2017 Honda Civic Hatchback Sport Touring Edition is the Class Leader

The New Civic hatchback is nothing like we have even seen here in North America.  Built in England,Honda decided for the 2017 model year to bring the model into the marketplace and it is hands down the best Civic I have ever driven.  With some of the most dramatic styling ever on a  Civic complete with a great chassis and powertrain it is a game changer for Honda.  In my opinion perhaps worthy of new model name.

Honda stretched the wheelbase of the Civic’s new platform to 106.3 inches and created not just a more spacious package with 97.2 cubic feet of passenger volume, but also a more poised platform for serious driving. And it delivers a new kind of Honda performance with a 180-horsepower, 1.5-liter turbocharged engine

Just one year after introducing the all-new 10th-generation Civic sedan and coupe, Honda introduces the new hatchback a new turbo power plant which is available with a manual transmission for enthusiast drivers

Whether you’re a student looking for an inexpensive, efficient and reliable commuter car or an enthusiast seeking a turbocharged manual gearbox equiped commuter car

The Civics CVT (continuously variable transmission) is among the best at mimicking a traditional one. A standard Civic can’t quite match a Mazda3 in cornering dynamics, but it’s still among the best in its class, as is its steering feel.

This suite of safety features and driving aids includes adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow, road-departure mitigation, forward-collision warning, lane-keeping assist and the Collision Mitigation Braking System, which can automatically apply the brakes if a frontal collision appears imminent.

This latest-generation Civic is longer than the previous model, and it now boasts some of the best interior volume among compact cars, an interior enveloped in premium materials and top-notch plastics. The available navigation system runs through a large, easy-to-read screen, which also serves as the control center for audio, CarPlay and climate control. Rear-seat legroom is impressive in the sedan, but beware of the wide sills when entering and exiting. The  all new  Civic hatchback  which is  configuration we haven’t seen in nearly two decades for the U.S. market and it features a unique rear styling treatment. It also stands out with a high-mounted spoiler and gaping fake vents on each side of the rear bumper. Sport and Sport Touring hatchbacks also come complete with  center-mounted dual-exhaust outlets.

All  2017 Civics remain front-wheel drive and use regular unleaded gasoline. In the near future the lineup will offer performance variants with a return of the Civic Si and a Civic Type R ( long forbidden in the U.S until now,).

My loaded Grand Touring Hatchback had a 1.5 liter four cylinder engine with the  great CVT  putting out 180 horsepower and 167 lb-ft of torque.

 Fuel economy is rated at 30 Mpg city and 36 Mpg highway.  My test vehicle drew admiring stares all over greater Orlando with most never in their wildest dreams thinking it  was Civic Hatchback.  My loaded Sport Touring model came to non Civic like price of $29, 175 but worth every penny.  Recently awarded an Automobile Magazine All Star Award  for 217 and a Motor Week TV Drivers choice award for this year as well.  The Civic has won its share of awards and I personally would recommend this new Civic hatchback to anyone looking for a practical small car.

The Long Drive Rankings

Front Engine-FWD CVT speed automatic

Highlights

Styling

resale value

Turbo engine

Chassis set up

Loaded with creature comforts, safety features and infotainment

All Arond Comfort

Lowlights

Pricey for a Civis in fully loaded Hatchback Sport Touring Trim

 

 

The Long Drive Rankings 1 Low 10 High

Exterior Styling 8
Interior styling and quality 8

Handling 7

Braking 7

Fuel Economy 9

Performance 8
Trunk-Cargo Capacity 9

Audio System 8

Value 9

2017 Toyota Camry XLE is the Best Camry To Date

With the debut of the next generation Camry at the North America International Auto Show in Detroit around the corner.  Recently I had week-long very pleasant visit with the current 2017 Camry that you can walk in to the dealer and purchase right now.

The 2017 Toyota Camry remains among the most poplar sedans for a wide range of buyers. Now celebrating its 35th year, there’s no one single reason why the Camry midsize sedan is among the bestselling vehicles in the nation, but rather a combination of winning factors. Whether you desire reliability, efficiency, easy driving manners, great resale value, or some of the latest safety features like automatic emergency braking, the Camry checks all the boxes. Like the Honda Accord, the Camry is available with 4- and 6-cylinder engines, as well a hybrid. The Camry excels as a no-fuss commuting companion and comfortable chariot for family and friends.

The Camry is very good at a lot of things, but it’s not necessarily the best at any one. Toyota’s midsize sedan isn’t as fun to drive as a Mazda Mazda6 or even an Accord, nor is it as fuel-efficient as either. If you want all-wheel drive for improved traction, look to the Subaru Legacy or Ford Fusion.

Thanks to revised suspension tuning that came with the 2015 revamp, the latest Camry sedan delivers a slightly livelier driving experience. But don’t confuse the Camry for a corner-carver: Its emphasis remains quiet and comfortable road manners. The standard 178-horsepower 4-cylinder engine that most Camry buyers will choose is more than adequate for everyday acceleration and passing power. Linked exclusively to a 6-speed automatic transmission, it is a willing and faithful partner in the city, on country roads, or on interstate highways around Orlando Florida or anywhere in North America.

The 5-passenger interior of the 2017 Camry isn’t as stylistically forward as its exterior might suggest, but it’s hardly bland. Moreover, it’s supremely functional.

Big cup holders and multiple storage nooks surround the sporty gear selector, and even the steering wheel has a familiar feel and looks more sophisticated now with its bevy of integrated controls. The Camry has good room for passengers up front and in back, and the trunk has a sizable 15.4 cubic feet of space.

The winning formula of the Camry is in my opinion due to the fact it is plain and simple.  For example the Camry uses traditional knobs and dials around its standard 6.1-inch or optional 7-inch display infotainment  screen. The controls are big, easy to read and simple to use. The standard JBL audio system in my test vehicle also was very good.

No doubt this is best looking Camry to date. The significant revisions to the sheet metal that arrived a couple of years ago still look fresh for 2017. Bookended by an eye-catching front end and a nicely detailed rear, the stylish but not outlandish  Camry is sure to attract new buyers without scaring away longtime devotees.

My test vehicle an XLE trim Camry has a choice of three powertrains. Most buyers will be more than satisfied with the standard 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine that offers a good blend of performance and fuel economy.  Power is rated at 178 Hp along with 170 lb-ft of torque delivering an EPA average of 24 MPG city and 33 mpg pn the highway.  My XLE model starts  at a very reasonable $27, 145

If you enjoy a more sporty sedan I would recommend the Mazda6 but if you not an enthusiast driver.   Its taken me a long time bt now I understand better why Toyota sells so many Camry vehicles.

The Long Drive Rankings

Front Engine-FWD 6 speed automatic

Highlights

Styling

Comfort

Simple layout

Lowlights

Not a drivers car

The Best Camry ever but still a little bland

The Long Drive Rankings 1 Low 10 High

Exterior Styling 7
Interior styling and quality 8

Handling 6

Braking 6
Fuel Economy 7
Stereo System 8

Performance 5
Trunk-Cargo Capacity 8

Navigation 8
Audio System 7

 

2017 Acura ILX is a Pleasant Surprise

I have been an automotive journalist receiving press vehicles every week for over 25 years. It takes a lot to surprise me but recently a 2017 Acura ILX with the Tech Plus & A-Spec packages did just that in a very positive way.

When I first got in the Acura I was greeting by the  look, feel and smell of a Honda family product. But once I drove away I was impressed by two items right away  for a front drive car this is very neutral good handling machine and wow this a true dual clutch transmission

The 2017 Acura ILX  is a  focused and comfortable compact sedan on the first rung of the Acura luxury ladder.

Last year, the Acura ILX received a slight refresh in front and back.  Inside for 2017 you will find improved interior materials and some changes at the center of the dash, where connectivity features have been given an upgrade with the introduction of Acura’s dual-screen infotainment systems to the ILX.  Also for 2017 gets the same 2.4-liter inline-4 and dual-clutch setup as Acura’s next-larger model the TLX. The power rating is 201 horsepower along with 180 pound-feet of torque (up 10 lb-ft over the previous 2.4-liter).

There’s solid-feeling construction throughout, with quality materials, and fit and finish is very good. Acura improved cabin refinement and quietness back in 2017 with thicker glass and noise-attenuating wheels; and that’s in addition to the smart active noise cancellation system Acura made standard for the lineup last year.

The 8-speed dual-clutch gearbox uses a torque converter for low-speed smoothness, yet its shifts are super-quick during high-performance driving, with rev-matched downshifts and good driver control through steering-wheel shift paddles. The dual-clutch transmission is superb and a near-perfect pairing of smoothness and responsiveness. Without question at this price point a true dual clutch unit is rare and it transform the way the drive performs when pushed hard, clicking off shifts at in a milli-second.

The 2017 ILX achieves EPA ratings of 25 mpg city, 35 highway, 29 combined with this powertrain.  Again this dual-clutch automatic transmission is a gem. It automates the function of a manual transmission for quicker shifting and, while similar transmissions are available from several manufacturers, the Acura version has a twist: There’s also an old-school torque converter, providing a torque boost and smoother operation overall.

The suspension and steering are equally fun just cruising around town, or exploring your favorite mountain road. This one of the better handling front drive vehicles on the road. at any price.

The Acura ILX is much quieter since its 2016 upgrade, making it less stressful to drive, and sportier since you can now hear the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder’s satisfying note. Beyond that the interior uses good materials, with only a few hard plastic touches as reminders that you bought on a budget. The comfortable front seats are matched with comfortable rears, and the driver’s controls are mostly easy to use.  My A-Spec test model seats had unique fabric and gray contrast stitching. along with 18 inch wheels and some suspension tweaks,

Acura calls its multi-lensed LED headlight treatment “Jewel Eye,” and it’s definitely distinctive.. The 2017 ILX adds a separate bar of LED running lights, and overall it looks nice. The grille treatment, taillights, front and rear bumpers, and the rest of the exterior design manage to look distinctly different from the Honda Civic upon which the ILX is based.

All 2017 Acura ILX models come standard with the 2.4-liter engine and 8-speed automatic transmission. They also come fairly well loaded with other features, including a rearview camera with multiple views, automatic headlights, dual-zone GPS-linked climate control, passive entry with push-button start, and an 8-way power driver’s seat. Even base models get heated front seats, and part of the ILX’s quiet is thanks to noise abating wheels and active noise cancellation.

A base 2017 Acura ILX will run you just under $29,000 when you include the $940 destination charge. Move up to the Premium Package and you’re looking at just under $31,000, and the Technology Plus model comes in at just under $34,000.   The ILX costs thousands less than the base model Audi A3 or Mercedes-Benz CLA250, especially when you start adding options to those other cars.

Overall the 2017 Acura ILX is full of pleasant surprises which makes it a great value in compact entry-level luxury sedan world.

The Long Drive Rankings

Front Engine-FWD

Highlights

Dual Clutch Transmission

Performance

Handling

Lowlights

Some find the infotainment system confusing

No manual option for purists

Scale 1 low-10 High

Exterior Styling 7

Interior styling and quality 7

Handling 8.5

Braking 7

Fuel Economy 9

Audio System 7

Performance 7

Trunk-Cargo Capacity 7

2017 Honda V-6 Touring Coupe Quality with a little added fun.

By Bob Long

It’s been a long time since I have been behind the wheel of Honda Accord Coupe. Recently I had the opportunity to sample a Touring V-6 coupe and came away from the experience with a smile on my face.

I still like the Accord Coupe’s exterior lines, and there’s more space in the back seat than you might expect. The dash layout is typical Honda good, and the company seems to have made some changes to its dual-screen stereo/nav/bluetooth setup that make it significantly easier to master.   However the with no volume knob it can frustrating operating the entertainment system.

Driving around greater Orlando FL the coupe drew its share of admirers.  People exclaimed “nice car!” and “that’s cool, what is it?” during my time behind this Accord’s wheel. I’d say Honda’s styling department did something right. This is probably the best-looking Accord to date, or at least the most aggressively styled.  This also a vehicle that quite a few modern designs looks better in person than in pictures.

The most interesting thing about this Accord, which may or may not be surprising, is that it’s actually fast. It does things you don’t expect a standard Honda to do including torque steer, and squealing tires, real performance fun. The automatic mated to the 3.5-liter V6 did a fine job at managing the 278 hp and the 252 lb-ft of torques.

During my time on the highway, the Accord proved docile and comfortable the cabin was virtually free of wind and road noise, the seat was supportive and the infotainment system was very good.  While the power delivery might surprise, the rest of the car feels perfectly Honda. The brakes work well, but don’t send you much feedback. The steering feels is light and numb, but still does a decent job.

If you’re looking for something more subdued than an outright performance car, the Accord will still scratch your itching desire for speed.

The 3.5-L V6 and is emission certified at the LEV3-ULEV125-rating. What’s that all about?  Well, the engine and the Accord overall has really low emissions. This pays off by not only being green, but if you happen to work in a LEED certified building you may get a closer-in parking space that’s required to be reserved to encourage clean-vehicles as part of the LEED rating.

I enjoyed my drive time with the Accord Touring V6. Acceleration is quite impressive and the fuel gauge never seemed to move. And when pushed, the engine isn’t overly noisy. Zero to 60 mph is in the low-6 second range. Overall ride and handling are very confident and composed . Interstate on-ramps are taken with ease and there isn’t much body roll.

The Accord Coupe rides on 40-series tires on 19-inch wheels, making it a little rough riding at times especially for those buyers not used to sport or sporty cars like the Accord

The interior is quite roomy with good seat comfort and an overall high-quality feel. The push button start is easy to locate with its bright red coloring. There’s a 7-inch touch screen for audio control but no physical knobs for tuning or volume. There’s a volume control on the steering wheel that works quite well, but that doesn’t help the front passenger.

I love Honda’s Lane Watch feature that displays an image in the center screen of the right lane next to the car when the right turn signal is on. It’s great for checking for bicyclists.

There’s also heated front and rear seats, front and rear parking sensors and a rear view camera.

The full suite of Honda Sensing safety technology is standard on the Accord Touring V6. It includes Adaptive Cruise Control with Low Speed Follow, Collision Mitigation Braking System, Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Warning with automatic braking, Lane Keeping Assist, and Road Departure Mitigation.

The forward collision alert is a bit sensitive flashing its “Brake!” visual flash alarm.  The 2017 Accord Sedan has received the highest available crash safety rating, a 5-Star Overall Vehicle Score from the NHTSA.

This new safety technology that has become available on more and more new vehicles really is proving beneficial to help reduce even minor collisions. If I had a young new driver in my family I would want them driving a car with this safety equipment.

The 2017 Honda Accord pulls off quite a feat when it comes to style: It looks handsome, contemporary, yet timeless. This is a well-proportioned vehicle whose design will likely hold up well as the years pass. The Accord coupe looks elegant, sporty and more expensive than it is. The 3.5-liter V6 delivers decent power and is rated at 21 city and 32 MPG highway. A top-line Accord Touring model sits above $35,000 in coupe form like my test model

For those a little more style in their Accord and some performance fun the V6 Accord delivers a great driving experience and is good entry into the world of performance coupes.

The Long Drive Rankings

Front Engine-FWD

Highlights

Styling

Comfort

Safety features

The ability to light up the tires in an Honda Accord

 

Lowlights

Pesky Touch screen

No volume nob just a sliding digital scale on the entertainment system face

No AWD option

Scale 1 low-10 High

Exterior Styling 8

Interior styling and quality 7

Handling 6

Braking 6

Fuel Economy 8

Audio System 6

Performance 6

Trunk-Cargo Capacity 6

 

The Non Truck-Truck 2017 Honda Ridgeline Black Edition is Pure Joy

By Bob Long

I said on my national radio program AutoWorld with guest Mark Williams Editor and Chief at pickup trucks.com I was not going to title my print review “the non Truck Truck” but I have decided to do it anyway.  I really like the Black Edition and the title is on target.

Again, I did not expect to like this second generation Ridgeline that much but I liked it a lot  Both Mark and I were Editors at Motor Trend when the first generation took home the Motor Trend Truck of the Year Award.  But this second generation us so much better and this special edition is a knockout.  All black inside and out and running on set of black wheels the truck got positive feedback everywhere I drove greater Orlando FL

The Honda Ridgeline returns to a reinvigorated midsize pickup segment after a two-year absence. The fully redesigned 2017 Honda Ridgeline hangs on to what made it unique while introducing improvements that make it  a lot more functional and it will attract a wider audience.

The new Ridgeline still has more in common with Honda’s midsize SUV, the Pilot, than other trucks in the segment. The wheelbase has been stretched to accommodate a truck bed and the suspension components have added beef, but the Ridgeline still delivers a car like ride and manageable handling which in my opinion is good for that certain type of truck buyer.

The Ridgeline also gets an upgraded 3.5-liter V6 and six-speed transmission, a good combination that’s 30-horsepower stronger than generation one Ridgeline.  It puts out 280 HP and 262 lb-ft of torque.  EPA mileage numbers for my all wheel Drive test model
18 mpg city and 25 mpg highway.  My load all wheel drive test truck came in price wise at around $44,000.

The Honda Ridgeline still only come in a single crew cab with short bed configuration. But this time around the forward cabin is as attractive and inviting as a Pilot, and is available with the Pilot’s full range of the latest tech and safety features. Meanwhile, the back row retains the class-leading legroom and unique folding rear seat that made the original Ridgeline so flexible and accommodating.

The old styling cues have been scrapped in favor of a more traditional bed design. The change makes it easier to reach into the forward end, and it allowed a 3.2-inch wheelbase stretch that enabled a longer bed. Now 66 inches long, the Ridgeline’s bed is 2.3 inches longer than a Chevrolet Colorado’s and 3.5 inches longer than a Toyota Tacoma’s. As for the Ridgeline’s signature in-bed trunk and dual-action tailgate, they’re still here and as fantastic as ever.

But some aspects of the Ridgeline still trail the competition. The intelligent all-wheel-drive system now has driver-selectable terrain settings, but crossover SUV levels of clearance and suspension articulation limit it to light-duty dirt-roading. And while it is well suited to towing 5,000 pounds, those who want to tow more will need to look elsewhere.

The return of a much-improved 2017 Honda Ridgeline makes the midsize truck segment an interesting place. With the off-roady Toyota Tacoma on one end, the shrunken full-size familiarity of the Chevrolet Colorado in the middle and the practical and smooth-driving Honda Ridgeline at the other end, midsize truck buyers have a wide spectrum of choices.

The 2017 Honda Ridgeline masters the careful balance between midsize truck and quiet, refined SUV. The cabin’s dimensions are essentially the same as they were in the last-generation Ridgeline, meaning that front and rear seats are pleasantly roomy for five people. The design is crisp and fresh, with greatly improved materials, and features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, heated seats and an 8-inch touch screen. If you want to carry gear inside, push the 60/40-split rear seat against the back of the cab to allow space for a bicycle or a 55-inch flat screen TV.

All Ridgeline’s come standard with  active noise cancellation, hill-start assist, and 18-inch wheels. Also standard are a rearview camera and the useful dual-action tailgate, eight tie-down cleats, truck bed lights, an in-bed trunk, and Intelligent Traction Management. Also in every Ridgeline are power windows with (front) auto-up/down, push-button start, cruise control, a tilt/telescoping wheel, air conditioning with filtration, and Bluetooth hands-free and streaming audio. There are plenty of safety systems, including collision-mitigation braking, road-departure mitigation, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot information with cross traffic, and LaneWatch. , adaptive cruise control, navigation, an acoustic windshield, truck bed audio, a 400-watt truck bed outlet, 3-zone climate control, leather seats, and heated front seats are options. The top stereo is a 540-watt, 8-speaker system which sounded great in my test Truck

Americans love trucks and my auto journalist friends have told me stories of the Texas State fair turning into a Truck international Auto Show. There’s a long-held set of ideas that many truck buyers consider obligatory  a body-on-frame platform is chief among them, along with purpose-built hardware like four wheel drive transfer cases and a solid rear axle.

I say this not a truck for that crowd but rather a different more Urban/suburbanite part-time truck most time a  small family SUV.  As I said earlier The Ridgeline’s awarded in-bed trunk makes a return in the second generation pickup, allowing for secured storage under the floor of the bed that also incorporates a drain plug at the bottom so it can also be used as an ice chest.
Adding to the Ridgeline’s tailgating prowess is the Truck Bed Audio function which uses the Ridgeline’s bed as an outdoor sound system. It might seem like a gimmicky feature at first, but in practice it sounds surprisingly good. Paired with the bed’s additional features, like a 400w power outlet and a dual action tailgate that can swing either down or out, the Ridgeline might be the most versatile party-mobile and Tailgate party king on sale today.  I think it just plain cool.  The 2017 Honda Ridgeline Black edition is pure joy to drive and packs a great bang for buck

 

The Long Drive Rankings

Front Engine-AWD

Highlights

Styling

Comfort

Truck bed audio system

Lowlights

Not for the hardcore Truck person

Some interior plastics could be better quality

 

Scale 1 low-10 High

Exterior Styling 8

Interior styling and quality 7

Handling 7

Braking 6

Fuel Economy 7

Audio System 9

Performance 5

Trunk-Cargo Capacity 10

Navigation 9