The Honda CR-V is one of only two vehicles that have won all three AutoPacific awards in 2007 – the Ideal Vehicle Award, the Vehicle Satisfaction Award and the Motorist Choice Award with IntelliChoice. This is an extremely rare occurrence. Honda CR-V buyers like their exterior size, passenger room, cargo room, and level of technology. Some owners would prefer more visibility, and some CR-V owners would prefer more power and acceleration, but overall, CR-V is an Ideal, satisfying Mid-Size Crossover SUV that meets the requirements of the buyer.
In September 2007, the eighth-generation 2008 Honda Accord sedan and coupe go on sale, bearing a look previewed by the 2007 Detroit show’s Accord Coupe Concept. The standard for premium mid-size sedans has rested with the Accord and Toyota’s Camry for many years, as clearly as the BMW 3-Series is the luxury sport sedan to beat. Last year, the Accord accounted for 354,500 of the 1.3 million cars and trucks Honda sold in the United States. Beyond the volume it brings, Honda’s Accord carries much company history. The Accord was the first car Honda built in the States, starting twenty-five years ago, and the first Japanese product to be built in the USA.
The third-generation, launched for 1986, showed us we could have a smart and savvy midsize sedan instead of a simply boring one. The third-generation Accord had a very low cowl and pop-up headlamps – very sporty for a Mid-Size Car of its day. The following fourth-generation car took Accord in a more elegant, upscale direction. Then, Accord began to struggle a bit.
Along the way, Accord never lost its rational element, but stylish, fun-to-drive elements were watered down. For 2008, Honda looks to revive that image with the eighth-generation Accord and raise the bar against the sporty and stylish Nissan Altima
and the finally expressive segment icon Camry.
Honda targets Altima and Camry directly, but competition also includes Saturn Aura, Ford Fusion, Hyundai Sonata, and even Chrysler’s Sebring and Dodge Avenger. Chevrolet’s latest Malibu goes on sale later this year with a stronger, more modern exterior and a much-improved interior. In a hotly contested market, Honda is looking to again provide buyers the
smart, stylish, fun-to-drive option. Honda also is looking for sales above the 400,000-unit mark, something Accord hasn’t seen since 2001.
We had the chance for a short drive following a presentation of the new bread-and-butter car. Honda has brought another terrific mid-size sedan, but we’re not convinced the bar is raised significantly. We didn’t have a chance to drive the coupe, but the two-door brings style to Accord’s coupe line that hasn’t been seen before. The Accord coupe should hold its own from an image standpoint against coupes in the Nissan Altima and Pontiac G6 ranges.
Most competing brands offer a mid-size and a larger sedan (Avalon, Maxima, Azera, and Taurus), but Honda’s top model is the Accord. The new Accord is bigger, nearly as long as the Maxima overall and with wheelbase and width nearly the size of the Avalon. The new Accord is about five inches longer than Camry and Altima (only an inch between the axles). The larger exterior allowed for interior space large enough for Accord to be classified as a Large Car in EPA ratings, and Accord now may be better able to straddle the line between mid-size and large.
AutoPacific Take on Honda Odyssey Win – In a segment where some manufacturers are jumping ship the Honda Odyssey has set a course for smooth sailing. Owner’s satisfaction ratings for its ride and brand reputation strongly contribute to its class-leading performance in the Motorist Choice Awards’® Minivan category. The Odyssey’s ratings for being reliable/dependable only added to owners rave reviews.
IntelliChoice take on Honda Odyssey win – The Honda Odyssey is an IntelliChoice 2007 BOVY winner. The Odyssey possesses excellent retained value and low fuel, repair, and maintenance costs.
AutoPacific Take on Honda CR-V Win – The all-new for 2007 Honda CR-V takes home a Mid-Size Crossover SUV class win in this year’s Motorist Choice Awards®. Owners rate Honda’s reputation and the reputation of the CR-V as key contributors to the win. It’s versatile and stylish high quality interior was a strong contributor to the CR-V’s win. CR-V also had high marks for the new exterior styling, image, handling and traction in all weather conditions. This traction also played into owners top ratings for feeling safe while driving. Owners also appreciated the fuel economy, vehicle ride, quietness inside vehicle, and overall quality they’ve come to expect from Honda.
IntelliChoice take on Honda CR-V win – In a class that has several Hybrid models, the Honda CR-V still rises to the top. The CR-V has great retained value and is among the lowest in maintenance costs. Combined with its award winning performance within the AutoPacific survey, the CR-V is a great example of a vehicle that is satisfying to own and a smart value.
AutoPacific Take on Honda Fit Win – An economy car that fits comfortably in to owners lives. The Honda Fit wins the Motorist Choice Award® in the Economy Car class. Owners give Honda’s overall quality and reputation high marks as they reinforce the Fit’s category win. Overall satisfaction is best in class with a convenient size, seating capacity and cargo space. Owners really appreciate the flexible interior and adore the vehicles image. The fact that the Fit is fun to drive with innovative technology only adds icing to the cake.
IntelliChoice take on Honda Fit win – In a segment that has seen many new models, the Honda Fit stands out. The Fit is near the top in retained value, fuel, and maintenance costs.
Honda CR-V Wins AutoPacific 2007 Vehicle Satisfaction Award for Mid-Size Crossover SUV:
“The all-new Honda CR-V is a segment winner primarily based on Overall Quality and Overall Satisfaction. While there few attributes where the CR-V soundly beat the segment average, (Brand Reputation was very strong) there were no areas where the CR-V was rated below average. They won by making the fewest mistakes! A defensive strategy, but it works! The fact that the CR-V is the only Crossover SUV in its class without a V6 engine available apparently did not hurt its performance much,” says AutoPacific president George Peterson.
Honda Fit Wins AutoPacific 2007 Vehicle Satisfaction Award for Economy Car:
“The Economy Car category has added several new entries over the past year. The owners of the all-new Honda Fit are pleased with the Size (exterior and interior) of this small car. They like the Performance, Ride and Handling. Perhaps the sportiest of the Economy Car class, owners rate the Fit strongly as Fun-to-Drive. They believe their car will have a good Resale Value, and consider the Fit to be a Good Value”.
Toyota sold more cars and trucks globally during 1st Quarter 2007 than General Motors. For the first time in 79 years General Motors’ global sales have been topped by a major competitor.
GM’s Global Sales Leadership Crown in Jeopardy
During the 1st Quarter Toyota sold 2.35 million vehicles compared with 2.26 million vehicles for General Motors. This shift had been forecast to occur during the 2007 calendar year, but not as early as the 1st Quarter.
Toyota sells Toyota, Lexus and Scion vehicles in the USA. Major stakes in Daihatsu and Subaru are not included in the global sales totals. General Motors sales includes Chevrolet, Pontiac, Buick, GMC, Cadillac, Saturn, HUMMER, Saab, Opel, and Vauxhall.
VehicleVoice Research Indicates Toyota will Continue to Gain on General Motors in USA
In VehicleVoice brand image and consideration research reported on April 16, 2007, positive consideration for Toyota in the USA was 54% compared with 42% for General Motors as a whole. Consideration for Ford Motor Company products was 44% and Honda products was 53% in the same study. While Toyota continues to be a distant second or third to General Motors in the USA, this continuing level of strong positive consideration indicates that Toyota should be able to continue to close the gap year-by-year.
New Products in USA Bolster Toyota’s Position
In 2006 and early 2007 Toyota launched or renewed a slew of vehicles in the USA. The new Yaris small car replaced the under-performing and unfortunately styled Echo. The FJ Cruiser was launched to rave reviews and strong sales. The Camry was all new and earned the Motor Trend 2007 Car of the Year Award. The all new Lexus LS460 has arguably established a new luxury car benchmark in the premium luxury car market in the USA. And we can’t forget the launch of the all-new Toyota Tundra full size pickup. Tundra finally becomes a fully-competitive half-ton pickup for 2007. While still lacking 3/4 and 1 Ton models, the Tundra should give its half ton competition a run for the money.
Can GM Hold off Toyota?
While the annual global sales figures are still months away, Toyota may, indeed, be able to wrest the global sales crown from GM this year. General Motors is moving aggressively to add capacity and sales in China. If this comes on stream quickly enough, GM may be able to parry the threat.
During the last week of March 2007, 1,254 VehicleVoice panelists responded to an Internet survey concerning their opinion of major automakers in the USA. VehicleVoice asked these questions because the opinion of buyers and their attitudes towards various aspects of a manufacturer’s image are critically important. Managing image and opinion plus understanding what is driving that opinion can influence whether a person will positively consider or reject a brand next time they are in the market.
The key question in the VehicleVoice survey was whether the respondent’s opinion of a manufacturer had changed since this time last year. If their opinion had changed, the panel member was given the chance to explain why their opinion had changed. We received over 5,000 comments concerning these manufacturers. Some were as short one word. Some were as long as a page of 10-point type. Folks really had a lot to say and their comments were fascinating.
Discussion for each of the brands is below the fold.