Honda and Acura are fighting to regain respect in the U.S. market with a number of product updates over the next few years, an Automotive News report suggests. From Honda cars and SUVs to the Acura lineup, the automaker may see a serious boost in visibility over the next few years thanks to a series of engine and transmission improvements.
The future of a higher-performance Honda CR-Z Si model is unclear. As with Scion deciding not to offer in the U.S. a turbocharged or drop-top FR-S, Honda may not make available a more powerful CR-Z. The same goes for the hybrid variant of the Honda Fit, which could cannibalize sales from the Insight. While the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ hog headlines for now, Honda may eventually consider a competitor, but a sports car like the discontinued S2000 is not a priority, the report says.
Those who want the subcompact Honda Fit hatchback to be redesigned will have to wait until the summer of 2014. Don't be surprised to see a few design tweaks on the U.S.-spec Fit not available in other markets. Automotive News suggests that Honda might not wait until the redesign to give the Fit an Earth Dreams 1.5-liter I-4 with 127 hp and 111 lb-ft of torque, mated to a CVT. The 2013 Honda Fit uses a 1.5-liter I-4 that produces 117 hp and 106 lb-ft of torque, with a five-speed manual or automatic transmission.
The Honda Insight hybrid hasn't made the impression the automaker wanted and, at this point, it's unclear what Honda has in store for the now-refreshed car. One possibility includes swapping the Insight's nickel-metal hydride battery pack for a lithium-ion pack. With the Toyota Prius rising in price, the Insight's competition, by price, may now be the Toyota Prius C.
On the higher-volume end of the lineup, we've known about the quick redo of the Honda Civic for a while. Interior materials will be improved and, by the time the Civic gets a full refresh on spring 2014, it may receive a CVT as well as an Earth Dreams 1.8-liter I-4 good for 148 hp and 133 lb-ft of torque. The 2012 Honda Civic's 1.8-liter I-4 makes 140 hp and 128 lb-ft of torque, using a five-speed manual or automatic transmission.
The real news for Honda is the imminent debut of the 2013 Honda Accord. The new sedan and coupe may be shorter than the existing car, with an Earth Dreams 2.4-liter I-4 as the volume engine, mated to a CVT. Manual-transmission fans can always pick the Accord V-6 that, at least in coupe form, is likely to offer a six-speed manual transmission in addition to a six-speed automatic. A plug-in hybrid variant of the Accord is sure to be more successful than the V-6 hybrid offered years ago.
The Honda Crosstour recently added a four-cylinder base model; the 2013 Crosstour will introduce a six-speed automatic to the regular V-6 engine. If the Crosstour lives to see a second generation, expect Earth Dreams powertrains all around.
The Honda CR-V has, so far, proved successful after its recent redesign. How that might be affected by the introduction of a Honda Fit Crossover is uncertain. Thanks to flexibility at Honda's Mexican plant, a Fit-based crossover is a possibility for the 2016 model year, though we're not sure we want to know what acceleration in a fully loaded Fit-based crossover would be like.
Less polarizing styling is in the Honda Pilot SUV's future. A redesigned model comes in the fall of 2014 with an Earth Dreams V-6 producing more than 300 hp. Automotive News suggests the front-drive Pilot will use a CVT while the all-wheel-drive model will get a six-speed automatic. As for the Honda Odyssey minivan, the people-mover already leads the segment in terms of EPA-rated fuel efficiency, but the Earth Dreams V-6 could replace the car's current V-6 as soon as the 2014 model year.
The Honda Ridgeline has managed to last far beyond its expiration date, but that doesn't mean Honda still doesn't have plans for that nameplate. In the 2014 calendar year, a Ridgeline-badged truck with improved fuel economy and a lower base price -- the 2012 Ridgeline carries a base price of just over $30,000 with EPA-rated fuel economy of 15/21 mpg city/highway.
Acura Cars and SUVs
No coupe variant of the Acura ILX is on the way, but an Earth Dreams four-cylinder engine replacing the volume 2.0-liter ILX is a distinct possibility for the car's refresh. Depending on the ILX's sales performance, the Acura TSX could become a much lower-volume model. The report mentions the possibility of the TSX continuing as a limited-production V-6 model to remain between the ILX and TL.
As for the Acura TL, a revamped sedan still based on the Accord arrives next spring. We'd be surprised if the next-gen Acura TL doesn't follow the 2013 Honda Accord's lead, with slightly smaller dimensions, though with an Earth Dreams 3.5-liter V-6 for the luxury four-door. While Acura may not offer two V-6 variants, a hybrid TL is in the cards with fuel economy of about 45 mpg.
Above the TL is the new Acura RLX, with an Earth Dreams V-6 offering as well as a 370-hp V-6 hybrid model with an advanced all-wheel-drive system and a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. We're anticipating the debut of another model, the Acura NSX. By 2014, Acura will begin building the new Acura NSX in Ohio, with a direct-injection V-6 paired to a lithium-ion battery pack and a special all-wheel-drive system, likely a version of the next-gen hybrid SH-AWD system currently in development.
As the Acura RDX gains traction in the U.S., the Acura MDX is set to be redesigned next fall, with the Earth Dreams V-6 engine. Though the MDX-based Acura ZDX has only sold 416 units through the first half of 2012 (Acura RL at 214 units), the crossover with coupe-like styling could continue as a special-order model until the new MDX debuts.