Category Archives: Honda

2017 Honda CR-V

2017 Honda CR-V Review

The Honda CR-V is no secret. In fact, it’s currently the best selling crossover on the market. And for

2017, the CR-V has been completely redesigned, both inside and out.

Now in its fifth generation, the exterior has become increasingly sculpted, with more edges and lines than ever before. The previous teardrop shape has gone away, and it now has a much more athletic and sporty appearance. This is carried on into the wheels, which enrich the visual appeal and fit the vehicle perfectly.

On the inside, the new interior is comprised of many different colors, textures and materials, all of which work very well together. The previous generation CR-V had an attractive and functional cabin, however for 2017 they’ve made some improvements. Starting in the middle, the 7” infotainment screen on the top 3 trims looks clean and now features a volume knob, something that had gone away in past Hondas. Dual zone climate control is standard on most trims, which is always a nice way to make sure your front seat passenger stays happy.

The seats are comfortable, even on long drives. Heated seats are optional, however cooled seats are not available. Another unavailable feature is a panoramic moonroof. A standard sunroof is an option, however the panoramic moonroof is only available to North American buyers in Canada. Hopefully it makes its way into the U.S. in the next year or two.

The interior is spacious and roomy for up to 5 total passengers. In the rear seat, both headroom and legroom are ample. A USB port is available in the second row, however a rear seat entertainment system is not. The center arm rest can be difficult to lower, and don’t even try if you just had your nails done, as there’s no built-in location to place your fingers to bring it down. Oddly enough, we found closing the doors to be much more difficult than it should be. If we didn’t put some muscle into it, the door wouldn’t close all the way. It’s a small detail, but one we found to be quite annoying.

A convenient feature we’re seeing more and more is the ability to open the liftgate with the wave of your foot, which is included on the CR-V. This is truly a helpful option and after you use it once when your arms are full at the grocery store, you’ll wonder how you ever got along without it.

On the road, the 1.5L inline turbo 4-cylinder engine felt peppy and even engaging. With the CVT transmission Honda uses on all trims, driving enjoyment could have easily been lost, however with the turbo, we found ourselves forgetting about the CVT all together. The engine’s 190 horsepower and 179 lb-ft of torque could squeal the wheels from a stop or quickly accelerate during a pass on the highway. The LX trim on the other hand is powered by a 2.4L incline 4-cylinder, which produces 184 horsepower and 180 lb-ft of torque. Even though the numbers are similar, fuel economy is a little worse with the 2.4L, and the driving experience is definitely not as enjoyable.

Our fuel economy averaged 30mpg in combined city and highway driving, which was a hair better than the 29MPG combined Honda claims for the AWD Touring model. All-wheel drive is available on all trims, and both LKAS (Lane Keep Assist System) and adaptive cruise control are available. We thoroughly tested each of these features and were impressed with their performance. Lane keep assist systems on other vehicles don’t always read the lines on the road very well or don’t respond quick enough. The system in the CR-V however performed just as you’d expect.

The 2017 Honda CR-V starts at $24,045 and can climb to $37,000 with a fully loaded Touring model. At all price points, the CR-V is an excellent value. It’s no surprise it’s the best selling crossover in America.

2009 Honda CR-V 5-Door 4-Wheel Drive EX-L Navi (733)

Overview:
This week we’re looking at the 2009 Honda CR-V 5-Door 4-Wheel Drive EX-L Navi.  If you have driven one in years past as I did in 2001 it will amaze you how much it has grown and matured since that 2002 year model. The ’02 model was boxy and cheap looking by today’s standards.

The real time 4-wheel drive on this ‘09 is convenient but unnecessary and costly. But if you are an off road kinda person you may have to have it. Statistics say that only 5% of 4-wheel drive vehicles ever get off road. And I suspect it is not because you have to but because you want to.

General Info:

Parts – US/Canadian 50%, Japan 30%.

Assembly – Sayama, Saitama, Japan

Class:  – SUV

Cars: – Accord, Accord Hybrid, Civic, Civic Hybrid, CR-V, Element, Fit, Odyssey, Pilot, Ridgeline, S2000.

Observation/Comment:

Sometime we are so bent on getting to our destination quickly we drive like it’s an emergency. But when you consider the difference in time to travel 50 miles by driving 60 mph instead of 80 mph is only 10 minutes it makes a lot of sense to save gas and risk less. I came to the conclusion I would leave 10 minutes earlier, relax and turn on the radio or NOT and either way enjoy the ride. Try it, you’ll like it too. Audio books are a good use of time, instead of texting at 60-80 mph. Young kids can do that. Apparently they don’t have as much to live for.

In addition to texting while driving I’ve noticed a lot of folks ignoring the law requiring hands free cell phones while at the wheel. Well perhaps it’s a bad law. I’ve noticed a major distraction when the phone rings and the hands free device doesn’t work properly. I’m wondering if it isn’t more dangerous than holding the phone to your ear. What do you think?

Handling & Performance:

Adequately powered and big improvement over the marginal power of the 2002 model I tested with 146 hp. The stance is wider in this model and stability never entered my mind as did some earlier models. Stopping distances are respectable with 4-wheel disc brakes, and you go from 0-60 mph in 9.3 seconds.

Styling:

It is a lovely looking car and not unlike any mid and even high end SUV look in today’s world.

Fit and Finish:

Very good. Honda good.

Cost:

You’ll pay for the maturity factor from the ’02 model that was priced from $18-22,000.

Features and Conveniences:

Ok, so you like the tire warning light system. Me too, but it can be misleading and the problem is you don’t know if it is real and it can be very disconcerting. And of course it always comes on when you are in a hurry. Why, because we’re always in a hurry. We have become so accustomed to everything working well that we don’t leave until we absolutely have to. So, I’m no different and this one morning I left the house just in time to get to Press day at the LA Auto Show – and bang, the tire pressure warning light comes on at 5 AM. Why now? But then, why ‘not’ now?

The thing is the warning system is not always accurate and I have found that on cold nights it can give false alarms. That was the case on this morning and when the tires warmed up the light went out and stayed out for the remainder of the week that I was testing it. But on one occasion, several months ago the light came on while driving and I stopped at a service station and indeed there was a nail and slow leak. Moral of the story is the tire pressure monitoring system is more of a convenience than a nuisance.

Consumer Recommendation:

Resource – www.safercar.gov

If you are in the market for a SUV this CR-V is definitely in the hunt, even if it is among an awfully respected and large family of competitors. This is really a tough crowd and you will want to test drive several.

Recognized Competition:

Honda CR-V $21-29,000, Mitsubishi Outlander $20-25,000, Ford Escape $20-27,000, Ford Escape Hybrid $29-33,000, Volkswagen Tiguan $23-31,000, Kia Rondo $17-21,000, Toyota RAV4 $22-28,000, Toyota Venza $26-29,000, Pontiac Torrent $25-31,000, Saturn Vue $23-31,000, Saturn Vue Hybrid $27,930, Chevrolet Equinox $24-31,000, Nissan Rogue $20-23,000, Hyundai Tucson $18-26,000, Mazda CX-7 $24-28,000, Dodge Caliber $16-25,000, Jeep Compass $18-24,000, Jeep Wrangler 20-32,000, Subaru Forester $20-28,000, Subaru Outback $20-32,000, Suzuki SX4 Crossover $15-18,000.

Good News:

Stylish, nimble, powerful and decent fuel economy for a 3,500 pound vehicle.

Bad News:

Pricey and no V6 option.

Standard Equipment:

2.4 liter 166 hp 4 cylinder engine, 5-speed automatic transmission, 4-wheel drive, 4-wheel ABS disc brakes with electronic brake distribution system, drive by wire throttle, variable assist rack and pinion power steering, EPA & CARB Certified, 100K mile tune-ups, front, side and side curtain air bags, stability control, tire pressure monitoring system, remote keyless entry, security and immobilizer system, child LATCH system, Honda Navigation w/voice recognition & rear view camera, audio w/6 disc, 7 speakers, MP-3 audio input jack, XM satellite radio, leather wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, climate control, 8-way driver power seat, heated front seats, 60/40 split fold flat seat, power windows & door locks, cruise control, 17” alloy wheels, intermittent wipers with rear wiper / washer, power door mirrors.

Gas Stats:

$1.79/ Gal avg. December 3, ‘08

www.fueleconomy.gov

For more information.

20 City and 26 Highway MPG

www.safercar.gov  or    888-327-4236

Pricing:

MSRP $28,795.

2009 Honda Fit (732)

Overview:
This week we’re looking at the 2009 Honda Fit redesigned for this model year and is powered by a new 117-horsepower 1.5-liter that is more powerful than the previous version and achieves better fuel economy, rated at 28/35 mpg city/hwy for either the base trim or the Sport with either manual or automatic transmission.

Not my favorite look in a car, but Ferrari costs a few bucks more and I don’t want to part with another $100,000 just to go to the store.

General Info:

Parts – Japan 100%.

Assembly – Suzuka, Mie, Japan

Class:  – Small Wagons

Cars: – Accord, Accord Hybrid, Civic, Civic Hybrid, CR-V, Element, Fit, Odyssey, Pilot, Ridgeline, S2000.

Observation/Comment:

I asked Cal Trans, “Why are Northern California HOV lanes operated differently than Southern California?” The reason for my question is that drivers in LA want to know why HOV lanes can’t be used by all during off peak hour traffic times on ALL freeways. For example the 14 freeway HOV lane from the I-5 to Palmdale north east operates only between the hours of 5AM to 9 AM going west to the I-5 and 3 PM to 7 PM each day going East from the I-5, and not at all on weekends and holidays. Well, Hello! Makes total sense to me but then here’s the politically correct answer from the Department of Transportation: “The DOT and its partners strive to achieve uniform operation as much as possible. Recognizably, freeway commute patterns differ widely throughout the state. During the 1980.s and early 1990.s, studies were conducted to determine the most efficient means of operating and configuring HOV lane facilities. Studies concluded and demonstration projects have shown that full-time operations, given many hours of congestion (typically between six to eleven hours) with short off-peak hours, provided greater benefits in relieving the rate of congestion, providing rideshare incentives, and making enforcement easier. Further, by restricting access entrances and exits, HOV users consistently benefited with greater overall speeds, which translated to greater time savings per trip. This is why areas that experience lengthy periods of congestion with short off-peak traffic hours typically operate as full-time HOV facilities with restricted access. The metropolitan areas of Southern California often meet and exceed these basic traffic characteristics warranting full-time HOV operations”.

Ok, so the short version is we want to force (encourage) use of the HOV lanes so they justified the study by saying traffic moves faster by keeping the lane HOV only ALL the time.

Handling & Performance:

I averaged 36.5 mpg and that was a nice break with gas prices hovering around $5.00 a gallon in California and most of America. Since it is sure to go back up to world levels even here in America, plan ahead and get into a fuel efficient car while prices are low.

Styling:

Most folks I spoke with about the car were dispassionate about it noting it was unattractive. Hey, they didn’t have to worry about offending me – I rather agree this is like the homely girl next door. But they end up being the best friends and look after you like a sister. Anyway, I have to say it isn’t so different from the 1960s when the VW Bug was thought of in the same way. But it turned out to be an Icon of the 20th Century. This genre of car in the 21st Century is ever more acceptable and this Fit and the Smart Car from Mercedes Benz take the concept of homely cars to the extreme. Function over Form is finally acceptable even in the midst of extravagant luxury cars and other gas hog SUV’s.

Fit and Finish:

Typically Honda quality even for a pea popper model.

Cost:

A little pricey for a small car, but the Honda Badge allows for a small premium in price because of the good name it has earned over the years. And considering the work ethic of the oriental car makers and old fashioned attitude of all its workers the cost to the company is about $45 an hour including benefits where the US car makers with irresponsible Unions pushing hard to “Kill” the industry in America is $75 an hour. And of course, lazy management with ‘Golden Parachute’ work agreements operate from Quarter to Quarter instead of considering the long term to make their decisions. Therefore while foreign car makers kept costs in control US companies operated like “drunken sailors on leave” without care or consideration for the future. (Yep, I was a sailor and it’s all true.)

Most people are not shy about sharing their opinions and say “fire top management, force them to sell their private jets, get rid of the mob run corrupt UAW Union by NOT giving our tax dollars to them to be squandered by inept management and corrupt union bosses.

Features and Conveniences:

Good stuff at this price point.

Consumer Recommendation:

Resource – www.safercar.gov

A lot to choose from and its deal’N time. Car companies are way down in sales and you couldn’t have picked a better time to buy. I’m looking at a used Cad CTS and the price is back of wholesale book by $5,000 or $10,000 back of retail. Buy here, buy now. You can bet the prices will go back up before you have to buy another car.

Recognized Competition:

Honda Fit $15-19,000, Volkswagen Rabbit $16-18,000, Kia Rio5 $13-14,000, Toyota Matrix $16-22,000, Pontiac Vibe $16-21,000, Scion xB $15,750, Saturn Astra $17-20,000, Chevrolet Aveo5 $12-15,000, Nissan Versa $13-16,000, Volvo C30 $24-26,000, Mazda 3 $14-21,000, Dodge Caliber $16-25,000, Chrysler PT Cruiser $18-24,000, Toyota Yaris $12-16,000, Jeep Compass $18-24,000, MINI Clubman $20-31,000, Smart fortwo $12-17,000, Subaru Impreza $17-35,000, Suzuki SX4 Sport $13-17,000, Suzuki SX4 Crossover $15-18,000.

Good News:

Small for easy driving and parking, Honda quality and very good fuel economy.

Bad News:

Pricey for the car offset by a reliable badge, rough ride and although I like to feel the road I don’t like to hear it – it’s noisier than I like.

Standard Equipment:

1.5 liter 117 hp 4 cylinder engine, 5-speed automatic transmission, front disc brakes with electronic brake distribution system, drive by wire throttle, electronic assist rack and pinion power steering, CARB Certified, 100K mile tune ups, front side and side curtain air bags, stability control, tire pressure monitoring system, remote keyless entry, security and immobilizer system, child LATCH system, Honda Navigation w/voice recognition, audio w/6 speakers, USB interface, steering wheel controls, air conditioning, tilt & telescopic steering column, 60/40 split fold flat seat, power windows & programmable door locks, cruise control, 16” alloy wheels, rear roofline spoiler, intermittent wipers with rear wiper / washer, power door mirrors & fog lights.

Gas Stats:

$2.19/ Gal avg. November 24, ‘08

www.fueleconomy.gov

For more information.

27 City and 33 Highway MPG

www.safercar.gov   or    888-327-4236

Pricing:

MSRP $18,760.

2009 Honda Pilot (728)

General Info:
Parts – US/Canadian 70%.
Assembly – Lincoln, Alabama USA
Class:  – SUV
Cars: – Accord, Accord Hybrid, Civic, Civic Hybrid, CR-V, Element, Fit,
Odyssey, Pilot, Ridgeline, S2000.

“An Automotive Love Affair”
By Joseph Mavilia       2009 Honda Pilot

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2009 Honda Pilot which I haven’t tested for 5
model years. Surely you would expect the price to be higher with inflation
but the downward force on price increase is the technology and robotic
assembly and computer aided design (CAD) that simply gets better every year
and keeps the cost down. In dog years 2004 was a lifetime past. In fact I
tested it in March of 2003. Consider the price then was $27-33,000 as
compared with the 2009 at $28-40,000. Even if this SUV were not better, it
would have improved its value to the consumer considering price alone.

Amazingly however, at the same time, it has NOT improved in fuel economy for
a similarly powered engine and drive train. It is virtually the same, except
for the rules of measurement that by 2004 standards today’s fuel numbers
would be a bit higher. But it would not be enough to sneeze at.

So I guess what I’m saying is that I expect most would be disappointed with
the improvement in mileage performance. So I would definitely look more
closely at the Hybrid versions.

The recognized competition dynamics have changed in that many have evolved
upward to the luxury brands so the grouping is closer together. That is the
case with the Honda Pilot which has grown up and become more sophisticated.
In addition 15 of those listed in Recognized Competition were not there 5
model years ago. A few others have been discontinued and all have scaled
down in size, except the Suburban. It will be interesting to see what the
changes are in the next 5 years. Do you think there will be any of these
remaining in 5 years in this utility class? They surely will be if we find
another more efficient and cheaper power source, because people obviously
appreciate the large comfort of the SUV and made it part of the fabric of
family life.

Handling & Performance:

Great car to drive. Powerful. Good Crest Test through the mountain course.

Styling:

Not much change in overall appearance in the past 5 years.

Fit and Finish:

Very good.

Cost:

Cost of the automobile is relative to the cost of all goods and services. I
believe the falling cost of consumer electronics and other home based
features put into the automobile is a major reason for the slow climb in car
prices generally. Consider those things you have in your home that you also
have in your car. Radio, TV, DVD, MP/3, Heating, Air Conditioning,
Comfortable easy chair type seating, Entertainment centers etc., which
equates to home away from home convenience.

Features and Conveniences:

Abundantly endowed. There isn’t much left out of what could be added to make
us feel right at home. The bad news is it’s not free. Just look at the range
in price from model to model.

Consumer Recommendation:

Resource – www.safercar.gov
<http://www.safercar.gov>
Truly there is a smorgasbord of cars so you can have pretty much what you
want and if you opt for what you “Need”, the cost will be a whole lot less.
But if you’re thinking what I’m thinking this class family vehicle should be
tricked out completely because it will be used for the entire family where
such outings demand entertainment centers to keep passengers occupied on
longer trips. I say, spend it here and ratchet down the commuter car where
you are alone in the vehicle.

Recognized Competition:

Honda Pilot $28-40,000, Buick Enclave $35-39,000, GMC Acadia $32-40,000,

Hummer H3 $33-43,000, Saab 9-7X $43-49,000, Dodge Durango Hybrid $45,040,
Subaru Tribeca $30-34,000, Saturn Outlook $30-36,000, Chevrolet Suburban
$40-53,000, Mazda CX-9 $30-35,000, Chrysler Aspen $35-37,000, Jeep Grand
Cherokee $30-45,000, Lexus RX 350 $38-39,000, Ford Edge $26-35,000, Ford
Explorer $27-38,000, Ford Taurus X $28-33,000, Mercury Mountaineer
$27-34,000, Lincoln MKX $37-39,000, Chevrolet TrailBlazer $29-39,000,
Chevrolet Traverse $28-41,000, Hyundai Veracruz $ n/a,  Toyota 4Runner
$27-36,000, Toyota 4Runner $29-39,000, Toyota Highlander $28-35,000, Kia
Borrego $26-33,000, Nissan Pathfinder $27-40,000, Dodge Durango $28-40,000.

Good News:

Lots to choose from, good value over time, abundant standard equipment.

Bad News:

Disappointing fuel economy.

Standard Equipment

3.5 liter 250 hp V6 engine, 5-speed automatic transmission, 4-wheel drive,
4-wheel power ABS disc brakes with electronic brake distribution system,
variable assist rack and pinion power steering, 100K mile tune ups, front
side and side curtain air bags, stability control, tire pressure monitoring
system, remote keyless entry, security and immobilizer system, child LATCH
system, Navigation w/voice recognition and rear view camera, DVD rear
entertainment system with 9″ display and wireless headsets, Bluetooth hands
free link, stereo w/6 in-dash CD, XM satellite radio, climate control,
driver 8-way power seat,  tilt & telescopic steering wheel, heated front
seats, 60/40 split fold down 2nd & 3rd row seats, power windows and locks,
cruise control, power tail gate, power moon roof, front and rear parking
sensors, 17″ allow wheels, auto on off headlights, fog lights, heated power
mirrors and integrated class III trailer hitch.

Gas Stats:

$2.65/ Gal avg. November 5, ’08
www.fueleconomy.gov <http://www.fueleconomy.gov>
for more information.

16 City and 22 Highway MPG
www.safercar.gov <http://www.safercar.gov>
or 888-327-4236

Pricing:

MSRP $39,995.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
<mailto:joe@atthewheel.com>
Copyright (c) 2008 – An Automotive Love Affair

2008 Honda Accord EXL (724)

General Info:
Parts – US/Canadian 60%, Japan 25%,
Assembly – Marysville, Ohio, USA
Class:  – Compact
Cars: – Accord, Accord Hybrid, Civic, Civic Hybrid, CR-V, Element, Fit,
Odyssey, Pilot, Ridgeline, S2000.

“An Automotive Love Affair”
By Joseph Mavilia       2008 Honda Accord EXL
Overview:
This week we’re looking at the 2008 Honda Accord 2 Door EXL V6 NV
(Navigation). It is assembled in Marysville, Ohio, USA using parts from the
US and Canada 60%, and Japan 25%. It’s in the Compact class and Honda’s
lineup includes – Accord, Accord Hybrid, Civic, Civic Hybrid, CR-V, Element,
Fit, Odyssey, Pilot, Ridgeline and S2000. I’ve tested them all but I don’t
have to tell you this is the best looking Accord ever. Well, it is in my
opinion.

It was my pleasure to review the car in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.
Hopping on and off the ferries to the San Juan Islands off the coast of
Washington State we had the opportunity to cozy up to this lovely
automobile. It took us effortlessly, in part because of a great navigation
system, to romantic historic places like Port Angeles and Port Townsend,
Victoria BC and Orcus Island where the film Free Willie was made. Friend
Glenn, the FX guy, was the rescue diver on the filming. Lucky guy because
that is an enchanting island. From a mountain top on Orcus you get a 360
degree panoramic view and can see many of the Canadian San Juan’s and
Vancouver as well. I highly recommend the journey in any make auto, but this
Accord helped to make our trip special. The rain forest was very cool too
where we stopped on our drive down the coast to Astoria and the Columbia
River.

Handling & Performance:
Sweet, smooth, powerful, quiet are just some adjectives to describe this
lovely car.

Styling:
Bravo Honda. This is a car that Honda has a right to be really proud of.
Nice job guys.

Fit and Finish:
Excellent.

Cost:
Worth the price of admission.

Features and Conveniences:
If you read my column from time to time you’ll know that the most useful
feature in today’s cars is the Navigation system. I wouldn’t buy a car
without one. However, I will remind you that Garmin and other portables like
Tom-Tom can save you money and do essentially the same thing. Yesterday I
added Navigation to my Blackberry now with a Traffic Alert feature. Now I
can keep from getting lost even when I’m walking. At my age I can’t waste
time and it even helps me find a different route if the one I’m on is not
doing well.

Consumer Recommendation:

Resource – www.safercar.gov
<http://www.safercar.gov>
I suspect if you’ve read this far you know I’m impressed with this Honda
Accord. I did test the Hybrid version as well as the Civic / Hybrid and
these are wonderful cars. I could own this car but I can’t own all the cars
I’ve liked over the past 16 years of testing. But the Honda has never
disappointed me. This car is the top of the heap of all those listed below
and is priced to make the decision easy. Don’t misunderstand me, all listed
here are good cars but when I look at the beautiful styling I can’t help but
fall in love. It has a great “bod”, nice lines, clean, silky smooth ride and
comfortable to be with… the car as well as my Polish best friend. A Pole
and Italian in a Japanese car. Isn’t America great?

Recognized Competition:
Honda Accord $20-31,000, Chevrolet Monte Carlo $21-28,000, Pontiac Grand
Prix $22-29,000, VW Passat $24-38,000, Kia Optima $17-21,000.
2009 – Toyota Camry $19-29,000, Mitsubishi Galant $21-27,000, Hyundai Sonata
$19-27,000, Chevrolet Malibu $21-26,000, Buick LaCrosse $25-33,000, Saturn
Aura Hybrid $24,930, Saturn Aura $21-26,000, Pontiac G6 $20-31,000, Ford
Fusion $19-25,000, Mercury Milan $20-26,000, Mercury Sable $24-31,000,
Nissan Maxima $29-32,000, Subaru Legacy $21-35,000, Chevrolet Impala
$23-30,000, Ford Taurus $24-31,000, Mazda 6 $19-28,000, Nissan Altima
$20-29,000, Dodge Avenger $19-25,000, Nissan Altima Hybrid $26,650.

Good News:
This is a 10 for me in all respects Dudley Moore and it doesn’t talk back.

Bad News:
I had no complaints.

Standard Equipment:
3.5 liter 268 hp V6 engine, 6-speed manual transmission, 4-wheel power ABS
disc brakes, stabilizer bars, 100K mile tune ups, front side and side
curtain air bags, stability control, tire pressure monitoring system, remote
keyless entry, security and immobilizer system, child LATCH system,
Navigation w/voice recognition, hands free phone, leather trim, stereo w/6
CD/MP3, tilt & telescopic steering wheel with controls, climate control,
8-way power driver seat, heated front seats, power windows and locks, cruise
control, power moon roof, 18″ allow wheels, heated power mirrors and auto
on/off headlights.

Gas Stats:
$3.43/ Gal avg. October 7, ’08
www.fueleconomy.gov <http://www.fueleconomy.gov>
for more information.

17 City and 25 Highway MPG
www.safercar.gov <http://www.safercar.gov>
or 888-327-4236

Pricing:
MSRP $30,510.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
<mailto:joe@atthewheel.com>
Copyright (c) 2008 – An Automotive Love Affair

2008 Honda Accord EXL (703)

Overview:
This week we’re looking at the 2008 Honda Accord 2 Door EXL V6 NV (Navigation). It is assembled in Marysville, Ohio, USA using parts from the US and Canada 60%, and Japan 25%. It’s in the Compact class and Honda’s lineup includes – Accord, Accord Hybrid, Civic, Civic Hybrid, CR-V, Element, Fit, Odyssey, Pilot, Ridgeline and S2000. I’ve tested them all but I don’t have to tell you this is the best looking Accord ever. Well, it is in my opinion.

It was my pleasure to review the car in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Hopping on and off the ferries to the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington State we had the opportunity to cozy up to this lovely automobile. It took us effortlessly, in part because of a great navigation system, to romantic historic places like Port Angeles and Port Townsend, Victoria BC and Orcus Island where the film Free Willie was made. Friend Glenn, the FX guy, was the rescue diver on the filming. Lucky guy because that is an enchanting island. From a mountain top on Orcus you get a 360 degree panoramic view and can see many of the Canadian San Juan’s and Vancouver as well. I highly recommend the journey in any make auto, but this Accord helped to make our trip special. The rain forest was very cool too where we stopped on our drive down the coast to Astoria and the Columbia River.

General Info:

Parts – US/Canadian 60%, Japan 25%,

Assembly – Marysville, Ohio, USA

Class:  – Compact

Cars: – Accord, Accord Hybrid, Civic, Civic Hybrid, CR-V, Element, Fit, Odyssey, Pilot, Ridgeline, S2000.

Handling & Performance:

Sweet, smooth, powerful, quiet are just some adjectives to describe this lovely car.

Styling:

Bravo Honda. This is a car that Honda has a right to be really proud of. Nice job guys.

Fit and Finish:

Excellent.

Cost:

Worth the price of admission.

Features and Conveniences:

If you read my column from time to time you’ll know that the most useful feature in today’s cars is the Navigation system. I wouldn’t buy a car without one. However, I will remind you that Garmin and other portables like Tom-Tom can save you money and do essentially the same thing. Yesterday I added Navigation to my Blackberry now with a Traffic Alert feature. Now I can keep from getting lost even when I’m walking. At my age I can’t waste time and it even helps me find a different route if the one I’m on is not doing well.

Consumer Recommendation:

Resource – www.safercar.gov

I suspect if you’ve read this far you know I’m impressed with this Honda Accord. I did test the Hybrid version as well as the Civic / Hybrid and these are wonderful cars. I could own this car but I can’t own all the cars I’ve liked over the past 16 years of testing. But the Honda has never disappointed me. This car is the top of the heap of all those listed below and is priced to make the decision easy. Don’t misunderstand me, all listed here are good cars but when I look at the beautiful styling I can’t help but fall in love. It has a great “bod”, nice lines, clean, silky smooth ride and comfortable to be with… the car as well as my Polish best friend. A Pole and Italian in a Japanese car. Isn’t America great?

Recognized Competition:

Honda Accord $20-31,000, Chevrolet Monte Carlo $21-28,000, Pontiac Grand Prix $22-29,000, VW Passat $24-38,000, Kia Optima $17-21,000.

2009 – Toyota Camry $19-29,000, Mitsubishi Galant $21-27,000, Hyundai Sonata $19-27,000, Chevrolet Malibu $21-26,000, Buick LaCrosse $25-33,000, Saturn Aura Hybrid $24,930, Saturn Aura $21-26,000, Pontiac G6 $20-31,000, Ford Fusion $19-25,000, Mercury Milan $20-26,000, Mercury Sable $24-31,000, Nissan Maxima $29-32,000, Subaru Legacy $21-35,000, Chevroldt Impala $23-30,000, Ford Taurus $24-31,000, Mazda 6 $19-28,000, Nissan Altima $20-29,000, Dodge Avenger $19-25,000, Nissan Altima Hybrid $26,650.

Good News:

This is a 10 for me in all respects Dudley Moore and it doesn’t talk back.

Bad News:

I had no complaints.

Standard Equipment:

3.5 liter 268 hp V6 engine, 6-speed manual transmission, 4-wheel power ABS disc brakes, stabilizer bars, 100K mile tune ups, front side and side curtain air bags, stability control, tire pressure monitoring system, remote keyless entry, security and immobilizer system, child LATCH system, Navigation w/voice recognition, hands free phone, leather trim, stereo w/6 CD/MP3, tilt & telescopic steering wheel with controls, climate control, 8-way power driver seat, heated front seats, power windows and locks, cruise control, power moon roof, 18” allow wheels, heated power mirrors and auto on/off headlights.

Gas Stats:

$3.43/ Gal avg. October 7, ‘08

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

17 City and 25 Highway MPG

www.safercar.gov   or    888-327-4236

Pricing:

MSRP $30,510.

2008 Honda Accord 4-Door EX (691)

Overview:
This week we’re looking at the 2008 Honda Accord. Completely redesigned for 2008, and offered in both sedan and coupe versions, but the coupe, of course, has more aggressive and emotional styling to differentiate it from the sedan. The Accord was first sold in the U.S. in 1976 as a compact car and has grown larger and more luxurious, moving into the midsize category in 1998. Remember the Civic that preceded the Accord? That was a pea popper so this Accord was much awaited for and the first breakthrough in reasonable size for US consumption in the 1960s and 1970s.

The good news about the Accord is that I found myself comparing it to the Infiniti M45 I had just tested at about double the money of the Accord. I had to keep coming back to that fact and remember the Accord shouldn’t even compare with the Infiniti, but it did. Yes I did miss all the high tech gadgets on the M45 but it didn’t take long to adjust to not having them. All the while I couldn’t shake off the reality that this car is not only good looking it is socially responsible.

If I were spending your money I’d buy a Ferrari, but since it’s my money I’ll pop for the Accord passenger car.

General Info:

Parts –  US/Canadian 60%, Japan 25%.

Assembly – Sayama, Saitama, Japan

Class:  – Large Cars

Cars: – Accord, Accord Hybrid, Civic, Civic Hybrid, CR-V, Element, Fit, Odyssey, Pilot, Ridgeline and S2000.

Observation:

On the Crest from the high desert to the LA basin I find a great opportunity to observe the public going to work by a ‘road less traveled’ as most desert dwellers go around the mountain. I note that about 500 cars per hour traverse that 35 mile stretch from California 14 to the 210 freeway in La Canada. There is little doubt this piece of highway is potentially treacherous but drivers hone their driving skills each day to avoid the brutal trek around the mountain that adds much time, gas and miles on the car.

I chatted with a young man who had just been cited for speed by a CHP motorcycle officer. The young man went by me as I pulled to the right lane for slower traffic and it all seemed safe and without erratic movement or great speed – “Thank you for your opinion”, said the woman on the other end of the phone line at the CHP office in Pasadena. I had called out that officer as making a bad stop and citation. I said I’d like to appear on behalf of that young man who was cited unfairly and she hung up on me. So much for “public servants”. Guess she didn’t like talking to the press. So much for justice and the American way. If you care to know who the “Napoleonic officer” is send me an email.

Handling & Performance:

Very comfortable ride and my first impression was that the difference in ride feel and quality was nearly imperceptible from the Infiniti. I also did not want for power from the 190 horse Accord. I have to admit I enjoyed double the horsepower performance from the M45 but you can live without it – trust me – and you’ll save on fuel cost too.

Styling:

Nice clean lines. You gotta love this sedan. By the way, did you ever wonder what the designer looks like who crafted an UGLY car?

Fit and Finish:

Very good. Not exceptional, but very good.

Cost:

As equipped this is under $24,000 and for the ride and safety features built in it is in the top 3 of the listing below. Then there is the cost to operate and as the price of gas pushes up to nearly $4.00 per gallon I like the Accord even more.

Features and Conveniences:

Standard equipment is good, but austere by luxury car standards. But you get what you pay for and after testing the super equipped Infiniti M45 for at least $20,000 more I could live just fine without almost all of it.

Consumer Recommendation:

I found I would own this Honda-car after consideration for my general need at this time in my life. I’d buy a good inexpensive Nav system and be a happy camper. The only option would be to consider the Hybrid version. But for the money difference between this Honda Accord and other higher priced classes the cost savings is pretty compelling that it would be better to put a down payment on that second home.

Recognized Competition:

Honda Accord $20-31,000, Dodge Avenger $19-25,000, Pontiac G6 $18-30,000, Nissan Altima $18-28,000, Saturn Aura $20-25,000, Ford Fusion $18-25,000, Subaru Legacy $20-34,000, Volkswagen Passat $24-38,000, Mercury Milan $19-26,000, Chevrolet Malibu $19-27,000, Mazda6 $19-28,000, Kia Optima $16-21,000, Toyota Camry $19-28,000, Mitsubishi Galant $21-27,000, Hyundai Sonata $18-26,000.

Good News:

Priced well, very good fuel economy, nice looking and a comfortable ride with 190 horses responsive to your command.

Bad News:

None noted.

Standard Equipment:

2.4 liter 190 hp 4-cylinder engine, 5-speed auto trans, brake assist ABS disc brakes with electronic brake distribution, front double wishbone and rear multi-link suspension, rack & pinion power steering, front and rear stabilizer bars, front dual stage front and side airbags and side curtain airbags, vehicle stability assist, tire pressure monitoring system, daytime running lights, remote entry system, security system, Immobilizer theft deterrent system, LATCH system for child seats, 160 watt audio system with 6 speakers, steering wheel audio controls, MP3aux. Input jack, air conditioning, driver 8-way power seat with lumbar support, power windows and locks, tilt & telescopic steering column and cruise control.

Gas Stats:

$3.39/ Gal avg. Mar 7, ‘08

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

21 City and 31 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $23,860.

2008 Honda Element 5-Door 2WD SC (682)

Overview:
This week we’re looking at the 2008 Honda Element 5-Door 2WD SC. I asked Ilona (sig other) why she wanted such an ugly car. “I think they’re cute and I like the look”. OK! And isn’t that the way it should be. If we didn’t have different needs and wants there would still be only one car for everyone – Ford Model A of 100 years ago. Even Communist China has more variety than that.

Ilona was intrigued by the fact that you could open the doors and hose out the interior for simple clean up. Ok, I thought, the inside of her present car was a mess so this might do the trick. I tried not to say too much that would be misinterpreted – know what I mean. If she is happy that makes me happy.

General Info:

Parts –  US/Canadian 70%, Japan 20%.

Assembly – East Liberty, Ohio, USA

Class:  – SUV

Cars: – Accord, Accord Hybrid, Civic, Civic Hybrid, CR-V, Element, Fit, Odyssey

Pilot, Ridgeline & S2000.

Handling & Performance:

Well, I can’t say I haven’t warmed up to the homely cars that dot our highways. But Scion trips over the edge however. Back to the Element and how it handles. I like it. The Crest Test continues to be impressive in the Element because of its lower center of gravity that helps it hug the highway better than other conventional SUV’s.

Element was never intended to be a high performance car but it is anything but slow, and the acceleration is smooth and steady. I really found the car enjoyable to drive and a refreshingly different Sport Ute.

Styling:

Although they have added carpets it was in large part the simplicity of the rubber floors and wide opening doors that attracted Ilona to the Element. With an aging mom who has difficulty climbing up into other SUV’s this still has the major attributes of the class while giving you all the other strong points of the Mini Van.

I rather like the contrasting cladding that makes the Element even more distinctive and the theatre rear seating makes for great visibility of the road in front for those back seat drivers. The rear is also unusually roomy for the tallest of passengers and it is outstanding for 4 large adults. I think, however, I would have moved the rear seats up just a bit and given a little more cargo area.

Fit and Finish:

I don’t believe it was designed for tight fitting seams but it works for this economically priced utility. In other words it is not as refined as other SUVs intentionally.

Cost:

Well priced.

Conveniences and comfort:

Wide opening clamshell doors front and rear. Without center posts on the side doors you get unobstructed entry, which is especially handy for older folks or handicapped passengers.

Consumer Recommendation:

I have to tell you I was mildly surprised on the first attempt at testing this vehicle when I was met with a dead battery from an electrical problem, and the second try found a delay because of a radio failure. So much for myths of Japanese superiority. In this global community it is painfully apparent we’re all the same after all. We are human and subject to error equally. American car makers early on made lemons an art form in cars. But the whole industry is a study in change and part of the great experiment we all endure and most enjoy.

I never keep a car very long, but then I don’t change wives like some so it balances out. But in this car world I’m not so sure I wouldn’t keep my present car, and save my money for a “Fuel Cell Hydrogen” car likely to be available in 5 years. That will be a real significant change in our personal transportation. Everything else today is a choice between relatively homogenous capable transportation with no real flair for difference. That’s where Ilona has me… at least she bought something as different as you can find in today’s world. But then I should have expected that… men look to the hottest muscle car they can find, buy a suit that is like every other man, while women can’t be seen at a party in the same dress – shudder the thought.

Recognized Competition:

Honda Element $19-24,000, Kia Sportage $16-23,000, Ford Escape $19-26,000, Ford Escape Hybrid $26-28,000, Scion xB $15,650, Pontiac Torrent $23-29,000, Chevrolet Equinox $22-29,000, Subaru Forester $21-28,000, Hyundai Tucson $17-25,000, Toyota RAV4 $21-27,000, Jeep Liberty $20-26,000, Suzuki Grand Vitara $19-25,000.

Good News:

Roomy, different, capable and fun to drive.

Bad News:

Disappointing fuel numbers, Ug-leee to many (ok – looks aren’t everything. It has a great personality).

Standard Equipment:

2.4 liter 166 hp 4-cylinder engine, 5-speed manual trans, 4-wheel power assist ABS disc brakes, electronic brake distribution, rear double wishbone suspension, drive by wire throttle, variable assist rack and pinion power steering, front & rear stabilizer bars, front and side airbags and side curtain airbags with rollover sensor, tire pressure monitoring system, remote entry, immobilizer theft deterrent, latch system for child seats, audio with MP3/wma playback, steering wheel audio controls, XM satellite radio (3 months fee included), air conditioning, removable flip up rear seats with 50/50 split, power windows and locks, adjustable steering column, cargo tie downs, 12 V outlets, cruise control, 18” alloy wheels, halogen headlights, intermittent front and rear wiper washers, rear privacy glass, power door mirrors, side cargo doors, clamshell tailgate.

Gas Stats:

$3.20/ Gal avg. December 21, ‘07

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

Not rated by EPA but my experience was

18 City and 23 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $18,980.

2008 Honda Ridgeline 4-Door (678)

Overview:
This week we’re looking at the 2008 Honda Ridgeline 4-Door. I was able to put about 1,000 miles on the truck because of a wedding I needed to attend. 4 people, luggage for a week and a walker for grandma with space to spare. I couldn’t have been more impressed. I’d take this truck anywhere and for Honda’s first and only truck they forgot to make it look like a truck.

That would be a good thing and this truck is sure to be a smash hit. No pun intended. You will begin to see them on the roads in increasing numbers. You can count on that.

General Info:

Parts – US/Canadian 75%.

Assembly – Alliston, Ontario, Canada; Engine – USA, Transmission – Japan.

Class:  – Special Purpose – Truck

Cars: – Accord, Accord Hybrid, Civic, Civic Hybrid, CR-V, Element, Fit, Odyssey, Pilot, Ridgeline & S2000.

Observation:

Noticed a sign on the freeway that said “Report Drunk Drivers – Call 911”. It occurred to me the message was to say don’t be silent when you know the law is being broken. So I suggest Cal Trans post another message… “Report Illegal Aliens”  – because they are breaking the law and endangering all including my friends who are Mexican Americans as I am an Italian American and proud of both heritages.

Handling & Performance:

I’m not thrilled with the fuel economy but it is a very spunky V6. It is extremely comfortable and not truck-like at all. The ride is ultra smooth in large part because it weighs 4,500 lbs.

Styling:

Very thoughtful storage compartments in a not so original design attempt. The unique truck design without the traditional pick up truck separation of bed from cab is patterned after the Chevrolet Avalanche that camouflages the fact it is really a pick up truck. It works great. Nice job GM. The most sincere form of flattery is when people copy you.

Fit and Finish:

This truck is car like in how nicely it is assembled with close seams and not at all truck like.

Cost:

At first blush it appears pricey but once you look at the standard equipment you’ll see why it is priced as it is. There are three trim levels – RT $27,700, midrange RTS $30,075 and RTL $31,490—or $34,640 with a moonroof, XM satellite radio and a navigation system. In any case it is quite competitive in class.

Conveniences and comfort:

Outstanding perfect array of features that puts you at the top of the comfort curve.

Consumer Recommendation:

In the truck segment this is a must see. It is, of course, a Honda-car with a good record of reliability.

Recognized Competition:

Honda Ridgeline $28-35,000, Nissan Titan $24-39,000, GMC Sierra 1500 $17-41,000, Dodge Ram 1500 $21-40,000, Chevrolet Silverado 1500 $17-38,000, Ford F-150 $17-36,000, Toyota Tundra $22-42,000.

Good News:

Fantastic storage compartments, in-bed trunk, fun to drive, take anywhere truck.

Bad News:

Poor fuel economy.

Standard Equipment:

3.5 liter 247 hp V6 engine, 5-speed auto transmission with heavy duty cooler, 4-wheel drive, 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS electronic brake distribution and brake assist, 4-wheel independent suspension, front and rear stabilizer bars, variable assist steering, dual front and side air bags, side curtain air bags with roll over sensors, vehicle stability assist, tire pressure monitoring system, remote entry with security, immobilizer theft deterrent system, child latch system, Navigation, leather trimmed seats and steering wheel, Audio sound system with 6- in-dash CD player, XM satellite radio, steering wheel audion controls, climate control, heated front seats with 8-way driver seat with lumbar, multifunctional center storage console with sliding armrest, split fold up rear seat with under seat cargo, fold down rear armrest, power windows, power sliding rear window, cruise control, homelink, temp gauge, 12 V outlets, power moonroof with tilt, power door mirrors, dual action tailgate, composite cargo bed, in Bed trunk, prewire trailer connection 4/7 pin.

Gas Stats:

$3.25/ Gal avg. November 25, ‘07

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

15 City and 20 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $35,090 as equipped.

2007 Honda Element (657)

Overview:
This week we’re looking at the 2007 Honda Element because Ilona (my better half) wants to buy one. I said why would you want to buy such an ugly car? “I just like how it looks”. Then I’ve got to wonder why she is attracted to me. Ok, so it’s not such a bad looking car after all.

After driving the Element I warmed up to it. The road to Santa Barbara for a golf outing helped to change my mind. Four golf buddies loaded up the Element with four large golf bags and four overnight bags. Pretty impressive. And the rear seat is theatre style being higher than the front seat. Literally the rear passengers look over the heads of the front passengers. The rear seat is very roomy and there wasn’t one complaint about comfort. Our ride was about 2 ½ hours.

So after trips to the beach, airport, golf courses and challenging mountain driving I had to change my mind particularly because of the great utility and performance. Ok dear, you’re right.

General Info:

Parts – U.S/ Canadian 70%, Japan 20%.

Assembly – East Liberty, Ohio, USA

Class:  – Special Purpose

Cars: – Accord & Hybrid, Civic & Hybrid, CR-V, Element, FIT, Odyssey, Pilot, Ridgeline and S2000.

Handling & Performance:

I was impressed as were the other passengers on how powerful this 166 hp 4-cylinder engine performed. In spite of 4 adults and all our gear there was plenty of reserve power.

I also gave the Element the Crest Test and was even further impressed on how well it handled the mountain curves with its front wheel drive. Although I haven’t tested the AWD version that should improve road ability even more.

I found the ride to be solid and comfortable in all uses. There is the typical front wheel drive torque issues with steering but for the most part that just takes getting used to. And that only is evident with jack rabbit starts and not an issue in other normal driving conditions.

Styling:

The boxy look is not a deterrent to many because you see increasing numbers of Elements on the road. They continue to be in high demand. Surely the square design makes the vehicle more utilitarian which became obvious from the golf outing where I selected this vehicle rather than a more traditional looking SUV in the same price range. The Element is clearly the more versatile.

Some will tell you the rear door opening should open and close independent of the front door and that argument is valid. But it is a different design and adds to the utility of the car. Eliminating the center post allows much more room on entry and exit or loading cargo.

Fit and Finish:

Very good. I understand it is better than one of its competitors – the Toyota Scion. I will critique the complaints in an upcoming review that the interior is cheap looking in the Scion. I’ll let you know.

Cost:

Well priced. Exactly what I expected and as utility vehicles go this is worth the money.

Conveniences and comfort:

Well equipped. All seats fold flat for a quick place to sleep in a pinch. This is designed less show and more go.

Consumer Recommendation:

If you can get past the boxy look this is a highly versatile utility.

Recognized Competition:

Honda Element $19-23,000, Ford Escape $19-25,000, Ford Escape Hybrid $25-27,000, Chevrolet Equinox $22-29,000, Pontiac Torrent $22-24,000, Hyundai Tucson $17-24,000, Jeep Liberty $22-27,000, Honda Civic $15-25,000, Suzuki Grand Vitara $19-25,000, Kia Sportage $16-23,000,  Subaru Forester $21-27,000, Jeep Patriot $14-21,000, Pontiac Vibe $16,760, Toyota RAV4 $21-27,000, 2008 Scion xB $15,650.

Good News:

Affordable SUV with fair fuel economy, unique styling, roomy and solid comfortable ride.

Bad News:

Questionable boxy styling, front wheel drive torque affects steering on starts and “suicide doors are a negative to some and needs to be considered – to some it is a positive design feature.

Standard Equipment:

2.4 liter 166 hp 4-cylinder engine, 5-speed automatic transmission, 4-wheel ABS (antilock) disc brakes with brake assist and electronic brake distribution, rear double wishbone suspension, drive by wire throttle, power steering, front and rear stabilizer bars, dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbags with rollover sensor, vehicle stability assist, tire pressure monitoring system, remote keyless entry, theft deterrent system, child latch system, audio system with 7 speakers and MP3/ CD player, steering wheel audio controls, XM satellite radio, air conditioning, removable flip up rear seats with 50/50 split, center console with armrest and storage, power windows, adjustable steering column, cruise control, halogen headlights, intermittent rear wiper washer, power mirrors, side cargo doors, clamshell tailgate, rear window defroster.

Gas Stats:

$3.15/ Gal avg. June 30 ‘07

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.
22 City and 27 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $23,495.