V making its debut at the Orange Country International Auto Show today is just a concept vehicle, but it “strongly hints at the more dynamic and refined look of the upcoming model,” proclaimed John Mendel, the maker’s top U.S. executive.


Honda Exec Downplays Impact of Consumer Reports Trashing

No maker can "always hit them out of the park."

by on Aug.30, 2011

Can the 2012 Honda Civic overcome bad reviews?

Timing is everything – and Mike Accavitti was clearly wondering whether he got it right the day he accepted his new job as head of marketing for American Honda, a couple months back.

That was the same day that the influential Consumer Reports magazine took a potshot at the Honda Civic, declaring that the 2012 remake of the long-popular subcompact, normally one of the non-profit publication’s favorite choices, “now…ranks near the bottom of its category.”

As if to drive the knife deeper, the magazine followed up with a second report raising serious questions about Honda itself.  And CR wasn’t alone.  The 2012 Honda Civic has received a rash of criticism while the maker itself has come under increasing fire from various media – including – faulting it for a variety of issues, including timid design.

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Further complicating matters, the maker was hit hard by the earthquake that struck Japan on March 11.  The subsequent product shortages have probably reached their worst this month, says Accavitti, a former Chrysler executive.

“For a second, I thought, ‘Holy, moley, what did I get myself into?’” he says with a laugh that betrays his initial concerns.  But despite Honda’s recent setbacks, the new marketing chief insists he’s in for a good ride.


A Car by Any Other Name? 2012 Honda Crosstour

Can a new badge help sell Honda’s struggling crossover?

by on Aug.04, 2011

Honda hopes a new name -- and some added features -- will save the sluggish-selling Crosstour.

Can a new name and a few added features salvage one of Honda’s slowest-selling models?  Apparently, the Japanese maker is hoping so as it transforms last year’s Accord Crosstour into just the Honda Crosstour for 2011.

Even normally upbeat Honda executives, including top American John Mendel, openly acknowledge the quirky crossover hasn’t set the market afire.  Honda sold just 1,477 last month, a 35% decline, with sales barely 11,500 for the full year.  And lest anyone slough that off as a result of the Japanese product shortages, the Crosstour has been falling well short of expectations from the day it was launched.

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Clearly influenced by the sports car/crossover design theme that first appeared with the BMW X6, Honda actually launched two models, the Accord Crosstour for its mainstream brand and the even more slow-selling Acura ZDX, which found only 102 buyers last month.


First Look: 2012 Honda Civic Concept

All-new model set for January debut at Detroit Auto Show.

by on Dec.13, 2010

Set for debut at the Detroit Auto Show, the 2012 Honda Civic Concept.

Honda has confessed to an open secret: a much-awaited new version of the popular Civic model will make its debut at the Detroit Auto Show, next month, and this official rendering offers a hint of what’s to come.

The image of the ninth-generation Civic, one of two foundational vehicles for Honda, will appear in the line-up for the 2012 model-year, and not a moment too soon.  The compact passenger car segment is facing more competition than it has seen in years, with a variety of new offerings from the U.S. and South Korea aiming to topple the established order.

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Though they remain the segment’s best-sellers, the current, gen-eight Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla are more vulnerable than they have been in years, industry analysts warn, but the launch of an all-new Civic should help Honda hold onto its segment – at least if it hits the mark.  Toyota has taken significant heat for the current Corolla, which suffered from both cost-cutting and differences of opinion between the company’s U.S. and Japanese managers.