Brian Benstock believes Honda's product lineup has what it takes to get the automaker through potentially "bumpy" times ahead.
Stagnating industry sales and rising interest rates will pose challenges to dealers of all stripes. Despite this, Benstock says, the company is well-positioned to stem the tide even as the brand fights through a down period to start the year. Benstock is a board member for the TriHonda dealer ad group that represents Connecticut, New Jersey and New York.
Sales of the CR-V compact crossover, along with the Civic and Accord — the reigning North American Car of the Year — are trailing 2017 performance. But the vehicles rate highly with critics, and Benstock says he can't think of a manufacturer with a stronger product line than Honda's.
And while some dealers think the award-winning redesigned Accord is in desperate need of incentives to spark sales, Benstock, general manager of Paragon Honda and Paragon Acura in New York City's Queens borough, thinks it's still too early for that.
The Honda lineup will only get deeper in the months ahead with the rumored return of the Passport utility vehicle, along with a more stylish Insight hybrid sedan that could have broader appeal than its predecessors.
Looking ahead, Benstock said the brand could use a "sexy" little sports car like the S2000 to fill out the portfolio.
Benstock said he welcomes the return of the Passport. The two-row crossover is expected to contend with the Ford Edge, Hyundai Santa Fe and Nissan Murano in the U.S. midsize crossover segment.
"It's nostalgic for me because that was our first entry into the SUV world," Benstock said, referring to the old Passport that Honda sourced from Isuzu in the 1990s. "With Honda being 100 percent behind the production of it, I think it will be really exciting."