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Best of 2020 Honda

Reviewing The Official 2020 Honda Lineup

Honda Ridgeline front 3/4 view

Being one of the largest automakers in the world and certainly one of the most important companies in the U.S. with around 8.5 percent market share, there’s naturally a lot going on around the Honda lineup each year. The next apparent focus for any car maker worthy of its salt is electrification. Unlike a number of companies which had already announced a significant action plan in that regard, Honda is still keeping things private. At least in the U.S., that is. Their European electrification plans are a bit more palpable as the company is expecting their entire range across the Atlantic to feature some sort of a hybrid or all-electric powertrain by 2025. We, however, will focus on things scheduled to happen sooner and closer to home – the 2020 Honda lineup in the U.S. to be more precise.

Honda’s U.S. sales have amounted to 1,486,827 units in 2017 which is their best result since they traversed the Pacific ocean and opened up their base of operations in Los Angeles back in 1959. They started off by selling motorcycles, mind you, and their first passenger car in the U.S. wouldn’t arrive until 1970, but that’s beside the point right now anyway. The important part is their sales have actually taken a turn for the worse in 2018 with total U.S. deliveries amounting to 1,445,894 units which is a 2.75 percent drop compared to a year before.

MY 2020 is expected to be one of the turning points for the Honda brand. The North American customers will be deprived of the all-new Urban EV concept-based electric car, but they’ll get a number of facelifted and/or redesigned models currently on offer instead. Whether that will be enough to keep the sales momentum going remains to be seen, however.

It’s evident that the Japanese will have to address their recent lack of creativity on the U.S. market sooner rather than later, though. Hopefully, by introducing something similar to one of these outstanding JDM models. Without further ado, here’s what to pay attention to when it comes to Honda cars in 2020.

What’s Hot in the New 2020 Honda Lineup

07. 2020 Fit

The 5-door subcompact hatchback was initially supposed to be overhauled for MY 2020, but while the rest of the world gets its next-gen Jazz variant (Fit’s name overseas), the funky compact might just get discontinued in the U.S. This petite, affordable car nourishes the essence of early Honda years by providing simple yet effective means of city transportation.

With around 50,000 units sold per year in the U.S., the Fit doesn’t count among the most popular Honda vehicles here, but that was never its intention anyway. The smart city car offers plenty of cargo space for its class, an abundance of tech gear, and excellent fuel economy.

The U.S.-spec 2020 Honda Fit gets mostly carried over instead of going the intended way. It does get standard Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a power moonroof in the EX trim which costs only $2,000 more than the $17,500 base LX models, however. Other than that, it’s more of the same for the petite city car.

The current Honda Fit is anything but a fast car, and the next-gen overseas models don’t change that. A 130-horsepower 1.5L inline-four serves as the third generation’s sole powertrain offering in the U.S. However, it’s available with an optional CVT gearbox (instead of standard 6-speed manual) which lowers the output to 128 ponies.

While the stick shift returns up to 31 mpg combined, the optional continuously variable transmission raises that figure to as much as 36 mpg combined. However, the top two grades EX and EX-L impose a 3-point penalty to the mentioned CVT figure.

06. 2020 Passport

Although the Honda Passport is a newcomer to the Japanese automaker’s range, the Passport nameplate itself is anything but all-new. Produced at the Subaru and Isuzu of Indiana assembly in Lafayette between 1993 and 2002, the old Honda Passport SUV was actually a rebadged Isuzu Rodeo.

All-new for MY 2019 – the resurrected Honda Passport is now a crossover tightly based on the slightly larger Pilot built at the Japanese automaker’s Lincoln, Alabama plant. Although built upon the same platform that’s also shared with the Ridgeline pickup, Passport is six inches shorter than the Pilot and accommodates up to five people at max. With that in mind, it’s obvious the Passport slots below the Pilot, but still above Honda’s best-selling model overall – the compact CR-V.

This pits it against a long list of highly successful competitors including the Nissan Murano, Ford Edge, Hyundai Santa Fe, etc. Taking the Japanese car maker’s build quality and reliability into account, I believe the Passport will do just fine despite competing against what’s an already-established competition.

Apart from sharing Pilot’s platform and, more or less, overall shape, the new car also borrows its engine. Powered by a 3.5L naturally aspirated V6 with 280 ponies and 262 pound-feet of twist, the Honda Passport offers more power and better towing rates than most of its competitors. The engine itself is tied to a 9-speed automatic transmission which is another improvement over its opponents.

Starting from around $32,000, the Passport is pretty much on par with its main competitors which doesn’t really work in its favor at this particular moment. With up to 20/25 mpg in front-wheel drive, the newest Honda crossover is actually worse than its larger Pilot sibling which returns 20 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway.

 

05. 2020 Civic Type R

The Honda Civic Type R will probably be your best option of owning a truly hot hot-hatch now that the Focus RS has been axed from the U.S. lineup. The current, tenth-generation Civic Type R has had its issues here due to its rather polarizing look and low production numbers which led to some ridiculously high dealer markups. Although the suggested retail price stands at around $35,000, most Type R’s have had their prices inflated to as much as over $50,000.

The facelifted Honda Civic Type R is supposed to fix both of the aforementioned issues. Test mules of the updated model showcase both a giant and smaller rear wings which significantly change the hot hatchback’s demeanor. This leads us to believe we’ll get two separate Type R’s come 2020 – one standard and another luxury-oriented with comfort in mind. On the other hand, higher production numbers should finally take care of annoying dealership markups.

The remaining changes should be evenly distributed alongside the car’s front and rear fascias.

At the moment, the U.S. market Honda Civic Type R cranks up a hefty 306 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of rotational force. The same 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that generates that power will motivate the facelifted model as well, but it should receive reinforcement in terms of additional horsepower. Its main competitor, the Ford Focus RS, had had as much as 350 horsepower from the get-go which is a goal the new Honda` Civic Type R should aim to achieve, if not surpass.

The front-wheel-drive hot hatch has been available with a proper 6-speed stick as its only transmission choice and we doubt that’ll change anytime soon. The redesigned Type R hatchback should retain its $35,000 price tag – only for real this time. On the other hand, models with a smaller spoiler should command a premium on top of that, but the exact details still haven’t been disclosed. More info should become apparent as we zero in on the reveal date which, the way things stand right now, might actually get pushed for MY 2021.

04. 2020 Pilot

There aren’t many better options on the market for prospective three-row crossover buyers than the facelifted Honda Pilot. Updated for model year 2019, the 2020 Pilot carries over mostly unchanged. It does get the new range-topping model dubbed the Black Edition, however.

The mid-size crossover offers almost minivan-like practicality thanks to an abundance of space for both the passengers (up to eight of them) and their cargo. It also offers a refined ride and plethora of available safety features – some of which have become standard after the mentioned facelift. For instance, every new Honda Pilot from base to range-topping Black Edition trims comes with the standard Honda Sensing system that includes a lane departure warning, a forward collision warning, a collision mitigation braking system, and a road departure mitigation system among other features. A new infotainment system has also been included.

Entry-level models start from just under $31,500, while the Black Edition, on the other hand, costs a hefty $50,715 with destination charges included.

The Honda Pilot shares its platform and powertrain with both the Ridgeline pickup truck and the all-new Passport crossover. Their 3.5L V6 is capable of providing up to 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque which is more than plenty for a vehicle of Pilot’s size.

The mid-size crossover also offers a 9-speed automatic gearbox with paddle shifters, but exclusively on the top three trim levels. The remainder of the lineup still clings to the old but proven 6-speed automatic transmission. Even with the outdated transmission, the Pilot’s naturally aspirated V6 is smooth, powerful, and relatively efficient, so we can only expect it to get better going forward.

 

03. 2020 CR-V

Fully redesigned in 2017, the fifth-generation Honda CR-V has now undergone a mid-term facelift for 2020. One of the best-selling vehicles in the U.S. can’t afford to slip up and give its competitors any room to operate on outmaneuvering it. When it arrived, the fifth-gen CR-V was miles apart from its competitors. It’s safe to say it’s still probably the best choice in its segment, but the gap has definitely been reduced.

The core CR-V traits remain at the center of Honda’s strategy for the model despite the facelift. A versatile interior with lots of space for its class, an upscale cabin, an abundance of safety gear, a comfy ride, and great crash test scores are only a few such perks that come with the CR-V ownership. Changes include styling adjustments up front and around the back which somewhat soften the boxy crossover’s physique. The redesigned models also come loaded with advanced safety features from the get-go as automated emergency braking, pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control are all standard from now on.

On the other hand, the compact crossover wasn’t designed with excitement in mind, so forget about scoring any thrills by driving one.

Most CR-V’s are powered by a fuel-efficient 1.5L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine capable of putting up 190 ponies and 179 lb-ft of torque and returning up to 30 miles to the gallon combined. One of the main reasons behind the CR-V’s solid fuel economy and not overly joyous ride is a mandatory CVT transmission which still manages to provide the necessary power when called upon. Furthermore, by dropping the old 2.4L naturally aspirated 4-cylinder, the Japanese have converted the turbo four into a base engine.

They’ve been busy, however, preparing a new optional engine which is a hybrid this time. A 2.0L 4-cylinder pairs with a duo of electric motors for a combined 212 ponies. Although the EPA still didn’t get a hold of it, Honda states the CR-V hybrid provides even better scores than its Ford Escape and Toyota RAV-4 counterparts.

The refreshed CR-V retains its current price range which starts at around $25,000 and reaches its summit just below the $33,000 mark – before destination charges and extras, of course.

 

02. 2020 Insight

The compact hybrid car dates back to the early millennium years, but it’s come a long way since. Based on the Civic sedan, the third-generation Honda Insight offers great value considering it starts from below the $23,000 mark. Even the range-topping Touring grade is still affordable at $28,000, plus it offers a number of features the entry-level models don’t, like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration (also available in the mid-grade EX models), or a mobile hotspot that’s exclusive with the Touring package. Only news for 2020 is the new Platinum White Pearl paint job.

Based on the Civic, the Insight retains the popular compact car’s excellent driving dynamics. It also boasts a wide array of active safety gear and a rather spacious cabin. Not to mention an excellent fuel economy of up to 55 mpg in the city and 49 mpg on the highway. Then again, the Insight is a hybrid and 52 miles to the gallon combined is the least one could have expected from it.

All-new for 2019, the Honda Insight pairs a 1.5L 4-cylinder engine working on the Atkinson cycle with a permanent-magnet synchronous electric motor and a smallish 1.1-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. The total hybrid output amounts to 151 horsepower and 197 lb-ft of rotational force which is far from enthusiastic, but quite expected from a dedicated hybrid car on the other hand.

The Insight’s 1-speed direct drive is able to propel the 3,000-pounder to 60 mph from a standstill in just under 9 seconds and to a top speed of 110 mph. Push the accelerator pedal too hard and its otherwise enjoyable cabin will soon be overflown with undesirable road noise. Then again, the Honda Insight is intended as a city car first and foremost, so you won’t get a lot of opportunities to push its “pedal to the metal” anyway if you use it accordingly.

 

01. 2020 Ridgeline

The Honda Ridgeline has been a one-of-a-kind type of a pickup truck on the U.S. market for a while now. Although it boasts lower payload and smaller towing capabilities than its mid-size pickup truck competitors, the Ridgeline drives like a car – more than any single one of them. It’s also got some unique traits like an innovative bed with a power outlet, hidden bed trunk, and an audio system.

However, the window is definitely closing for Ridgeline as it is, since a new batch of mid-size trucks has or is getting ready to flood the market. The all-new Jeep Wrangler-based Gladiator and Ford Ranger should provide a stern competition – not only for Ridgeline – but for the remainder of the smaller truck offering in the U.S. This, combined with the fact the 2020 Honda Ridgeline remains mostly unchanged, means the Japanese utility vehicle’s sales are in for a major hit. Moreover, Ridgeline’s starting price of around $35,000 probably won’t do it any good either (previous base RT models which started from around $30,000 have been discontinued).

Honda’s take on the compact truck can only be ordered with a sturdy and powerful 3.5L V6 engine capable of putting up 280 ponies and 262 pound-feet of torque. This is another segment where the Japanese truck fails to offer diversity.

Despite the fact its V6 has worked rather well with a 6-speed automatic gearbox before, 2020-year models are switching to a more contemporary 9-speed units which should help improve the pickup’s fuel economy by a slight margin.

Another news for MY 2020 is an improved infotainment system which now uses a larger 8-inch touchscreen display.

In spite of a few obvious shortcomings, the Honda Ridgeline still remains one of the best offerings on the market for people in need of a light daily driver pickup truck. Especially considering how the Ridgeline is stacked with advanced electronic safety gear and boasts a higher-quality cabin than most of its competitors.

 

What’s Not in the New 2020 Honda Lineup

02. 2020 Accord

The tenth-generation Honda Accord is one of the best mid-size sedans on the market right now. Despite the fact it’s always been one of the best vehicles in its class, model year 2020 will be this generation’s third. As such, the 2021 Accord is expected to undergo a mid-cycle facelift which could bring a number of interesting changes.

Needless to say, if you’re in the market for a mid-size sedan and the 2020 Accord piques your interest, maybe it’s better to sit out on it and bide your time for another year. If not for anything else, then at least in order to find out how much of an improved package the Japanese will manage to offer. Especially considering they haven’t done anything for the 2020-year model in that regard.

Meanwhile, the 2020 Accord offers plethora of standard safety gear, an upscale cabin, great handling, and an affordable starting price of under $24,000. Considering all of the aforementioned, it actually pains us seeing the Accord listed among the less fortunate Honda models for 2020.

A duo of peppy turbocharged 4-cylinder engines is another one of the Honda Accord’s strong points. Most Accords will make do with a 192-horsepower 1.5L turbo four, but those in need of more power could opt for a 252-horsepower 2.0L four-banger. They’ll need to go for the range-topping EX-L and Touring trims, or a slightly more affordable Sport trim in order to gain access to these, however.

Making ends meet in one of the highest-competitive segments traditionally, the Accord naturally also offers a hybrid powertrain. The Accord hybrid generates a total of 212 ponies thanks to a 2.0L naturally aspirated 4-cylinder engine and electric motor fusion and returns up to 48 miles to the gallon according to the EPA.

Unlike before, the Honda Accord doesn’t offer a V6 option anymore. Chalk it up to modernization, but we’d still like to see it regardless.

 

01. 2020 Clarity

Although it’s one of the most versatile nameplates on the U.S. market as a whole, the Clarity is still searching for its spot under the sun. Available as either a plug-in hybrid, all-electric vehicle, or a fuel-cell car, the Clarity offers a wide range of fuel-conserving choices none of its competitors can boast with. Actually, the mid-size sedan doesn’t really have any real competitors – at least not if we take its entire lineup into consideration. Separately, though, every single Clarity model competes against a smaller or larger number of opponents.

Although the Clarity hybrid is available across the country, the EV is limited to California and Oregon, while the fuel-cell version is exclusive to California alone. What’s more, the latter two are also only available for lease, while the hybrid starts from around $33,500 which is considerably higher than the Accord hybrid’s base price.

All three versions sport an engine of their own. The plug-in hybrid Clarity combines a 1.5L 4-cylinder engine, dual electric motors, and a 17-kWh lithium-ion battery for a combined output of 212 ponies and 232 lb-ft of torque. The engine often drones while returning only 42 mpg combined (Accord manages 48). An upside is the fact it’s also capable of drone-less 47 miles of all-electric range.

The Honda Clarity EV sports a 161-hp electric motor and a smallish 25.5-kWh battery pack that’s only good enough for 93 miles of range. The utter disappointment of Clarity EV is mitigated by 365 miles of hydrogen-powered model’s range. The fuel-cell Clarity also uses a single electric motor mounted on the front axle, but this unit develops slightly higher 174 horses.

Every single Honda Clarity version boasts strengths and weaknesses of its own, but neither manages to edge out its competitors. The fuel-cell Clarity is on a good path, but then again, you’d have to live in the Golden State to obtain one, and you’d still be confined to a rather limited network of hydrogen stations.

 









About Nikola Potrebić

Despite driving a piece of junk, Nikola still manages to survive the harrowing experience called "A road trip in a Yugo," day in, day out. On the other hand, precious few things move him as muscle cars do. Especially those from the bygone golden era, which makes him wonder why wasn't he born a few decades earlier? Well, at least he's been given the opportunity to enjoy the likes of the Pontiak Aztek, Chrysler PT Cruiser, Fiat Multipla, and other lovely millennials, right? Come to think of it, I'll stick with my Yugo. Thank you very much!