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.

As Tesla Fanatics tout battery electric, the Auto Industry embraces hybrid electrification

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Honda Clarity Fuel Cell captures market interest in 2017.

 

Comming off of the first week in January, the 2017 automotive market sales report is dropped on my virtual desk. No surprise found here: The majority of cars and light trucks sold in yet another bullish auto market remain gasoline-fueled, internal combustion engine powered. Yet 2017 marked a turning point in auto-industry wide promotion and integration of electrification, most of it hybrid.

Stamp your feet and cry as you will Tesla fans, battery electric will not go mainstream anytime soon. There’s a reason or two for that, the least being public acceptance. Less than 2% of new cars and trucks sold in North America for the model year 2017 were electrified — the majority, by far, was mild gasoline/electric hybrid powered.

Here’s how Honda, Hyundai, Volvo and other makers look at the future of Auto-electrification. Acura Division takes hybrid electrification mainstream with MDX.

Last November, Honda’s chairman reiterated the Japanese automakers intent to electrify no less than 70% of worldwide auto production by the model year 2030. I’d previously experienced all three variants of Honda Clarity. The first being the 3rd generation Honda Clarity FCV, ( fuel cell vehicle) followed by a dealership loaned 2018 Clarity BEV. ( battery electric)

And finally, the car that Honda’s Steve Centers tells me will be the best seller in the Clarity platform, the 2018 Clarity PHEV. ( plug-in hybrid electric vehicle)

Center’s logic follows market trends driven by product availability and the public’s ongoing concern with reliance on a still-expanding public charging infrastructure, and between charge cycle range anxiety. Although Clarity PHEV does present an extended real-world electric-only drive range of 40+ miles, one can drive indefinitely on the gasoline-fueled Atkins cycle 4-cylinder engine co-generator.

The up trim Clarity 5-door premium sedan comes to market at a price slightly higher than a well-equipped Honda Accord. Such is the case with Hyundai Ionic, Chevrolet Volt, and other electrified vehicles. The majority of auto buyers fear the implications of public-grid or home charged vehicle — they don’t wish to bother. 

Yes, Honda’s best selling compact car goes electric for 2019

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Shades of Civic Hybrid

As reported last week on Torque News: Honda Insight is reborn for 2019 in its 3rd generation as an up trim Honda Civic 5-passenger sedan; or is it a hatchback? Honda’s not saying prior to the media reveal of Honda Insight in Detroit on January 15. look for coverage of N.A.I.A.S. ( North American International Auto Show.

 

What’s new for Acura in 2019 and beyond

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2019 Acura RDX optimizes “Precision Crafted Performance”

In a recent Torque News article titled “5 improvements Acura owners want in the near future,” I discussed the current state of Honda’s premium car Division, and what will be required in the near future to elevate Acura to its rightful position in the premium car and light truck segment.

Setting the record straight: In speaking with Acura owners, while the majority praise the mark for producing an overall outstanding vehicle, many point to Acura’s outdated tech-side as sub-par, needing work, and glitchy at times. Or, more specifically, the navigation voice-command needs some work. Fit and finish are at times inconsistent. And unfortunately, for a very few, the initially problematic ZF 9-speed automatic transmission remains prone to intermittent glitches, and in worse case scenario, failure! It does happen.

Today Acura MDX and RDX remain best sellers in their respective SUV segments. Affordable, premium, and fun to drive, Acura remains the go-to brand for consumers looking for understated elegance, precision, and sport-like drive and ride dynamics. When looking to pricepoint, Acura holds the advantage in the SUV and midsize premium sedan segment. What does the future look like for Honda’s premium brand?

In response to this Acura-owner want and wish list, I’ve received some very poignant responses. Read that article here.

Moving on to what’s new for Acura in 2019

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2018 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid

The evolution of Acura will continue with the prototype introduction of the all-new RDX compact SUV. This will be the first offering to feature Acura’s Precision Concept Cockpit design. Losing the 2-screen center stack dash layout, 2019 RDX will instead feature a centered floating touchscreen, with a redesigned, and much larger i-MID. I first experienced the Precision Cockpit at the Los Angeles Auto Show in 2016. We’ll be reporting details here on January, 15, from Detroit.

To date, Acura presents a much refreshed 2018 MDX, MDX Sport Hybrid, and, TLX-A-Spec. All feature Acura’s outstanding pentagon diamond precision grill and SH-AWD options. In the case of MDX Sport Hybrid, NSX, and RLX — we discover hybrid electric torque vectoring SH-AWD. (smart handling all-wheel-drive.) Acura’s quest for Precision Performance began with the 2nd generation NSX super-car — an unparalleled performance value for the money.

I look to Acura for great things in 2018 and beyond. I’ve met the design team, engineers, and top management, they’re passionate, dedicated, and have the resources at hand to dominate. Good things take time. In the meantime, I like driving Acura. It’s very cool in its own understated, precision directed elegance, and posh! I tame the streets of Los Angeles in RLX.

Yet another ‘best year ever’ for American Honda Motors

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Honda Clarity Fuel Cell captures market interest in 2017. Photo Attributes American Honda 2017

Today in Honda-Torque News: What can I tell you, Honda Torque News is my day job. I look forward to reporting Honda news and updates. And, on slow news days, I have a bit of fun with it! With Honda’s annual sales report coming to press a day late this year, American Honda Motor Company announces, for the third year running, anew sales record for America’s # 5 auto maker. * as measured by sales volume.

For December, we discover an astounding 60% uptick in Honda Pilot sales, for total sales of 127,279 sold in 2017. Honda points to increased production capacity with Alabama coming on line — Could be! Dealers can’t sell cars without inventory. However, with no shortage of competition in the mid and full size 3-row SUV segment, the comprehensive drive and ride package that is Honda Pilot consistently meets or surpass the needs of a mostly Soccer Mom, multi-tasking, 3+ Kids family market, and, offers something Honda Odyssey doesn’t – all-wheel-drive.

I called the reinvented Honda Pilot a refined SUV bargain in 2015, it still is. When compared to Toyota Highlander, Mazda 9, and Chevy Tahoe, Pilot can’t be beat for value-packed standard featured packaging, V6 engine performance, and class-leading fuel efficiency. Me, I just like driving Pilot.

Honda’s best selling vehicle for 2017 just happens to be a compact 2-row SUV, or a crossover, depending on how you look at it. At any rate, Honda CR-V, the best selling SUV of all time, just beat Honda Accord and Civic for the top sales spot in 2017.

I first reported on the reinvented, up-sized Honda CR-V in 2015. At that time I was astounded by CR-V’s new found handling characteristics, quiet, comfortable cabin, and innovative, fuel efficiency 1.5 Liter turbocharged gasoline engine, and segmented CVT (continuously variable) transmission.

Honda CR-V outsold Toyota RAV4 in 2017 with 377,895 units sold for the year. That’s a lot of Honda CR-V!  Yet there’s more to Honda’s annual sales report hen initially meets the eye. With the market introduction of Honda Clarity PHEV

comes an opportunity. Learn more about Honda’s premier plug-in-electric vehicle here.

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