2017 Civic Type-R carves a path through California’s Avenue of the Giants

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2017 Civic Type_R takes on Redwood Country

Compact ultimate performance hatchback meets worlds tallest tree: So it goes. Yet another week in the seat behind the wheel of Honda’s latest and greatest Civic performance hatchback. “Ultimate,” is an interesting word, with vast implications as well as a plethora of applicable meaning. Believe it or not, comparing the mighty coastal Redwoods to Honda’s latest and most powerful Civic manifestation is not that much of a stretch when we look to the unique, segment breaching, performance attributes presented in 2017 Honda Civic Type-R Touring.

Well, at the least, California’s original coast highway provides an exceptional, scenic backdrop for Type-R. The road itself is well maintained, narrow, twisty, and fast enough — keep an eye out for the trailer towing tourists. They’re generally slow driving, and many in number. Last week we took a 1,000 mile, 48 hour road trip to Humboldt County, where Civic Type-R carved a path through the historic Avenue of the Giants.

The Coffee Girl at Starbucks loves the edgy look of 2017 Civic Type-R

True enough, on our recent foray from Eugene, Oregon south to Humboldt County, California, Honda’s top of the performance mark Civic Type-R drew more attention than Mick Jagger at a Rolling Stones concert. Even the hardcore Subaru WRX fans came out for a look — walking away grinning after gaining a few minutes of seat time in Honda’s 306 horsepower, turbocharged, limit slip differential, 6 speed manually shifted FWD wonder car.

The 10th generation Civic world platform Type-R lives up to all the media hype

It’s  rare that I drive a new car offering that meets or exceeds the stated performance attributes, handling prowess, and fuel efficiency touted by the maker. This is the first Civic to ever wear the Type-R badge in the United States. Yes, a European Type-R with a stated 316 horsepower has broken track records in Europe and Asia, but that’s not the 10th generation Civic platform Type-R that became available for the Honda die hard 2 short months ago.

Our leather and cloth trimmed, cream white, and red and black interior 2017 Civic Type-R test mule is manufactured in England; features a manufactured in Alabama Earth Dreams gasoline engine, and is shifted by a very good close throw, 6 speed manual transmission made in Japan. 2017 Civic Type-R is a world car, manufactured by a world-auto-manufacturer. Frankly, it’s club-car track ready right out of the box.

Civic Type_R in Redwood Trees
2017 Honda Civic Type-R takes on the Avenue of the Giants.

For $36,000 and change, Civic Type-R is an exceptional, fun to drive performance bargain that’s very happy on the street, thanks to 3-drive modes, including “comfort,” and what I soon discovered to be a very comfortable racing style bucket seat. Me, I’d like power adjustment, but that’s just me.

The Type-R suspension and driving attitude is firm, but not painfully stiff. The instant-on torque and track-sticky cornering traction is a bit of a mind blower, considering that Type-R is a front-wheel-drive car. Honda engineering does a commendable job of reducing torque steer. — sure there’s some there, but it’s very manageable.

On start up, Type-R defaults to “sport” mode. Here you’ll find a stiffer steering feel,  a bit more pedal, and reasonably firm suspension.  Going on the track, toggle into “R” drive. It’s pretty extreme, and as my Chiropractor will tell you, a bit taxing on the bones. I like what Honda engineering did with Type-R’s exhaust tone, although the deep baritone growl can get a bit load at times.

Visually, Civic Type-R teeters on Bat Man stunning! However, everything you see on Type-R has a purpose, from its whale-tail hatch fin, down to the best looking 20 inch alloy painted wheels in the compact performance segment — Brembo calipers included.

48 hours, 1,000 miles, still smiling Civic Type-R darn near perfect

Once again, Honda’s latest and greatest Civic Hatchback does not disappoint. Read my latest Torque News article as we journey through the California coast redwoods and beyond.

 

2017 Honda Civic Type-R features euro-touring sport and refinement

One _Bad_Ass_Civic
One bad ass Civic

Not often does an auto manufacturer successfully blend track proven high performance and long range touring comfort in an affordable, segment topping high performance hatchback; such is the case with Civic Type-R. For 2017, the first Civic to wear the enviable Type-R mark in the United States is now imported from England.

Several years in the making, the Honda Fan Boy Tuner crowd is excited by the arrival of Honda’s Brembo braked 305 horsepower, 6 speed manual transmission super hatchback. And rightfully so. 2017 Civic Type-R  gives Ford, Subaru, and Volkswagen a run for the money, and will dominate the sub-premium compact performance hatchback segment without the added expense and weight of all-wheel-drive.

The weight to power ratio of 2017 Civic Type-R is epic, but that’s just the beginning of this story.

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305 horsepower 2017 Civic Type_R

Last week I spent a day with Honda on a 2.4 mile racetrack on Washington State’s Puget Sound. Granted, the record holding 2017 Civic Type-R 5-door performance hatchback excelled on the track, with myself and other auto journalists reaching rev-limiting speeds, on a multiple elevation and downturn track that rivals many in Europe and the U.S.. Read my track day account here.

Truly, where 2017 Honda Civic Type-R surprised this rather jaded journalist and other road-hardened press jockeys was on the road. Frankly, I wasn’t anticipating the ride refinement, cabin comfort, hands-free connectivity, and overall quality fit and finish encountered behind the wheel of Honda’s most powerful turbocharged Civic produced to date. After 4.5 hours, and a very twisty 180 miles through the beaches, grasslands and woods of Puget Sound, I was ready to purchase Type-R, or at least beg, steel, or borrow one — it’s that good man.

During Honda’s technical presentation, we learned the finer points of Type-R increased frame rigidity, active dampening suspension, epic cooled Brembo brakes, and the makings of perhaps the most comfortable high bolstered seat in Honda history. The rest is pure Honda touring hatchback, as it should be.

Civic_Type_R _Driver's _Seat
The best driver’s seat in the segment

On the performance side, Honda employs a race proven VTEC 4-cylinder inner cooled 2.0 Liter dual cam gasoline engine, and arguably the most forgiving 6-speed manual racing class manual transmission in the segment. instant-on, seemingly endless torque is transferred to the pavement via a limited slip front-wheel drive differential.

Yet when behind the wheel, one would be hard pressed to differentiate Civic Type-R handling from the best AWD (all-wheel-drive) rally cars on the track today.

Honda engineering  eliminates torque steer in Type-R, resulting in a very positive straight-on launch off the light — Type-R traction is measurably sticky with ZERO brake fade noted under extreme driving conditions.

Manufactured on Honda’s compact car world platform, this Civic adds a high performance spin to an already very good European hatchback drive and ride experience. Unfortunately, you may never see, or experience one driving down a road near you.

A mere 2500, 2017 Civic Type-R will make landfall this year

With 1200 + Honda car dealerships in the U.S., not all will take delivery of Honda’s rarest offering. We’re informed by Honda P.R. that annual production if indicated by buyer demand, will peak out at 5,000 units per year — that should keep the resale value up a bit.

After spending 7 hours behind the wheel of Civic Type-R, I’m sold. Looking to the MSRP of $33,000 + handling, tax, etc, I believe Civic Type-R to be an exceptional buy and drive value. And with the micro-production numbers, look for the initial run 2017 Civic Type-R to be an instant collectible.

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 

 

Honda heads to New York with 2017 Clarity electric car trio

 

 

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2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell. Photo Attributions Parks McCants 2017

It’s good to have choices, and that’s what Honda offers discerning auto industry insiders and consumers at 2017 N.Y.I.A.S. This week in New York City,  Honda debuts a trio of 2017 Clarity electric cars, more electrification choices than any other mainstream auto manufacturer on the planet.

With great buzz surrounding the showing of the first Type-R to wear the Honda label in New York, as well as the Civic Si duo, a bit of air may be let out of the bag that is the advancement of Honda electrification.

Currently, as reported by yours truly at Honda-Torque News, 2017 Clarity currently drives the streets of California as a lease-only hydrogen fuel cell generated stand alone electric car.  I recently drove Clarity FCV on the streets of Santa Barbara. Loved it!

Clarity FCV, BEV or plug in hybrid

Honda public relations tells us that they anticipate the 5-passenger 4-door 2017 Clarity plug-in hybrid sedan to be the best seller in this trio. With internal combustion charge-co generation, and extended plug-in electric only drive range (estimated 40 + miles,) Sedan or not, 2017 Clarity hybrid electric will be a Honda market sales leader.

Clarity BEV panned for 80 mile between charge drive range 

The two electric drive range extremes in the 2017 Clarity lineup is the 360 miles driven between 3-minute hydrogen refueling stop, and the stated 80 miles in-city drive range of the Clarity battery electric. Honda claims that previous Fit EV leasees have no problem with Clarity BEV range. Could be, I’ve yet to speak with a Fit electric fan.

As the market transitions back to large SUVs

There’s more than just a slight undercurrent sweeping a quickly transitioning auto market away from fuel efficient, sub compacts, compacts, and yes, entry level electric cars and crossovers. Although a slight uptick in electric vehicle sales was recorded in 2016, the general trend is consumers opting for gasoline motivated, relatively thirsty, premium or luxury SUVs. The bigger the better. Non the less, Honda takes the long view while embracing the sustainable future of auto-electrification.

2017 Acura MDX hybrid and more

We recently drove 2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid and walked away smiling, despite a torrential downpour.  Honda talks of adapting the Clarity platform for light truck duty,perhaps Honda fans will see a hybrid Pilot in the not too distant future, perhaps.

 

Acura TLX Sedan Comes Out Swinging with Precision Performance Design Upgrade

 

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Refreshed 2018 Acura TLX to Make World Debut * Image Attributes Acura Division 2017

Judging by Acura’s latest ‘teaser image’ of the 2018 TLX premium midsize performance sedan, the Precision Performance inspired design upgrade should not only elevate lagging TLX sales, but take the maker to the forefront of a very competitive, German dominated segment — where frankly, for many well heeled buyers’ price point is secondary to cutting edge good looks and reasonable road performance.

Already a great car by most discerning buyer’s standards

I count myself fortunate to have gained much seat time behind the wheel of Acura’s upper trim level sedans and SUVs. While arguably, a bit visually understated when compared to the likes of Audi, BMW, and Lexus, every one of Acura’s offerings makes up for conservative looks, with exceptional road handling, cabin comfort, reasonable MSRP, and top of segment fuel efficiency and safety.

Where Acura continues to trail the competition is in engine power output, and body style. Me, I personally like Acura style, but I’m not 40 something, and captivated by the rather futurist styling of Lexus, or the German in-your-face historically correct performance sedans of Audi, BMW and Mercedes. Acura in direct comparison trends towards “boxy,” on the SUV side of the mark, and Honda-like on the performance sedan side of the big “A. That’s all about to change.”

With the advent of NSX hybrid supercar, and the presentation of Acura’s Precision Performance Concept, comes a major change of direction in Acura lineup-wide body language. Gone is the Acura Beak, and by most accounts, it won’t be missed. In its stead, as featured most recently in the 2017 Acura MDX refresh is a diamond mesh 3-D grill design, featuring Acura’s unique moniker, front and center. Read my latest take on Acura MDX sport hybrid here.

We further note a seamless integration of updated L.E.D. headlamp and running light details. And, as seen in recent spy-shot photos, a round to organic, side panel body line, expressing improved engine performance and torque vectoring road handling to come.

Hybrid, new center dash static screen, and expanded active safety features

Perhaps! As of this posting, Acura’s not saying. But truthfully, I wouldn’t be surprised to find a turbocharged 1.5 or 2 liter 4 cylinder gasoline engine rolling down the production line, linked to a new proprietor Acura transmission, or two.

Look for the world debut of Acura’s next advent at the New York International Auto Show in April.

 

Expanded Honda Clarity Electric Lineup Debut’s 2017 New York International Auto Show

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Clarity Series to Debut at New York International Auto Show

As announced Wednesday by American Honda Motors, with Clarity, you get three options of electrification, presented in a stunning future forward 5-place personal conveyance. Electric Vehicle proponents now have an debut opportunity to view the Clarity lineup, April 14 through the 23, at the 2017 NYIAS (New York International Auto Show.)

NYIAS remains a favorite model reveal launching pad for Honda, the fastest growing automotive brand in the United States. Predicted market availability for Clarity BEV, (battery electric vehicle) and Clarity, gasoline/electric hybrid, is Fall of 2017; just around the corner in automotive development time.

Highlights of today’s announcement include a stated 40 mile-electric-only drive range for Clarity Hybrid, making it one of the greatest electric-only drive range hybrids available to North America. Read my Torque News slant on the Clarity lineup here.

Honda Clarity Fuel Cell

A bit disappointed with stated Clarity BEV drive range

Say what you will Honda, in today’s rapidly developing mainstream electric vehicle market,  a “real-world” realistic battery-electric drive range must exceed 130, and better yet, approach or exceed 200 miles between charge cycles. Unfortunately,  this is not the case for the much welcomed Clarity BEV.  We’ll see where it all lands.

Looking to the electric market handwriting on the wall, and the increased sales performance for the 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid, I believe the winner of the Clarity trifecta to be the hybrid. I love the zero emissions quotient of the Clarity Hydrogen Fuel Cell. But, before that innovation can go mainstream, an escalated expansion of the Hydrogen Fuel Network must ensue. We’re 3-years into that proposition in California, with 18 stations or so completed to date?  Progress, yes, it’s slow, but meaningful.

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Although not substantiated by the maker, 80 miles between charge cycles is anticipated for Clarity BEV

Next week we take our first spin behind the wheel of Clarity Fuel Cell. I’m excited. look for updates here. If you could purchase a ZERO emissions vehicle for under $40,000, would you?  Let us know what you would like to see come to market in a long-trip-viable, supper low emissions car or light truck. Your thought provoking comment is always welcomed here.

The latest from Honda-Torque News

 

Honda Clarity Fuel Cell

 

This week in Honda-Torque News I share Honda Motor Company’s sales report for February, yet another record sales month for American Honda.

Light truck sales, the Fed’s designation for any light-truck-like crossover or SUV drove the brand to a record February with 2017 CR-V SUV outselling Accord and Civic, for the first time in memory. Noteworthy is a double digit increase in sales volume for Honda’s HR-V subcompact CUV, and continued momentum for Fit, the entry portal to the American Honda lineup. Read my latest take on 2017 Honda HR-V here.

Parks McCants with 2016 Honda HR-V in Miami, Fl..

American Honda embraces alternative propulsion

For the second month of 2017, we note an interesting development on Honda’s electrification front, with 2017 Accord Hybrid posting a 385% sales gain over February 2016. Does the uptick indicate sustainable growth through the driving public’s acceptance of the electric car, or are Californian’s simply easing their way into a less crowded, quick moving Diamond Lane?

While Clarity FCV and Accord Hybrid owners do benefit from an environmentally friendly pass, as to congested L.A. and Orange County traffic congestion, I do believe the general appeal of a high-torque clean burning auto to be a bit broader than the outskirts of L.A., so do the engineers at Honda. Read our latest slant on Honda auto electrification here.

Clarity Battery Electric

As earlier reported by Torque News and others, the 3rd generation Clarity Fuel Cell manufacturing platform further expands into a gasoline/electric hybrid varient, and a battery electric offering. Honda, while not specific as to the near future application of electrification, has indicated that a crossover, SUV, or pickup truck may be in the works in the not too distant future.

Despite current low-fuel pricing, for Honda Motor Company, and other makers positioning for market share in California, still the world’s largest auto market, electric is the viable future in high-torque-output, super low to no exhaust emission, environmentally friendly, personal and commercial transportation.

You will see, and possibly drive, or ride in, a fully autonomous, (hands-free, sensory, computer controlled) long-range electric car within the next decade.

I’ve experienced high-speed hands-off-the-wheel driving behind the wheel of this car. 2017 Volvo S90 is like no other car on the road today.

it’s a trip!

 

Auto Press leaks 2017 Clarity Battery Electric Range, Not Long

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Although not substantiated by the maker, experts anticipate 80 miles between charge cycles for Clarity BEV

As announced Monday morning by Automotive News, E.V. enthusiast looking to Honda for extended battery electric vehicle range, will be a bit disappointing by Clarity BEV. (Battery Electric Vehicle)

In a recent interview with American Honda, Automotive News was informed that the Clarity platform battery electric follows the example set by the no longer available in the U.S. Fit E.V. — with an approximate 80 mile drive range before requiring recharging.  O.K., I was anticipating a bit more!

Will short-range kill the market for Honda’s battery electric Clarity platform variant?

Frankly, I believe when looking to the recently formed hydrogen development alliance between Honda and General Motors, the maker has dedicated facility and resources to the development and marketing of compressed hydrogen fuel cell electric cars. I take a closer look at 2017 Clarity FCV here.

With the 230 mile range Chevy Bolt coming on-line at well under $38,000, before tax incentives, and Tesla shooting for 2018 manufacturing and delivery of the Tesla 3, outside of the hardcore Honda EV loyal, there is little market for Clarity BEV.

Clarity to come in 3 variants

Hydrogen Fuel Cell, Plug-in Hybrid, and Battery Electric

At this point in time it’s nearly impossible to measure what’s referred to as the “white space” in a rapidly expanding and ever-developing E.V. market. The viable future of the electric car rests with battery density, and the manufacturing volume capacity of an emerging battery industry.

In a recent report from automaker Tesla, it’s revealed that battery module cost was 60% of what it was just 5 years earlier. That’s a step in the right direction as auto manufacturers mainstream electrification of personal conveyance. Who will take the immediate lead in the market mainstreaming of the E.V.?

As of this writing the #1 engine manufacturer in the world is Honda — that’s the internal combustion engine. No company has done more to develop and market low to no emissions

I.C.E, and certainly Honda demonstrates market viable applications of electric motors in the NSX supercar, and the now on the highway Clarity FCEV.

At its base core, Clarity Fuel Cell is an electric vehicle. Clarity Battery Electric, for now I’ll take a wait and see position as to the market viability of Honda’s 80 mile range electric. Read my latest take on the Clarity BEV here.