Spring Cleaning Part 2: What's in store at Honda for the 2009 Model Year
Date: May 08, 2008 13:30
The big news at Honda for the 2009 model year involves the products that bookend the lineup, with full changeovers for the Fit and Pilot, and a midcycle refresh (MMC) for the Civic and Ridgeline. It's unfortunate that the new global dedicated hybrid model and CR-Z won't be ready until next year, because judging by where the US marketplace currently sits, these would be instant hits.
|Accord The Accord was rededesigned for 2008 and has been selling well for Honda. No significant changes are expected for 2009.|
Summary: Honda's sales leader goes forward largely unchanged.
|Civic The eighth generation Honda Civic has been selling like hotcakes for Honda ever since the 2006 model was introduced in September of 2005. For 2009 it is scheduled for its MMC (mid-cycle model change, or minor model change), but given the success of the current model, the changes to the 2009 model are expected to be largely superficial (mild styling tweaks to the headlights, taillamps, etc...). We have heard of several pending color changes in the Si model. Fiji Blue Pearl, Habanero Red, and Galaxy Gray are supposedly going to be replaced with different shades ("Teal", "Orange", and "Metal" are said to be the new shades), and Nighthawk Black will supposedly be replaced with another flavor of black. Engineering changes to the Si are expected to be minimal, though one rumor suggests that there may be a new intake manifold in store. As for the "3rd gear issue" that has been buzzing the forums, Honda implemented some running changes midway through the 2008 model year, along with a TSB for previous model years, so this issue has already been addressed, though it remains to be seen whether or not there are further engineering changes in store for the transmissions in 2009 model Sis. It would be nice if the Civic picks up the USB/iPod interface that is featured on the 2009 Pilot and Fit, but retrofitting the existing stereo systems may be too costly for this generation|
Summary: The minor model change places an emphasis on the word minor
|CR-V New for model year 2007, Honda's small crossover has been a smash hit. Changes are expected to be minimal for model year 2009. Down the road, we might see a diesel CR-V being offered in the USA.|
Summary:No changes are expected until the CR-V gets its MMC next year. Honda may be considering offering a diesel in the CR-V at some time in the future.
|CR-Z The CR-Z is a go for the Japanese market, but Honda is being tight-lipped about whether or not the spiritual successor to the CRX will be offered in the USA as well (hint to Honda: bring it here!). For the moment, the only powertrain being discussed is a hybrid unit, but we're hoping that Honda sees fit to sneak a high-revving conventional powertrain in an Si-badged version. The concept that debuted in Tokyo last October featured a 2+2 configuration - it's unclear whether or not the production version will also be a 2+2 or if it will evolve into a 2-seater.|
Summary: Honda's sporty hybrid will be introduced in overseas markets next year, but it's not yet a certainty for the USA.
Available: 2009 (Japan)
|Element The Element will return to the lineup largely as-is for 2009, while it awaits its FMC. 2009 will be the 7th model year of the Element on its present architecture, so while we don't have any confirmed dates for the FMC, it can't be too far off. Little is known about what the FMC will entail, but if Honda can improve upon the utility and efficiency of the Element while keeping it affordable and easy to maintain, it should have little trouble sparking interest in the marketplace.|
Summary: The Element soldiers on for 2009.
Watch For: For those who may be considering the purchase of an Element, I recommend that you check out the SC model before they go away for good.
|FCX Clarity Introduced at the 2007 Los Angeles International Auto Show, the world's first mass-produced fuel cell vehicle will begin finding its way into customer's garages within a matter of weeks.
|Fit The US-version of the all-new Fit was recently unveiled at the New York Auto Show, and was well received. Though subjectively not as handsome as its Japanese and European counterparts, the updated sheetmetal gives the 2009 Fit a more modern look, and brings along with it significant enhancements in safety (ACE body structure, available VSA) and features (available sat-nav and USB iPod interface). The updated 1.5L is expected to deliver around 120hp in its US-spec, and will again be offered with a 5-speed manual transmission or an optional 5-speed automatic transmission with SportShift. Improvements in structural rigidity and suspension design promise to improve upon the Fit's already impressive levels of refinement. Even the Magic Seat has been improved, now offering a one-motion dive-down functionality and multiple configuration modes to help make the most of the Fit's spacious interior.|
Summary: A great little car gets even better.
Watch For: A waiting list at Honda dealers.
|Global Small Hybrid This car is on track for its global introduction in early calendar year 2009. Honda's hoping to sell around 200000 copies of these per year, worldwide. The story here hasn't changed much, but a fairly recent story by Automotive News indicates that the car's styling will resemble that of the FCX Clarity, which should put the more affordable hybrid about level with or even beyond the Prius' "look at me, I'm saving the planet!" quotient. This same Automotive News story indicates that the new global hybrid model will feature a powertrain based heavily upon the Civic Hybrid's IMA system, but it will feature a newly designed electric motor and engine control unit, which will pare down the packaging size as well as reduce mass. Honda has also taken the decision to use Nickel Metal Hydrid (NiMH) batteries (as opposed to newer Li-Ion technology) - this will also keep costs down. Honda claims that Lithium Ion battery technology still has a ways to go before it's considered a viable and (more importantly) safe alternative to NiMH.|
Summary: Honda hopes to deliver the most affordable hybrid vehicle yet.
Watch For: Possible introduction of the concept in October at the 2008 Paris Motor Show. We expect the concept to make its US debut at the 2008 Los Angeles International Auto Show in late November.
Available: Early 2009
|Odyssey The Odyssey received a very quiet MMC last year, getting a 2nd generation VCM engine, an audio-input jack, daytime running lights, and very mild exterior updates. No changes are expected for 2009.
Summary: No substantial changes are expected for 2009.
Watch For: The Odyssey continues to sell fairly well for Honda, but with skyrocketing fuel prices, how long will demand hold up for large vehicles? And for future iterations, will Honda depart radically from the current Odyssey's formula in order to raise the bar in terms of efficiency?
|Pilot The Pilot is all new for 2009 and will be going on sale later this month. Dimensionally larger and packed with more features and utility, it has (thankfully) posted a minimal weight gain. Thanks to Honda's second generation VCM (variable cylinder management) and careful attention towards reducing mechanical and aerodynamic drag, the 2009 Pilot has also posted gains in terms of efficiency. A more efficient, diesel V-6 is rumored to be in the works, and may be ready for a 2011 model year introduction.|
Summary: The 2009 Pilot is all-new and better in just about every way imaginable, but will the controversial styling hold it back?
Watch For: A diesel V6 option may be coming within a few years
Available: May 22, 2008
|Ridgeline Honda's innovative unit-body crossover pickup truck debuted in early 2005 as a 2006 model. It has sold at a reasonable pace, but it hasn't quite met Honda's expectations in that regard. It's due for its MMC pretty soon, and Honda has confirmed that an update is indeed on its way soon, but they won't confirm whether the MMC will occur during the 2009 model year or sometime afterwards. UPDATE: We've received some new info from an anonymous source indicating that the MMC is in fact taking place during model year 2009, and it will be appearing in showrooms sometime in July. Honda has reportedly informed its dealers that the Ridgeline has gone through a "large scale, minor-model change (MMC)". A "bolder look" is promised, along with "integrated towing features" and several new accessories. Styling improvements are said to have been executed to both the front and the rear of the vehicle. New features coming to the RTL model include 18" wheels and a rear-view camera. Also coming are two additional bed tie downs, daytime running lights (DRL), and a hitch integrated into the rear bumper. Interior enhancements are also coming, and a new soft tonneau cover will be offered.|
Summary: The Pilot is getting an MMC "soon". How soon? We don't know yet.
Watch For: A V6 diesel has been long rumored to be in the works. We don't expect to see it within the next 12 months, however.
Available: Autumn 2008
|S2000 Rarely does a Honda vehicle see two MMCs, but the S2000 was subjected to its second MMC for the 2008 model year, when the CR trim level was added. Rumors concerning the S2000's demise following the 2008 model year have been swirling about but we have confirmed that it will be returning for the 2009 model year. Honda is said to be working on a next-generation sports car to replace the S2000, but at this point we're not expecting to see it until 2010 at the earliest.|
Summary: 2009 S2000 will see minimal changes
Watch For: Honda's next-generation Sports Car will replace S2000 in 2010 or 2011, but will it carry forward with the S2000's spirit, or will it be a new concept?
The buzz regarding bringing the Honda Stream into the US has been brewing for years, but we've yet to hear any sort of confirmation. Honda has been contemplating a crossover that would slot in between the CR-V and Pilot, and the Stream would almost be a candidate for that (at least in terms of passenger capacity), but it's based on the Civic architecture and is actually positioned below the CR-V in its home market. Whatever the case, we feel that Honda could capitalize on the US's renewed interest in small vehicles by placing the Stream into showrooms ASAP. UPDATE: We've received word from a source that a new crossover is a go and it will be using the name 'Latitude'. Consistent with past rumors, it's also supposedly based upon the Accord architecture - so it's sounding less probable that it will simply be a re-badged Stream. It also sounds like that this may be one of the 2 "surprises". We're also thinking this will be positioned directly against the new Toyota Venza.
Summary: An Accord-based crossover is supposedly on its way.
|Surprises (x2) Word has it that Honda will be introducing two new "surprise" models over the next 24 months. We don't know anything about these except that one of them will supposedly be built in the new plant in Indiana. UPDATE: With the recent development on the Latitude, we're thinking that this is probably one of the two surprises. |
Last edited by JeffX on
May 16, 2008 22:40