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Friday
Apr222016

The Honda Accord Hybrid Returns for 2017

Honda’s Accord Hybrid returns for the 2017 model year with a more powerful and efficient drivetrain, and the highest EPA mileage rating of any midsize hybrid sedan. Interestingly, Honda sold 358,557 Accords in the U.S. last year, but is hoping to double its previous best annual sales record of 14,000 Accord Hybrids sold in 2014. In Accord terms, the Hybrid is something of a niche vehicle.

That doesn’t worry John Mendel, Executive Vice President of the American Honda Motor Co., Inc. “With Accord already America's most popular car three years running, and the best-selling midsize car to younger buyers, we think this new hybrid model will add considerable momentum for the Honda brand.”

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Friday
Apr222016

Honda Brings Clarity to its Fuel Cell Vehicle

No, you’re not reading another story about the multi-powertrain Hyundai Ioniq, but about Honda’s plans to add battery electric and plug-in hybrid models to its Clarity fuel cell vehicle in 2017. The vehicles will share the platform created for the five-passenger fuel cell sedan, but not every version will be sold in all 50 states. Due to the sparse infrastructure for refueling of hydrogen fuel cells, the Clarity FCV will be the first on the market, with deliveries to customers in select California market beginning late this year.

The fuel cell stack in the Clarity FCV is 33% more compact and has a 60% increase in power density than that of its predecessor, making the integrated powertrain about the size of a V6 engine. This means the entire unit is packaged entirely under the hood, which makes the cabin more spacious. Honda expects the EPA to give the fuel cell Clarity an estimated range of 300 miles, and says refueling time should take from three to five minutes. This puts it on par with a gasoline-powered vehicle.

The Clarity Electric will go on sale in 2017. It replaces the fuel cell stack with an electric drive system, and uses a battery pack similar to the Clarity FCV’s. It will be followed by the Clarity Plug-In Hybrid about which Honda has released little information. Available in all 50 states, this car will be the sales volume leader of the Clarity line, and promises an all-electric driving range of 40 miles with an efficient gasoline-hybrid extended range mode. — CAS


Friday
Apr222016

Ford Taurus SHO: My How You’ve Grown!

Here’s an interesting little infographic from the folks at Blue Springs Ford Parts that looks at the original 1989 Taurus SHO, and its 2016 counterpart. You can see the increase in power (220 hp vs, 365 hp) and torque (200 lb.-ft. vs. 350 lb.-ft.), and how this extra grunt is necessary to pull around nearly 1,000 more lb. of weight. Even so, the new car is quicker, stops faster, corners harder, and gets the exact same fuel economy as its predecessor. And all at an MSRP that is very little higher than that of the inflation-adjusted — and less lavishly equipped — 1989 model. But what this infographic really makes you wonder is what Ford could have done with the Taurus had it not borrowed an aging sedan/SUV platform from Volvo and kept an eye on weight. — CAS

Friday
Apr222016

The Connoisseurs Choice: Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring

By Christopher A. Sawyer

Quite honestly, the name and the styling threw me off at first. I thought the CX-3 was built on the Mazda3 platform, but soon released it is much smaller than the Mazda3-based CX-5 when I tried the back seat. That’s when I noticed the similarity between the CX-3’s instrument panel and that of the Scion (now Toyota) iA. Like that sedan, the CX-3 is based on the Mazda2, a vehicle so unloved it’s no longer sold here.

Which, if you think about it, doesn’t bode well of the CX-3. After all, if the Mazda2 is unloved, what could possibly make the little crossover more attractive? Simple. It’s a small crossover, one of the hottest markets on the planet right now, and a great place to grab entry-level buyers as they purchase their first new car. It’s been a gold mine for Buick (Encore), has drawn in Chevy (Trax), and attracted Jeep (Renegade) and Fiat (500X) with more to follow.

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