Honda doesn’t have an off-road truck to compete with the likes of the Ford Raptor or the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, but this concept vehicle is a step in the right direction. Just revealed at SEMA, Honda’s brawny “Rugged Open Air Vehicle Concept” is a cross between the Honda Ridgeline and the Honda Pioneer 1000 side-by-side. Honda calls it the “ultimate open-air off-road Honda adventure vehicle,” and we agree that it looks the part.
Some of the specifics are a bit vague from Honda, but the truck uses a heavily modified Ridgeline body and suspension. The interior is Ridgeline-based — there are a lot of hard points similar to our long-term Ridgeline. The shape of the dash and the footwell area seem nearly identical, and the instrument cluster hasn’t changed one iota. Honda doesn’t mention the engine it uses, but the safe guess would be the 3.5-liter V6 out of the donor truck. If that’s the case, then this truck is probably mighty fast given all of the parts removed.
There are plenty of components donated from the Pioneer 1000, too. Production Pioneer doors fit right up, and Honda modified the bed and tailgate from it for duty here. A Pioneer steering wheel was mounted on the Ridgeline steering column as well. The interior has a few other cool features too like full weatherproofing for the outdoor elements. Our favorite part is the reskinned Civic Type R seats. Those svelte buckets look perfect for some serious sand dune destruction. A couple RAM smartphone holder mounts round out the interior modifications.
Skid plates and cladding are everywhere, with much of the design being borrowed from Pioneer 1000 styling, just blown up to truck size. It feels a bit like a Baja family truck. Chuck the kids in the rear seats, tenting gear in the bed, and point it into the desert. Sadly, it’s a concept vehicle, but that doesn’t make us want to go bombing around off-road in it any less.
We’ve reached a point where you can be in a car crash from just about any angle, and find yourself with a face full of airbag. But there’s yet one more airbag frontier that Hyundai and its parts supplier company Hyundai Mobis are pioneering: the sunroof airbag. More specifically, the companies have developed an airbag to protect occupants in cars equipped with panoramic sunroofs.
Hyundai explains in a press release that there was concern passengers’ heads and limbs could end up going through the big glass opening in a rollover, leading to serious injury. The resulting airbag design aims to prevent that by deploying when a rollover is detected to contain occupants’ bodies. It inflates from the back of the sunroof toward the front in 0.08 seconds and will go off regardless of whether the sunroof is open or closed.
Hyundai, which together with Kia and Genesis had six of the 15 recent IIHS Top Safety Pick+ vehicles, claims the airbag reduced life-threatening injuries to minor ones during testing. It also noted that the company has 11 patents on the technology. No mention of when these airbags would appear in production vehicles was made. We would imagine that whenever Hyundai starts offering the feature, it will show up first on high-end vehicles such as Genesis luxury cars.
Honda is considering developing solid-state batteries for electric vehicles (EVs) as a growing number of global automakers look to come up with powerful, next-generation car batteries to reduce vehicle emissions.
Tighter global emissions regulations are forcing automakers worldwide to shift to electric cars, including all-battery EVs that will require capacity to deliver longer ranges and faster charge times, but at lower cost than lithium-ion batteries.
“We’ve been researching all solid-state batteries,” Honda spokesman Teruhiko Tatebe said. “At the moment, we’re not developing them with another automaker.”
Kyodo News reported on Thursday that Honda and Nissan were developing all solid-state EV batteries. Nissan was not immediately available for comment.
A growing number of automakers including Toyota and Volkswagen and smaller innovator Fisker are developing all solid-state batteries, which offer more capacity and better safety than conventional lithium-ion batteries by replacing their liquid electrolyte with a solid, conductive material.
Just this week, Colorado tech company Solid Power said it was partnering with BMW on the technology. And earlier this month, Toyota said it was considering jointly developing the batteries with Panasonic to share high R&D costs.
The automaker is planning to have a production-ready battery in the early 2020s, and has highlighted the need to accelerate the pace of battery development as it and other automakers plan to ramp up the number of electric models they sell in the coming decades.
At the turn of the millennium, Honda was the first car company to bring a mass produced modern hybrid to the U.S. The idea kind of stuck, even if the Honda Insight didn’t. The second-generation Insight was discontinued after a dramatic sales decline between 2010 and 2013. Still, many greenies fondly remember the first-generation Insight for its fresh looks, impressive fuel economy and role in ushering in a new era of automotive technology to the U.S. As if to stoke the lingering embers of nostalgia, Honda is reviving the Insight nameplate, bringing a new hybrid sedan to the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
Honda is teasing the Insight prototype — which previews a 2019 production model — ahead of the Detroit Auto Show in the images seen above. The automaker says the car will use the company’s latest version of its two-motor hybrid powertrain. Honda isn’t divulging fuel economy figures yet, but says it will be “competitive with other compact hybrid models.”
The new Insight will take a slightly more premium tack, though, as an “upscale, stylish five-passenger sedan positioned above the Civic in Honda’s passenger car lineup.” Its looks compare more closely to those of the Civic and Accord than of the Clarity series, which will probably resonate better with mainstream buyers.
The 2019 Honda Insight is another step toward the Japanese automaker’s goal of having electrified vehicles make up two-thirds of its global sales by 2030. It is scheduled to go on sale next summer, and will be built at the automaker’s factory in Greensburg, Indiana. We’ll get a better sense of what we can look forward to when we meet the prototype in person on the Detroit show floor. Stay tuned.
Our long-term 2018 Honda Ridgeline is a fine truck. It’s far from traditional, but I like what it offers. It’s quiet, comfortable and is better than many cars or crossovers in terms of storage and packaging. If you’re not concerned with towing heavy loads or tackling off-road trails, the Ridgeline is a great alternative to body-on-frame trucks. That said, I have a a few qualms, most notably its infuriating adaptive cruise control system.
Adaptive cruise control can be a wonderful thing, especially in heavy traffic. Basically, ACC uses sensors to maintain a set distance between you and the vehicle in front of you, slowing down and speeding up as needed. The main benefit is reducing driver fatigue. Just pay attention (something that should go without saying) to make sure you don’t need to override the system. Every system functions a little differently, and I’ve just about had it with the one in our Honda.
The main and most egregious issue with the Ridgline’s ACC is that the system doesn’t work below 22 mph. It just shuts off if you drop below that speed. If you’re in traffic that’s moving between 20 and 30 mph, you have to constantly hit “Resume” or just not use the system in the situation best suited for it. Now, our Ridgeline is equipped with a collision mitigation braking system as part of the Honda Sensing suite, so you have some protection if the car in front of you slams on its brakes, but it’s frustrating nonetheless. Plenty of other systems function at low speeds.
My second issue is the gap between vehicles. The Ridgeline’s ACC leaves far too much room, even in its tightest setting. Now, I understand that you shouldn’t follow too closely, but leaving too much room is an issue, too. Cars are constantly merging in between you and the vehicle in front of you. Then the system slams on the brakes to create a gap between the Ridgeline and the new vehicle, rather than gradually widening the gap. It’s jerky and offers the same refinement as a 15-year-old in driver’s ed.
I was hoping there would be a mid-cycle update that would introduce Honda’s low-speed follow system that’s found in the Civic, Accord and Acura RDX. Low-speed follow isn’t available on the mechanically similar and recently refreshed 2019 Honda Pilot, so I’m not holding out hope for the Ridgeline.
Honda didn’t just unveil a slick-looking EV coupe concept at the Tokyo Motor Show. It also had a robot… though it’s definitely not the kind of robot you’d expect from the company. Its RoboCas Concept is a super-cute cargo bot that can follow you around while hauling whatever you like in its large, customizable carrying space. Basically, it’s an autonomous cooler with giant eyes. Honda imagines people using it to open pop-up curry shops or haul pumpkins home from the farm. We could see this being incredibly helpful if you don’t have a car, or if you’d rather not drive just to haul some food and drinks to the park for a picnic. There’s just one problem: it’s not clear that RoboCas will move past the concept stage.
The transportation giant hasn’t said whether or not RoboCas will go into production, and The Verge notes that the prototype shown at the Tokyo Motor Show was stationary and had a Windows tablet unceremoniously stuck to its back. We don’t know the full capabilities of the robo-cooler, let alone whether or not it would be affordable as a production model. All the same, the idea is intriguing. Honda isn’t just planning for a transition to self-driving cars– it’s arguing that robotics can eliminate the need for any car in certain situations.
This story originally appeared on Engadget, your guide to this connected life.
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New Hampshire is a wonderful and beautiful place in the fall. Just south of Mount Washington in the middle of the state rests some of the most perfect stretches of pavement in the nation. It isn’t just the smooth, winding asphalt that curves and slices its way through the hilly countryside. It’s the way the autumn leaves fly up in your wake as you bomb down the highway. It’s the light playing off the hills and rocks as it rises and falls behind the mountains. It’s the way the exhaust echos off the trees as you fly on through. It was open season, and I was wielding the all-new 2018 Honda Accord.
Now, the Accord isn’t a sports car. If you want a Honda that can really handle, you’re better off sticking with the Civic Si or Civic Type R. That said, those cars feel immature and garish when compared with handsome new Accord. And there’s still plenty of fun to be had. There are two powertrains currently available for the Accord, though a hybrid variant is coming soon. The base car gets a turbocharged 1.5-liter inline four making 192 horsepower and 192 pound-feet of torque. The upgraded engine is plucked straight from the engine bay of the Civic Type R. That turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four makes 252 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque.
Still, the new Accord is so much more than just a fresh face and a couple of new engines. Watch the video for our complete review of the latest and greatest sedan from Honda.