Auto blogTue, 21 Oct 2014 14:15:00 EST
We generally take certain principals for granted. The more water you drink, for example, the healthier you'll be. The more time you spend reading car news on Autoblog, the better informed you'll be. And the more airbags your car has, the safer you'll be. Because airbags equal safety. But that's not what some unfortunate drivers of vehicles equipped with Takata airbags are finding, and tragically finding out the hard way.
In what could be the most startling incident resulting from the airbag debacle so far, a woman named Hien Tran of Orlando, FL, was killed by what looked at first like stab wounds on her neck. It later emerged that the fatal injuries could have been inflicted by the faulty airbag on her Honda Accord. Tran bought her Honda secondhand, and may not have been aware that the airbag issue had not been addressed by its previous owner in a previous recall in 2009.
The Orange County Sheriff's Department is investigating the death, but it wouldn't be the only injury resulting from the malfunctioning Takata airbags. The units, employed particularly by Japanese automakers like Honda (which owns part of Takata) and Toyota, are the subject of a massive recall involving some 14 million vehicles from 11 different automakers.
Honda has already showcased its new Fit-based crossover around the world. We've seen it in Tokyo wearing the Vezel name and we've seen it in Paris in 'prototype' form. We've even seen photos of the US-spec version. We just haven't seen that North American model in the flesh, but that'll all be fixed next month at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
That's where Honda will, at long last, unveil the US version of its new HR-V subcompact. The Japanese automaker hasn't told us much else, save to say that the HR-V will, of course, slot in below the CR-V in US showrooms. It'll also feature the company's lauded Magic Seat system, "which allows for multiple seating configurations and the ability to fold the second row seat completely flat for added cargo space."
Alongside the HR-V, Honda's luxury division will also be showcasing a revised version of its ILX sedan at the LA show as well. Acura hasn't revealed precise details of what revisions are in store for its smallest sedan - or a more detailed photo than the teaser inset at right - but it is promising "a comprehensive update that include a potent new powertrain, more forceful, sporty exterior styling and a substantially upgraded interior design."
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Department of Transportation are taking the unusual step of issuing a followup press release urging owners of certain recalled vehicles "to act immediately" to fix their cars and trucks. The problem in question concerns the repair campaigns for rupturing Takata airbag inflators issued in June and covers a long list of models from Toyota, Lexus, Honda, Acura, Mazda, BMW, Nissan, Infiniti, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Oldsmobile and Pontiac.
While NHSTA doesn't specifically say why the recall is vital in the new release, Toyota's own explanation in its newly announced renotification campaign earlier today sheds some new light on the topic. According to the Japanese automaker, in testing, Takata found a possible link between the rupturing airbag inflators and high humidity. NHTSA is advocating that all owners pursue repairs immediately if they haven't already done so already. This is especially crucial for those drivers especially in Florida, Puerto Rico, Guam, Saipan, American Samoa, Virgin Islands and Hawaii because of the humid conditions there.
We don't need to tell you how dangerous an inadvertent airbag deployment could be - even in a stationary vehicle - but adding to the Takata issue is fears that the deployment could lead to shrapnel being sprayed into the cabin.
The Takata airbag recall that has afflicted a number of automakers may have just taken a very bad turn for Honda, which has already recalled over one million vehicles. Clarence Ditlow and the Center for Auto Safety have accused the Japanese manufacturer of failing to report two "injury-and-death" incidents. To determine just what happened, the company has initiated a third-party audit.
According to Bloomberg, CAS claims Honda failed to report fatalities in 2009 and 2013, a point Honda doesn't seem to contest, indicating that it didn't report so-called "verbal claims."
"It is our understanding that some manufacturers choose to include these types of verbal claims, and that these constitute the majority of the injury-and-death claims that they report to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration," the company told Bloomberg via email. "We believe this practice accounts for the vast majority of the difference between the total number of injury-and-death claims reported by Honda compared to certain other manufacturers."
Motor Trend has announced the results of its 2015 SUV of the Year competition, and from a field that included the new Porsche Macan, Cadillac Escalade, Subaru Outback, Chevrolet Suburban and BMW X5, the buff book has awarded the gold calipers to the 2015 Honda CR-V. If that result surprises you just a little, well, get to the back of the line.
MT looked at six different categories ranging from overall design to efficiency - both fuel economy and carbon footprint - to safety and value to pick its winner, singling out the refreshed Honda while paying particular praise to its new 2.4-liter Earth Dreams four-cylinder engine and continuously variable transmission. A tighter steering ratio was also cited as a big source of improvement.
"There was a lot of contentious debate," MT Technical Director Frank Markus told Autoblog, indicating that nearly half the judges approached the final round of voting with an eye towards the redesigned Jeep Cherokee. "This year's field included some pretty fancy and fast iron, but the thoughtful changes made by Honda to hone its best-seller entry in that crowded compact cross-over segment really did the trick."
Honda engines were the dominant force in Formula One through portions of the '80s and '90s, powering championship-winning teams at Williams and McLaren. It tried to recapture some of that magic in the 2000s but wasn't nearly as successful. For the 2015 F1 season, the Japanese brand is returning to the paddock yet again as a partner with McLaren, and in a new video it's acknowledging all of those past victories while looking forward to the uncertain future.
The video offers yet another chance to hear Honda's mill, and this time it's doing a simulated lap of Suzuka. Unfortunately, it's not entirely a joy to listen to. Like most of the current F1 field, it's a bit droning and just lacks the piercing scream of yesteryear.
With so many years out of the F1 game and completely different engine rules to overcome, the brand is essentially coming back to the sport blind. But any new competitors are a welcome addition to a series that can sometimes get rather staid. Maybe Honda and McLaren can rekindle their old flame to win another championship.
Last year, Honda gave us the first furtive glance at the next-generation Ridgeline with a shadowy photo of it in profile (above), and it promised that the pickup would "come to market in less than two years." That would have put the truck on track for a 2015 debut, but the automaker hasn't said anything more officially about the new model since then.
A new report from USA Today might shed some new light on the mysterious model. It claims that the next Ridgeline has more conventional pickup styling than the original model in a bid to conquest some buyers. You can get that feeling from the sketch, which appears to showing something far more traditional than the unorthodox original Ridgeline, whose odd tapering bedsides terminated in a double-hinged tailgate.
USA Today goes on to claim that the new Ridgeline will go on sale around late 2015 or early 2016. That's a bit later than expected, but fits with an earlier rumor.
Acura has done a good job of keeping the next-generation NSX under the wraps for the past few months, especially after a fiery little incident during testing at the Nürburgring earlier this year. But UK's What Car? recently got a chance to speak with development boss Ted Klaus, and he unleashed a few new details about the much-anticipated supercar to make it even harder for us to wait.
Among the info was a strong estimate of the NSX's performance potential. "We have to achieve the type of acceleration that the customer is achieving with the Ferrari," said Klaus to What Car?. "More importantly we have to achieve this every day and also at the Nürburgring." Assuming Acura's supercar is as actually quick as a 458 Italia, then it could hit 60 miles per hour in around 3.5 seconds.
Klaus also claims that the wickedly fast performance could come at a relative bargain for the class. The price is reportedly being benchmarked against the Audi R8, which would put the NSX around $130,000 in the US. While hardly cheap, it would still be a healthy discount off a 458.
Another auto show, another Honda "prototype." The brand has made something of a habit of showing very thinly veiled production models at the world's auto shows, ranging from the Accord, to the Civic and Civic Type-R, as well as the CR-V. And yes, this is far from the first time we've railed against this particular trend (it's not even the first time at this auto show). Now, it's time to preview the production-ready Jazz, known to American consumers as the recently released Fit.
As we covered in our original post on the Jazz Prototype, this car is pretty much a twin to the Fit, aside from its 1.3-liter engine. Sitting in place of the US-market 1.5-liter four-cylinder, the Earth Dreams 1.3 is probably a bit more suited to the tighter urban environments of the European Union. While the engine might be different, the six-speed manual and continuously variable transmission will be plenty familiar to US consumers.
We have a full live gallery of the new Jazz Prototype at the top of the page. Take a look at that, and then scroll down for Honda's press release and official images.
Is there anything quite so exciting as seeing a brand-new vehicle for the very first time? Part of the allure of auto shows is the chance to see new ideas, just before they're fully baked and ready for public consumption. "Prototypes" you might say, of production models that are just around the corner. Or, in the case of the Honda HR-V, already down the block a ways.
Here in Paris, Honda has unveiled its HR-V Prototype, a nearly production-ready version of a "new SUV for Europe." Before we take umbrage with that SUV designation - as far as we can tell the Fit-based crossover isn't much of a mudder - we should address the fact that at this year's New York Auto Show in April, Honda handed over just a few images and specs of the actually production-read HR-V for the US. Presumably this is a "prototype" for Europe, where the NYC car is US-specific, but we're still scratching our heads a bit.
No matter! Here in France, Honda tells us that the utile little hatch will be available powered by both a 1.5-liter gasoline engine (the one American customers will see), and a 1.6-liter diesel unit, both wearing the company's Earth Dreams Technology label and presumably running cleaner and more frugally than ever. In Europe, a standard six-speed manual will come with both mills, while the 1.5-liter will offer the option of a continuously variable transmission.