Honda just can’t seem to catch a break these days. With the fallout from the tsunami, a profit sucking Japanese currency issue, the floods in Thailand, and the media in an uproar over the new Civic, well, Honda’s public relations team is working overtime. So, is the Civic really the worst car out of Honda in years or has the segment just gotten that good?
May sales reports are coming in. Ford F-Series, for the first time since 1991 (according to Automotive News) has been outsold by a car. In fact, by four cars.
The world is coming to an end!
Numbers after the jump…
New vehicles from American Honda have swept the 2006 North American Car and Truck of the Year Awards. The all-new Honda Civic won the Car of the Year Award adn the Ridgeline Sport Utlity Truck won the Truck of the Year Award. The Civic has been on sale since late Fall 2005 and Ridgeline was introduced in Spring 2005. Both are 2006 models.
These awards mimic Car and Truck of the Year Awards by Motor Trend magazine announced earlier.
The new Civic replaces what may be the most lackluster Civic of all time. The Civic had devolved into a typical econobox that sold on the basis of its stellar image and name, not because it was the hiighly desirable Civic of the past. The new Civic corrects that. VehicleVoice and AutoPacific analysts rate the Civic as one of the best small cars on the road today… aspirational, exciting, and fun to drive.
The Ridgeline has not sold up to the expectations that Honda announced when the truck was introduced. Having slightly weird styling and being based on the Odyssey minivan platform, the Ridgeline is a great driving pretend truck. Full of innovative ideas that impressed the Car of the Year judges, Ridgeline deserves to succeed. It has not sold up to expectations likely due to its relatively high price point… substantially higher than “real trucks” like the Ford F-Series and the Chevrolet Silverado.
American Honda may use the early lack of success of the Chrysler Pacifica as a case study. Pacifica was overpriced when it was introduced. People did not know what kind of vehicle it is. The idea that Pacific was a “sports tourer” did not mean anything to anybody. But Chrysler played around with its positioning and Pacifica now sells in respectable volumes.
It’s interesting that Honda’s press release announcing its achievement is pretty matter-of-fact. Ho-hum.
Reflex Introduction at 2006 NAIAS
It is said around town that Ford is considering how and when they may re-enter the (very) small-car segment, which includes cars priced from around $10,000 to $15,000 or so fully equipped. This segment is expected to see substantial growth over the next several years. These cars are smaller in size than entries like the Ford Focus or Honda Civic, and most typically wear sedan or hatchback bodystyles. Chevrolet’s Aveo, Toyota’s all-new Yaris and the defunct Echo, the Scion xA, the Hyundai Accent and Kia’s Rio are among examples of vehicles in this segment.
While the 2005 Ford SynUS concept explored the possibilities a boxy urban vehicle might provide (certainly in part inspired by the Scion xB), on the 2006 auto show circuit the concept is for a sporty small car that takes into account room for small children. Enter the Reflex. Reactions by VehicleVoice (http://www.vehiclevoice.com) and AutoPacific (http://www.autopacific.com) analysts are very positive.
Honda introduced the latest version of its Civic in early Fall 2005, the eighth generation of a product at the core of Honda’s existence in North America. Though Accord remains Honda’s best-selling product, Civic is a close second. Civic’s annual sales have remained at or above the 300,000-unit mark since about 1997, despite that the seventh-generation was a shadow of former generations and received heavy criticism from public and press alike for its de-contented feel and lack of enthusiasm versus prior iterations. In spite of this, as recently as 2004 the Civic outsold its nearest competitor (Ford Focus) by more than 100,000 units. Though the seventh-generation sold well, it did so by skating on a solid image generated by previous iterations. The new-for-2006MY Civic restores the substance behind the reputation.
The results of this transformation are being immediately felt. The eighth generation is praised even more than the prior car was criticized. It recently won Motor Trend Magazine’s Car of the Year award and is a finalist for the same honor in the North American Car of the Year competition. With such advance praise, we were looking forward to a turn behind the wheel. Now that a Civic EX has spent a week in AutoPacific’s Southfield, Michigan office, we’re happy to say that we’re also impressed.
The Civic has returned, long live the Civic!
In an sweep of Motor Trend’s 2006 Car and Truck of the Year Awards, Honda has achieved a first. No other manufacturer has won both in the same year. VehicleVoice [(http://www.vehiclevoice.com) & (http:/.vehiclevoice.com)] has been tracking both Honda vehicles since their intro and both are special. The Ridgeline, while not a “real” truck to real trucker, has many innovative features that make traditional pickups and SUTs look like “old-think”. Similarly, the hybrid-looking 2006 Civic sets a new standard for aspirational mainstream small car design.- – – – – -
Torrance, Calif. 12/20/2005 — The 2006 Honda Ridgeline earned Motor Trend magazine’s prestigious 2006 “Truck of the Year” award, American Honda Motor Co., Inc., announced today. The Ridgeline joins the all-new 2006 Honda Civic as this year’s recipient of Motor Trend’s “Car of the year” award, marking the first time ever that a manufacturer has won both honors in the same year.
Since its introduction in March of 2005, the Ridgeline has re-defined the mid-size truck segment through its innovative and exclusive new features. Designed to meet the needs of a growing population of consumers purchasing trucks to support their active, outdoor-oriented lifestyles, the Ridgeline delivers a proportional mix of overall truck capability, towing performance, ruggedness and value in a fun-to-drive vehicle built around Honda’s standards for reliability, safety and performance. The Ridgeline was the first-ever 4-door pickup to receive the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 5-star safety rating, the highest safety rating possible, for both frontal and side impact crash test performance. It also had the distinction of achieving the best rollover resistance rating of any pickup ever tested by NHTSA. All Ridgeline models are equipped with a long list of standard comfort and convenience features, including the most comprehensive list of standard safety equipment in its class.