Auto blogWed, 19 Nov 2014
Honda's extended tease for the 2016 HR-V compact crossover is finally over. The CUV debuted in Japan late, last year, and the company has trotted various versions to shows around the world since then. The time has finally come for all of the details about the US version to be revealed at this year's Los Angeles Auto Show.
Honda has been keeping the HR-V's powertrain a closely guarded secret - until now. All of them get a 1.8-liter four-cylinder that makes 138 horsepower and 127 pound-feet of torque with the choice of either a six-speed manual or CVT. Either front- or all-wheel drive is available, but the six-speed is only available on front-driving models.
Based on the same platform as the Fit, the HR-V actually doesn't seem to share much with its smaller sibling in terms of looks and instead borrows more cues from its big brother - the latest 2015 CR-V. Bits of Honda's larger crossover peek out in the grille and roof shape, but the HR-V reinterprets the design in its own funky way. Hiding the rear door handles near the rear pillar is an especially clever touch. The compact's wheelbase is 102.8 inches, just 0.3 inches shorter than its larger sibling. However, overall length for the new model is 169.1 inches, about 10 inches shorter than the CR-V.
With a Senate hearing scheduled for November 20, the investigations into the exploding airbag inflators from automotive supplier Takata are just beginning. Honda is among the automakers most affected by the problem with over five million vehicles potentially in need of repair in the US, according to the last estimate from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. But the actual number being fixed could be even higher because the company is also working with worried owners nationwide.
According to the Associated Press, Honda is willing to perform the repair for concerned owners of affected vehicles who live outside of the high-humidity regions that the recall covers. In a letter to customers online, the company explains that it wants to work with them to fix the problem and even provide temporary transportation, if necessary.
"This is not a new thing, and it does not represent us including vehicles outside of those regions within the recall or investigatory campaigns. It is a part of our ongoing efforts to work with our customers individually to resolve their concerns, even if their vehicle is not technically part of one of those actions," said Honda spokesperson Chris Martin to Autoblog via email.
If the Honda HR-V feels awfully familiar to you by now, you're not alone. We've seen it debut in Japanese form (dubbed "Vezel"), caught a prototype in Paris, and Honda first showed us the US-spec version in press-photo form all the way back at the New York Auto Show in April. We're finally going to get all the details on Honda's new subcompact crossover this week as part of the Los Angeles Auto Show, but first, we're getting an early look at the CUV today.
We met the Honda HR-V for a cup of coffee this morning at Randy's Donuts just outside of Los Angeles, and got our first look at the new CUV in the metal. It's a handsome little thing, offering a higher-riding, more butch alternative to the Fit hatchback on which it's based. We particularly like how the rear door handles are integrated into the pillars, for an almost three-door look from some angles.
Technical details are still scarce as of this writing, though we expect those to be revealed during Honda's press conference on Wednesday. For now, we just know that the HR-V should be an incredibly practical little thing, using the Magic Seat system that has made the Fit such a versatile and capacious subcompact. Stay tuned for more, and see the HR-V from all angles in our live gallery, above.
The safety crisis surrounding Takata's exploding airbags continues to expand. In the latest revelation, Honda confirms another death linked to the faulty parts, and the company is expanding its recall of the components. However, none of the newly added vehicles are in the United States.
With the confirmation of this report, there are now five deaths linked to the faulty airbags. According to The New York Times, a pregnant woman in Malaysia was killed on July 27 in a 2003 Honda City when she crashed into another vehicle, and the inflator ruptured. This was the first announced case outside of the US.
The faulty part in the woman's car was reportedly made at a now-closed Takata factory in Georgia, according to the NYT, and it's the first known example from that location. In response, Honda recalled about 170,000 vehicles in Europe and Asia to replace the potentially bad inflators. The latest campaign brings the total number of recalled vehicles worldwide to around 14.3 million units.
Taking charge of a major corporation will never be without its challenges, and one of those - as Honda CEO Takanobu Ito is finding out - is filling the big shoes of those that came before. Ito's predecessors are apparently not pleased with what he's doing to the company, and are wasting no time in telling him so.
According to Reuters, two former Honda chiefs have recently visited Ito (pictured above with his predecessor Takeo Fukui) to talk to him about the Japanese automaker's quality issues, which they apparently regard as eroding the company's image. Nobuhiko Kawamoto, who served as CEO from 1990-98, reportedly came to Honda headquarters in Tokyo to deliver "stern words" to Ito last month. Kawamoto's immediate successor, Hiroyuki Yoshino, reportedly met with Ito under similar circumstances earlier this year.
Kawamoto and Yoshino are part of a larger group of former Honda executives who are concerned with the declining quality of the company's products under Ito's leadership. Where Honda once focused more on quality, collaborating more closely with parts suppliers,more recently the company has, in the eyes of those former executives at least, shifted its focus to quantity and to new technologies. That's what, the report alleges, has led to Honda recalling so many of its vehicles in recent years.
Any time you see this iconic moment in pop culture - Shut up and take my money! - posted in response to a new car reveal, rumor for an upcoming model or even lip-service to a vehicle that should exist, you can bet there's some intrinsic good in the idea. Though depending on the person offering up the cash, that good could take the form of extraordinary form, functionality, weight savings, power, handling, etc. You get the idea.
In fact, when I first proposed this list, I reached out to the Autoblog staff to help me brainstorm. Here are some of the ideas they offered up that I ultimately didn't use: Jaguar XE Coupe, Pagani Huayra Roadster, Mercedes-Benz S-Class "parade car" (cabriolet), Morgan 3-Wheeler with Ducati V-twin, Ford Transit Connectamino (pickup), Mercedes CLA63 AMG, Ford Fusion 5.0, BMW i8 Spyder, Lexus RC-F Shooting Brake, Volvo XC90 Polestar. Oh, and things we collectively wanted to stick Dodge's Hellcat in were almost as numerous as models that Fiat Chrysler Automotive currently makes (though none quite so compelling as the Grand Cherokee you see above.)
Ultimately though, while I used a couple of ideas from my colleagues, the list of cars I'd shell out for unquestionably is very personal. Though it isn't complete, what follows is a selection of cars whose very existence would prompt me - or the trust-fund-baby versions of me - to utter without hesitation: "Shut up and take my money."
As many as 391,000 vehicles from Infiniti and Honda may eventually need to be recalled as a result of two, separately announced Preliminary Evaluations from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to ascertain the scope of the potential safety hazards.
The larger investigation has NHTSA looking into the 2013 Honda Accord because of 24 reports from drivers alleging total loss of power steering or a sudden increase in necessary effort to turn the vehicle. In four cases, the problem is reportedly linked to crashes, with all of them occurring at less than 30 miles per hour. According to the claims, 13 people also reported seeing a warning message during the failure. Turning off the car and restarting it would fix the issue in some cases. If a recall is necessary, it could affect an estimated 374,000 Accords.
The second investigation is much smaller in scope. The safety agency is investigating the 2008 Infiniti EX35 after two complaints of the steering wheel shaft separating, and the vehicle losing the ability to steer. Both reports allege that the steering became loose when driving and then completely failed once the vehicle was stopped. A recall for the problem would affect an estimated 17,000 vehicles. Scroll down to read NHTSA's reports on both Preliminary Evaluations.
Here's a vehicle that nobody saw coming. Unless Honda/Acura is keen to play tricks on us, our spy shooters recently caught what appears to be an Acura minivan fully camouflaged for testing on some back roads on a rainy day.
Details on the disguised minivan are rather scarce, but it certainly bares all the hallmarks of an Acura. The front grille alone gives it away with a look that mimics the latest MDX, and note that the orientation of the rear door handle heavily suggests that it slides to open. Moving inside, the tester appears to borrow some tech from the luxury brand's parts bin too, and the Acura logo seems to be covered in tape right in the middle of the steering wheel.
Mechanically, our spies believe that the production version of Acura's minivan might borrow the brand's V6, nine-speed automatic and Super Handling All-Wheel Drive - a similar layout to some trims of the TLX. The photographers also think that the vehicle is a little wider than the current Honda Odyssey to give occupants a bit more room. Given the more luxurious focus, the high-end model would surely carry seven people with a bit more opulence than the standard Odyssey, especially, we'd imagine, for second-row passengers. A launch for this posh hauler could be slated for the 2016 or 2017 model years.
It's been eighteen years since we last saw the Legend nameplate in Acura showrooms here in the US, but in Japan it's still very much alive as Honda's flagship sedan. And now the Japanese automaker has revealed the latest generation.
Set to go on sale across Japan on January 22 - 30 years since the nameplate was introduced - the new Honda Legend is essentially the same model we already know in the States as the new Acura RLX. Only by "essentially," we mean exactly. It is the RLX, only with Honda badges instead of Acura ones. The manufacturer hasn't even changed the grille or the wheels.
Although the RLX is being offered Stateside in two forms, the new JDM Honda Legend will only come in one form, equivalent to our Sport Hybrid, with Super Handling All-Wheel Drive and a hybrid powertrain pairing a 3.5-liter V6 to a seven-speed dual clutch transmission with integrated electric motor. For the privilege of owning the most luxurious car Honda makes, Japanese customers will have to pony up ¥6,800,000 - which about adds up to $59,950 we'd pay for an RLX Sport Hybrid.
The net enveloping vehicles in the Takata airbag inflator recall just seems to keep widening. Honda is now updating its previous campaign to revise the status for even more models that were ever registered in (or originally sold in) 13 high-humidity US states and territories.
All of these vehicles were included in the company's earlier repairs. However, at the time this fix was titled "a safety improvement campaign." This latest action upgrades that condition to "a formal recall," according to Honda's official statement. The models include: the 2003-2005 Honda Accord, 2001-2005 Civic (pictured above), 2002-2005 CR-V, 2003-2004 Element, 2002-2004 Odyssey, 2003-2005 Pilot, 2006 Ridgeline, 2003-2005 Acura MDX and the 2005 Acura RL. All of these need to have their passenger-side, front airbag inflator replaced, and the recall affects Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, Saipan, Guam and American Samoa.
As with the rest of these affected vehicles, it's possible in a collision for the inflator to rupture spraying metal shrapnel at occupants. There are at least 139 injuries attributed to this problem from a variety of automakers so far. Among this latest population of vehicles, Honda says there have been no confirmed injuries or fatalities related to these exploding inflators.