Honda's new Earth Dreams engine family will debut in the redesigned Accord this fall and then trickle through the rest of the lineup.
The new engines have direct injection and double-overhead cams. They will produce at least a 10 percent fuel economy advantage over Honda's current four-cylinders.
Earth Dreams engines will be added as each vehicle is redesigned, and in some cases will be available for mid-cycle revisions. Even the base four-cylinder will have a twin-cam profile setup, variable valve timing and direct injection. And there also is talk of bringing a 1.6-liter diesel with 220 pounds-feet of torque to the United States.
Honda also is putting heavy emphasis on continuously variable transmissions. While performance models and off-road vehicles will retain geared transmissions, mainstream cars will have CVTs.
With the introduction of Honda's large-car hybrid powertrain system next year, more vehicles in the lineup will have a hybrid option.
Here's a look at Honda's product plans:
Fit: Europe gets a hybrid version, but Honda has canceled plans for a Fit hybrid in North America.
A redesign of the Fit comes in summer of 2014. Because Honda will have a dedicated plant in Mexico to handle Fit production for the United States, expect some local market design cues and features that won't appear in the Japanese or European models. But Honda might not wait until then to install the Earth Dreams 1.5-liter inline-four with 127 hp and 111 pounds-feet of torque, as well as a CVT.
Fit EV: The electric version of the Fit went on sale this summer with an EPA-rated equivalent of 118 mpg. But its range is just 82 miles. Packaging the battery pack was difficult, so expect the next Fit to have a different suspension module for the hybrid and EV versions.
Insight: No word on whether the nickel-metal hydride battery pack will swap out for lithium ion before the 2015-model redesign.
Civic: Terrible reviews of the Civic's interior plastics have prompted a major freshening for this fall, just 18 months after launch. Expect a big improvement in the tactile feel of the instrument panel. A 1.8-liter inline-four Earth Dreams engine with 148 hp and 133 pounds-feet of torque, mated to a CVT, could be installed in the spring 2014 midcycle change.
CR-Z: A higher-performance CR-Z supposedly was on the way. But with the punishing yen exchange rate jacking up the price, that version may not reach the United States.
S2000: Honda hasn't had a proper sports car since the S2000 went away in 2009. The early success of the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ have American Honda product planners angling for a competitive model. But it is not a priority in Japan.