2017 Honda Ridgeline AWD Black Edition

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Pirate Radio DJ George Gray joined me in analyzing the Honda Ridgeline Black Edition during the “Morning Show”:

The original Honda Ridgeline came out in 2005, and immediately caught the attention of the public, with competitors putting similar vehicles on their drawing boards.  None produced anything like the Ridgeline, however, and after 2014 Honda even dropped production.  Now the Ridgeline has returned with several improvements and I tested a black one during a recent week.

The Ridgeline can tow 5,000 lbs. and carry 1,584 in its 4′ wide pickup bed with a trunk underneath.  The tailgate is dual action, the interior is mammoth, and the ride is definitely car-like.  A nice car.

The V-6 puts out 280 horsepower and the transmission is a six-speed in this all-wheel drive Black Edition Ridgeline.  The Honda weighs 4,500 lbs. and gets 25 miles per gallon on the highway.  It gets my stamp of approval.

SPECS

Crystal black metallic paint – Heated black leather five passenger interior – Navigation system with 8” touchscreen – Radar, or adaptive cruise control – LED headlights – 8 speaker stereo – Pushbutton/remote start – LED headlamps – 280 horsepower V-6 – Six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive – Backup camera, blind spot detection and lane watch – Lane departure warning and collision-mitigation – $43,770.00 – 21 MPG combined rating

2015 Honda CR-V 5-Door AWD Touring Crossover

SAM_0495Japan’s Honda Motor Company began as a motorbike manufacturer in 1949, and by 1962 they produced a motorcycle that caught the fancy of my big brother, a 150cc black bike with twin cylinders.  By 1964 the company became the world’s biggest motorcycle producer and that year I joined my brother and purchased a 50cc Honda, later trading it for a 1965 305cc white “Dream”.  Another brother bought a similar, blue Dream and the three of us terrorized the streets of Albion (and Grant) Nebraska for years thereafter.SAM_3714

Honda began producing automobiles shortly thereafter, and now is one of the ten largest such manufacturers in the world.  Many are made in America and sent to Japan; more in fact than are exported to America from that country.  One of Honda’s products is the CR-V, which perhaps stands for “compact recreational vehicle”.  It has been produced since 1995, and originally was a knockoff of the Civic.  Since the cancellation of the Honda Element, it has moved into the entry-level SUV slot for the company.SAM_0483

A recent test that I conducted was of a 2015 Honda CR-V Touring model in a Copper Sunset Pearl paint scheme with black leather interior.  It had an M.S.R.P. of $33,775.00, including freight of $880.00.  As a Touring CR-V, it came with a lot of equipment such as navigation (7″ screen), heated seats, power memory driver seat, lane watch system, radar cruise control, moon roof, power tailgate, high end alloy wheels, fancy roof rails, fog lights and 7-speaker XM stereo.  The lane keeping assist arrangement allowed me to drive down I-25 without touching the steering wheel and the lane watch camera peeked at the blind spot on the passenger side (to the rear) for ease of lane changing.  In town the system is particularly helpful as a right turn is anticipated.   The leather seating inside the Honda was supportive and attractive with room for five adults.

SAM_0482Styling from Honda on this crossover is improved and slightly updated for 2015.  I’ve always admired the CR-V styling, and the new one was perfectly suitable to my eyes.  I particularly like the paint color, and although the wheels were not anything that I was wild about, others that saw the Honda made positive comments about them on a couple of occasions.  They were 2-tone 18″ x 7″ alloys fitted with P225/60R18 Dunlop AT20’s, and with that aspect, the ride was great.

Wheelbase of the CR-V is 103.1″, overall length is 179.4″, weight is 3,624 lbs., and towing capacity is 1,500 lbs.  Power is supplied by a four-cylinder, 2.4 liter engine with 185 horsepower at 6,400 rpm.  Torque is 181 lb. ft. at 3,900 rpm, and a CVT (continuously variable) transmission is standard without a manual-mode arrangement.  Ground clearance is 6.8″ on the all-wheel drive CR-V, and the EPA ratings are 26 mpg-city, 33 mpg-highway, and 28 mpg-combined.  I obtained 26 mpg during my week with the Honda.

As my test of the Honda CR-V unfolded, I found myself becoming pretty familiar with, and fond of, the car.  Honda sells almost 30,000 of these each month in the U.S., and it is evident why Americans find it so appealing.

 

 

2015 Honda Fit EX 5-Door Hatchback

_DSC3459 In 1978, Sports Illustrated broadcast an unforgettable TV advertisement in which Steve Garvey and the late Lyle Alzado are discussing their jobs. Garvey says “I’m a hitter”, and Alzado says “I’m a hitter, too,” then looks at the bat in Garvey’s hands; “what’s that for?”, to which Garvey replies “for hitting”.  Says Alzado, “I’ve got to get me one of those!”

SAM_3458 While testing Honda’s new 2015 Fit this last week, I had a handful of people make that exclamation after looking over and riding in the car, most notably my wife, Ruth.  I was pretty pleased by the Fit, as well, a Mystic yellow metallic five-door EX model.

The new Fit has been re-designed for 2015, with a distinctive crease incorporated into the bodywork and a new six-speed standard transmission.  Its built on a new platform with an increase in rigidity and a 1.6” shorter (160”) overall length.  Height (60”) and width (67”) are the same as a 2014, and the curb weight is 2,650 lbs.SAM_3449

The front-wheel drive Fit has a 1.5 liter, 4 cylinder, 16-valve engine with 130 horsepower at 6,600 rpm and 114 lb. ft. of torque at 4,600 rpm.  Zero to 60 mph acceleration is reportedly 9 seconds and top speed is 110 mph.  Fuel economy ratings are 29 mpg in the city, 37 mpg on the highway, and a combined rating is 32 mpg.

The five-passenger Honda Fit has a surprisingly ample rear seat for three that folds down or alternatively, can be reclined a bit for weary back- seat passengers.  Behind the seat is 17 cubic feet of cargo space accessible with a hatch opening (called a fifth door).  Folded down seating results in 53 cubic feet of space behind the little buckets.

Guidance and ride are fine out on the highway in the Fit, and the little four buzzes along at 3,600 rpm at 75 mph.  That leaves the six-speed transmission with relatively close ratios and that makes acceleration fun, if not breathtaking.  Wind and highway noise out there are OK, and in town the handling is on target.    SAM_3456SAM_3460

Interior appointments, including cloth upholstery, are about what a person might expect, except that the EX has a proximity keyless pushbutton starter setup and a power moon roof.  Materials are fine inside the Honda, and a lack of radio knobs can be overcome with steering wheel controls and a 7” touchscreen infotainment screen.

A backup camera is part of the deal on this Honda, and the company has supplied a camera on the right hand mirror to view the driver’s blind spot behind and to the right of the vehicle.  It kicks on when the right hand turn signal is switched.  I think it’s super – better than navigation and XM satellite radio, things not present in the Honda. SAM_3452

M.S.R.P. of the Honda, at $18,225.00, is a good value.  That’s the reason my friends (and my wife) expressed an intent to “get one of these.”  We shall see about that.

 

 

                                  

“A Hybrid for Nice People” 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring Sedan

Honda hybrid IHonda Motor Company started exporting motorcycles to America, from Japan, in the early 1960’s with a clever slogan, “You Meet the Nicest People on a Honda”.  I became  an early customer when I purchased a new 1964 Honda while in high school in Grant,  Nebraska.  All three Wright brothers eventually bought Hondas, and of course mine was the smallest, the Honda 50, a little machine I rolled into my junior speech class to talk about in front of my classmates.564569_4530557393104_1470037628_n

It was later, in the 1970’s, that Honda started exporting automobiles to the U.S., and in 1999 they sent the first commercially-produced hybrid sedan, the Insight, to our shores.  Its introduction preceded Toyota’s Prius by seven months, but it had two fewer doors and carried three fewer passengers than the Prius.  Such limitations have since been eliminated, but nonetheless the Prius has outsold the Honda hybrids for the last thirteen years.

For 2014 Honda has re-introduced its Accord Hybrid, which features a 50 mpg EPA city fuel economy rating.  That mileage is a breakthrough, of sorts, for Honda, and the drive train features substantial technology with its 2.0 liter Atkinson-cycle gas engine and two electric motors (drive and generation).  Total system horsepower is 196, and three driving modes are available in the hybrid Accord – all-electric, combined gasoline-electric, and gas-powered overdrive.  The latter is a Honda exclusive, allowing the automobile to lock the gas engine to the drive wheels with a clutch, not a transmission, above 50 mph.  The 55 hp electric drive motor is, in that situation, available for bursts of acceleration.  And from a standstill, the Accord Hybrid goes from zero to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds, regardless of altitude.  Speaking of which, the drive train in this car has a “B” braking mode that is great for descending steep mountain grades safely while charging the 1.3 kW lithium-ion battery.

Recently, a 2014 Honda Hybrid Touring edition was loaned to me out of the press fleet, and I drove it for a week.  The Accord Hybrid comes in a standard, EX-L, and Touring edition, which is the top model and the one I tested.  For $35,695.00, including freight, the Touring edition has a leather interior, navigation system with backup camera, adaptive radar cruise control, lane departure warning, moon roof, and dual heated power bucket seats.  An item I particularly enjoyed was Lanewatch, a camera integrated into the right outside mirror that gives the driver a view of the lane (in the 8” screen) to the right and behind the Honda.  This operates any time the right hand turn signal is activated.

The driving experience when behind the wheel of the Accord Hybrid is excellent, with a somewhat quieter environment than the conventional Accord and similar guidance, handling, and ride; all good.  Visibility is top-notch (see above), and real-world economy for this reviewer came in at 37.5 mpg, 25% less that the EPA estimate.  Sub-zero weather during my week with the car was a factor.

The mid-sized Honda sedan rolls on 17” aerodynamic alloy wheels with Michelin P225/50R17 Michelin GreenX energy saving radials.  All Accords were re-styled for 2013, an improvement, and this hybrid had distinctive blue-accented grill and lighting, front and rear, plus a body-colored decklid spoiler.

In high school I  fantasized about someday driving an automobile with the quality and innovation of my little Honda 50.  Someday arrived a week ago when I tested the very capable, American made Honda Accord Hybrid.