The big news for the mid-size Honda Accord is the debut of an all-new gas/electric-powered Accord Hybrid sedan. This is Honda’s first six-cylinder vehicle to incorporate its hybrid Integrated Motor Assist system, and the company claims it delivers brisker acceleration than a typical V-6-powered sedan, but with fuel economy that’s more miserly than a four-cylinder gasoline version. While Honda’s system (versions of which are otherwise found in the Civic Hybrid and two-seat Insight) is not a “pure” a hybrid powertrain like Toyota’s, which can run solely on electric power, the Accord Hybrid uses its gasoline engine as the dominant propulsion source. Here, the electric motor provides additional power as conditions warrant. Otherwise, the gas-powered coupe and sedan come powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that develops 160 horsepower and can be equipped with a 240 horsepower 3.0-liter V-6. A five-speed-automatic transmission is standard on V-6 Accords, while the EX V-6 coupe may be fitted with a six-speed-manual gearbox. For 2005, side-curtain airbags are available on the base DX model, a new wheel cover design is included on LX and EX versions, sedans receive new taillamps, and illuminated steering controls are added across the line.
2004 Honda Accord Coupe by Bengt Halvorson (9/29/2003)
A bourgeois bargain calling out to a more sophisticated audience: Anyone out there?
Honda's subcompact line offers a broad assortment of coupe, sedan and hatchback models, each offering varying degrees of performance and practicality. All are well designed and solidly built vehicles inside and out that boast a well-earned reputation for durability. Most versions come with a standard 1.7-liter four-cylinder engine that produces either 115, 117, or 127 horsepower, depending on the application. The Si hatchback is the raciest Civic with its 160-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, while the Civic Hybrid and its 93 horsepower gas/electric powertrain is the most fuel-efficient version. Most trim levels offer the choice of a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission, and a continuously variable transmission that eschews gears for a system of belts and pulleys is offered on the HX coupe. A new Special Edition package for EX and LX sedans and coupes includes an upgraded audio system, leather-wrapped steering wheel, a rear wing spoiler, and alloy wheels.
2004 Honda Civic Hybrid by John Pearley Huffman (12/22/2003)
Plain Jane’s green machine.
The compact five-passenger car-based CR-V sport-utility vehicle continues for 2005 with a freshened exterior that includes redesigned headlamps, front grille and bumper, and side sills. A new five-speed automatic transmission, anti-lock brakes, and 16-inch wheels and tires are now standard on all models. The CR-V’s all-wheel drive system has been improved, and the vehicle’s keyless entry system has been revised. Steering wheel mounted audio controls and outside temperature gauge are added to the EX trim level, and a new Special Edition trim level includes heated leather seats and outside mirrors, a leather-clad steering wheel and shift knob and body-colored bumpers, side moldings, door handles, and spare tire cover. The CR-V performs well in most regards, with adequate acceleration and good fuel economy coming from its 160-horsepower 2.4-liter in-line four-cylinder engine. Side-impact airbags are optional.
Honda’s Element offers a truly unique and, in some ways, more practical alternative to conventional sport-utility vehicles. Its stylishly boxy shape and dent-absorbing plastic body panels make it stand-out from the pack of the wagon-like competition and its rear-hinged “suicide” back doors, combined with wide-opening front doors and versatile rear seats that flip to the side or fold flat, afford easy cargo access and storage. Back-seat riders enjoy limousine-like legroom, reclining seats (though for only two passengers) and a rear sunroof. The back seat-rests can fold flat or the seat can split-fold in the middle and be fastened to the sides of the vehicle to maximize the Element’s cargo-carrying abilities. Inside, outward visibility is plentiful and there’s plenty of cupholders and storage areas. An ideal vehicle for parents with young children, its urethane-coated floor washes out with a garden hose. The Element’s 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine generates an ample, though far-from-thrilling, 160 horsepower and drives either the front or all four wheels via a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. Changes for 2005 include the availability of XM satellite radio, with all audio systems now equipped with MP3 and WMA playback capability. Power mirrors, cruise control and new wheel covers are added to the LX trim level, while a tailpipe finisher, new side sills are newly included with the EX version, which also receives new exterior colors and color combinations.
While the ultra-aerodynamic two-seat Insight looks like it rolled out of a science-fiction movie, it’s been around for several years now and reigns as the most fuel-efficient auto sold in the
2001 Honda Insight by Bengt Halvorson (3/19/2001)
This sporty waif makes a strong statement for the future.
An all-new Odyssey minivan launches for 2005 and comes with myriad improvements to go along with updated exterior styling and a more-spacious interior. The vehicle’s standard VTEC V-6 engine gets a power infusion of 15 horses and now delivers 255 horsepower. Top models come powered by a new i-VTEC powerplant that includes Variable Cylinder Management in which half the cylinders are shut down at cruising speeds for added fuel efficiency; this powerplant also receives an Active Control Engine Mount System and Active Noise Control technology to help reduce noise and vibrations. A newly engineered structure is said to be more rigid than before and promises enhanced occupant protection, with less damage caused to other vehicles in a frontal collision. A long list of standard safety features now includes Vehicle Stability Assist with Traction Control, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes with Brake Assist, front-side airbags, and side-curtain airbags with rollover sensors. Top trim levels offer eight-passenger seating with stowable second and third-row seats for maximum cargo flexibility. A new top Touring trim level adds power adjustable pedals, tri-zone automatic climate control, power tailgate, premium audio, automatic headlamps, parking sensors, tire-pressure sensors, a 6-disc CD changer, and a second-row removable center console. A DVD entertainment system with wireless surround-sound headphones, and a voice-activated navigation system that incorporates both a rearview video camera and XM Satellite Radio are optional.
2005 Honda Odyssey by John Rettie (9/6/2004)
Being lazy serves Honda right.
Honda’s Odyssey-based “crossover” sport-utility vehicle receives a number of upgrades for 2005, none the least of which is a more-powerful 250-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 engine that includes a “drive by wire” throttle system. A tire-pressure monitor and a new magnesium-frame steering-wheel are included across the line, while keyless entry is added to the LX trim level, Honda’s Vehicle Stability Assist system becomes standard on the EX version and a six-disc CD changer is now included on both the EX and EX-L models. A new fuel tank design provides approximately 40 miles of added cruising range, the Pilot’s five-speed-automatic transmission receives revised fourth- and fifth-gear ratios and the Pilot’s steering pump has been upgraded to afford enhanced on-center feel. The Pilot’s available VTM-4 (Variable Torque Management-4WD) system is claimed to combine the best aspects of four-wheel drive and all-wheel drive. Standard equipment includes anti-lock brakes, front-side airbags, a CD stereo, air conditioning, cruise control, power locks and mirrors, and a rear wiper/washer. A back-seat DVD entertainment system and a satellite navigation system are optional.
Last year Honda’s high-performance two-passenger roadster received a new 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine that was tweaked to achieve the optimal muscle from its 240 horsepower at a lower engine speed, which precluded the need to take it to the rev limiter for the fastest acceleration. The sleek sportster’s suspension tuning and transmission gearing were revised last year, and larger 17-inch alloy wheels and performance tires replaced the prior 16-inchers. What’s more, a freshened interior promised greater shoulder- and elbowroom in the otherwise tight and tidy race-car-like cockpit. A six-speed-manual is the car’s only available gearbox. Four-wheel-disc anti-lock brakes, air conditioning, a limited-slip differential, power accessories, a CD stereo, keyless entry, and leather upholstery are standard. The S2000 remains unchanged for 2005.
2004 Honda S2000 by John Pearley Huffman (10/20/2003)
Not so uncompromised any more.