Honda’s Dream Garage: Accords And CR-Vs Are Only The Beginning – Forbes
The word “renaissance” is overused, which is why you won’t see it again in this story. But the meaning behind that word is quite accurate in describing what’s happening at Japan’s third-largest automaker. With global automotive sales of around 4.3 million units last year Honda is less than half the size of its primary rival, Toyota. But there’s more than one way to measure a company’s volume. For instance, Toyota doesn’t sell many motorcycles, but Honda sells quite a few (last year the number was just short of 18 million). Toyota also doesn’t sell a lot of non-automotive engines, but Honda makes and sells engines to power everything from three-row SUVs to small ATVs, lawnmowers, outboard marine engines, emergency generators and even jets and soil tillers. The company claims to have the most diverse product line of any company in the world, and they back it up with an impressive statistic as the world’s largest engine manufacturer. Last year the company sold 28 million engines, which is almost as many engines as cars sold by Toyota, Volkswagen and GM — combined.
Beyond an updated 2016 Accord (which goes on sale later this month), Honda recently introduced an all-new Pilot and an updated CR-V, and in the coming months an all-new Civic will debut. That’s a lot of new car activity in a short timeframe, which makes it’s easy to forget about Honda’s non-automotive endeavors if you’ve never considered them for anything other than a car, or maybe a motorcycle. This is why the company recently let a group of journalists sample its full line of products (except the HondaJet) at a press event in Southern California called the “Honda Dream Garage.” I went into the event primarily focused on the refreshed 2016 Honda Accord, and after driving it for over 100 miles I can confirm it’s been further upgraded following a highly effective redesign in 2013. The big changes include revised front and rear fascias with more aggressive styling, upgraded interior materials and all-new connected-car technology in the form of Apple's Apple's CarPlay and Android Auto. Honda says the 2016 Accord will be the first volume model to offer both of these technologies, which mirror a cell phone’s features and user interface for a more intuitive experience.
The new Accord also gets the “Honda Sensing” suite of technology as an option on every Accord trim level. This means you can order a base 2016 Accord Sport sedan, with a 6-speed manual transmission and a starting price of $22,925, and still add forward collision warning, collision mitigation braking, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control and road departure mitigation for approximately $1,000. Chassis updates for the new Accord include a stiffer chassis, upgraded suspension and steering components, larger brakes on Sport and Touring models and a 1 mpg bump in highway ratings for 4-cylinder models. Finally, the 2016 Accord Coupe now comes in top-of-the-line Touring trim, a premium trim formerly reserved for the sedan only.
After experiencing the new Accord I tried out several of Honda’s latest two-wheel offerings, including the surprisingly sporty CBR300R, the strangely addictive Grom and the truly bizarre NM4. The CBR300R costs $4,400 ($4,900 with ABS) and has the look of a full-bore superbike wrapped around a 286cc single-cylinder engine. Honda doesn’t release official horsepower figures for its motorcycles, but outside testing has shown the bike to offer around 28 horsepower and 18 pound-feet of torque, which doesn’t sound like much. Yet the little CBR’s curb weight is only 357 pounds, meaning it still offers an entertaining ride for experienced motorcyclists and an ideal starting point for riders new to the sport. The single cylinder engine is surprisingly smooth, so much so I didn’t know it was a single until the Honda representatives told me, after my ride.