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.
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.
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.
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%
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.
“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!
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.
A minor annoyance
There’s no height or lumbar adjustment for the passenger front seat.
A very minor idle oscillation occurs at idle, while sitting at the stop light.
Engine and CVT pair to make a high-rev-run when accelerating hard.
I’d like to see a full glass roof in CR-V, it doesn’t offer one.
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.
Our collective hats are off to Mr. John Mendel as he vacates the top office at American Honda Motors for greener country pastures. No worries, American Honda Motors remains in very capable hands as 2nd in command Mr. Jeff Conrad picks up the Mic at a time when Honda can do little wrong.
With Accord, Civic and CR-V leading segment sales in the U.S. auto market, the future outlook remains bright for America’s # auto manufacturer. John Mendel leaves A.H.M.C. on a high note, with record sales recorded in 2016 — thanks to the continued sales success of the top-3 — as well as new-found market momentum in Fit and HR-V., both great values, presenting exceptional optional and standard passive and active safety features, Lane Watch, and a very decent transformable ‘magic-seat’ interior.
Ode to Mr. John Mendel, as published today in Honda-Torque News
John Mendel takes a final bow at American Honda
In a world of an eminent ongoing change, there comes a shift at American Honda Motor Company. An auto-world-celebrity in his own right, “Big John” Mendel will be missed.
I meet John Mendel at an Acura TLX event a few years back in Virginia. At that time, I found this big bear of a man, a formidable, well spoken, but effectively the “King” of American Honda Automotive, not overly approachable. With the Takata Airbag related threats would come bodyguards, that too would change.
I would come to consider John a friend as he went out of his way to share with me what he could about the inner workings of Honda, near future developments, and where the maker focused as to alternative transportation, safety, and electrification. Furthermore, I appreciated John’s personal acknowledgement of my work as an automotive journalist.
As it turned out, the more that I got to know John, I would soon come to realized that Mendel epitomized the roll-up-your-sleeves and get it done attitude that drives Honda. What you see with Mendel, is what you get. There’s no false pretense present, he’s a genuine Honda player, and a “car guy,” in the old-school sense of the auto industry.
John Mendel worked his way up through the Ford Motor Company, before transitioning to Mazda, and then Honda Motors in 2004 — just on time for the world-wide recession. He made it through the economic s… storm, Honda made it. John Mendel is well liked by dealers, the automotive press, and associates. Because, at his base corp. he’s one of us, a no-nonsense team player.
Effectively the head of Honda’s U.S. Automotive operations, John Mendel would appear time and time again over the years, sharing the good news, as to industry benchmark setting model roll outs, while putting out media fires, airbag recalls, and the supply chain cause and effect, of earthquake, and tsunami related impact on America’s 4th largest automotive brand.
Through good and bad times, “the buck stopped” at John’s desk, as he masterfully handled diversity, setbacks, and success, masterfully. All, to the bennefit of Honda, and its premium brand Acura, a true professional.
As with all entrepreneurs
As announced yesterday by Honda News, Mr. John Mendel will retire from Honda. He joins his sons in a micro distillery start-up in Mammoth California. I’ll be headed out to “Devil’s Creek Distillery” to sip some moonshine sooner than later, and wish John Mendel smooth sailing towards continued success.
As to the future of American Honda Motors, it’s in good hands with Mr. Jeff Conrad. Stay tuned.
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.
MOTOR RACER 4 may be the most realistic hands-on off and on road motorcycle racing Video game of all time. It’s fun, fast, furious, realistic and debuts in North America January 24.
The MOTOR RACER franchise is looking for your feedback on its latest edition of the over-the-top, action packed on and off-road motorcycle racing thriller. MOTO RACE 4 puts you on the bike, while capturing forward, side, and rear view shots of the action — way cool, and butt sore cool! The detail and life-like imagery all the way down to the dust cloud is just a bit mind-boggling — it’s that real — it’s like you’re sitting on the seat, air bound.
From road racing to handlebar-hanging aerial suicide jumps, MOTO RACER 4 puts you in the action without having to leave the comfy confines of your favorite chair. Here’s where it gets interesting.
To celebrate the North American launch of MOTO RACER 4, the maker is giving away 2 PS4 and 1 Xbox 1 digital access codes. Here’s how it works: Watch the YouTube demo video, comment below, and we’ll randomly pick 3 winners based on their sincere, detailed feedback. Make it good! Like it, don’t like it? Bring it on.
Despite the market arrival of 2017 Acura NSX, North America’s only gasoline/electric hybrid supercar, car sales were a bit flat for Honda’s luxury division as consumers opted for crossover/SUV offerings. No worries!
Acura’s MDX and RDX premium SUV variants remain the #1 and #2 best-selling vehicles in Acura’s lineup, and the best-selling premium SUVs available to North America. For 2017 Acura will present a 1 engine, (3 liter V6 motivated) 7 speed duel clutch shifted smart handling all-wheel-drive MDX — the only 3-row midsize hybrid SUV available in North America.
Read today’s Acura-Torque News article here. What does the future hold for Acura’s sedan offerings? Good question. I look to Acura Precision Concept, first revealed to the automotive press at the New York International Car Show early in 2016. Stunning! is the short description here — as one views Acura’s unique slant on a near future drive and ride experience centering around the driver.
Looking to “Acura Precision Concept’s” body design one notes a coupe-like sculpted 4-door sedan inspired by the reinvented second generation NSX supercar with a twist or two. At first look, due to invisible rear door handles, I truly believed the concept a two door coupe. Completing the futuristic yet very doable concept is Acura’s patented diamond grill design, centered 3-D-like- monogram and 22 inch machine cut alloy wheels. Awesome!
While viewing Precision Concept’s interior one discovers Acura’s near autonomous driver centered cockpit and office lounge-like passenger seating, precision integrated soft and hard molded surfaces, eye pleasing color combinations, and a control center akin to that of a modern private jet. What’s not to like?
2017 MDX Hybrid arrival slated for Spring 2017
I’ve driven NSX and RDX. Both share a hybrid system similar to the one that will set MDX far a part from am ever-growing field of premium 3-row SUVs. The icing on the cake for me and others that prefer a light truck based drive and ride platform is greater horsepower,(+35) and much improved city fuel efficiency.(+7) At the end of the day while not the highest output SUV in the 3-row segment. MDX will be the most fuel-efficient, best road handling, and least expensive premium midsize 3-row in North America.
As to Acura’s car side: With Honda’s 10th generation Civic comes the opportunity to essential reinvent Acura’s portal sedan ILX. And, with that reinvention will inevitably come turbocharging to Acura’s car lineup. The manufactured in Japan RLX will remain unchanged.
As to TLX: Looking to the timeline we’re a mere 3 years into TLX. And, although with sales not as brisk as originally anticipated, 3,000 + TLX sedans drove off the lot per month in 2016. I don’t anticipate a major TLX redo prior to model year 2018.
American Honda Motors presents exceptional personal transportation, segment topping standard active safety and accident prevention in 2017 with a unique design and flair, not always associated with the Japanese owned car company that first introduced economy-class personal transpiration to North America 44 years ago with the unveiling of Honda Civic.
American Honda carries the reinvention of its entire car, SUV and light truck lineup into 2017. Coming off of the unprecedented sales success of the 10th generation Honda Civic Sedan — the first turbocharged Civic in the brands history, American Honda now holds 4 segment – topping sales leaders with Accord, Civic, CR-V and Odyssey selling more retail units than any other brand offering in their respective segments. Read my latest slant on Honda Civic Hatchback Touring here.
I predict the buzz to continue in 2017 with Civic Coupe Si, CR-V, Odyssey and Accord.
Today in Honda Torque News I expand a bit on the future of American Honda Motors and how advent cars like the Clarity FCV and the reinvented 2018 Odyssey minivan will propel Honda to new sales records in 2017. Read my latest Honda-Torque News article here. According to our sources in Torrance, California, when Honda Odyssey debuts January 10 at the Detroit International Auto Show, the auto industry will take notice.
Honda tells us to expect an even more aerodynamic Odyssey with much improved ride quality, road handling, a quieter cabin, advanced driver and passenger seat design — greater interior passenger and cargo space, as well as increased engine power and fuel efficiency. Where will Odyssey’s 2017 MSRP land? Well, while that’s anybody’s guess at this time, I anticipate a minor price bump at the entry trim level with the edition of a premier touring edition-Honda style!
Following the expanded model lineup of America’s best selling compact car brand, Odyssey will come to market in 2017 as a 2018 model offering greater performance, safety, person to car connectivity and near intuitive ease of operation.
In short; Honda will present exceptional personal auto-motivation in 2017. at an attainable price point.
According to Torque News and others, Thursday found American Honda issuing a 2nd row seat latch related safety recall. Honda estimates that upwards of 650,000 Odyssey minivans produced from 2011 through 2016 may be effected.
In short: Based on 689 defective seat to floor latch warranty claims, American Honda has initiated a precautionary recall, with notification by mail to consumers scheduled for February 2017, and modifications to commence sometime in early Spring 2017.
The key word here is “precautionary.”
Looking to the design of the current seat to floor latching mechanism installed in the 2011 through 2016 Odyssey minivan, an inadvertent improperly latched seat can result in the seat shifting during an auto accident episode. To remove the possibility, Honda will install at no cost to the end user, a modified latch and additional spring mechanism.
As a fellow Odyssey driver, I kindly recommend a quick check of the second row seat top floor latching mechanism. Is it in the lock position?
Honda Odyssey was the best selling minivan in North America for 2016. A reinvented next generation 2018 Odyssey will be revealed at the Detroit International Auto Show in January.