Honda has run into a few problems with its new-vehicle introductions of late. The current Accord was a bit too large in this era of downsizing, the Accord Crosstour was knocked for its styling, and the Insight hybrid suffered disappointing sales.
Things may have changed, though. The newly redesigned Odyssey minivan has received high marks. The crucial question is how the delayed Civic redesign, due in February 2011, will be received.
Electric vehicle: Honda will sell a battery-electric "commuter car" in 2012 for the 2013 model year that will look similar to the EV-N, unveiled at the 2009 Tokyo auto show. The EV-N's retro style evokes the original N600 that Honda debuted 40 years ago. In addition to a standard plug-in, the EV-N gets power from solar panels on the roof.
Fit: Honda Europe will get a hybrid version of the small car, but the company has canceled a hybrid for North America. Instead, Honda will use that powertrain in the similarly sized Insight.
Insight: No major changes are planned in the next three years.
Civic: The redesigned Civic arrives in February 2011 as a 2011 model. Originally meant to be larger, the car was delayed six months when the recession and upcoming corporate average fuel economy regulations forced Honda engineers to shrink it.
Spy photos of the new Civic show a more aggressive rake to the windshield and B-pillar. The C-pillar of the sedan version borrows BMW's "Hofmeister kink" in the rear quarter-window. The trunk lid appears more rounded and less stubby and angular.
A Honda source said the boy-racer "Si" version will continue. A hybrid version with a lithium ion battery pack comes later in 2011, probably in the fall. Also, because natural-gas vehicles get carpool-lane access in California, Honda will outfit the GX trim in better materials. The current version is cheaply packaged for utility fleets.