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Type R Not your ordinary economy car

Honda Civic Type R.

Honda Civic Type R.

HONDA

Honda’s Civic Type R models have a kind of mythic status: the high-performance forbidden fruit, denied to Canadian drivers – until now, Matt Bubbers writes

In March, Stefan Verner ditched work to go to a Honda dealer and put a $5,000 deposit down on a car, sight unseen, no test drive. He didn’t know how much the car would eventually cost. He didn’t know when it would arrive. He didn’t even know what colour it would be.

“You have no idea the smile on my face when I think I’m getting one of these cars,” he says. “When I heard they were bringing the Civic Type R to Canada, I was calling Honda dealers everyday asking if they knew anything.”

All that work, and Verner is only second on the list for a Type R at his local dealership in Nova Scotia.

To those outside the hype bubble created by the Civic Type R, Verner’s behaviour is unusual, to say the least. Who buys a car without knowing the price? Who cares this much about a Honda Civic? Since 1973, Honda has sold two million of them in Canada; they’re as common as potholes.

the 2017 Civic Type R will arrive in Canadian showrooms for the first time this summer.

 

The 2017 Civic Type R will arrive in Canadian showrooms for the first time this summer.

HONDA

 

The answer is found in that red “Type R” badge. It says that this is no ordinary economy car; it’s a fast one. Honda claims the new Type R is the fastest front-wheel drive car around Germany’s Nurburgring.

Among certain gearheads – those who grew up in the ’90s and early ’00s, a golden age for Japanese sports car – Honda’s Type R models have a kind of mythic status. They’re rare, high-performance jewels with the best parts, the most attention to detail, instilled with all of Honda’s motorsport know-how.

All versions of Civic Type R (CTR) have been forbidden fruit, denied to Canadian drivers – until now.

This summer, the 2017 Civic Type R will arrive in Canadian showrooms for the first time, belatedly fulfilling the wishes of Verner and all diehard Honda fans who remember the golden age of the nineties.

“That generation, now in their 30s and early 40s, the Type R was their dream car,” says Eric Daoust, an enthusiast and the owner of Teknotik, a Honda tuning shop in Toronto. “Their connection to [the Civic Type R], to its heritage and to the Honda brand is so strong.”

Make or break

The mission of the Type R is to re-ignite Honda's fire from the golden age of the nineties.

 

The mission of the Type R is to re-ignite Honda’s fire from the golden age of the nineties.

WES ALLISON

 

Unlike a Porsche or Ferrari, a Honda Type R was a realistic dream car for a penniless suburban teenager.

For Verner, the Type R will be his fourth Civic. He’s spent $11,000 upgrading his current 2010 Si coupe with a new engine, supercharger, hot cams, new valves, wheels and suspension.

“For the price, the power you can make out of these cars…” Verner trails off wistfully. “When you pull up beside BMWs and stuff, and they’re just looking at it as, ‘Oh, it’s just a Civic,’ but then you’re going past them and their jaws are dropping. I laugh.”

Back when you couldn’t buy a Type R in Canada, you could build a reasonable facsimile with aftermarket parts and help from the Internet. That’s what Rob Silva did. He had the Type R poster on his wall as a teenager. A little older now, he’s poured his time and money into creating a 1998 Civic Type R lookalike that’s even more impressive than the real thing. The engine bay is cleaner than your kitchen table. On Instagram, he and his Civic have more than 45,000 followers.

Silva is disappointed it took Honda this long to bring a genuine Type R to Canada. “They had performance cars for us in the nineties, but then they just lost that fire,” he says.

The Type R’s mission is clear. It must re-ignite Honda’s fire and bring back some of that golden age. “It’s about inspiring enthusiasts again,” Silva says, “because they haven’t done that in, what, 20 years basically. For the Honda-loyal fans, [the Civic Type R] is going to be make or break.” If it’s good, some of those teenagers – now adults – who worshipped the Type R will come back to Honda. If not, Honda’s remaining credibility as a performance brand will evaporate and those last diehards who haven’t yet moved on to Volkswagen Golf Rs or the Ford Focus RS or the Subaru WRX STI will have no reason to stay loyal.

Driving the Type R

Red seats are a Type R tradition.

 

Red seats are a Type R tradition.

HONDA

 

The new Civic Type R looks like an anime character got chopped up and reincarnated as a car. It’s all jagged, pointy shapes. There’s an angry-looking grille, gaping air intakes, vortex generator spikes above the rear window, three exhaust pipes and that wing, which belongs on a Star Wars set. The Type R looks like it’s trying very, very hard.

The seats are red, a Type R tradition. A round aluminum shifter sticks up from the centre console. A six-speed manual is the only gearbox on offer. Everywhere, badges remind you this is no ordinary Civic. But, actually, the cockpit doesn’t look all that different. There’s the same, sluggish touchscreen infotainment system found in other Hondas.

Older Type Rs were stripped-out machines, rid of all creature comforts in an effort to improve the power-to-weight ratio.

“That type of car, we just can’t make any more,” says Hayato Mori, senior manager of product planning at Honda Canada. “It’s very difficult to make a lightweight car economical with stringent crash regulations now. The only way to get there on the power-to-weight ratio was more power.”

The Type R has a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine.

 

The Type R has a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine.

PHONG HO

 

The 2017 Type R is the heaviest ever, and the heaviest version of the Civic on sale today with a curb weight of 1,415 kg. To compensate, the Type R is also the most powerful Honda ever sold in Canada. The 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine is unique to the Type R, producing 306 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 295 lb-ft of torque from 2,500-4,500 rpm. Fuel economy is surprisingly good, officially rated at 10.6 L/100 km city and 8.3 highway.

The mechanical changes over the regular Civic are impressive. There’s a completely new front suspension layout featuring beefy anti-roll bars, aluminum knuckles and lower arms. It uses a dual strut design that separates steering and suspension forces, which Honda says helps to reduce torque steer. The car rides on 20-inch rims shod in bespoke Continental Sport Contact 6 tires, the same size front and rear.

Honda isn’t letting us drive the Type R on the street, which is strange, but they’ve booked the Circuit Mont-Tremblant for the day.

Starting the Type R in the pit lane is anticlimactic. The engine fires with a muffled hum that doesn’t live up to the promise of the car’s ridiculous look. The gearbox is excellent, though, notchy with a short shift. The clutch is heavier, beefed up to deal with the extra torque. But even as the revs build, the engine is strangely silent. That’ll be the first thing most owners change.

It doesn’t drive like a front-wheel drive car. The steering wheel doesn’t writhe with torque steer as you ask the front tires to put down 300 horsepower.

The Type R is easy to drive quickly, with handling that never strays far from neutral.

 

The Type R is easy to drive quickly, with handling that never strays far from neutral.

HONDA

 

The first corner at Tremblant asks you to trust the car as you fly over a blind right crest in fifth gear. The steering is sharp, with enough feedback that you can feel the grip at the wheels as the car goes light. The suspension is stiff, but almost sublime in the way it takes the edge off curbing and ruts.

The car saw 185 km/h on the speedometer on the back straight. Braking and shifting down to third, the Type R automatically rev-matches, blipping the throttle on downshifts. Or, you can disable the system if you want a fully analog experience. The big four-pot Brembo stoppers don’t fade, reliably scrubbing off speed lap after lap.

Pushing faster, the Type R proves flattering. It’s an easy thing to drive quickly with handling that never strays far from neutral. Want to stay on the brakes deep into a turn? No problem. You can feel the back of the car rotate more than the front, just enough to help turn-in but never enough to become full-on oversteer. Feed in the throttle and you feel the tires scrabbling for grip, and finding it, thanks to a helical limited slip differential and a system that drags the brakes on the inside wheels.

It’s a great car on a race track and – provided they could live with the stiff suspension – it’s not hard to imagine those Honda diehards driving this car every day.

Worth the wait?

The Type R costs $40,890 and comes fully loaded.

 

The Type R costs $40,890 and comes fully loaded.

HONDA

 

There have been four versions of the Civic Type R since 1997. This is the fifth, and the first one in Canada. Cars for those first few to put a deposit down on a Type R should start to arrive in mid-July. The price, in case they care, is $40,890 and it comes fully loaded. There are only two colours: black or white. It’s a shame we had to wait so long for a Type R. Was it worth it?

Honda loyalists such as Verner, Daoust and Silva who got into the brand in its performance heyday aren’t teenagers any more. Like them, the new Civic Type R has grown up. Although it’s ready for a track day right out of the box, it’s not too extreme. It’s a little bigger, a little heavier than the ultralight Type Rs of the nineties. It has more creature comforts, more space for passengers and cargo. It’s a practical four-door hatchback. Although it still looks like something a teenager would dream of.

First Look: Honda totally revamps the 2018 Odyssey, creating the best minivan it has ever built

There is no better way to transport a family than a minivan, unless, of course, you’ve got something heavy to tow or you live in a region where all-wheel drive and raised ground clearance are necessities. And among minivans, for quite some time now, there has been no better choice than a Honda Odyssey.

Chrysler might dispute this, and given just how good the 2017 Pacifica is, such disagreement carries legitimate merit. Even now, following Honda’s reveal of the redesigned 2018 Odyssey, the Pacifica remains compelling, especially in plug-in electric hybrid format.


You might have trouble spotting the new 2018 Odyssey at a glance, given that it uses similar design themes to the one that’s been around most of this decade. (Honda)

Nevertheless, the new 2018 Honda Odyssey is poised to lead its segment in terms of sales to actual retail customers like you and me. Honda’s reputation for reliability, coupled with brand loyalty, would alone keep showrooms stocked with Odyssey buyers.

Add the long list of improvements that will accompany the next-generation Odyssey when it goes on sale in the spring of 2017, and you can bet Honda won’t have any trouble moving this angular chunk of metal to people who refuse to be defined by the “active lifestyle” muckety-muck used to describe buyers of crossover SUVs.

Evolutionary design changes clean the Odyssey up


Integrating the sliding door tracks into the beltline trim beneath the rear windows gives the new 2018 Honda Odyssey a cleaner appearance. (Honda)

Sporting evolutionary instead of revolutionary styling, the new Odyssey is instantly familiar, requiring no more than a glance to identify it as Honda’s minivan. It employs styling cues that first debuted back in 2010 when the polarizing 2011 Odyssey design went on sale, cleaned up, sharpened and modernized.

While the Oddy’s looks appear decidedly less odd, it is important to remember that familiarity breeds indifference. There’s something funky going on with the van’s profile, bordering on Mazda 5 weirdness depending on the light and angle.

The good news is that the sliding side door tracks are now integrated with the van’s “lightning bolt” beltline, and the Odyssey no longer appears to be two different vehicles that met a Sawzall and then a surgeon – in that order.

Second-row seats can be positioned just about way you want them


Equipped with 8-passenger seating, the 2018 Honda Odyssey offers a multi-configurable second-row seating area. (Honda)

Inside, Honda installs more soft-touch materials than before, and equips the Odyssey with black carpets and seat belts that better hide stains. And minivans collect stains. New stain-resistant leather is also available, and the HondaVac vacuum cleaner returns for an encore.

Eight-passenger seating is standard, and new Magic Slide second-row seats allow for different configurations. For example, you can slide the seats forward to position a rear-facing child safety seat closer to Mom and Dad. You can slide them back to maximize legroom. You can remove the center seating position and slide the resulting captain’s chairs together, putting kids into a safer position farther from the sliding doors. You can move just one seat toward the middle, creating a large walk-through to the third-row seat.

Up front, a large center storage console separates the driver and passenger. Covering the storage bin, a smooth tamboured cover is designed to resist collection of crumbs, dirt and detritus.

Honda has also taken steps to quiet the Odyssey’s interior. Historically, this minivan has suffered from significant wind and road noise, making long trips tiring. With this redesign, Honda adds triple door seals, sound deadening materials, acoustic windshield and side window glass, and Active Sound Control. The result, according to the automaker, is the quietest interior in the minivan segment.

Honda also claims that due to a revised rear suspension design, the 2018 Odyssey provides the largest amount of space behind its third-row seat. However, official cargo volume measurements were not available when the minivan debuted at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show.

New technology helps this Honda to better avoid collisions


Safety-related enhancements help the 2018 Odyssey to better avoid collisions, and to protect occupants when a crash occurs. (Honda)

Honda constructs the 2018 Odyssey around a next-generation Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) architecture that is designed to do a better job of dispersing crash energy away from the occupant compartment in the event of a collision. Of course, avoiding a collision in the first place is always preferable, and with the redesigned Odyssey, Honda takes a big leap forward over the previous version of its minivan.

Every 2018 Odyssey except for the base LX trim level will include Honda Sensing, a suite of driver assistance and collision avoidance systems. They include forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and lane keeping assist, and a lane departure prevention system called Road Departure Mitigation.

Accompanying these Honda Sensing systems, all but the base Odyssey LX are also equipped with a blind spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert. Depending on the trim level, Odyssey buyers can also obtain automatic high-beam headlights, rain-sensing wipers, and front and rear parking assist sensors.

CabinControl, CabinTalk, and CabinWatch, oh my!


CabinTalk – it’s not a dating app for women who like men with beards, flannel shirts and long rifles. (Honda)

Some families prefer conversation, “I Spy” games, and to talk about the passing landscape during a road trip, while others would rather plug-in and tune out. Honda accommodates both approaches, and makes it much easier for parents to communicate with movie-watching youngsters and to referee squabbles.

Starting at the beginning, all versions of the minivan except for the Odyssey LX are equipped with a new Display Audio infotainment system with an 8-inch touchscreen. It has a volume knob, it runs on Honda-developed software, and it supports system updates via Wi-Fi or the USB port whenever necessary. Additional highlights include upgraded satellite radio, HD Radio, access to Pandora music streaming, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, a 4G LTE Wi-Fi internet connection, and wireless device charging capability.

The infotainment system provides a new suite of applications, including a CabinControl app that allows Odyssey occupants to control the infotainment system, the climate system, and the navigation system from their smartphones. This app also supports a Social Play List, a virtual jukebox of sorts that allows each person aboard the Odyssey to submit favorite songs to a compiled group play list.

The rear seat entertainment system installs a 10.2-inch display screen on the ceiling of the minivan. It features headphones, HDMI video gaming jacks, and can stream video via the onboard Wi-Fi connection or a smartphone data plan. An app called “How Much Farther” keeps kids apprised of the remaining distance in the journey, though anyone with a child realizes that this is not going to cut down on repeated questions of: “Are we there yet?”

Even when your adorable offspring have their headphones on and are singing “How Far I’ll Go” at the tops of their little lungs, you’ll be able to get their attention in a calm, cool and collected manner. Thank you, CabinTalk technology, which feeds a parent’s voice to rear passengers via the rear speakers and, yes, the headphones.

CabinWatch is also new, sounding like the name of a really crappy TV show in which the stars get bundled up in flannel shirts and L.L. Bean boots rather than dressed down into lifeguarding suits. In reality, this is a camera system that gives Mom and Dad a video view of what’s going on in the second- and third-row seats. The image is displayed on the infotainment screen, providing evidence that yes, your children do lie to you. All of the time.

More power, better fuel economy, improved driving dynamics


Nobody buys a minivan because they want to have fun behind the steering wheel. Honda improves the 2018 Odyssey in this regard, anyway. (Honda)

With this redesign, the 2018 Odyssey moves to the same platform that underpins the Acura MDX, Honda Pilot, and Honda Ridgeline. Weight drops up to 96 pounds, depending on the trim level, and the minivan boasts a 44 percent improvement in torsional rigidity.

Not that minivans are supposed to be enjoyable to drive, but this change certainly helps in that regard. So does the new Agile Handling Assist technology, a more responsive electric steering system, more powerful brakes, and a revised rear suspension design that Honda says improves the Odyssey’s ride and handling.

A new direct-injected 3.5-liter V-6 engine summons 280 horsepower, a 32-pony increase over the previous Odyssey. Cylinder deactivation technology, active grille shutters, and new transmissions help the minivan to achieve what Honda claims will be best-in-class fuel economy ratings.

A 9-speed automatic transmission powers the Odyssey’s front wheels, and in upper trim levels, Honda introduces a new 10-speed automatic transmission. Both are shifted using a collection of buttons and switches located on the dashboard.

Honda ups its minivan game, but the Chrysler Pacifica remains a formidable foe


The redesigned 2018 Honda Odyssey is better than ever, but it still might not topple the Chrysler Pacifica from the top of Minivan Mountain. (Honda)

Undoubtedly, the 2018 Odyssey is best minivan Honda has ever built. But, is it the best minivan? A test drive and family shuttling will help to determine that, but given just how good a package the Pacifica is, especially in plug-in hybrid format, Honda might still have some work cut out for it.

Head-to-head Comparison Test: 2017 Honda CR-V vs. 2017 Toyota RAV4

As much as “buy American” enthusiasts like to lament the heydays of Ford, Chevrolet, Chrysler and the like, the U.S. family car market has long been dominated by two companies based in Japan: Honda and Toyota.

However, instead of the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry duking it out for the attention of mom and dad, those midsize sedans have steadily lost ground to their small SUV counterparts: the CR-V and the RAV4.

These two vehicles are the founding fathers of the crossover market and though they’ve abandoned the rugged, athletic appearances that defined their younger years (R.I.P. spare tire mounts) for safer, more fuel efficient body styles, both have remained the cream of the crop in the segment.


Gone are the days of ‘Camry vs. Accord,’ and here to stay is the new title fight: ‘CR-V vs. RAV4.’ (Joanna Tavares)

So, we decided to put them to proverbial “Pepsi/Coke Challenge,” except, rest assured, we weren’t blindfolded… or hanging out with Kendall Jenner.

Instead, Associate Editor Brian León and I drove the CR-V and RAV4 back to back to determine which one of these top sellers is actually the best small crossover on the market.

Both vehicles provide ample interior room, a healthy amount of cargo space and comfortable driving experiences, but while these two models might be neck and neck on the sales charts, one stands head and shoulders above the other, in our eyes, when it comes to overall value.

SECOND PLACE: 2017 Toyota RAV4 Platinum


Toyota’s RAV4 has yet to overtake the Camry in terms of overall sales, but a lot of that is due to strong fleet numbers for the Camry. Rest assured, it will soon enough. (Joanna Tavares)

Total Points: 155/200

Final Rating: 7.8

Kyle: Some relationships are love at first sight while others grow over time through shared experiences. The same can be said with cars.

Nothing about the RAV4 screams out for attention and it’s not going to make hearts swoon during hot laps, but it doesn’t have to for Toyota to sell 350,000 units in year. What makes this vehicle endearing is its ability to deliver ample utility and safety in a no-nonsense package.

It also doesn’t hurt that you can get into one for less than the cost of most Camrys (Camries?).

With a charming, “cinnamon” Softex leatherette interior, the RAV4 I tested invited me in and kept me comfortable with padded, adjustable front and rear seats. Once inside, drivers can be comforted further by the fact that every RAV4, regardless of trim level or additional packages, comes with not only endorsements from the nation’s top safety monitors, but also the Toyota Safety Sense suite of semi-autonomous driving assistance features.


The RAV4’s handsome dashboard design and optional cinnamon leatherette are definite highlights, but beneath the surface, there’s not much to love. (Joanna Tavares)

Add to that a relatively spacious cargo area with a 60/40 flat-folding rear bench and a bevy of small item storage spaces, ranging from the cavernous box in the center console to the ledge carved out above the glove box just for front seat occupants to place their phones, keys, etc., and you’ve got a boat-load of utility packed into a vehicle that still fits comfortably in a standard garage.

If the goal of a crossover is to offer more capability than a sedan in a more presentable package than a minivan, the RAV4 certainly meets that standard. However, this compact crossover isn’t winning any beauty pageants and its age is becoming apparent in more places than its squinty front fascia.

Technologically speaking, a fully-loaded RAV4’s 7-inch infotainment screen offers all the industry standards: navigation, satellite radio, Bluetooth capabilities, hands-free operation and smartphone connectivity, as well as a few extra features that are available in other vehicles, though not quite as ubiquitously, such as weather and traffic updates. However, upon using these features, I found their interface appeared dated compared to some of the RAV4’s closest competitors. Also, Toyota continues to boycott Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, saddling drivers with its homegrown and less intuitive Entune system.


Toyota’s 7-inch Entune system could use a serious ‘tune up’ (pun intended) for the next generation. (Joanna Tavares)

Toyota also remains committed to making you operate cruise control in all of its vehicles through a wand that juts out from the steering column at an angle that makes it tough to avoid brushing the top of one’s leg while navigating some highway curves. It would be less intrusive and, frankly, more visually appealing if the automaker would just do as nearly all of its competitors do and bake these controls into its steering wheel.

Also, the RAV4 offers next to nothing in terms of driving character. Steering is feathery light, body roll kicks in on the simplest of curves and the 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine offers a meager 176 horsepower. Not to say performance is a key factor for many buyers in the small crossover segment, but in comparison to the surprisingly fun CR-V, it’s yet another L for Toyota.

For 2017, Toyota’s RAV4 has a few surface-level issues, including body style and cargo capacity, as well as some less obvious elements, such as infotainment technology and driving dynamics, that keep it squarely behind the all-new CR-V. However, it’s still a darn good vehicle and one that might just win over your heart, if you let it.


The RAV4’s driving dynamics won’t be setting anyone’s hair on fire anytime soon, but it may just win you over in the long run. (Joanna Tavares)

Brian: I’ll be the first to admit that the RAV4 is at a bit of a disadvantage in this comparison seeing as the CR-V is all new for this year, but as there will still be hundreds of thousands of buyers cross-shopping these two exact vehicles, we’d be remiss if we didn’t make it clear which one is superior.

The RAV4 comes close to matching the cargo-hauling prowess of the CR-V, as it actually had the old model bested in that category, boasting 38.4 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 73.4 cubic feet with them folded flat. Unfortunately, those reclining rear seats can only be folded down by operating the levers on either side of the car, meaning you have to circumnavigate the rear of the vehicle just to get those seats down. The CR-V, by contrast, can fold its seats flat with just two handles in the rear cargo compartment.

Where the RAV4 wins in this category, however, is the inclusion of a surprisingly low load floor and cube-shaped storage area, which makes hauling heavy stuff – and lots of it – as easy as it would be in many larger vehicles.


The RAV4 actually bested the old CR-V in terms of overall cargo space, and it holds up well to the new one, with a low, flat load floor that makes moving heavy items in and out a breeze. (Joanna Tavares)

Technologically, it’s still behind the times, especially the ancient (or at least ancient-feeling) Entune infotainment system, but the inclusion of Toyota’s Safety Sense P system across the range as standard is a breath of fresh air, giving you automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, lane departure alert with steering assist, automatic high beams, and dynamic radar cruise control.

I share Kyle’s thoughts on the powertrain, though I must add that fuel economy is likely to underwhelm too, at only 24 mpg combined for all-wheel-drive models. Thankfully, it seems the RAV4 is fairly true to this figure, but the CR-V boasts 29 mpg combined, even if that is a little generous after several miles of real world driving. What’s the point of having a small, underpowered four cylinder if it isn’t even going to be particularly efficient? At least you can have the RAV4 as a hybrid, unlike the Honda…


Rear seat space is generous, if slightly tighter than the Honda, and I love the functionality of the lever used to recline the rear seats, but having to use both levers on either side of the vehicle to lower the rear seats flat is an oversight. (Joanna Tavares)

However, what really places this people-hauler in second place is the overall build quality; not just is it a major step behind the new CR-V, but many other competitors offer superior fit and finish too, including the Kia Sportage, Hyundai Tucson, and Mazda CX-5, among others. In comparison, the RAV4 feels slightly hollow, and there are rattles and shakes that shouldn’t be occurring on a vehicle with less than 10,000 miles on it so far, not to mention one that’s pushing $40K.

Which reminds me: our RAV4 Platinum test vehicle with all-wheel-drive rung in at a whopping $37,919 all included, which makes it over $3,000 more than the CR-V, which feels more solid overall by a fairly wide margin. That’s entirely too much, even for a loaded RAV4, and it begs the question of what you’re actually getting by spending a couple of extra thousand dollars when the Limited trim rings in at a few thousand dollars less. From what I can tell, you’re paying up to $3,000 more for the platinum just to get a foot-activated tailgate, body-color cladding instead of plastic trim, and a heated steering wheel. I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether or not that’s worth it.


The RAV4 is largely a victim of its age in this circumstance, but also by some mistakes by Toyota in the first place. Build quality is inferior, and there’s no reason a top-tier RAV4 should cost almost $38,000. (Joanna Tavares)

Summing Up:

  • Pros: Toyota Safety Sense as a standard feature; spacious cargo area with low load floor; proven reliability; affordable base MSRP; hybrid model available.
  • Cons: Technology feels dated; disappointing fuel economy ratings for AWD variant; bland driving dynamics; hefty price for (not many) added features.
  • Conclusion: The RAV4 is getting old, but it’s still one of the best small crossovers on the market. Head-to-head, it can’t quite best the all-new CR-V, but with its advanced standard safety features, it might be the better bargain buy.

Vital Stats:

  • Test Vehicle: 2017 Toyota RAV4 Platinum AWD
  • Price as Tested: $37,919
  • Powertrain: 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder engine; 6-speed automatic transmission
  • Power Rating: 176 horsepower and 172 lb.-ft. of torque
  • Fuel Economy Rating: 24 mpg combined
  • Safety Rating: NHTSA 5-star overall and IIHS Top Safety Pick+

FIRST PLACE: 2017 Honda CR-V Touring


Honda’s CR-V is the best-selling SUV in America, and with a completely-redesigned and wholly-improved new model, it’s poised to stay that way. (Joanna Tavares)

Total Points: 169/200

Final Rating: 8.5

Brian: It’s hard to think of a vehicle that can do almost every single thing you ask it to do with more competence than the Honda CR-V.

Need to haul five people and an equal amount of stuff all at once? No problem. Want to have all-wheel-drive capability for inclement weather while still pushing close to 30 mpg overall? Sure thing. Need a comfortable and quiet ride for the hellish commute to and from work? Done and done.

I humbly submit the Volkswagen Golf GTI as the only other vehicle to do so many things so well while still ringing in at under $35,000, but when it comes to what most American buyers want and need, the numbers don’t lie: they want CR-Vs, and lots of them.

The Honda CR-V has been the best-selling utility vehicle in America since 2012, and has only been on the market since 1997, and though it trails the heavily-marketed Nissan Rogue this year so far, The CR-V outsold both Honda’s own Accord, the RAV4, and the Toyota Camry last year, all without shifting a single vehicle through fleet sales.


There’s less to celebrate about the interior design than the exterior… except for the happy addition of a volume knob. (Joanna Tavares)

For 2017, Honda’s completely overhauled their best-seller, and it desperately needed to be better than before to keep the company’s perch atop the SUV sales heap. Fortunately, it is better, in almost every measurable way, and that gives it a distinct advantage over the aging RAV4.

We’ve outlined all of the reasons why the new CR-V is wholly improved over the old one in our full ratings and review, so consider this a more succinct summary.

Sporting a sleeker and more modern design than the outgoing CR-V, the new version looks better from seemingly every angle, from the more aggressive front maw to the boxier rear end, thankfully doing away with the humpback style of the 2016 and earlier model. Handsome 18-inch wheels are standard from the mid-tier upward, and the plastic body cladding and chrome detailing looks great when paired with an interesting hue, like the excellent Molten Lava Pearl red-orange paint job our test vehicle was finished in.


Honda’s infotainment system can be a pain to use with such a slow processor, but the ability to default to Apple CarPlay or Android Auto is a welcome addition, and something the RAV4 lacks. (Joanna Tavares)

Inside, the cabin design is more conventional, but you may notice the addition of a volume knob as a sign that Honda’s designers have truly been listening to our cries of anguish. The tan leather upholstery is soft and supple, and the tall, supportive seats are a pleasure to sit in for extended periods of time, even if there’s still no passenger seat height adjustment. Also, it’s so quiet in the CR-V, you could hear a pin drop… or your kid drop their favorite toy, more fittingly.

Honda’s infotainment system still fails to impress, despite the addition of a volume knob. With a Garmin-sourced navigation system and some connectivity apps, the entire system is plagued by a horrendously slow processor that can make operating it a hair-pulling affair, and why can’t I easily scroll through satellite radio channels with a simple menu? Or better yet, a tuning knob…

Still, the addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone projection is a welcome improvement, and I often defaulted to using CarPlay instead of Honda’s system while on the road.


Cargo space is arguably the CR-V’s strongest suit, boasting numbers to match many larger crossovers and the ability to load four large suitcases side by side and stacked under the rear tonneau cover. (Joanna Tavares)

Cargo space increases slightly over the outgoing model too, boasting a whopping 39.2 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats and 75.8 cubic feet with them folded flat, which can be accomplished with the ease of pulling just two handles, something the RAV4 distinctly lacks.

What’s more, the CR-V starts to look like an absolute bargain, even fully loaded, with a top-tier sticker of just under $35,000, while the optioned-out RAV4 came in at almost $40,000. Unfortunately, you’ve got to step up to the EX trim from the base LX to get Honda’s active safety technology suite, but you’ll likely want the extra kit anyways.


A fully-loaded CR-V gets you basically all the features you and your family would ever need in a vehicle costing less than $35,000. (Joanna Tavares)

Kyle: The moment I stepped into the new CR-V, I knew this wasn’t a fair fight.

From the real leather encasing the driver’s seat to the more substantial and heavily weighted steering wheel, everything about the CR-V felt more premium than the RAV4 I’d just spent the previous few days tooling around town in, despite both being fully spec’d out and the Toyota costing $3,300 more than the Honda.

Punching the gas and stretching the legs on CR-V’s 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine felt almost sporty in comparison to the RAV4, particularly when the turbocharger kicked in. In reality, the crossover made just 190 horsepower and was, under most circumstances, fairly unimpressive with its continuously variable transmission. But I was starved for personality and the RAV4 could make a conversation with Ben Stein feel like an afternoon with Cosmo Kramer.

With its new dual-pinion, variable gear ratio electric power steering, the CR-V feels more direct and balanced on the road, handling curves and corners much more fluidly and precisely than its rival. Supple MacPherson front strut and rear multi-link suspension handle blemished city roads with ease and deliver a pleasantly quiet driving experience.


All CR-Vs from the EX trim upwards ride on these handsome 18-inch alloy wheels as standard. (Joanna Tavares)

BY
Kyle Campbell
Brian Leon
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Saturday, April 8, 2017, 9:00 AM

As much as “buy American” enthusiasts like to lament the heydays of Ford, Chevrolet, Chrysler and the like, the U.S. family car market has long been dominated by two companies based in Japan: Honda and Toyota.

However, instead of the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry duking it out for the attention of mom and dad, those midsize sedans have steadily lost ground to their small SUV counterparts: the CR-V and the RAV4.

These two vehicles are the founding fathers of the crossover market and though they’ve abandoned the rugged, athletic appearances that defined their younger years (R.I.P. spare tire mounts) for safer, more fuel efficient body styles, both have remained the cream of the crop in the segment.

2017 Honda CR-V and 2017 Toyota RAV4
Gone are the days of ‘Camry vs. Accord,’ and here to stay is the new title fight: ‘CR-V vs. RAV4.’ (Joanna Tavares)

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So, we decided to put them to proverbial “Pepsi/Coke Challenge,” except, rest assured, we weren’t blindfolded… or hanging out with Kendall Jenner.

Instead, Associate Editor Brian León and I drove the CR-V and RAV4 back to back to determine which one of these top sellers is actually the best small crossover on the market.

Both vehicles provide ample interior room, a healthy amount of cargo space and comfortable driving experiences, but while these two models might be neck and neck on the sales charts, one stands head and shoulders above the other, in our eyes, when it comes to overall value.
SECOND PLACE: 2017 Toyota RAV4 Platinum

2017 Toyota RAV4 Front Left Quarter
Toyota’s RAV4 has yet to overtake the Camry in terms of overall sales, but a lot of that is due to strong fleet numbers for the Camry. Rest assured, it will soon enough. (Joanna Tavares)

Total Points: 155/200

Final Rating: 7.8

Kyle: Some relationships are love at first sight while others grow over time through shared experiences. The same can be said with cars.

Nothing about the RAV4 screams out for attention and it’s not going to make hearts swoon during hot laps, but it doesn’t have to for Toyota to sell 350,000 units in year. What makes this vehicle endearing is its ability to deliver ample utility and safety in a no-nonsense package.

It also doesn’t hurt that you can get into one for less than the cost of most Camrys (Camries?).

With a charming, “cinnamon” Softex leatherette interior, the RAV4 I tested invited me in and kept me comfortable with padded, adjustable front and rear seats. Once inside, drivers can be comforted further by the fact that every RAV4, regardless of trim level or additional packages, comes with not only endorsements from the nation’s top safety monitors, but also the Toyota Safety Sense suite of semi-autonomous driving assistance features.
2017 Toyota RAV4 Dashboard
The RAV4’s handsome dashboard design and optional cinnamon leatherette are definite highlights, but beneath the surface, there’s not much to love. (Joanna Tavares)

Add to that a relatively spacious cargo area with a 60/40 flat-folding rear bench and a bevy of small item storage spaces, ranging from the cavernous box in the center console to the ledge carved out above the glove box just for front seat occupants to place their phones, keys, etc., and you’ve got a boat-load of utility packed into a vehicle that still fits comfortably in a standard garage.

If the goal of a crossover is to offer more capability than a sedan in a more presentable package than a minivan, the RAV4 certainly meets that standard. However, this compact crossover isn’t winning any beauty pageants and its age is becoming apparent in more places than its squinty front fascia.

Technologically speaking, a fully-loaded RAV4’s 7-inch infotainment screen offers all the industry standards: navigation, satellite radio, Bluetooth capabilities, hands-free operation and smartphone connectivity, as well as a few extra features that are available in other vehicles, though not quite as ubiquitously, such as weather and traffic updates. However, upon using these features, I found their interface appeared dated compared to some of the RAV4’s closest competitors. Also, Toyota continues to boycott Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, saddling drivers with its homegrown and less intuitive Entune system.
2017 Toyota RAV4 Infotainment
Toyota’s 7-inch Entune system could use a serious ‘tune up’ (pun intended) for the next generation. (Joanna Tavares)

Toyota also remains committed to making you operate cruise control in all of its vehicles through a wand that juts out from the steering column at an angle that makes it tough to avoid brushing the top of one’s leg while navigating some highway curves. It would be less intrusive and, frankly, more visually appealing if the automaker would just do as nearly all of its competitors do and bake these controls into its steering wheel.

Also, the RAV4 offers next to nothing in terms of driving character. Steering is feathery light, body roll kicks in on the simplest of curves and the 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine offers a meager 176 horsepower. Not to say performance is a key factor for many buyers in the small crossover segment, but in comparison to the surprisingly fun CR-V, it’s yet another L for Toyota.

For 2017, Toyota’s RAV4 has a few surface-level issues, including body style and cargo capacity, as well as some less obvious elements, such as infotainment technology and driving dynamics, that keep it squarely behind the all-new CR-V. However, it’s still a darn good vehicle and one that might just win over your heart, if you let it.
2017 Toyota RAV4 Profile
The RAV4’s driving dynamics won’t be setting anyone’s hair on fire anytime soon, but it may just win you over in the long run. (Joanna Tavares)

Brian: I’ll be the first to admit that the RAV4 is at a bit of a disadvantage in this comparison seeing as the CR-V is all new for this year, but as there will still be hundreds of thousands of buyers cross-shopping these two exact vehicles, we’d be remiss if we didn’t make it clear which one is superior.

The RAV4 comes close to matching the cargo-hauling prowess of the CR-V, as it actually had the old model bested in that category, boasting 38.4 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 73.4 cubic feet with them folded flat. Unfortunately, those reclining rear seats can only be folded down by operating the levers on either side of the car, meaning you have to circumnavigate the rear of the vehicle just to get those seats down. The CR-V, by contrast, can fold its seats flat with just two handles in the rear cargo compartment.

Where the RAV4 wins in this category, however, is the inclusion of a surprisingly low load floor and cube-shaped storage area, which makes hauling heavy stuff – and lots of it – as easy as it would be in many larger vehicles.
2017 Toyota RAV4 Cargo Space
The RAV4 actually bested the old CR-V in terms of overall cargo space, and it holds up well to the new one, with a low, flat load floor that makes moving heavy items in and out a breeze. (Joanna Tavares)

Technologically, it’s still behind the times, especially the ancient (or at least ancient-feeling) Entune infotainment system, but the inclusion of Toyota’s Safety Sense P system across the range as standard is a breath of fresh air, giving you automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, lane departure alert with steering assist, automatic high beams, and dynamic radar cruise control.

I share Kyle’s thoughts on the powertrain, though I must add that fuel economy is likely to underwhelm too, at only 24 mpg combined for all-wheel-drive models. Thankfully, it seems the RAV4 is fairly true to this figure, but the CR-V boasts 29 mpg combined, even if that is a little generous after several miles of real world driving. What’s the point of having a small, underpowered four cylinder if it isn’t even going to be particularly efficient? At least you can have the RAV4 as a hybrid, unlike the Honda…
2017 Toyota RAV4 Rear Seat
Rear seat space is generous, if slightly tighter than the Honda, and I love the functionality of the lever used to recline the rear seats, but having to use both levers on either side of the vehicle to lower the rear seats flat is an oversight. (Joanna Tavares)

However, what really places this people-hauler in second place is the overall build quality; not just is it a major step behind the new CR-V, but many other competitors offer superior fit and finish too, including the Kia Sportage, Hyundai Tucson, and Mazda CX-5, among others. In comparison, the RAV4 feels slightly hollow, and there are rattles and shakes that shouldn’t be occurring on a vehicle with less than 10,000 miles on it so far, not to mention one that’s pushing $40K.

Which reminds me: our RAV4 Platinum test vehicle with all-wheel-drive rung in at a whopping $37,919 all included, which makes it over $3,000 more than the CR-V, which feels more solid overall by a fairly wide margin. That’s entirely too much, even for a loaded RAV4, and it begs the question of what you’re actually getting by spending a couple of extra thousand dollars when the Limited trim rings in at a few thousand dollars less. From what I can tell, you’re paying up to $3,000 more for the platinum just to get a foot-activated tailgate, body-color cladding instead of plastic trim, and a heated steering wheel. I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether or not that’s worth it.
2017 Toyota RAV4 Rear Right Quarter
The RAV4 is largely a victim of its age in this circumstance, but also by some mistakes by Toyota in the first place. Build quality is inferior, and there’s no reason a top-tier RAV4 should cost almost $38,000. (Joanna Tavares)

Summing Up:

Pros: Toyota Safety Sense as a standard feature; spacious cargo area with low load floor; proven reliability; affordable base MSRP; hybrid model available.
Cons: Technology feels dated; disappointing fuel economy ratings for AWD variant; bland driving dynamics; hefty price for (not many) added features.
Conclusion: The RAV4 is getting old, but it’s still one of the best small crossovers on the market. Head-to-head, it can’t quite best the all-new CR-V, but with its advanced standard safety features, it might be the better bargain buy.

Vital Stats:

Test Vehicle: 2017 Toyota RAV4 Platinum AWD
Price as Tested: $37,919
Powertrain: 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder engine; 6-speed automatic transmission
Power Rating: 176 horsepower and 172 lb.-ft. of torque
Fuel Economy Rating: 24 mpg combined
Safety Rating: NHTSA 5-star overall and IIHS Top Safety Pick+

FIRST PLACE: 2017 Honda CR-V Touring
2017 Honda CR-V Front Right Quarter
Honda’s CR-V is the best-selling SUV in America, and with a completely-redesigned and wholly-improved new model, it’s poised to stay that way. (Joanna Tavares)

Total Points: 169/200

Final Rating: 8.5

Brian: It’s hard to think of a vehicle that can do almost every single thing you ask it to do with more competence than the Honda CR-V.

Need to haul five people and an equal amount of stuff all at once? No problem. Want to have all-wheel-drive capability for inclement weather while still pushing close to 30 mpg overall? Sure thing. Need a comfortable and quiet ride for the hellish commute to and from work? Done and done.

I humbly submit the Volkswagen Golf GTI as the only other vehicle to do so many things so well while still ringing in at under $35,000, but when it comes to what most American buyers want and need, the numbers don’t lie: they want CR-Vs, and lots of them.

The Honda CR-V has been the best-selling utility vehicle in America since 2012, and has only been on the market since 1997, and though it trails the heavily-marketed Nissan Rogue this year so far, The CR-V outsold both Honda’s own Accord, the RAV4, and the Toyota Camry last year, all without shifting a single vehicle through fleet sales.
2017 Honda CR-V Dashboard
There’s less to celebrate about the interior design than the exterior… except for the happy addition of a volume knob. (Joanna Tavares)

For 2017, Honda’s completely overhauled their best-seller, and it desperately needed to be better than before to keep the company’s perch atop the SUV sales heap. Fortunately, it is better, in almost every measurable way, and that gives it a distinct advantage over the aging RAV4.

We’ve outlined all of the reasons why the new CR-V is wholly improved over the old one in our full ratings and review, so consider this a more succinct summary.

Sporting a sleeker and more modern design than the outgoing CR-V, the new version looks better from seemingly every angle, from the more aggressive front maw to the boxier rear end, thankfully doing away with the humpback style of the 2016 and earlier model. Handsome 18-inch wheels are standard from the mid-tier upward, and the plastic body cladding and chrome detailing looks great when paired with an interesting hue, like the excellent Molten Lava Pearl red-orange paint job our test vehicle was finished in.
2017 Honda CR-V Infotainment System
Honda’s infotainment system can be a pain to use with such a slow processor, but the ability to default to Apple CarPlay or Android Auto is a welcome addition, and something the RAV4 lacks. (Joanna Tavares)

Inside, the cabin design is more conventional, but you may notice the addition of a volume knob as a sign that Honda’s designers have truly been listening to our cries of anguish. The tan leather upholstery is soft and supple, and the tall, supportive seats are a pleasure to sit in for extended periods of time, even if there’s still no passenger seat height adjustment. Also, it’s so quiet in the CR-V, you could hear a pin drop… or your kid drop their favorite toy, more fittingly.

Honda’s infotainment system still fails to impress, despite the addition of a volume knob. With a Garmin-sourced navigation system and some connectivity apps, the entire system is plagued by a horrendously slow processor that can make operating it a hair-pulling affair, and why can’t I easily scroll through satellite radio channels with a simple menu? Or better yet, a tuning knob…

Still, the addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone projection is a welcome improvement, and I often defaulted to using CarPlay instead of Honda’s system while on the road.
2017 Honda CR-V Cargo Space
Cargo space is arguably the CR-V’s strongest suit, boasting numbers to match many larger crossovers and the ability to load four large suitcases side by side and stacked under the rear tonneau cover. (Joanna Tavares)

Cargo space increases slightly over the outgoing model too, boasting a whopping 39.2 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats and 75.8 cubic feet with them folded flat, which can be accomplished with the ease of pulling just two handles, something the RAV4 distinctly lacks.

What’s more, the CR-V starts to look like an absolute bargain, even fully loaded, with a top-tier sticker of just under $35,000, while the optioned-out RAV4 came in at almost $40,000. Unfortunately, you’ve got to step up to the EX trim from the base LX to get Honda’s active safety technology suite, but you’ll likely want the extra kit anyways.
2017 Honda CR-V Profile
A fully-loaded CR-V gets you basically all the features you and your family would ever need in a vehicle costing less than $35,000. (Joanna Tavares)

Kyle: The moment I stepped into the new CR-V, I knew this wasn’t a fair fight.

From the real leather encasing the driver’s seat to the more substantial and heavily weighted steering wheel, everything about the CR-V felt more premium than the RAV4 I’d just spent the previous few days tooling around town in, despite both being fully spec’d out and the Toyota costing $3,300 more than the Honda.

Punching the gas and stretching the legs on CR-V’s 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine felt almost sporty in comparison to the RAV4, particularly when the turbocharger kicked in. In reality, the crossover made just 190 horsepower and was, under most circumstances, fairly unimpressive with its continuously variable transmission. But I was starved for personality and the RAV4 could make a conversation with Ben Stein feel like an afternoon with Cosmo Kramer.

With its new dual-pinion, variable gear ratio electric power steering, the CR-V feels more direct and balanced on the road, handling curves and corners much more fluidly and precisely than its rival. Supple MacPherson front strut and rear multi-link suspension handle blemished city roads with ease and deliver a pleasantly quiet driving experience.
2017 Honda CR-V Wheel
All CR-Vs from the EX trim upwards ride on these handsome 18-inch alloy wheels as standard. (Joanna Tavares)

Thanks to its reduced engine size and continuously variable transmission, the CR-V also offers a significant improvement on the fuel economy front, giving it the win in both performance and efficiency.

Despite its relative advantage, if you’re looking for true driving dynamism, I suggest you look elsewhere (perhaps the Mazda CX-5); this is still a crossover SUV, after all. Acceleration leaves a little something to be desired and the rubber banding effect of the CVT goes unmitigated, though Honda’s transmission handles itself better than many under normal driving circumstances.

Honda still requires an upcharge to get its Honda Sensing advanced safety suite—which includes adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assistance, automatic crash mitigation, forward collision and blind spot warnings, and so on—for its compact crossover. What’s more, rear parking sensors are extra, and there are no front parking sensors whatsoever… a little ironic for something with the name “sensing” right in it.

However, that package comes standard on its EX trims and higher, which runs about $2,600 more than the base LX. This can be viewed two ways: 1) Honda has done a good job making its best safety features affordable or 2) Honda is being stingy by not including them in all models like Toyota. Take your pick.


Both the CR-V and RAV4 earn top safety accolades, but the CR-V performed slightly better in the NHTSA tests than the RAV4. (Joanna Tavares)

Although both the RAV4 and the CR-V earn top accolades from both the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for 2017, the CR-V performed just a bit better, earning five-star ratings in the driver and front passenger crash tests, while the RAV4 got four-stars in each. Not much to squabble over, but it’s something.

On the tech front, CR-V has the clear advantage by being refreshed, although it also helps its case by offering Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Toyota might end up winning that bet in the long run if it can make its Entune system as user-friendly and capable as the brand-new packages, but for now Honda takes the win by taking the easy way out.

A lot of people, including Brian, have showered Honda with praise for finally giving the CR-V its volume knob back, which I’ll admit was a good move. However, I’m not letting them off the hook without pointing out how silly the knob looks just tacked on to an otherwise smooth infotainment system. My vote would be to place it under the screen or make the screen narrower and position the knob just to the side of it. At this point, it almost seems passive aggressive in its lack of elegance.

Nitpicking aside, the 2017 CR-V is a rock-solid vehicle and represents money well spent by Honda. It offers more comfort, a better driving experience and more cargo room than the RAV4 without sacrificing on the safety front. What more do you need?


By improving its best seller in almost every measurable way, Honda has cemented its place atop the small SUV heap. (Joanna Tavares)

Summing Up:

  • Pros: Improved styling; improved comfort; improved cargo space; improved ride and handling; improved engine.
  • Cons: Still not much fun to drive; infotainment system can be downright infuriating; no hybrid model (yet).
  • Conclusion: A volume knob (and an improvement in almost every possible facet) make what was already a critics’ and buyers’ favorite even stronger, and the new vehicle to beat in America’s most cutthroat segment this side of the pickup truck market.

Vital Stats:

  • Test Vehicle: 2017 Honda CR-V Touring AWD
  • Price as Tested: $34,635
  • Powertrain: 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder; continuously variable transmission (CVT)
  • Power Rating: 190 horsepower and 179 lb.-ft. of torque
  • Fuel Economy Rating: 29 mpg combined
  • Safety Rating: NHTSA 5-star overall and IIHS Top Safety Pick+


With a new RAV4 on the way in a few years, Toyota will have a chance to take back the crown, but for now, it resoundingly belongs to Honda’s excellent CR-V. (Joanna Tavares)

All-New, Innovative 2017 Honda Ridgeline Wins “North American Truck of the Year” Award

  • Second NATOTY win for Ridgeline
  • All-new Ridgeline designed, developed and manufactured in America
  • Innovative features include world’s first factory-installed Truck Bed Audio System, Dual Action Tailgate and more

The completely redesigned and reengineered 2017 Honda Ridgeline has been named the 2017 North American Truck of the Year (NATOTY) northamericancaroftheyear.org. Launched in June 2016, the 2017 Ridgeline includes a host of industry-exclusive standard and available features including unibody construction, a Dual Action Tailgate, In-Bed Trunk®, a scratch- and dent-resistant composite truck bed and the world’s first Truck Bed Audio System. The 2017 Ridgeline is also the first and only pickup to earn a TOP SAFETY PICK+ rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, when equipped with available front crash prevention system and LED headlights. It is the second consecutive year for Honda to earn a top honor, with the Honda Civic winning North American Car of the Year honors in 2016. Moreover, this marks Ridgeline’s second NACTOY award, the first coming in 2006, when the Honda Civic also won the 2006 North American Car of the Year.

“This award is a prized validation of the innovations and advantages the Ridgeline offers midsize pickup truck customers and a great recognition of the American development team’s work,” said John Mendel, Executive Vice President of American Honda Motor Co., Inc. “This is a terrific way to kick off 2017, and we’re looking forward to sharing more innovative Honda products in the year ahead.”

The North American Truck of the Year Award is given by a group of over 50 members of the North American automotive media and is distinctive because it is not tied to a single publication, radio or television station but determined by an independent group of journalists from the United States and Canada. Presented each year at the opening of the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, NACTOY recognizes the most outstanding vehicle of the year based on multiple factors including innovation, design, safety performance, handling, driver satisfaction and value.

The Ridgeline is a part of Honda’s expanded lineup of innovative light-truck models, including the HR-V crossover, the CR-V and Pilot SUVs and the new 2018 Odyssey minivan that will be revealed later today at NAIAS. Honda light truck sales hit an all-time high of 661,188 units in 2016, up 7 percent over the previous year.

About Honda
Honda offers a full line of reliable, fuel-efficient and fun-to-drive vehicles with advanced safety technologies through approximately 1,000 independent U.S. Honda dealers. The Honda lineup includes the Fit, Civic, Accord and Clarity passenger cars, along with the HR-V, CR-V and Pilot sport/utility vehicles, Ridgeline pickup truck and the Odyssey minivan.

Honda has been producing automobiles in America for more than 30 years and currently operates 19 major manufacturing facilities in North America. In 2015, more than 99 percent of all Honda vehicles sold in the U.S. were made in North America, using domestic and globally sourced parts.

First Drive: 2017 Honda CR-V

All-new, fifth-generation compact SUV has its fuel-sipping sights set on segment-leading status

Date: December 2, 2016
Source: Driving.ca
Author: Andrew McCredie

  • 2017 Honda CR-V

JORDAN RIVER, B.C. — Since it’s debut in North America two decades ago, the Honda CR-V has been a performer of Olympic-like proportions. Not only has it been on the podium most of those 20 years as a top-three segment leader, like the global sporting event, a new model has come around every four years.

For Canadian sales, the 2016 CR-V is wearing the bronze medal, with the Ford Escape capturing silver and the Toyota RAV4 on the top of the podium. For Honda, that’s simply not good enough for a vehicle that is made in this country and has captured gold in the past.

So, with the four-year cycle of the fourth-generation CR-V complete in 2016, the all-new fifth-gen is out this month – and it’s clear the 2017 CR-V is in it to win it. Honda is the first to admit that the outgoing model had a … well, not necessarily flabby, but certainly not flattering exterior physique when posing beside the muscular and aggressive-looking new-gen RAV4 and Escape.

Likewise, the CR-V’s cabin was dated, both in design and content, and certainly not up for the challenge of competing with the tech-brimming Escape and the sophisticated style of the RAV4 interior. And finally, the performance of the 2016 CR-V just didn’t cut it in either sprints or marathons with those top two contenders.

So, Honda engineers and designers went back to the gym and worked out some of the styling and performance tips from the company’s current gold medal segment performers — like the the Civic and the HR-V — to sculpt an all-new CR-V that the company believes is ready to take on all comers and reclaim the gold.

To make it, in their words, “the Civic of the segment.”

And so Honda gathered automotive journalists from across the country on the southern edge of Vancouver Island this week to unveil the all-new 2017 model, and lunchtime chatter after the morning drive seemed to indicate Toyota and Ford will be hearing footsteps in the coming year in the subcompact SUV segment.

A segment, by the way, that is the largest by volume in Canada and shows no indication of giving up that title anytime soon. And so Honda has brought its A-game to this redesign, and have addressed all the shortcomings — perceived and otherwise — of the outgoing CR-V.

2017 Honda CR-V

The bland exterior has been replaced with a toned and taut new body, with muscular wheel arches and all-new LED lighting front and rear. The plain interior is now a sophisticated space with luxury level trim quality, sculpted design elements and all the tech goodies the competitors offer.

And improvements to the chassis — new from the ground up — combined with a peppy turbocharged four-cylinder engine have replaced the boring performance of the outgoing model with a more dynamic driving experience. The new 1.5-litre turbo-four — the same block as the 2016 Civic — but 190 horsepower and 179 lb.-ft. of torque at 2,000 rpm, compared to the Civic at 173 horsepower. The transmission is a continuously variable unit with a feature called G-Shift control

Thanks to that new bold body style, the new CR-V looks bigger than the 2016 model. It is, but only slightly longer, wider and taller, and its ground clearance has expanded by 38 millimetres. The most important increase is that of a 40-millimetre-longer wheelbase, which translates into 53 millimetres being added to rear seat legroom. That larger size also allowed for bigger rear seats. Those seats also underwent a redesign, so that they now fold flat to create the best-in-class flat cargo space at over 1.8 metres.

And accessing that cargo space has been improved too, as Honda has taken a page from Ford and developed a hands-free power tailgate – though did their competitor one better by creating a tailgate height adjustment, a helpful thing for shorter drivers and if you are opening the tailgate in a garage with a low ceiling.

2017 Honda CR-V

Honda also took the advice of its current gen CR-V owners, many of whom voiced their displeasure at the touchscreen volume control for the audio system. That’s something all new model Hondas have, and while it might seem to be a ‘tech-friendly’ way to adjust the volume, in practice it is a real pain. Bring back the dial, owners pleaded. And Honda listened! Expect to see that humble little volume dial — the kind you twirl between your fingers — to make its way into the rest of the fleet in the coming years.

New standard features include remote engine start, dual-zone climate control, an electric parking brake, rear USB charging ports, a front passenger seat with four-way power adjustment, plus a driver’s seat with eight-way power adjustment and four-way power lumbar support.

In terms of trims and pricing, the base front-wheel-drive CR-V LX starting at $26,690, while the top of the line model is the AWD Touring with a price tag of $38,090. In between are the EX and EX-L trims, both AWD models.

According to Honda, 90 per cent of CR-V buyers in this country will opt for an AWD model. Those Canadian buyers will also be able to get some Canada-only content in the top two trim levels, in the form of a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats and a massive panoramic sunroof.

Driving Impressions

Our drive route took us from the Oak Bay suburb of Victoria up to the surf mecca of Jordan River, then back down and over the Malahat Highway to Brentwood Bay. So, a very diverse day of driving, with a good mix of city streets and highways, some decent elevation changes and even some twisty blacktop to test out the new chassis.

I came away from the day’s drive with a number of lasting impressions. First, I still find myself surprised at how impressive sub-2.0-litre engines are today. Sure, this little 1.5 four-banger is turbocharged, but it never left me feeling underpowered nor did it rev high to complain about the effort.

Second, I was equally astounded at the gas economy figures I recorded on the four legs of my drive, ranging between 50 and 90 kilometres. Not using the ‘Econ’ mode, I posted 7.2, 7.1 and 6.3 L/100 kilometres on three of the legs, and on the last – from Brentwood back to Oak Bay up and over the Malahat – using ‘Econ’ mode, 7.2. Honda claimed the 2017 CR-V would have class-leading fuel economy, and my numbers certainly back that up.

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Third, the cabin was very quiet, this despite being warned that due to the winter tires on all the testers, road noise might not be true to all-season tires. And finally, this compact SUV was fun to drive. Which also shouldn’t come as much of a surprise as the RAV4 and Escape are also fairly fun.

All that said, I did find the centre console to be a pain on my right knee as it intrudes a little into that space. I could adjust how I sat so it wasn’t an issue, but I know from experience that on a long haul I would find this quite uncomfortable.

One quibble, though, and not a major one.

I won’t go as far as awarding the gold medal before seeing the rest of the competition in full stride, but it must be said that the Honda CR-V will be moving up a step up, or possibly two, on that podium.

Ford F-150, Chevy Silverado, Toyota Tundra flunk IIHS headlight test

Date: Oct 25th 2016 at 10:14AM
Source: http://www.autoblog.com/2016/10/25/ford-f-150-chevy-silverado-toyota-tundra-iihs-headlight-test/
Author: Joel Patel

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety put pickup truck headlights to the test and found that the majority of them were equipped with subpar units. The 2017 Honda Ridgeline was the only truck to earn a rating of “good.”

The large pickup truck test was comprised of the: 2016 to 2017 GMC Sierra, 2017 Nissan Titan, 2016 Ram 1500, 2016 to 2017 Chevrolet Silverado, 2016 to 2017 Ford F-150, and 2016 to 2017 Toyota Tundra. The Sierra’s headlights earned a rating of “acceptable,” the headlights found on the Titan and Ram 1500 were found to be “marginal,” and the ones on the Silverado, F-150, and Tundra were rated as “poor.”

IIHS claims the F-150 was the most disappointing out of the large pickup trucks as both its halogen and optional LED headlights failed to provide adequate visibility during testing. The Ridgeline (which earned a “good rating”), is usually considered a midsize or small truck, though IIHS included it in the field of large pickups.

The headlights on the 2016 Chevrolet Colorado, 2016 GMC Canyon, 2016 Nissan Frontier, and 2016 to 2017 Toyota Tacoma, which made up the small pickup truck group, all earned a rating of “poor.” The IIHS claimed the Colorado had the worst headlights of any truck that was tested, as the base vehicle’s units were only able to illuminate up to 123 feet in front of the car. The Ridgeline’s headlights, for reference, were able to illuminate up to 358 feet in front of the vehicle.

To conduct its test, the IIHS utilizes a special tool to measure how far light is projected out of the headlights in different driving situations. The trucks’ headlights were tested in a straight line and in corners, while vehicles with high-beam assist were given extra praise.

The headlights on the pickup trucks also mimic the testing that was done on small SUVs and cars earlier this year. Next year, automakers will need to fit their vehicles with headlights that earn a rating of either good or acceptable to earn the IIHS Top Safety Pick+.

U.S. News Announces the 2016 Best Cars for Families

Source : U.S. News – March 11, 2016

Highlights from the 2016 Best Cars for Families

U.S. News & World Report, a nationally recognized publisher of consumer advice and information, today announced the 2016 Best Cars for Families. U.S. News evaluated 256 vehicles and named winners across 21 categories. The awards are published on the U.S. News Best Cars website at http://usnews.com/cars-families.

The 2016 Best Cars for Families winners have the best combination of safety and reliability ratings, excellent reviews from the automotive press and the space and features that keep the entire family happy. New high-tech features, such as in-car wireless Internet, teen driver controls and smartphone apps, were considered alongside traditional criteria such as passenger and cargo space.

Mercedes-Benz and Honda tied with the most awards won by individual brands, taking home four awards each. Mercedes-Benz won half of the awards in the eight luxury categories. What sets the brand apart from its competitors are features in the C-Class, GLE and GLC – such as in-car Wi-Fi, rear-seat USB ports, tri-zone climate controls, hands-free liftgates and rear sunshades – that make traveling with a family more comfortable.

Honda's models are among the top picks for families because of their large cargo spaces – ideal for strollers, grocery bags and more. For the sixth consecutive year, the Honda Odyssey won Best Minivan for Families, the longest streak in the awards' history. The Odyssey's available features, such as a 16-inch rear-seat entertainment screen that can show two different movies side-by-side, a built-in vacuum and a power liftgate, can make life a little easier for parents who have their hands full. In addition, professional car critics say the Odyssey has great driving dynamics, unlike other minivans.

Two award categories, Subcompact SUVs and Luxury Subcompact SUVs, are all-new for 2016, with the Honda HR-V winning Best Subcompact SUV for Families and the BMW X1 winning Best Luxury Subcompact SUV for Families.

"Finding the best family car can be a time-intensive process," said Jamie Page Deaton, managing editor of U.S. News Best Cars. "Whether you need extra room for car seats or want to monitor your new teen driver, the Best Cars for Families have options for every type of family."

Of the 21 Best Cars for Families winners, six are also winners of the 2016 Best Cars for the Money awards because of their excellent long-term value.

Highlights from the 2016 Best Cars for Families

Highlights from the 2016 Best Cars for Families

For the full set of winners and finalists, visit http://usnews.com/cars-families.

The award methodology combines professional automotive reviews, safety and reliability ratings, seating and cargo volume and the availability of family-friendly features. Within each of the 21 automotive categories, the vehicle with the highest composite score is named the Best Car for Families in that category.

Award Contact: Jamie Page Deaton, (603) 717-2992, jdeaton@usnews.com

Media Contact: Lucy Lyons, (202) 955-2155, llyons@usnews.com

About U.S. News Best Cars
Since 2007, U.S. News Best Cars, the automotive channel of U.S. News & World Report, has published rankings of the majority of new vehicles sold in America. Each year, U.S. News publishes the Best Cars awards, including Best Vehicle Brands, Best Cars for the Money and Best Cars for Families. U.S. News Best Cars had over 45 million unique visitors over the past year, with over 65 percent of visitors actively shopping for a car. Eighty percent of active shoppers reported that the U.S. News Best Cars site influenced their car purchasing decision.

About U.S. News & World Report
U.S. News & World Report is a digital news and information company that empowers people to make better, more informed decisions about important issues affecting their lives. Focusing on Education, Health, Personal Finance, Real Estate, Travel, Cars and News & Opinion, www.usnews.com provides consumer advice, rankings, news and analysis to serve people making complex decisions throughout all stages of life. More than 35 million people visit www.usnews.com each month for research and guidance. Founded in 1933, U.S. News is headquartered in Washington, D.C.

Honda Tops List of Best SUV Buys Under $25K

Source : The Detroit Bureau – March 04, 2016

Honda CR-V

New vehicle sales are still red hot and sport-utility vehicles are among the vehicles generating the heat these days, in particular compact SUVs.
Small SUVs offer buyers a lot of upside: elevated ride height and four-wheel drive capability as well as good gas mileage allowing buyers to hedge against a return to gas prices above $3 a gallon some day.

Picking up on the Trends!
Perhaps their best selling point is the selling price: a well-equipped small SUV can be had for less than $25,000.
“The country is having a love affair with small SUVs right now, and Kelley Blue Book visitors are especially infatuated,” said Jack R. Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book’s KBB.com.

“Balancing an SUV’s elevated driving position, superior cargo versatility and available all-wheel drive with the efficiency and affordability of a mainstream sedan, today’s small SUVs offer multifaceted appeal. It’s no wonder that it is one of the fastest-growing segments in the auto industry.”
In fact, there are more than a dozen choices in that segment and selection, which is best can be a dizzying task.
However, KBB.com’s editors have taken the time to drive all of the offerings and provide a top 10 list of what they think are the best choices and the Honda CR-V came out on top. Not surprisingly, it’s also one of the group’s top 16 Best Family Cars of 2016.
“The CR-V was again an easy pick for this top spot,” one of the editors noted. “Honda’s small SUV is roomy, reliable, refined, efficient and just about everything else you might be seeking from a small SUV.”

The rest of the top 10 included:

  • Mazda CX-5
  • Hyundai Tucson
  • Kia Sorento
  • Subaru Forester
  • Honda HR-V
  • Toyota RAV4
  • Nissan Rogue
  • Jeep Renegade
  • Jeep Wrangler

Perhaps the biggest surprise on the list is the Tucson.

“A no-show on this list last year, Hyundai’s small SUV grabs the number three slot this year on the strength of a complete redesign that makes it more refined and even more stylish,” the site said.

The Best Cars, Trucks, SUVs, and More for 2016: Editors’ Choice Awards 2016 Honda Fit

Source : Car and Driver 2016 Editor’s Choice – February 22, 2016

2016 Honda Fit

The Fit proves that a small car needn’t be punishment for spending less, successfully mixing economy, versatility—and even a little mischief. Its 1.5-liter four-cylinder makes 130 hp; a slick-shifting six-speed manual is standard, while a CVT is optional. The chassis is willing to play when you are, but the brakes are merely average. Rear-seat legroom is ample, and thanks to rear seats that fold flat, cargo capacity—at 53 cubic feet—is impressive, too.

2016 Honda Fit

Instrumented Test

2016 Honda Fit

Will it fit?: Determining whether Honda’s new tiny hatch can fill its predecessor’s enormous shoes.

If the personal-transportation choices of Americans were based solely on need and practicality, we’d have a much narrower spectrum of vehicles on our roads. From the hundreds of models available now, we’d need just four: 50-cc mopeds for single people, bitty five-door hatchbacks for couples, minivans for larger families, and pickups for those who pack nail guns or pilot a Ditch Witch. In fact, we’re pretty sure this is how they do it in Europe.

If they ever put us in charge, the Honda Fit will be mankind’s hatchback. Since it appeared on the scene in 2006, the fun-size Honda has been our reflexive recommendation for pretty much everybody on a budget, including the old lady in the shoe. To date, this spacious, bodacious cube has pulled in seven 10Best trophies and three comparison-test wins. So its redesign for 2015 makes us nervous. Can the new Fit possibly live up to the untouchable standard set by the old?

2016 Honda Fit

It sits on a new platform, it’s powered by a new engine spinning new transmissions, and it wears a new look. That last point, at least, is a definite plus. For the first time, aesthetics seem to have been a prime consideration in the Fit’s design. As with the styling of many minicars, it’s polarizing. But the past two Fits haven’t polarized anybody; they’ve looked dorky to everyone.

The 2015 Fit seems much bigger than its predecessor, but it is actually the same height, 1.6 inches shorter, and just 0.3 inch wider. The engorged appearance comes from a dramatically reduced glass-to-body ratio. The greenhouse is shorter, even if the car itself is not. This gives the Fit a more substantial appearance. And it is more substantial, although only slightly. This car’s curb weight of 2572 pounds is up 52 from the last Fit we tested. As far as cars are concerned, that’s just water weight.

2016 Honda Fit

In spite of the small increase in mass, the car sees big gains in rigidity. It’s still a playful chassis for an affordable stuff-shuffler. There’s little roll, and wheel and body motions are well controlled even when you smack a mid-corner bump. Without an available rear anti-roll bar like that on the outgoing Fit Sport, the 2015 model isn’t quite as neutral. But it’s fun, and certainly more so than any of the nonexistent cars that offer a Fit-sized interior at this price. The rack-mounted electric power-steering motor takes orders from a sturdier shaft; while a modicum of feel remains, it’s a bit muted and less immediate than before, and this flattens the fun on turn-in. Both the 0.79-g skidpad grip and 178-foot stopping distance are average for its B-segment cohort (Chevy Sonic, Ford Fiesta, Mazda 2). But the brakes are actuated by a pedal that is squishier than the last Fit’s, again sapping a touch of the old car’s charm.

There’s a shade less zeal underhood, too. While more powerful, the engine is missing the touch of rasp that reminded its driver of other high-profile VTEC screamers. It still displaces 1.5 liters, but that’s about it for similarities between Fit engines new and old. Now it’s stuffed with direct injection and dual overhead cams (where before there was port injection and just one lobestick). In addition to i-VTEC’s dual-profile intake cam, the 1.5 packs VTC, or Variable Timing Control, which retards intake valve timing at low rpm and advances it at high engine speeds. New oil jets cool the undersides of the pistons, and the crankshaft has been lightened 27 percent through smaller journals and a 50-percent reduction in counterweights, from eight to four. An additional 13 horsepower and 8 pound-feet of torque, for totals of 130 and 114, respectively, don’t sound like much gain for all of that effort, but this is just a 1.5. That increase in power and shorter gearing drop the zero-to-60-mph time from 8.4 seconds to 8.0. At 16.2 seconds and 86 mph in the quarter-mile, the Fit would have outrun every car in our last comparison test of this class [“Appetizers,” November 2011]. Fuel economy with the manual hits 29 mpg city and 37 highway. Shifting primarily at the 6800-rpm redline, we logged 30 mpg.

Grabbing those shifts is both a joy and a frustration. The Fit finally gets a long-overdue sixth gear, and the shifter itself enjoys short throws and tight movements. But the clutch takeup is softer, more vague, and higher in the pedal’s travel than the previous Fit’s. And while there are six gears, sixth is the same ratio as the old fifth. There’s no calming of the engine on the highway because the final-drive ratio is also the same. At 75 mph, the Fit’s four-pot turns a frenetic 3600 rpm. A Chevy Sonic turbo’s overall gearing in fourth is about the same as the Fit’s in sixth; at 75 in sixth, the torquier Sonic is turning 1300 fewer rpm. The Fit is no noisier than a Sonic, even if the high-rpm buzz gets tiring in a way that lower frequencies don’t.

But while the Sonic and other classmates might challenge this new Fit dynamically, the Honda is still in a league of its own in terms of packaging, mainly because its fuel tank is still located under the front seats. Step inside and you’ll notice that its unexpected combo of downtown-friendly footprint and Penske-van interior volume has been dramatically reallocated. Honda stretched the wheelbase 1.2 inches and redesigned the rear suspension with shorter trailing arms, so the Fit’s rear seat is now an astounding 4.8 inches farther back from the front. That improvement is awfully close to the difference between long- and short-wheelbase Audi A8s or BMW 7-series. Never mind the one-size-up Civic; the Fit now has more rear-seat legroom than the already limo-like Accord. This is no less of a miracle than the packaging breakthrough that made the first Fit such a hit.

2016 Honda fit

Of course, there is a trade-off. Honda netted more people space at the expense of cargo room. The volume behind the rear seat drops from 21 cubic feet to 17, relegating what was once the segment leader to midpack standing. But dropping the Fit’s rear seats creates a cargo hold that, while smaller than its predecessor’s (53 cubes versus 57), is still bigger than that of any competitor in our last roundup. It’s more than you’ll find if you fold down the third row in a GMC Yukon. Unless your friends are mostly bags of mulch, though, it’s hard to view the shuffling of interior space as a negative. Particularly when there’s still so much of it.

But it’s not only more spacious; this Fit enjoys a marked uptick in material quality and design. The doors and dash boast luxurious soft-touch panels; and matte-finish “fauxluminum” flourishes accent the dash, door handles, and air vents. Along with the upgrade in appearance comes an upgrade in standard and available equipment. Not that the new bodywork limits visibility that much, but a rearview camera is standard. Keyless-entry and -start and—finally—satellite radio are now optional. The base car starts just $100 higher, at $16,315. Fully loaded models outpace the last generation by about $1000, but the extra content is worth it.

2016 Honda fit

The new Fit has us torn. Its edge has been slightly dulled, leaving the handling a little less sharp and the engine note a touch less provocative. The clutch takeup is muddier and the brakes are a little squishier.

We hate to see a beloved car even feint in the direction of dynamic mediocrity, but at least the soul of the Fit has survived. Its practical improvements are remarkable, putting the car even further ahead of its class. Nobody has yet matched the Honda’s incredible versatility at this price, nor has any competitor yet packaged anything remotely as useful atop a chassis that offers this much fun for so little money.

2016 Honda Fit

Will it fit?: Determining whether Honda’s new tiny hatch can fill its predecessor’s enormous shoes.

Grabbing those shifts is both a joy and a frustration. The Fit finally gets a long-overdue sixth gear, and the shifter itself enjoys short throws and tight movements. But the clutch takeup is softer, more vague, and higher in the pedal’s travel than the previous Fit’s. And while there are six gears, sixth is the same ratio as the old fifth. There’s no calming of the engine on the highway because the final-drive ratio is also the same. At 75 mph, the Fit’s four-pot turns a frenetic 3600 rpm. A Chevy Sonic turbo’s overall gearing in fourth is about the same as the Fit’s in sixth; at 75 in sixth, the torquier Sonic is turning 1300 fewer rpm. The Fit is no noisier than a Sonic, even if the high-rpm buzz gets tiring in a way that lower frequencies don’t.

But while the Sonic and other classmates might challenge this new Fit dynamically, the Honda is still in a league of its own in terms of packaging, mainly because its fuel tank is still located under the front seats. Step inside and you’ll notice that its unexpected combo of downtown-friendly footprint and Penske-van interior volume has been dramatically reallocated. Honda stretched the wheelbase 1.2 inches and redesigned the rear suspension with shorter trailing arms, so the Fit’s rear seat is now an astounding 4.8 inches farther back from the front. That improvement is awfully close to the difference between long- and short-wheelbase Audi A8s or BMW 7-series. Never mind the one-size-up Civic; the Fit now has more rear-seat legroom than the already limo-like Accord. This is no less of a miracle than the packaging breakthrough that made the first Fit such a hit.

2016 Honda fit

Of course, there is a trade-off. Honda netted more people space at the expense of cargo room. The volume behind the rear seat drops from 21 cubic feet to 17, relegating what was once the segment leader to midpack standing. But dropping the Fit’s rear seats creates a cargo hold that, while smaller than its predecessor’s (53 cubes versus 57), is still bigger than that of any competitor in our last roundup. It’s more than you’ll find if you fold down the third row in a GMC Yukon. Unless your friends are mostly bags of mulch, though, it’s hard to view the shuffling of interior space as a negative. Particularly when there’s still so much of it.

But it’s not only more spacious; this Fit enjoys a marked uptick in material quality and design. The doors and dash boast luxurious soft-touch panels; and matte-finish “fauxluminum” flourishes accent the dash, door handles, and air vents. Along with the upgrade in appearance comes an upgrade in standard and available equipment. Not that the new bodywork limits visibility that much, but a rearview camera is standard. Keyless-entry and -start and—finally—satellite radio are now optional. The base car starts just $100 higher, at $16,315. Fully loaded models outpace the last generation by about $1000, but the extra content is worth it.

2016 Honda fit

The new Fit has us torn. Its edge has been slightly dulled, leaving the handling a little less sharp and the engine note a touch less provocative. The clutch takeup is muddier and the brakes are a little squishier.

We hate to see a beloved car even feint in the direction of dynamic mediocrity, but at least the soul of the Fit has survived. Its practical improvements are remarkable, putting the car even further ahead of its class. Nobody has yet matched the Honda’s incredible versatility at this price, nor has any competitor yet packaged anything remotely as useful atop a chassis that offers this much fun for so little money.

The Best Cars, Trucks, SUVs, and More for 2016: Editors’ Choice Awards 2016 Honda Civic

Source : Car and Driver 2016 Editor’s Choice – February 22, 2016

2016 Honda Civic

Sweet-handling and fun to drive, the Civic deserves serious consideration from enthusiasts and non-enthusiasts alike. The base engine is a 158-hp 2.0-liter four; a 174-hp turbo 1.5-liter is optional. The 2.0-liter has a six-speed manual, while a CVT is optional. Sadly, the turbo offers only the CVT. Both engines are peppy, but the turbo is definitely the hot rod of the two. The coupe shares the sedan’s powertrains and has a sportier ride with quicker steering. The back seat, though, is tight.

2016 Honda Civic

First Drive Review

2016 Honda Civic

Chapter two of the Civic renaissance.

According to Honda research, buyers who prefer coupes to sedans are primarily seduced by styling and image, feeling that the absence of that second set of doors suggests that both car and driver possess a sporty persona. That’s not always the case, but the dynamic character of the new Civic coupe vindicates the sporty part of the proposition.

The coupe’s sheetmetal is even edgier than the sedan’s, a welcome departure from the caution that has marked so many Honda designs—with tidier dimensions, more sculpting, and wheels that fill their wheel wells right to the edge of the fenders.

2016 Honda Civic

The coupe shares the sedan’s 106.3-inch wheelbase, a sizable 3.1-inch stretch versus the previous generation. But at 176.9 inches, the new coupe is an inch shorter than its predecessor, 1.8 inches wider at 70.8 inches, and a smidge (0.1 inch) lower at 54.9 inches. It also has much wider tracks: 60.9 inches front and 61.5 rear. Although overall length has shrunk, the overhangs have diminished even more, and compared with the new sedan, the coupe is 5.4 inches shorter—all of that chopped out of the rear overhang—and almost an inch lower. The net is a coupe that looks compact in the athletic sense—squat, taut, and ready to rock.

Power-to-Weight

Smaller dimensions and extensive use of high-strength and ultra-high-strength steel in the body shell ought to add up to reduced mass, but the official specifications are a little murky on this score. Honda’s listed curb weights for the old coupe range from 2754 to 2916 pounds. Depending on trim level, the 2016 coupes will weigh between 2735 and 2896 pounds, according to Honda.

Nevertheless, the new coupe should have a performance edge over the previous generation, thanks to its new engines—a naturally aspirated 158-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder (in LX and LX-P models) and a 174-hp 1.5-liter turbo four (EX-T, EX-L, and Touring). In our test of a new sedan equipped with the 1.5-liter turbo and a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), we logged a 6.8-second zero-to-60-mph sprint. That’s just 0.3 second behind the last Civic Si we tested, and Honda insiders say that in development testing the coupe has been a little quicker than the current Si. This leads us to wonder how much power the new Si will bring to the game when it makes its appearance, as well as what its body style will be—coupe? sedan? hatchback? all three?—but Honda isn’t talking about that yet.

Our initial experience with the new coupe was confined to turbo-powered versions with Honda’s torque-converter-enhanced CVT, and the impressions were much the same as those logged in our sedan test. Stomp on the throttle and once the turbo spools up, the Civic’s front tires emit a healthy chirp and forward momentum builds in a hurry. The spool-up is quick with the transmission in D, but for even quicker results, slip the lever into S. At wide-open throttle the CVT delivers simulated upshifts and exhibits little of the slipping-clutch sensations that often accompany transmissions of this type. Paddle shifters aren’t part of the deal, however, and the driver is still aware that it’s a CVT.

2016 Honda Civic

Somewhere East of Julian

Is the coupe any quicker than a similarly equipped sedan? We’ll need a test track to nail that down. But we don’t need a test track to identify an area of performance where the coupe holds an edge over its four-door cousin—as well as its rivals. That would be on the mountain roads near Julian, California, east of San Diego, where the coupe impressed. While the sedan’s unibody gets high marks for its robust structure, the coupe takes chassis rigidity a step further, with selective stiffening around the front and rear suspension pickup points.

Suspension elements—dampers and springs—are also stiffer, varying by trim level. The basic LX model, for example, gets firmer damping and increased front roll stiffness. The LX-P and EX-T have increased spring rates as well as more authority in the dampers; EX-T and higher trim levels get 17-inch wheels. The EX-L and Touring models get refinements of the foregoing, including hydraulic rear bushings for better road isolation and lighter wheels for reduced unsprung weight.

While the dynamic distinctions among the various trims are subtle and hard to quantify in short driving stints, the bottom line is a coupe that’s quick on its feet, responding promptly to steering inputs, with modest body motions and absolutely no drama. It’s easy to be precise with the steering, as well, thanks to an electrically assisted rack-and-pinion system that’s exceptionally quick (2.2 turns lock-to-lock), accurate, and tactile. The steering wheel further enhances the process with its just-right rim thickness and grippy feel.

Pushed hard, the coupe will do exactly that—push. It’s agile, but like most front-drive cars, sporty or not, the weight bias is decidedly forward, and it’s not very difficult to provoke noisy protest from the front tires in enthusiastic cornering. A more performance-oriented tire would probably raise the understeer threshold—all models are shod with all-season rubber—and also shorten braking distances. It’s easy to modulate pressure at the brake pedal, and fade is not an issue, but we don’t anticipate much improvement over the sedan’s 178-foot stopping distance from 70 mph in our test.

The new coupe posts solid marks on the comfort scorecard. Although the suspension tuning is distinctly firmer than the sedan’s, it’s also compliant enough to take the edge off sharp bumps and expansion joints. And Honda’s extensive efforts with sound insulation pay off here, just as in the sedan. The new Civics raise the bar for quiet operation among compacts.

2016 Honda Civic

Waiting for Manual

Honda insists Civics equipped with the 1.5-liter turbo engine also will get the six-speed manual-transmission option currently available with the 2.0-liter. We got a very brief experience with a manual-equipped turbo mule, a sedan in heavy camo, and found it to be typical of Honda shift-for-yourself gearboxes with short throws and crisp engagements. But the product planners get cagey about precisely when it will arrive; our best guess is late in this model year.

The new infotainment and safety features that made their debut with the sedan carry forward to the coupe. Of the latter, the lane-keep assist system is particularly annoying—it’s a little random in picking up the edge and center lines, and a little too eager to intervene when it does see them.

Inside, the coupe sustains the high quality of materials established by the sedan, including first-rate bucket seats, as well as a rear seat actually habitable by adults. Although the new coupe is shorter than its predecessor, the stretched wheelbase allowed Honda to expand rear-seat legroom by 5.1 inches.

Like some other elements of the ongoing Civic saga, pricing remains an unknown—at least until the mid-March on-sale date. We have estimates, but that’s complicated by the revised trim levels—there are now five, culminating in the new Touring model. But this much is certain: The new Civic coupe makes the outgoing version as forgettable as last year’s curling-tournament results. And the sportiness goes well beyond mere appearance.