For us car guys, getting word that a model is being redesigned from the ground up is kind of like hearing that your favorite video game just got an expansion pack, or that an extra hour of extended scenes has been added to the new Star Wars release. It may not be life-changing news, but by God do we get giddy with anticipation over the idea of having something new to test and review!
For Honda, its releases have been one hell of a mixed bag over the past few years, with the uninspiring design of the latest generation Civic and the utterly unnecessary Crosstour tarnishing the success of home runs like the Fit, and the rock-solid sales of the multi-purpose MDX. There have also been some serious stumbles on their end, with the Takata recall fiasco, and refusal to offer the now defunct TSX wagon with all-wheel drive coming to mind right off the bat.
But with a fantastic refresh of the 2016 Pilot already winning people over, and a simple and solid HR-V crossover offering something for everyone, we can’t help but be elated over Honda’s return to making interesting automobiles instead of rebadged yawners. The RDX has gotten a refresh as well, so it no longer resembles a generic pack of saltine crackers, and as Acura continues to outfit its cars with LED lights, you get the feeling that the brand as a whole is getting ready to turn-over a new leaf.
There’s a newfound sense of excitement coming the automotive giant, and it seems to be starting with company CEO Takahiro Hachigo, who shook things up in July by announcing that he plans to “create a new Honda.” While many execs stand as figureheads who choose to roll with the punches, Hachigo has opted to take a completely different approach, and it appears to be working.
He’s an old school Honda R&D guy, one who believes that Soichiro Honda’s legacy needs to be kept intact via motorsports and performance cars, and demands that both brands “regain focus on innovative and exciting vehicles.” With turbocharged Honda engines heading our way sooner than later, and the 300+ horsepower Civic Type-R receiving a green light for sale here in the states, there’s little doubt that this guy is sticking to his guns, as he refuses to buy a new car until a Civic Type-R becomes available. “Rather than focusing on numbers, it is important to come up with products that carry dreams and satisfy our customers,” Hachigo says. Still not convinced? Check out these five new cars from the Honda/Acura line, all designed to offer you a new view on a brand that you many have written off as bland.
When we first reviewed the HR-V a few months back, it surprised us with how Honda had taken an overdone idea and made it new again, as this compact crossover is more of a fat Fit than a CR-V lite. It rides higher than the Fit, but offers a ton of safety and tech for the money, keeping its sticker prices between $19,000-25,000. For those of you who like to row your own, a manual gearbox is available (something we loved about the earlier generations of the CR-V), and if space saving is your thing check out the “magic seats” that Honda put in this car, as this CUV continues to amaze us with its versatility.
Some of us may already be on our second or third child, and think the HR-V, while nice, is seriously under-sized for a growing family. Happy to accommodate, Honda decided to give families one of the greatest gifts imaginable by turning the blocky Pilot into a lean, mean, traction-controlled machine. It’s ditched the truck look of the first two generations, and morphed into a refined, utterly sublime eight-seat answer to the minivan. The interior is both roomy and luxurious, it has multiple traction control settings, so snow, sand, and mud don’t stand a chance, and everything from adaptive dampers to auto-start AC controls are incorporated into this thing. In just a few months, the new Pilot has blown critics away with how good it is for the money.
Our sources are tell us that the all-new Civic probably won’t be available in “Ninja Turtle Ooze Green,” and while this may sadden some of you, it’s best to think of all the speeding tickets you won’t get by missing out on this color. The sedan version goes on sale this Fall, but we can’t wait to see the ton of other upcoming models, including a coupe, the sprightly Si, a long awaited five-door model, and most importantly, the cranial-rearranging Civic Type-R. The 2016 Civic has apparently been designed to celebrate Honda’s take on advanced, sport-inspired engineering, and to prove that they aren’t mucking about, as even non-performance models will feature a turbocharged powerplant.
Spooning several sizable helpings from Acura’s lunch tray onto their own, Honda has ditched its old “vanilla ways,” and made the 2016 Accord the most tech-savvy mid-size sedan in America, all while outfitting it with a far more aggressive exterior. We’re thrilled to see that the updated touring version will receive heated rear seats, front and rear parking sensors, and rain-sensing windshield wipers. Meanwhile, automatic transmission-equipped Accords (EX models and up) will get remote starters, a 7-inch Display Audio touchscreen, and HD Radio, along with SiriusXM satellite radio, and a Homelink remote. Oh, and be sure to check out those 19-inch alloy rollers, as they’re set to be one of the sharpest-looking OEM wheels on the market in 2016.
Of course, this car needs no introduction, as the hype surrounding it is powerful enough to make Pluto a planet again. With its twin-turbo, regenerative hybrid, all-wheel drive, mid-engine powerplant, stunning female-designed shell, and surprisingly modest $150,000-ish starting price, the Acura NSX is going to be a supercar for the ages. Still not convinced of how badass it’s going to be? Check out this Japan-exclusive video to get a glimpse of what this brand is back to being all about.