Let’s say you are one of the millions of Americans who are in the market for a used car. Given that you’re reading a car-shopping website’s blog, that probably isn’t a huge stretch of the imagination. With 2014 models coming off lease, now is an excellent time to buy a used car that still has some of its youthfulness and shine left. So we decided to take a look at how some strong 2014 models have fared since we first looked at them critically when they started rolling off the assembly line. A good deal of what we had to say when we first looked at these cars brand new probably still has a lot of value. Continue reading >>>
Honda just gave us one of the coolest automotive teasers we’ve ever seen for the upcoming 2018 Odyssey. The Odyssey, of course, is one of the most popular minivans in the world and is much loved by the under-35 crowd, making it about as cool as minivans can get. Since the essential purpose of a minivan is the transport of kids and kid-related gear, Honda felt it appropriate to delineate teaser duties to children.
And the results are remarkable.
Imagine driving across the country with a carload of children. Now imagine doing that twice, every year. CarGurus surveyed families to determine which cars best meet their needs, and among other findings, 1 in 3 parents reported driving his or her kids at least four hours per week. Cumulatively, that equals two round trips between Boston and San Diego per year. We’ve all lusted after a Mazda MX-5 Miata or Dodge Challenger at least once in our lives, but if kids are in the picture, the shortcomings of a sports car become readily apparent. Continue reading >>>
We might still be riding out an unusually warm summer, but here in New England, the phrase “winter is coming” brings with it a very specific set of feelings. No, I’m not talking about dread and despair, I’m talking about something much more positive. You see, although New England winter may earn headlines by delivering winter storms, polar vortexes, and record-setting snowfall, it never arrives before autumn foliage, apple-picking, and most importantly, football season.
Flappers. Beatniks. Hippies. Hipsters. The media never tires of creating new terms for members of the younger generation. In the old days, those terms often had a negative connotation, but now that the Internet gives the younger generation the power to participate in the media, those terms tend to be less openly hostile. The current younger generation generated quite a bit of hostility in the auto press a while back, with headlines declaring things like “Millennials don’t like ____ (cars, shopping for cars, taking care of cars, driving, etc.).” More recent headlines question those older ones, suggesting millennials do like cars and driving, but think cars and driving are different than they used to be. We prefer the sound of those recent headlines, and we agree that cars and driving are changing radically.
Dating for millennials is also changing, apparently, but one thing hasn’t: The vehicle you use to pick up a romantic partner and and take him or her out on a date will have a big impact on that date. So in the interest of finding news ways to satisfy old needs, here are 10 vehicles we think would be perfect for 10 new types of millennial dates. We hope you have a great Valentine’s Day, millennial or not.
The next time you find yourself leafing through your copy of Wikipedia, take a close look at some of the antique car pages. The early days of the automobile were undoubtedly exciting, but change was actually very slow for individual makes and models. The car synonymous with brass era automobiles, the Ford Model T, ran its course for 19 years with hardly any cosmetic changes. Beyond some tweaks to the hood, cowl, and fenders, a ‘27 Model T can be easily confused with a model 10 years older. Think of it as the Porsche 911 design philosophy.
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.
Even before the terrible earthquake/tsunami disaster in Japan, Honda seemed to be losing its way. I wrote a story in May of last year about that.
More recently our estimable tgriffith told you about Consumer Reports’ slam of the new Civic (above)—for bad brakes and handling, a choppy ride and, yes, an inferior interior. CR rated the Civic 11th out of 12 small sedans, and that made big news in the car world.
Now the company is getting slammed again, this time with a recall of 1.5 million U.S. cars and another million in China and Canada for an automatic transmission problem affecting 2005-2010 Accords, Elements and CR-Vs.
The UK’s Financial Times (subscription required) noted it was one of Honda’s largest recalls ever, “equivalent in size to 70 per cent of the 3.5m vehicles that Honda sold last year.”
Why is this happening to the “once proud” leader in small cars? For years, Honda (and the Civic in particular) was the one to beat, the best-engineered, best-made, best-selling. Now it’s being seriously challenged by, of all companies, Hyundai, formerly producer of some of the world’s worst-made cars.
About a year ago we posted a story expressing concern that Honda was losing its way. Our writer jgoods commented that the company was drifting on several fronts, saying,
This won’t be news to you car gurus who follow such things, but for a company that’s been on top so long to be sagging in product development, engineering, marketing, and sales—while losing market share to Ford, Hyundai, and Kia—signifies big trouble.
He was absolutely right at the time. The monstrosity that is the Accord CrossTour was newly introduced, the disappointing Insight sales numbers were becoming clear, and the hotly anticipated CR-Z was underpowered and uninspired.
Just over a year later, things seem back on track.
Newer is always better, right?
That’s why we always look forward to the newest version of the iPhone and iPad. It’s why some guys trade in their wives for younger models. Most importantly, it’s why people wait anxiously for new model-year cars to come out and why we devote blog space every week to highlight the most exciting cars coming soon.
More horsepower, better engines, improved fuel economy, more storage space, a better-tuned suspension, less road noise and other technological advances always seem to make the newest cars so much better than the ones they replace.
Unfortunately, sometimes even the newest cars don’t quite live up to the bar set by their predecessors.