Car Review: 2014 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite

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Honda didn’t hold back when redesigning the 2014 Odyssey, which would have been a safe play, but instead swung for the fences in design and function. We had the opportunity to test the striking 2014 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite while taking a long road trip with six adult-sized passengers (including the driver) to find out what this people mover had to offer. Honda reinforced and expanded upon the vehicle’s already great features, including the exceptional value for money that already defines the Odyssey for its target buyer, which is Gen X and Gen Y families.

EXTERIOR

Refined and youthful, sporty and advanced, the Odyssey’s refreshed styling adds new premium elements for 2014. The 2014 Odyssey features sleeker, more sophisticated exterior styling with a new, more deeply sculpted aluminum hood, new aluminum front fenders, a new bolder twin-bar grille and a revised lower front fascia with integrated chrome-trimmed fog lights. New two-tone mirror housings, darker-finish projector-beam headlight housings, LED taillight bars and new badging add to the 2014 Odyssey’s premium look. Other notable exterior highlights include new black-trimmed headlights, new available fog lights and black-surround grille for an upscale appearance. New body-color matched side mirrors and additional bright chrome trim add to the premium appearance. New rear styling and LED taillights with clear lenses and eye-catching perimeter “light pipes” add to the polished look.

Weight savings come from the use of aluminum for the hood, front fenders and front suspension lower control arms. The 2014 Odyssey EX, EX-L, Touring and Touring Elite models have a wiper-linked headlight system that automatically turns on the headlights when the front wipers are activated. In addition, new standard one-touch turn signals improve convenience for the driver when making routine lane changes. With this system, one flick of the turn-signal lever provides three blinks of the turn signals – ideal for changing lanes. Pressing the lever past the “click point” provides continuous blinking. A new keyless entry system with push button start on EX, EX-L, Touring and Touring Elite allows the driver to approach the vehicle, open the door and start the engine, all without touching a key. The system only requires the driver have possession of the key fob. The system also simplifies opening the sliding side doors and tailgate; locking all doors when leaving the vehicle requires only touching the lock button on any door handle. We were also impressed with the Odyssey’s power moon roof with tilt feature, 18-inch x 7-inch alloy wheels, blind spot information system, front and rear parking sensors, dual power sliding doors, power tailgate, expanded view drivers mirror and heated power door mirrors with turn indicators. Together, the 2014 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite has a look all to her own and really doesn’t reveal how much space is inside this modern machine because of the sleek skin and aerodynamic design.

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INTERIOR

There is that “wow’ factor when you first enter the 2014 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite with the enormous amount of cabin space, including the untouchable storage area behind the third-row seating. Inside the 2014 Odyssey, new finishes brighten the cabin and an all-new center stack showcases a host of new features. Additional standard technology on the Odyssey Touring Elite brings new levels of ease and connectivity to owners, including keyless Smart Entry with Push Button Start, HD Radio, an SMS text messaging function and HondaLink featuring Aha Mobile interface. HondaLink, which debuted on the 2013 Honda Accord, enables Odyssey owners to connect quickly and easily to a wealth of cloud-based content. The free HondaLink smartphone app uses the owner’s favorite online content to create live, personalized radio stations, allowing drivers to put away their phones and hear updates and news feeds, as well as check out restaurant reviews.

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First Drive: 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid

Fans of the wildly popular Honda Accord now have another option with the all-new Accord Hybrid. Car buyers looking for hybrids and/or high gas mileage cars now have another excellent option as well. I traveled to central Ohio for the opportunity to drive this new vehicle and also for a tour of the Marysville, Ohio plant where the Accord Hybrid is built.

Exterior

The styling for the Accord has remained elegant through this ninth generation without becoming boring. The vehicle has been a force in the midsized market for so long that the bar is set very high, and the current Accord upholds that standard. The Accord Hybrid has a number of design accents that set it apart from the gas version, including a blue-accented upper grille on the front end along with blue-accented headlights, blue-accented LED taillights and a trunk lid spoiler that helps reduce aerodynamic drag. Along with various hybrid badges it’s enough to give the Accord Hybrid a distinctive look. It also comes with 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels with a sharp design that’s unique to the Hybrid.

Interior

The Accord Hybrid interior is very similar to other Accord models with a level of comfort and upscale accents that will please most buyers in this segment. It’s roomy and comfortable and all of the instruments are laid out nicely for easy usage. The Hybrid’s interior is distinguished by a black steering wheel and the unique hybrid instrumentation and has features like dual-zone climate control.

Performance

When you drive the Accord Hybrid, it drives differently than the regular gas model, so there will be an adjustment period as drivers get used to it. It’s not really better or worse – it just feels different. For example, gas cars typically coast when you let up on the gas, while here with the Hybrid you’ll feel some drag as it’s designed to charge the battery in these instances. Also, drivers can monitor mileage and battery usage vs gas usage in real time, so driving efficiently becomes a game if you’re inclined to play. I suspect most buyers will embrace these differences.

Still, the acceleration is fine and the overall driving experience is excellent. I drove the Accord Hybrid on a wide variety of roads and found the vehicle to be very responsive. In one of the city setting we were challenged to try to get the highest gas mileage along a prepared route. Once you get the hang of how the Hybrid works you can achieve some very impressive mileage numbers in slow traffic areas.

The Accord Hybrid achieves impressive fuel economy ratings with 50 MPG city, 45 MPG highway and 47 MPG combined by using a two-motor hybrid system called Intelligent Multi-Mode Drive (i-MMD) that continuously cycles between three different modes (EV drive, hybrid drive and engine drive) to maximize fuel efficiency. The gas engine powers a generator in most driving conditions which then provides energy to charge the hybrid battery and/or for the electric motor to power the wheels. The i-MMD can also operate on gasoline engine power only, usually during medium- to high-speed cruising.

Overview

Pricing for the Accord Hybrid ranges from $29,155 for the base Hybrid, $31,905 for the Hybrid EX-L and $34,905 for the Hybrid Touring. An Accord plug-in hybrid is also available which has a smaller battery. If you’re thinking about buying an Accord or if you’re in the market for a hybrid, I strongly recommend driving the new Accord Hybrid and having a sales representative spend some time with you explaining all the features.

  

Jonathan Rea Profile Bio

Superbike racing is a real test of how man can harness the abilities of a machine – many would say no more so than the illustrious Moto GP, which is faster but perhaps less testing. Jonathan Rea is one of the stars of the Superbike field and one of those sportsmen who have graced the scene for a number of years due to their prodigious talents. Still only in his mid-twenties, Rea’s career could be about to really take off.

Rea cultivated his talents on the Motocross circuit where he learned the invaluable arts of balance and handling – essential in managing a bike’s varying dynamics. A move to the racing circuit was inevitable for a rider of his talents.

He competed in the British Superbike Circuit where he achieved 2nd place overall in 2007 and was named Irish Motorcyclist of the Year in 2008. Rea competed in the final race of the World Supersport calendar that year and in 2009 he moved on to complete a full season in in the World Superbike Championship.

He took two wins in his first proper season and an impressive four wins the season after. He’s been a steady presence in the World Superbike field since then, and a much respected member of Pata Honda’s team.

2012 was a good year with Rea finishing fifth in the World Superbike Championship and won the Suzuka 8 Hour. Rea goes into 2013 as a confident and more experienced rider and has already taken a victory at Silverstone. He’s well placed to compete for a top 5 finish, chasing after the breakaway pack of Guintoli, Sykes, Laverty and Melandri.

Rea rides the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade and is a stable mate of the legendary Casey Stoner. Because of the recent rider test ban in Moto GP, Rea worked on the testing of Honda’s 2011 RCV which Stoner rode to victory in that season.

There are firm links between the worlds of Moto GP and Superbikes as the two sports move technically closer together. Anyone who admires the Moto GP season would do well to watch the exploits of their Superbike counterparts. Valentino Rossi is a known enthusiast of the sport.
Like any sporting talent, Rea is much in demand when it comes to sponsorship. Honda, RedBull, Oakley, and motorbike insurance specialists Carole Nash, are all proud to back one of sport’s most promising talents.

You can catch Jonathan’s blog on the Carole Nash website for an insight into his character and all round profile: http://www.carolenash.com/insidebikes/bikers-blog/jonathan-reas-first-insidebikes-blog.htm

  

Car Review: 2013 Honda Civic 4DR EX-L NAVI

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In the battle for the compact sedan crown, Honda has come in with a refreshed Civic that is clearly the best Civic ever. The top-selling and award-winning Honda Civic returns for 2013 with a host of design upgrades and a bevy of new standard features, while still maintaining the efficiency and value that has made the Civic an automotive icon for the past 40 years.

EXTERIOR

The crimson pearl 2013 Honda Civic 4DR EX-L NAVI has a distinctive look and a confidence that comes with years of excellence. For 2013, the Honda Civic has received a host of changes that far exceed the typical mid-model refresh. The front and rear styling of the 2013 Honda Civic Sedan has been completely altered for a more youthful and premium feel, including sheet metal changes with an all-new hood and trunk lid. Up front, a new open-mouth lower bumper with a horizontal chrome accent and a sportier, black honeycomb mesh grille is anchored by new integrated fog lights on EX-L and above trims. The grille is flanked by new clear-lens corner lights to provide a more premium look. The 2013 Civic’s more sculpted front end flows into a taller, more deeply faceted hood.

In back, a new rear bumper design and rear trunk lid are capped by a clean, horizontal chrome trim piece. The all-new design of the jewel-like taillights now carries into the trunk face, providing a more finished and upscale look. The rear bumper features integrated reflector treatments and a new lower diffuser panel finished with a honeycomb mesh vent. While the expressive exterior styling of the 2013 Honda Civic Coupe remains unchanged, restyled wheels on all models help sharpen the look of the 2013 Civic.

INTERIOR

With a brand new design for 2013, there are many changes in the cabin of the 2013 Civic, but there is also a familiarity that the Honda brand carries over from decades of advancements. Inside, extensive refinements in design and construction gives the entire 2013 Honda Civic lineup a more premium feel, with an all-new tricot headliner, new soft-touch materials on the instrument panel and upper door treatment, and revised textures and panel junctions throughout the instrument panel and center console. Subtle silver accents in the interior lend a higher-quality look, along with door panel and seat fabric upgrades. Providing a more upscale environment, black carpeting and a trunk lid finisher are now standard on all Civic models. For the first time, Civic is available in both cloth and leather with an all-black interior. Our test model boasted beige leather that was upscale and sporty.

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First Drive: 2013 Honda Accord

The Accord has always been an important vehicle to Honda. The Accord accounts for a huge chunk of production (and revenue) for the automotive giant. Because of this every introduction of a new generation of Accord is important in many ways.

2011 was a rough year for Japanese automakers in general. The Japan earthquake and the flood in Thailand seriously curtailed the number of vehicles produced for the model year. Suppliers had to rebuild, Honda scrambled to find alternative sources of parts and supplies.

Honda used this time to prepare for a ramp-up of output in the first quarter of the new year. Inventory increased 46,000 units and hasn’t looked back ever since. Accord sales alone are up nearly 28% since January, a huge turn-around from 2011.

The 2013 Accord represents the ninth generation of the famous brand, with its ancestry dating back to 1976. The Accord has a reputation for being a solid and reliable family car, able to haul a family and their gear throughout their day-to-day adventures. The sedan excels at fading into the background; becoming ubiquitous and unassuming. Not a bad thing for a people-hauler.

Lineup

The Accord comes in three body styles: the Sedan, the Coupe, and the Plug-in Hybrid Sedan. Each is based off the same chassis and shares a majority of components. The continuation of the Coupe is a bit of a surprise given that the segment seems to be shrinking.

There are a variety of engines available that also define the offerings. The base four-cylinder 2.4 liter i-VTEC DOHC engine is available in both the Coupe and the Sedan, while the more powerful 3.5 liter six-cylinder is an option. The Hybrid Accord comes equipped with a two-motor 2.0 liter powerplant, unique to that vehicle.

Interior

Honda has focused on designing their vehicles around the concept of maximizing space for the occupants while minimizing the overall size of the vehicle. To that end the car is developed from the inside out: the passenger cabin space is defined and the designers must create a body that fits around the occupants.

To that end the 2013 Accord Coupe, for example, has been shrunk by nearly two inches in overall length, while gaining about an inch of leg room and almost two cubic-feet of storage in the trunk.

Improved Materials

The interior of the new Accord is a great improvement over the outgoing model. Utilitarian plastic and vinyl have been replaced with higher quality materials. Brushed aluminum accent pieces on higher-end trim levels add to the feeling of an upscale vehicle.
Honda has replaced the multi-piece dash with a one-piece instrument panel designed in-house. The new dash reduces rattles and squeaks and feels very solid. The dash is the focus of the new car, with a split two-screen control system acting as navigation and stereo controls.

Rear-view cameras are now standard across all versions, which is a big selling point for those of us who fear backing over an errant tricycle. It worked well, as the screen is mounted high and centrally located, making it a snap to use.

The navigation system seemed adequate, as did the stereo. Honda is rolling out it’s HondaLink system with the new Accord, which offers smartphone app support through device tethering. We didn’t get to test the system ourselves, but after seeing a demo of it I’m looking forward to getting a better look.

Also available is a Lane Departure Warning (LDW) system that alerts you when you drift slightly while driving. By slightly I do mean slightly, as the system kept triggering at the slightest provocation. Simply merging from an off ramp into traffic would sometimes cause it to chirp. Half-way through the test drive we were looking for a way to disable it.

Exterior

As mentioned earlier, the new Accord is slightly smaller than the out-going model. But the change isn’t noticeable. The lines of the car feel more defined, more aggressive. Honda used a new and improved stamping process for the new car and it shows in the presence the car exudes.

An important feature of the new car is the addition of an external rear-facing camera mounted on the passenger side mirror. This camera aids the driver by showing in the center display an image of what’s in the car’s right-side blind spot. Flip on the right turn signal and get a bird’s eye view of what’s in the way. In practice this is an incredible feature. During our test drive it became an easy thing to grow accustomed to. It’s a serious tool for highway driving.

Performance

The 2.4L four-cylinder engine puts out 185 horsepower and 181 foot-pounds of torque. It’s peppy, but not exceptional. As with most entry-level engines the focus is on fuel economy, not performance. Still, it has enough oomph to get out of it’s own way

The 3.5L six-cylinder’s output is up 7 horsepower from last year’s engine, up to 278. It gives the Accord a more spirited drive, and actually wakes up the vehicle. The engine note on the sixer is raspier and more aggressive; stomp on the gas and you’ll hear it. For my money this is the engine of choice.

Overall

Pricing for the Accord ranges from $22,000 for an Accord LX to $33,000 for a well-optioned Touring model. Quite a range, but within the pricing horizon of its competitors.

The Accord Sedan will go on sale September 19 across the country, while the Coupe, which will start at $23,350, won’t be available until October 15.

The first impression of the 2013 Accord is one of a competent and solid car. Honda is a company led by engineers, and it shows. The amount of effort that has gone into refining this icon is impressive. I look forward to driving it long-term to see if that first impression holds up over time.

  

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