Honda RC-E Concept is a Breath of Fresh Air

The Crosstour, the CR-Z, the Insight, and the redesigned Civic all point to Honda losing the plot when it comes to making cars. But, out of the Tokyo Auto Show this year, comes a glimmer of hope from their motorcycle concept the RC-E. The RC-E is simply put, the prettiest bike to come out of Honda in a long time, production or concept. It also happens to be electric.

A far cry from the bloat and mediocrity of Honda’s current cars and bikes, the RC-E is a slender, simple piece of rolling art that is also environmentally friendly. Designed with a modern twist on 70’s superbike aesthetics, the concept points to a future where electric power isn’t only easy on the environment, but also your eyes. It also means that deep in the bowels of Honda lie a group of engineers and designers who still know how to make products that break away from mediocrity in the pursuit of something more.

However, this bike is only a concept, and will probably never be produced. Honda’s tagline used to be “The Power of Dreams,” but let’s hope that dreams of the RC-E (and a return to form for Honda in general) become a reality.


How Far the Mighty Have Fallen

In a recent Consumer Reports test, the new Honda Civic scored too low for them to recommend. The Honda Civic has long been a CR darling for an infuriatingly long time, until now. They report:

So what happened? The new Civic feels insubstantial with a cheap interior. You don’t get much feature content for the $19,405 that our Civic LX automatic costs, either. That’s a problem given the high bar set in this class by the new-to-market Chevrolet Cruze, the redesigned-for-2012 Ford Focus, and the redesigned-for-2011 Hyundai Elantra.

But a savvy buyer could sit in a showroom and realize those Civic shortcomings. The problems that really hurt the Civic’s score run deeper and they showed up at our test track. Stopping distances are long. The steering is lightly weighted and comes up short on feedback. Body lean appears early in the corners. The ride is marred by frequent short pitches. And road noise still remains an annoying companion.

So, why now? Well, the Civic is fresh off a lukewarm redesign that saw a few bits like the interior and exterior tweaked, while the engine and suspension were either unchanged or softened. These changes were somehow deemed sufficient against an incredibly strong field of competitors. It is almost as if Honda was a procrastinating college freshmen during finals time. They waited until the last night, got drunk, and then tried to turn in what they did last time.

The worst part of this news is the timing. The Civic’s mediocrity comes during the strongest small car market to date. The Chevy Cruze, Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra, are ALL better then the dowdy Civic and the geriatric Corolla. At least the Civic is still ahead of the dreadful new VW Jetta.

It is with mixed feelings that this news is viewed. It is saddening to see what was once such a fine product be tarnished by ignorant product planners. Such talent wasted. It is especially to hard to realize that what made Honda great – clean styling, great driving dynamics, in a cheap and efficient package- is gone. It is like watching your favorite sports star phone it in on the court, night after night, or like the career of LeBron James.

On the other hand, this news brings much glee. Now, it is out in the open about the Civic and Honda’s mediocrity. For far too long, they have ridden reputation and marketing to hold onto their spot in the marketplace, instead of having a superior product. The domestic and Korean competition has been leagues better, yet the ignorant car buying public refused to see the evidence. Now, there is nowhere to turn. The most objective source available has called your “tried and true choice” a turd. People will ignore the new version and instead shop for used Honda Civics or another brand.

So yes, a bit of schadenfreude is in order. It is enjoyable to see a car that was undeserving of its praise be knocked down a few pegs. It is also enjoyable to see companies like Ford, Chevy, and Hyundai receive the recognition they deserve for doing the math and making great cars. Here’s also hoping that this news spurs Honda to start making great cars again, instead of using marketing muscle to spin their way to undeserved praise.

Source: Consumer Reports


Honda nearing full production in U.S. by August

Honda’s American plants look to hit near full speed by August. There has to be a sigh of relief for dealers nationwide as shortages were expected to last much longer.

From the Detroit Free Press:

Honda’s North American factories will return to near-normal production in August, the company said Thursday, much faster than expected following supply disruptions.

The flow of auto parts was interrupted after Japanese factories were damaged by a huge earthquake and tsunami on March 11, or stricken by the power outages that followed. Shortages have affected nearly every carmaker, but have struck hardest at Honda Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp.

Last month, Honda cut production to about half the normal level because of falling parts supplies. It warned dealers of model shortages and said full production might not resume until the end of the year.

But Honda now says that the situation in Japan is improving. Factories can ramp up to full production on a plant-by-plant basis — except for those that build the new Civic compact.

Read the full article.


Ford, Toyota & Honda score well in J.D. Power rankings

It’s that time of year for the J.D. Power ranking and it looks like Ford, Toyota and Honda scored pretty well. It takes years to change perceptions but when a potential buyer reads the J.D. Power reports it doesn’t take long to register points.


DETROIT — Ford Motor Co., Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. and American Honda Motor Co. claimed the biggest victories among mainstream automakers in the latest reliability scorecard from J.D. Power and Associates.

All three of Ford’s domestic brands finished among the top eight in Power’s annual study of how well vehicles hold up after three years of ownership. Toyota-Lexus and Honda-Acura also placed in the top 10 of the Vehicle Dependability Study, released today.Porsche, which sells fewer cars in a year than industry leaders sell in a week, topped 2009 co-winners Buick and Jaguar to rank No. 1.

Read the full article here.

Photo from fOTOGLIF


Honda CRV gets good review

How good is the Honda CRV? Autoblog did an in depth review and they feel it’s really good.

The Honda CR-V charged into the breach back in 1996, showing traditional SUV buyers that a rapier could work as well as a broadsword. When gas prices turned the body-on-frame market topsy-turvy, might didn’t necessarily equal right. The meek crossover inherited the Earth, or at least a lot of conquest sales from former SUV buyers. The CR-V lead this charge against traditional SUVs and following a complete makeover in 2007 it surged to the top of the sales charts. This supposedly weak little softroader stole the SUV sales crown from atop the Ford Explorer’s head where it had sat untouched for 15 years from 1991 through 2006.

But the battlefield has changed and the 2010 Honda CR-V is facing formidable challengers on all sides. Most offer a V6 engine, having grown in size and power to resemble those mid-size SUVs they once displaced. Rather than bulk up the CR-V with an optional V6, Honda did what Honda does best and just made its four-cylinder better. The 2010 model is armed with 14 more horsepower and a long list of standard and optional equipment. So… is the CR-V this segment’s once and future king or is time to crown another? Read on to find out.

Read the full article here.


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