2017 Honda CR-V AWD Touring
New turbocharged engine raises the bar among compact crossovers
By Nina Russin
Honda was one of the first automakers to enter the compact crossover segment with the CR-V: a car that continues to be one of the most popular choices thanks to the automaker’s reputation for reliability, safety and solid performance. For 2017, Honda has raised the bar with an all-new model including available 1.5-liter turbocharged engine, re-engineered all-wheel drive system, new exterior styling and a roomier interior. As with previous iterations, the new CR-V is a winner- hands down- combining excellent ride and handling, good engine power and excellent fuel economy.
The test car is the upscale Touring model with all-wheel drive and the new turbocharged engine, priced from $33,695 excluding the $900 destination charge. Honda simplifies the buying process by including safety, comfort and convenience features as standard equipment.
The Touring grade features keyless entry and start, leather seating, premium audio system with satellite radio and Bluetooth interface, seven-inch color touchscreen display, rearview camera with cross traffic alert, Pandora radio, USB port, dual-zone automatic climate control, 12-way power driver’s seat, heated front seats, 60/40 split folding rear seats, power moon-roof, 18-inch alloy wheels, LED lighting, rain sensing wipers, blind spot monitoring, hands-free power tailgate, capless fuel filler and roof rails. Final MSRP is $34,595 Read the rest of this entry »
2017 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring
Upgraded drivetrain boosts power and efficiency
By Nina Russin
Longevity has its benefits. Years before Hyundai, Kia, Ford, Chevrolet and Volkswagen entered the hybrid market, there was only one: the original Honda Insight. The Insight arrived in the US in 1999, a year ahead of the Toyota Prius. Since then Honda enhanced technology, in exclusive hybrid models such as the Insight as well as gasoline/electric versions of its popular sedans.
For Honda, hybrids aren’t a marketing gimmick or a way to comply with increasingly strict fuel economy standards. The company’s green focus is authentic, as evidenced by its leadership in the development of other alternative fuel technologies including fuel cells.
For 2017, Honda introduces a new hybrid version of the current Accord that is, in a sense, the automaker’s green car flagship. The powertrain couples a two-liter Atkinson cycle iVTEC engine with two electric motors and a lithium-ion battery pack. One electric motor drives the wheels while the second generator motor produces electricity. The system produces 212 net horsepower and 232 pound-feet of peak torque available at very low speeds.
Buyers can choose from three grades, of which the Touring model is the most upscale. Base price is $35,955 excluding the $835 destination charge. Rather than packaging options, Honda sells the Touring model fully loaded, with convenience features including keyless entry and start, power leather seats with seat heaters, a seven-inch touchscreen with multi-view rearview camera, Bluetooth, Pandora, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, SMS text messaging, USB interface, dual-zone automatic climate control, tilt-and-telescoping steering column, premium audio system and Honda Sensing active safety features. Final MSRP is $36,790. Read the rest of this entry »
2017 Honda Ridgeline AWD
A different kind of pickup for a different kind of truck owner
By Nina Russin
The second-generation Honda Ridgeline doesn’t look or handle like any other pickup truck on the market. It’s the only vehicle in its segment available with front-wheel drive and unlike most pickup trucks, utilizes unit-body as opposed to body on frame construction
An all-wheel drive version sends engine power to the rear wheels to maximize traction on dirt and in adverse weather. A variable torque management system can vary power between the rear wheels for better control on uneven trails.
The idea is to give buyers who like Honda’s passenger cars similar ride and handling a vehicle that can tow, haul, and get dirty. A spacious cabin has enough room for five passengers, with rear seats that flip up to create a large interior cargo space. The cargo bed is short, but can easily hold bicycles, kayaks and the like with the proper racks.
Power comes from a 3.5-liter iVTEC engine and six-speed automatic transmission that gives the all-wheel drive model 21 mile-per-gallon average fuel economy according to the EPA. Gas mileage during our 150-mile test drive was about two miles-per-gallon better.
The test car is fully loaded with convenience features, including keyless entry and start, power moonroof, LED headlamps, Honda’s in-bed trunk that provides secure storage outside the cabin, leather seating, tri-zone climate control, satellite radio and Bluetooth interface. Base price is $41,370. Adding in the $900 destination charge, final MSRP is $42,270. Read the rest of this entry »
2016 Honda Civic 1.5T 4D Touring Sedan
Compact sedan reinvented from the ground up
By Nina Russin
A lot has changed since the Honda Civics of the mid-1970s: the sedan is bigger and more luxurious that the small hatchback that rolled across America with its sturdy CVCC engine. Core values-reliability, comfort and safety- remain the same. At the same time, the Civic is very much a driver’s car, with precise handling reflective of Honda’s open-wheel racing experience.
In terms of size, the newest Civic is similar to former Accord models, with plenty of room for a small family. Engineers added 3.2-cubic feet of passenger space compared to the outgoing model, giving the sedan the biggest interior of anything in the compact class.
On the outside the sedan is almost three-inches longer, two-inches wider and an inch taller. Not only does the second-row offer more legroom, but better access and egress for parents buckling small kids into child seats and boosters.
Under the hood, Honda debuts its first-ever turbocharged engine for the Civic: a 1.5-liter block delivering 174-horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque, available from 1700 rpm. A continuously variable automatic transmission is standard on all but the base model.
A new suspension design features a multi-link setup in back with large stabilizer bars on both axles.
Base price for the upscale Touring model tested is $26,500 excluding the $835 destination charge. The sedan comes fully-loaded with convenience features including keyless entry, push buttons start, HD and satellite radio, leather upholstery, SMS text messaging, dual-zone automatic climate controls, heated power front seats, Bluetooth interface, 10-speaker premium audio system and a seven-inch electronic touchscreen.
A standard active safety package adds adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist and forward collision warning.
Final MSRP is $27,335 Read the rest of this entry »
2016 Honda Pilot AWD Elite
Seven-passenger SUV appeals to the driver in all of us
By Nina Russin
Honda has the uncanny ability to make small cars feel big and big cars as much fun to drive as small ones. The third generation Honda Pilot that debuted last year holds up to eight passengers, while surprisingly agile ride and handling.
A 3.5-liter direct injection engine averages 22 miles-per-gallon for the all-wheel drive version, thanks to big overdrive gears on the nine-speed automatic transmission, variable cylinder management and idle/stop technology. A driving range of over 400 miles means that the family will need to stop to stretch before the car needs gas.
The interior is user friendly, with a third row that doesn’t feel like a compromise, seats that fold easily into the floor to expand the cargo area, plenty of bin space for the first two rows of seating, USB ports and power points for every occupant. In other words, the Pilot is a car that busy people with complicated lives can live in.
Base price for the upscale Elite version tested is $46,420 excluding the $880 destination charge. Honda includes all of the convenience and safety features its buyers want so they don’t have to wade through confusing option packages at the dealership.
Standard convenience features include keyless entry and start, leather seating, rear seat Blu-Ray DVD system, navigation, satellite radio, tri-zone climate control, Pandora interface, 115-volt power outlet, panoramic moonroof, LED headlamps, power liftgate, heated side mirrors, premium audio system and real-time traffic alerts.
The upscale Pilot comes with a complete array of active safety features as well, including blind spot monitoring, lane keeping assist, forward collision warning with auto-brake and a rearview camera with cross traffic alert. Read the rest of this entry »
2015 Honda Civic Si Sedan
Affordable performance for driving enthusiasts
By Nina Russin
The Civic Si test car parked in my driveway reminds me of Christmas in July. The high-performance version of Honda’s best-selling compact sedan has long been a favorite among driving enthusiasts: an affordable well-balanced package that’s equally at home doing the daily commute or laps at the track.
Power comes from a 205-horsepower four-cylinder engine and six-speed close ratio manual gearbox. Those who can’t drive a stick need not apply. Those of us who like to push a clutch pedal see that as a win for the Gipper.
Pricing for the Si sedan with navigation begins at $24,490, a bargain considering its chassis components and convenience features including keyless entry, seven-inch touchscreen display with navigation, real-time weather and traffic, satellite radio, rearview camera, Honda LaneWatch, Bluetooth, power moonroof, 18-inch alloy wheels, a 60/40 split folding rear seat and USB interface. Final MSRP on the test car is $25,310. Read the rest of this entry »
2015 Honda Fit EX-L
Subcompact hatchback targets active urbanites
By Nina Russin
On paper the Honda Fit should be the perfect car for buyers with active lifestyles: small and fuel efficient, with a surprisingly spacious and versatile cargo area thanks to its folding magic seats and center-mounted fuel tank. The first-generation Fit seemed to hit the nail on the head, with its appealing aero exterior and peppy engine. This year, Honda introduces its successor, a slightly larger car that builds on the original formula with powertrain and connectivity enhancements.
The test car is the upscale EX-L with navigation, priced from $20,800. Standard convenience features include leather heated front seats, leather steering wheel, HondaLink with smart phone applications, navigation, Bluetooth, satellite radio, SMS text messaging, Pandora radio, LaneWatch, air conditioning and a tilt and telescoping steering wheel. Final MSRP including the $790 destination charge is $21,590. Read the rest of this entry »
2014 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring
Gasoline/electric powertrain stretches driving range
By Nina Russin
Americans who consider the Toyota Prius to be the gold standard of gasoline electric hybrids should take a second look at Honda, whose history is actually longer and in some ways deeper. The original Honda Insight arrived stateside in 1999, a year ahead of the Prius. Since then Honda has continued to refine its technology with a new version of the Insight, as well as hybrid versions of the Civic and Accord.
The 2014 Accord Hybrid sedan is remarkably fuel-efficient for a car of its size and mass. Its power, fuel efficiency and quiet, spacious interior make it well suited for American highways.
An eco-assist system helps the driver achieve maximum fuel efficiency with instructive graphics inside the gauge cluster. There is also a real-time and average fuel economy graph available in the center stack screen. Average fuel economy according to the EPA is 47 mpg.
Standard safety features include both rearview and LaneWatch side view cameras. The side view camera projects a wide-angle image to the right of sedan when the driver signals to turn in that direction. As a runner and cyclist sharing the roads with cars, I can’t say enough good things about this feature that protects pedestrians in bicycle lanes.
The Touring model tested comes fully loaded with convenience features as well, including keyless entry and start, leather seating, navigation with real-time traffic updates, satellite radio, Bluetooth interface, dual-zone climate control, adaptive cruise control, a power moonroof, LED headlamps and tail lamps. Base price is $34,905. Adding in the $790 destination charge, final MSRP is $35,695. Read the rest of this entry »
2013 Honda Crosstour 4WD EX
Midsized crossover gets styling and power enhancements
By Nina Russin
The idea behind the original Honda Crosstour was to make the best-selling Accord it’s based upon a more versatile ride. The Crosstour’s hatchback design, additional length and height create a larger cargo space for buyers whose active lifestyles might require loading bicycles, skis or snowboards inside.
Lackluster response to the original model had Honda designers return to the drawing boards, restyling the car for 2013 and adding a more powerful V-6 engine. Honda also lowered the price of the base four-cylinder model by $525: MSRP starts at $27,230 excluding the delivery charge.
The upscale EX model tested starts at $37,090. It is all-wheel drive as opposed to front-wheel drive and is fully loaded with Honda’s newest safety technology, including the LaneWatch display that uses a camera in the passenger side mirror to record activity to the right of the car. As a runner and occasional cyclist, I think it’s one of the best technologies currently on the market.
Convenience features on the test car include push button start, satellite radio, Pandora radio, SMS text messaging, Bluetooth interface, navigation, dual-zone climate control, ten-way power driver’s seat, power moonroof, and a ten-way power driver’s seat with two-position memory. Final MSRP, including the $830 destination charge, is $37,920. Read the rest of this entry »
2013 Honda Accord
Ninth-generation sedan is safer and smarter
By Nina Russin
As a runner and cyclist, I’m always on the lookout for technology that helps drivers and pedestrians share the road safely. One of the most common scenarios for car/pedestrian accidents occurs when a driver fails to see a pedestrian to the right of the vehicle before turning. While a runner might be able to jump back onto the sidewalk, faster-moving cyclists have a more difficult time avoiding a collision.
A LaneWatch feature on the 2013 Accord enables the driver to see pedestrians to the right of the vehicle, using a camera mounted on the side view mirror. When the driver signals to turn, the camera projects a wide-angle view to the right of the sedan. Lines superimposed over the image help the driver to gauge the distance between the vehicle and pedestrians to his right.
I would consider the 2013 Accord a brilliant design, if only for this feature. But the ninth-generation of Honda’s midsized sedan offers quite a bit more. A powerful V-6 engine delivers up to 34 miles-per-gallon on the highway, thanks to technology that shuts off half the cylinders when engine loads are low.
Driving enthusiasts can purchase both four and six-cylinder models with a six-speed manual transmission. Honda is also producing both conventional and plug-in hybrids for buyers with an environmental focus. There are two automatic transmissions: a continuously-variable transmission on the four-cylinder car, and a six-speed step transmission that replaces the five-speed box on the outgoing model. Read the rest of this entry »