Honda’s most fuel efficient 2018 Civic Hatchback not available in the U.S.

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2018 Honda Civic Deisel Hatchback presented in Britian.

Honda Motors is a world-brand, and as such, caters to the unique market conditions dictated by regional specificities. One critical consideration when designing a mass-marketed car or light truck is fueling infrastructure, and more specifically, the fuel of choice within a specific geological region. Unlike the United States, when driving in the European Union, one encounters diesel engine powered cars and trucks with regularity, many of them manually shifted.

As a side note, 55% of all on-road-grade Diesel fuel refined in the United States is exported to Great Britain, Europe, and beyond; where nearly half of all passenger cars roll on Diesel power.

As announced Monday by Honda U.K. Introducing the 2018 Honda Civic Hatchback 1-DVTEC

The latest and final variant of the 10th generation world-platform Honda Civic will be Diesel engine powered, and initially, manually shifted. 2 years prior we reported on a Diesel engine powered Civic Touring Hatchback that broke the Guinness Book of Record’s “most miles driven on one gallon of fuel,” where a team of Honda associates hyper-miled their way to a world record. At that time I read from our European Honda fans of real-world fuel efficiency approaching 70 MPG, adjusted. While I haven’t personally confirmed the claim, it’s impressive, just the same.

Today I expound on Honda’s most fuel-efficient Civic Hatchback variant in Torque News. Check it out, and let me know what you think. Would you buy a diesel-powered Civic Hatchback if it was available in the U.S.? Honda’s EarthDream i-DVTEC turbocharged 4-cylinder diesel engine rolls worldwide. Why not in the United States?

In other Honda News: Yet another accolade for 2018 Honda CR-V

Earlier in January, our Honda News was dominated by C.E.S. Las Vegas. Honda attended the world’s premier Consumer Electronics Show and presented cutting-edge Robotics, some rolling some stationary. Me, I like Honda’s Autonomous work-horse 4-wheeler. Pre-programmed and controlled remotely through an app, this 4-wheel quad-like platform can be modified for work, and homesite labor saving tasks.

As to human mobility and mental health, yes, Honda has that covered too. On the Automotive side of C.E.S., Edmunds Auto, in conjunction with C.E.S., award 2018 Honda CR-V its inaugural ” Most Innovative SUV” award. Read how and why 2018 Honda CR-V beats all comers in the compact SUV segment with superior standard features, available Honda SENSING, and superior ride dynamics.

2018 Honda Accord is North American Car of the Year : Or, how did Honda Accord beat Toyota Camry to the trophy case

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Henio Arcangeli, Senior Vice President of the Automobile Division of American Honda Motor Co., accepts the award for 2018 North American Car of the Year at the 2018 North American International Auto Show on 1/15/18.

2018 marks the third year running that a Honda brand car or truck wins a North American Auto of the year award. This award is in effect the Oscar or Emmy for the auto industry. The selection process is arduous, long-winded and political. North American Car, Truck, or Utility of the Year is vetted by, reduced to finalist, and and then chosen by the majority consensus of a panel composed of active automotive journalists, editors, and lifestyle bloggers — a few of them good friends and associates.

This year, 2018 Honda Accord finds itself in good company with the reinvented 2018 Volvo XC60 midsize SUV, and the flagship Lincoln Navigator. An interesting cross-section of automotive engineering to be sure. Yet each winner is a standout in its respective segment. And like 2018 Honda Accord, the best at its intended application. Here’s where my Accord, Camry comparison reference comes into play. I have driven both, and find each car to be an extraordinary redo of what was in the not too distant past, a bread and butter appliance car.

With a hat off to Toyota engineering, the 2018 Toyota in any variant, is a pleasure to drive. You may read my initial drive impression of 2018 Camry hybrid here. With newfound cutting-edge good looks, premium cabin refinement, a much-improved driver to car connectivity, and very impressive normally aspirated pedal power, Camry is a winner. Yet, according to a jury of 60 professional automotive jurors, Honda Accord takes the nod for, and here I quote; “2018 Accord honored for bold “new from the ground up” approach to remaking America’s best-selling car over the past 41 years.” says American Honda Motors.

Enough already. Here’s what I like about the reinvented from the ground up 2018 Honda Accord

Looking to Accord’s newfound design directive, one would be hard-pressed to find a more dynamic, eye-catching body design, available in today’s subpremium midsize auto segment. Playing off of the well-received 10th generation Honda Civic design, 2018 Accord, regardless of trim level, runs with Civic’s European inspired body language, and takes it to the next level in refinement and understated elegance. From its short-overhang trunk line to its classic touring car inspired long hood and pronounced 3D grill design, Accord breaches the limitations of an affordable midsize family car segment with exceptional standard featured connectivity and advanced active safety features. On the performance side, we find a new lineup of dynamic, fuel-efficient, turbocharged engines, and 2 new proprietary transmissions.

For 2018, Accords suspension is re-engineered for not only improved handling dynamics, but a quiet and comfortable drive and ride experience. 2018 Honda Accord is the quietest midsize sedan in the sub-premium midsize sedan segment — thanks to the strategic placement of acoustic deadened auto glass, carpet batting, and active electronic noise cancelation, Accord is at times, eerily quiet — something one doesn’t anticipate from a sedan sporting a beginning MSRP well below $30,000. read my initial 2018 Honda Accord drive review here.

Not wishing to read too much like An Accord Ad

Honda engineering presents an Accord variant for every sedan driver. From the entry-level 1.5 Liter Accord Basic to the 2.0 Liter Turbocharged VTEC, 10-speed Accord Touring, 2018 Accord presents the greatest bang for your buck found today in a mainstream 4 door sedan. For the “Green” among us, 2018 Honda Accord Hybrid should arrive at dealerships sometime in the late Spring. I drove Accord Hybrid in New Hampshire last Fall. As with the current Accord Hybrid, the 2018 Accord Hybrid sits at the top of the Accord lineup, with sophistication, and fuel efficiency befitting a hybrid mainstay. Me, I like driving Accord. And will miss the V6 powered, manually shifted Accord Sports Coupe featured in this article. This too shall pass.

Why Honda CR-V tops USN and World Report’s ‘2017 Best New Cars for Teens’

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The best selling SUV in North America

Nineteen, 16 year old teenage drivers die every day in the U.S. resulting from traffic accident fatality; many of these accidental deaths are avoidable; and more often than not the result of distractions; texting while driving; talking on cellphones, and infotainment related activities.

With Honda Motor Company targeting 2025 as its “ZERO auto related death or major injury target year, 2017 Honda CR-V earns US News and World Report’s “Best New Car for Teens” award. What makes CR-V exceptional in a sea of very good compact crossovers? Read on.

2017 Honda CR-V in any trim variant, is the most advanced 2-row SUV in maker’s history.

Without question, the latest advent of Honda’s best selling SUV in it’s turbocharged glory, is a pleasure to drive; good looking, and multiple task capable. Beyond that, Honda’s near midsize 2-row comes with one of, if not, the most comprehensive active safety suite option in the sub-premium SUV segment.

Granted,  you and I may not eagerly share our brand new CR-V Touring with the newest driver in the family. However, US News and World Report ranks 2017 Honda CR-V, when equipped with optional Honda Sensing ™, the “Best New Car for Teens,” in the ever expanding crossover, SUV vehicle segment. Read my latest CR-V drive impressions here.

2017 Honda CR-V when properly equipped, will avoid collision

While not 100% Autonomous, 2017 Honda CR-V when optioned with Honda’s award winning Honda Sensing ™, will not only assist your teenage driver in keeping within the driving lane when distracted (often,) but mitigate collision avoidance by applying the brakes, often a split second before the driver becomes aware of pending doom.

There’s also, roll-over- prevention, via heightened electronic suspension stability, ABS, electronic brake aided non-skid quick stopping, and much more. Me, I like the adaptive cruise control and “Lane Keep Assist.” Read more about active safety features here. You will find full 2017 CR-V specifications and trim level MSRP here.

*Portions of this article appeared in my Honda-Torque News column 

 

2017 Honda CR-V Honored for Low Environmental Impact

 

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Last week  the ACEEE honored Accord Hybrid and Honda CR-V Touring for their low environmental impact “green” attributes. This raises a bit of a question for me and others that embrace an electric motivated future for personal transportation. Amazingly enough, the turbocharged optioned Honda CR-V approaches near hybrid MPG, without the advantages of electrification, not an easy engineering task.

When considering the purchase of a new car or SUV, how often do we look to environmental impact as a weighing factor in the decision to lease or purchase? In a time where the average pump price of gasoline sits at or near a historical low, fuel efficiency, and related car emitted air pollution, may take a backseat to utility, interior accouterments, good looks, and engine acceleration performance.

Honda continues to lead the automotive world in fuel-efficient, super low emissions I.C.E ( internal combustion engine) technology. In practice, 2017 CR-V Touring ranks #1 in the compact crossover/SUV segment for average fuel efficiency. And, according to KBB.com, will lead the competition in long-term ownership residual value.

2017 Honda CR-V offers the best of all worlds through financially attainable MSRP, segment topping performance, and as acknowledged by the ACEEE,  (American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy) a reduced environmental footprint, as a “Greener Choices 2017” pick, with a top 11% efficiency rating when measured against all cars on the road today. This Honda Hybrid landed in the top 1.3%  2017_Honda_Accord_McCants

It’s good to be “Green”

How we measure such benchmarks:  Vehicles that qualify for the “Greener Choices 2017” list are restricted to widely available gasoline-powered cars and light trucks with automatic transmissions, which showcases the widespread availability of environmentally responsible vehicle choices in many segments of the market. The vehicles are ranked based on a full life-cycle analysis, looking at not only the environmental impacts from driving, but also from the manufacturing and end-of-life recycling of the vehicle.

As reviewed by McCants Auto News: While driving under real-world weather and road surface conditions, our turbocharged 2017 CR-V Touring averaged 28.9 MPG. That’s exceptional for a near midsize 2-row equipped with real-time all-wheel-drive, a high torque output turbocharged 4-cylinder gasoline engine, chunky-exterior design cue’s and what gained acknowledgement from the automotive press as the most refined, comfortable interior in the compact SUV segment. Read my latest 2017 Honda CR-V drive review here.

A week in the seat with Honda’s reinvented 2017 CR-V AWD Touring

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“Impressive” is a bit of an understatement when describing Honda’s reinvented 2017 CR-V. Arguably, a very good 2-row SUV prior to the Fall 2016 release of the 5th generation CR-V, Honda takes financially attainable refinement, utility, sport, and fun to drive SUV attributes to the mainstream, we’re just a bit blown away by how good CR-V is.

Until one ‘steps on the gas’ the changes are mostly subtle

CR-V was already a very good SUV, in-fact, the #1 selling retail crossover, SUV of any size in the U.S. But as with most things, despite a major refresh in late 2014, CR-V was ready for a platform change. With introduction of  the 10th generation Honda Civic, came the shared “compact world-platform,” along with a very good high torque output, fuel-efficient, and more importantly, clean burning state of the automotive art turbocharged VTEC engine – the first offered in CR-V – the performance difference is measurable.

It’s not so much the added 10 horsepower, it’s where the seemingly endless torque kicks in. Coming on like a mule kick to the head at just a bit above idle, 2,000 RPM (revolutions per minute) or so, peek torque remains on demand through 5,000 RPM, effectively the “mid-RPM-working-range” of most engines today.

The advantage found here is seamless grade transition. There is no shifting per-say, as the CVT (constant variable transmission) works in unison with the torque-happy 18 Lb. boost turbocharged 4-cylinder VTEC gasoline engine.

Turbocharging, and CVT integration,  results in a seemingly endless ‘flat’ torque curve, on demand “drive-by-wire’ instantaneous acceleration, and hill climbing torque.  Also, the highest non-hybrid MPG in the compact crossover segment. *In real world road testing under mixed-route, extreme weather, I recorded 28.9 MPG.

But there’s yet another advantage to turbocharging

2017 Honda CR-V AWD Touring is very refined as to drive and ride when driven like your grandparent’s family sedan or station wagon. CR-V has a split personality, perhaps more than two. CR-V drives as soft and docile as a new-born kitten when coaxed to do so, yet performs with the best in the class when split-second on ramp, or lane change speed is required

Interior comfort:  While initially, I found the leather-covered, heated and 10-way power adjusted driver’s seat  old-school-Honda stiff, within an hour or two, my body adjusted to it – the comfortable surround that is CR-V, becomes second nature as to operation – everything properly in its place, presenting arguably the most refined ride and drive experience in CR-V history.

I like the overall “chunky” stance of CR-V. The driver’s seat height and subsequent commanding view out the windshield instills confidence, and a well-earned sense of safety in the operator and passengers.

The interior layout is well-balanced, comfortable, and sensory appealing – with color contrasting soft and hard touch fabrics and plastics, offset by realistic wood-like accents, chrome, and brushed metal trims, complimenting a perfectly placed center stack, visual pleasing and unique instrument cluster, smart wheel, and single touchscreen entertainment, navigation, personal communication and cellphone-pairing driver to car interface – exceptional!

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Let’s drive!

So, let’s drive already

Well, despite the pending danger of a torrential downpour in the weather forecast, we’d promised ourselves a drive out to the Oregon Coast, a mixed drive of surface streets and rural 2-lane highway. the Ocean rests 65 miles or so to the northwest, about 1 hour and 20 minutes from the old homestead. Nancy and I decided to go for it!

Our 2017 Honda CR-V Touring activaes with a car recognizing key fob – the ignition is key less, and requires foot on the brake for startup. For 2017, Honda retains the electronic parking brake in CR-V, with 5 position select-stick control placed historically correct on CR-V’s dash. This arrangement affords ample cup-holder, cellphone-cable-connectivity and charge points, and a well-placed, covered storage bin, and stash place between the two front seats.

We discover the advantages of a slightly wider and longer manufacturing platform in CR-V, it’s comfy, even in the second row, affording excellent visibility to the front and sides from all seats — and yes, 2 full size adults, 3 in a pinch, child seats, and the family gold-fish, also fit in row 2 with room to spare. And, with a split 40/60 magic seat, so will your bicycle, surfboard, blowup doll, etc.

Placing CR-V in reverse, a rather good resolution color monitor turns on. In the case of CR-V Touring, one has 3 view choice options. However, one of my favorite Honda options is not on board. The right turn “Lane Watch” cam is missing in action. In its stead is the exceptional accident preventative, mitigation measure, “Honda SENSING” Suite, now available on CR-V EX trim level or higher. Featuring adaptive cruise control, Lane Keep Assist, rear cross traffic sensors, mitigated automatic braking and more.

Perfect? Darn near. O.K., I’d change a thing or two, but not much

At 3800 LBS, or so, 2017 Honda CR-V AWD Touring drives a bit heavy on 2-lane country roads. By that I mean it dives slightly into a turn, with a sense of controlled side roll.

Granted, I’d just stepped out of Honda’s exceptional handling 2017 Civic Hatchback, a car that successfully injects 5-door utility and driving fun into Honda’s bread and butter lineup. So, my take on CR-V handling trends a bit pessimistic as of this writing. In short, Honda calls CR-V “The sporty SUV,” and when I inject the instant-on acceleration, torque, superior brake and steering reponce into the equation, I’d have to agree, CR-V is a pleasure to drive, especially on the long-run, it’s fantastic on the highway.

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With the 60/40 second row in the down position, tons of room!

A minor annoyance

  1. There’s no height or lumbar adjustment for the passenger front seat.
  2. A very minor idle oscillation occurs at idle, while sitting at the stop light.
  3. Engine and CVT pair to make a high-rev-run when accelerating hard.
  4. I’d like to see a full glass roof in CR-V, it doesn’t offer one.
  5. I find the (side bulb) rear tail light design a bit distracting in the rear-view mirror.

That’s it! As I stated back in late 2014 with the major refresh of CR-V, Honda’s exception 2-row SUV retains the title of “best in class” for a very simple and succinct reason – it is! While our fully loaded 2017 CR-V AWD Touring came with a MSRP of $34,595 (Includes a $900 destination charge, Honda roadside assist, and Sirius XM programming for 1 year,) my personal build sheet totaled MSRP $38,935, for a very well equipped, AWD, turbocharged, compact urban assault 2-row.  At the end of the day, CR-V is easy! I like that.

Chevy Cruze presents fun, economical driving basics

 

 

Getting my drive-on, Chevy style.

 

It’s that ‘crap-shoot’ that is the online pick of an “intermediate” rental car. Much like a stripper jumping out of a birthday cake, Chevy Cruze proves to be a bit surprising for this unabashed Honda fan.

True enough, I was raised in and behind the wheel of Detroit iron.

My first project car was a 1949 Chevrolet sedan, rusted, derelict, and not running. But that didn’t stop me and my younger brother Pat from cutting our auto-loving teeth on it. I, like many Americans, fell away from the Chevrolet brand during the T.A.R.P. funded transition years of the great recession. It’s not so much that I disliked the mark, I no longer trusted its assumed life-time longevity in the auto market.

Much like a long forgotten lover, Chevrolet came to mind from time to time, but I kept my distance, perhaps missing an affordable opportunity to renew my past life Chevy love fest.

Sure, I’ve caught the new Corvette or occasional Malibu SS blowing down the hardtop out of the corner of my eye, or, in the rear-view mirror of my transportation of choice. But truthfully, I lost track of the evolution of the brand, while dedicating my auto-writer intent on mostly import brands — although mostly “Made in America” at this stage of the game. The compact Chevy Cruz would prove to be noteworthy. “

In-fact, the more I drove Cruze on a recent 8 hour, 375 road trip to Eureka, California, more value I found in it.

Let’s get back to the headline

Last week while my import daily driver resided in a transmission shop, I jumped online and reserved a rental car. Par for the course, Enterprise didn’t disclose the make and model of the car waiting for me at the airport. All I knew was that it would be a rather bare-bones, fuel efficient compact, and afford care-free relatively new car, unlimited mileage driving. That night I’d take delivery of a 2016 black on gray Chevrolet Cruze LT, nothing too fancy, yet eye catching just the same.

Nothing fancy here, but I appreciated the no-nonsense layout of this compact Chevy

Dropping into the cloth covered manual adjusted driver’s seat, I noted the relative comfort of driver to wheel positioning, instrumentation, and center stack convenience feature placement. No, this Cruze did not feature a key-less entrance or ignition fob, self dimming convenience lighting, or a warm welcoming verbal recognition from that electronic girl in the dash. But, what it did present was impressive acceleration, responsive steering wheel to road feel, and reasonable road handling.  The suspension is tuned for the highway long haul – a  mid-firm controlled float. I like it!

I was caught by surprise as to how quiet and user friendly Chevy’s entry level compact sedan is. While one doesn’t find a plethora of active safety features in the 2016 Chevrolet Cruze LT Sedan, the stereo is decent, climate control and seating  more than adequate, with combined fuel efficiency and on tap torque approaching the best in class.

Sure, I’d change a detail or two.

Our 2016 Cruze LT came off the lot for $21,700, a bargain in the sub-premium compact sedan segment. However, the dash mounted back-up cam resolution is sub standard, as is the cloth covered seat construction.  Unfortunately Chevy found this price point at the expense of substantial, near premium trim components, and standard feature safety, as demonstrated by Honda Civic Touring and other contenders in the near premium compact sedan segment.

There are few if any active safety features available at this trim level. But for those drivers wishing to up the accident avoidance level, while enjoying power adjusted, heated seats, You’ll find those options available in Cruze for under $25,000. Chevy’s 1.4 Liter turbocharged gasoline 4 cylinder engine produced impressive, on demand torque, while sipping regular gasoline. On this 800 mile run, we averaged 42 MPG combined, outstanding fuel efficiency in any segment.

I found the no-nonsense 6-speed automatic to perform flawlessly in this front-wheel-drive compact, brake pressure and resulting stopping power was dead on, yet not jarring. Cruze, while exhibiting mild torque steer when launched off of the light, proved to be manageable, and down right civilized when driven at lawful speeds, under mixed weather conditions.

In closing, while Chevy Cruze may not be the end all be all…

Cruze LT is a good value as priced. I recommend a test drive to anyone considering the purchase of an economy compact 4 door sedan. Chevy Cruze presents fun, economical driving basics, housed in a class act of a compact sedan. It’s a no ensconce daily commuter, that can be dressed up and taken out on the town. I like that.