Since they began flooding the U.S. market in the mid-1970s, Japanese cars have always enjoyed a reputation for reliability American companies could seem to only covet. So, naturally, it comes as no surprise that Lexus and Toyota continue their best Jimmie Johnson and Sebastian Vettel impressions, respectively landing the top two spots of Consumer Reports’ Annual Brand Reliability Survey for the 4th straight year. Instead, this year shoppers will need to scroll down to the 3rd place finisher if they’re looking for a shock. Buick, of all brands, has brought an American nameplate to Consumer Reports’ podium for the first time in over three decades. Continue reading >>>
You’re probably aware that Japanese companies often have diverse product lines. Among other things, Sony makes televisions, speakers, and video-game consoles. Yamaha goes further, making everything from pianos to golf carts. While we recognize companies like BMW, Tesla, and Volkswagen specifically for their cars, many automakers carry on side projects, too.
Honda, once a formidable force in the auto industry and a maker of bulletproof cars to which consumers flocked, has fallen from its mighty throne.
The carmaker used to be known for leading the way in innovation and blowing away the competition when it came to research and development. Today, the company admits it has pursued growth over quality and is now in need of a fundamental transformation.
Quality problems have plagued Honda vehicles in recent years, while competing cars have caught up, or even surpassed, the once invincible automaker. What does Honda need to do to get back on track?
It’s really quite simple.
Remember the 2012 Honda Civic? Of course not. It was the most disappointing Civic in modern history.
With the latest Civic, Honda has gambled that moving away from sportiness and towards quiet comfort will suit its buyers. Honda hasn’t hedged its bets into the boring realm of the Toyota Corolla, but it’s certainly an unadventurous effort. Aside from being quieter and more efficient, the new Civic doesn’t represent improvement as we define it. The Civic lacks the passion, soul, and entertaining driving dynamics of its predecessor. Mainstream buyers may not care, but enthusiasts surely will.
Honda, once known for sporty and fun-to-drive cars that provided reliability and fuel efficiency, had morphed into the latter while forgetting about the former.
Honda had lost its mojo.
Driving a luxury car for the price of a Honda is an appealing proposition.
The benefits make it seem like a no-brainer. For the same money you get more luxury, more brand panache, better performance, and an all-around cooler vehicle. Everything’s great, up until your new luxury car needs some basic maintenance and repairs.
I’d like to share my personal story, so you might avoid the fate that has fallen upon me.
“Whoa, what the heck was that!?”
The Nissan 370Z flew by us with only a flash of its grille, then the quickly disappearing rear tail lights.
“It’s not a Porsche. It’s not a BMW. What is that? It’s beautiful. Go faster so we can see the front again.”
I obeyed, stepped on the gas and waited as my wife discovered for herself that the object of her desire was a Nissan.
When you think of electric cars, the first maker to come to mind is probably Tesla. The company has done an amazing job branding itself as the leader in vehicles powered by electrons. With sexy car designs, lots of media coverage and a personable-yet-eccentric CEO, Tesla has become the gold standard in electric vehicles.
That doesn’t mean Tesla is alone, though.
Other carmakers build and sell vehicles that use alternative fuels, and there’s no way the legacy automakers are going to sit down and watch Tesla silently drive into the sunset with all the cash.
From the big boys to some small guys with big ideas, it seems EVs are here to stay. Keep reading for some interesting competitors Tesla may face.
Remember when Twinkies went extinct? There was a mass panic, and stores sold out immediately when news broke that the spongy yellow cake was about to be gone forever.
Fast forward to last weekend and I’m at a convenience store somewhere in the middle of Oregon, and there’s a stack of Twinkies at the cash register, with a label on the packaging that said something like, “Best comeback story ever.”
Right. Anyone else think the Twinkie panic was nothing more than a marketing ploy to sell more Twinkies?
I feel something similar might be happening in the auto industry at this very moment.
Okay, maybe that’s a terribly cliche headline to use when a vacuum is the main subject matter of a story. While it’s certainly not a derogatory comment on Honda’s overall ability to innovate, I do have to wonder what’s going on at Honda when the biggest new feature of the 2014 Odyssey is an in-vehicle vacuum.
Now that Honda has mastered the equation of understated comfort, exceptional reliability and dependable resale values, the only place left to go is… well… vacuums. Okay, in truth, Honda could probably stand to update its powertrains, build even more efficient engines, explore turbocharging or diesel options, upgrade its transmissions or, heck, even invest in some shiny new wheels. Instead of all that, though, Honda went with the vacuum.
The industry’s first built-in vacuum, mind you, but still a vacuum.
The Civic lacks the passion, soul, and entertaining driving dynamics of its predecessor. Mainstream buyers may not care, but enthusiasts surely will.
That echoes the theme for the 2012 Civic from virtually all auto reviewers and even led to Consumer Reports revoking the car from its “Recommended” list. It’s a stumble from Honda that used to be unthinkable but seems to be more common with today’s models (specifically the Crosstour and Ridgeline).
To Honda’s credit, it’s been able to act fast and provide an “emergency refresh” for the 2013 Civic, pictures of which were released yesterday and posted on Facebook. Will the quick tweaks be enough to get that lost passion back?