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The Future of Honda - Autoweek

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Up-and-Coming Hondas?
Eighth-generation Accord is biggest news
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By KATHY JACKSON | Link to Original Article @ AutoWeek


The eighth-generation 2008 Accord is the big news for Honda.

The redesigned vehicle that arrives in September is the biggest Accord ever and is sportier and more powerful than its predecessor. Honda hopes that it helps lure younger buyers to the Honda family.

"The Accord is the single most important product in Honda's lineup," John Mendel, American Honda Motor Co.'s senior vice president, said in an interview in January. "We believe this new design will bring emotion to (the Accord) like what happened with the redesigned Civic."

Honda also is determined to be the greenest car company. It plans to bring out a wider range of hybrid, diesel and fuel cell vehicles over the next several years.

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Fit: This is the smallest car Honda sells here. U.S. sales began in April 2006. But that model has been sold since 2002 in Japan and other markets. A redesigned version debuts this fall in Japan as a five-door hatchback.

Honda sources say U.S. dealers won't get the redesigned car before the 2009 model year at the earliest. What isn't clear is whether Honda will continue to export the current hatchback to the United States until the redesigned model goes on sale here.

FCX: Honda's fuel cell car goes on sale next year as a 2009 model. The four-door is expected to have a 270-mile range. The interior features a biofabric partly made from corn. The car will not look like the concept FCX.

Stephen Ellis, Honda's fuel cell marketing manager, says the company will market the redesigned vehicle aggressively.

New hybrid model: Honda will introduce a hybrid for the 2010 model year that is smaller than the Civic. Sources say it will be a sedan version of the redesigned Fit but will have a different name.

Remix: The once-popular Civic CRX sport hatchback may return in spirit to the United States as a sporty hybrid for the 2011 model year. The three-door CRX came to the United States in the early 1980s. It was replaced in 1992 by the del Sol, which was killed in 1997.

Honda showed the two-seat sporty Remix concept at the Los Angeles auto show last November. It was designed to fit a small, front-wheel-drive platform.

Civic: Mugen, a company known for making race car engines and racing components, is helping develop the limited-edition 2008 Civic Mugen Si sedan. This is the first time Honda has put the Mugen name on a vehicle sold in the United States. Honda has a close relationship with Mugen in Japan.

The Mugen is 0.6 inches lower and 1.1 inches longer than the stock Si sedan. The car features a front spoiler with a sports grille bearing the Mugen Si emblem, along with a rear wing. But the car will be powered by the same 197-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine used in the Si sedan and coupe.

Honda plans to sell about 1,000 Mugens here with a sticker price under $30,000. The car will be assembled in Japan. Sales begin this fall.

A Civic redesign is scheduled for the 2011 model year.

Accord: The redesigned 2008 Accord sedan has a bigger interior and exterior than the current model.

The Accord will offer a 3.5-liter V-6 making more than 260 hp. The base four-cylinder engine makes over 175 hp. V-6 versions have Honda's next-generation variable-cylinder management system.

The Accord hybrid was killed at the end of the 2007 model year, paving the way for a diesel.

"Diesel is more effective for Accord and above" models, Dan Bonawitz, American Honda's vice president of corporate planning and logistics, said in a June interview.

S2000: The two-seat convertible gets a stiffer suspension for the 2008 model year to give it more of a race car feel. The engine is the same, but the 2008 car is lighter than the current model and will sport large front and rear spoilers. A removable aluminum hard top replaces the convertible soft top.

CR-V: Redesigned for the 2007 model year; it will get the company's new clean four-cylinder diesel for the 2010 model year.

New crossover: This new seven-passenger vehicle will be slotted between the CR-V and the Pilot. Some sources think it will be a version of the Crossroad, which went on sale in Japan in February. U.S. sales are expected in the 2010 or 2011 model year. The vehicle likely will be powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. Fwd and all-wheel-drive versions are expected.

Pilot: A redesign is expected for the 2009 model year. Expect more dramatic styling, similar to what Honda did for the CR-V. It will be powered by a bigger V-6 engine. A V-6 diesel will be available for the 2010 model year.

Ridgeline: The mid-sized truck has not sold well but may be in a sweet spot because of new CAFE requirements. A V-6 diesel will be available when it is redesigned for the 2011 model year.

Element: Freshened for the 2007 model year; it is due for a redesign for the 2010 model year.

Odyssey: The minivan will be reskinned for the 2008 model year. Changes include tweaks to the grille and taillights.

The Odyssey will be the first Honda model to offer the company's new V-6 clean diesel engine. The engine will be offered on the redesigned 2010 Odyssey.
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