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10. Kia Forte
USAA has compiled a list of the top ten cars for teens based on a recent survey where parents determined their most important factors when choosing a vehicle for their teenager. Those factors were reliability, a high safety rating and affordable auto insurance.
At number 10 on the list of top 10 cars for teens is the Kia Forte, a compact offering from the Korean automaker that comes in two-door coupe, four-door sedan, and five-door hatchback form. Starting at $15,200 the Forte comes with either a 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 156-hp and 144 lb-ft of torque, or a 2.4-liter with 173-hp and 168 lb-ft of torque. Both powerplants offer great fuel mileage as well, with the 2.0L automatic getting 26-mpg city, 36-mpg highway and the 2.4L netting 23-mpg city, 32-mpg highway.
Honda has begun construction on its $800 million plant in Mexico, where the Japanese automaker will begin production of the Fit sub-compact starting in 2014. The new facility in Mexico is part of Honda’s ongoing plan to grow its operations in North America.
The new Honda de Mexico plant will be in Celaya and will have an annual capacity of 200,000 units with 3,200 employees. The Honda Fit models produced from the facility will mainly be for the U.S. and Canadian markets but will also be exported to other regions.
The plant will be 5.66 million-square meters in total size and is 210 miles from two existing Honda plants in El Salto, Jalisco which currently build automobiles, motorcycles, and auto parts. This new plant will mark the eighth auto plant for Honda in North America and will increase total automobile production (in North America) from 1.63 million units to 1.87 million units in spring 2014. Once Fit production begins in Mexico, four of its global models will be produced in North America.
Honda has announced it will be importing Fit models to the Canadian market from China, and it appears that all Canadian Fits will come from China for at least the next couple of years.
The Si trim moniker for various Honda models throughout its history has always symbolized increased performance. Short for “sport injected”, fans of the Civic body will remember generations of Si models as being the funnest to own and drive.
Which is why it’s such a shame that the Honda Jazz Si that the Japanese automaker recently debuted at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show, only packs the European-spec 1.4L, four-cylinder with a whopping 98-hp. Sure the Jazz (known as the Fit in the U.S.) is meant to be an economy car, but so was the Civic.
So what makes this special edition Jazz Si special? Well it features a new body kit on the exterior, no doubt giving it a sportier appearance, further improved by the 16-inch wheels. Handling has also been enhanced with a larger front sway bar and the electronic power steering system has been tweaked for improved feel and response.
On the inside, Honda outfits the Jazz Si with black and silver supportive seats and a sporty leather-trimmed steering wheel.
But alas, with just 98-hp and 94 lb-ft of torque, this Jazz Si is hardly fit to sport the Si badge. In Honda’s defense however, the Si badge doesn’t have the same prestige in Europe as it does in America. If Honda plans on bringing a Fit Si to the U.S. however, it better live up to its “sport injected” name.
The 2012 Jazz Si is currently available for order in Europe and will arrive in showrooms at the end of August. No pricing was announced.
GALLERY: 2012 Honda Jazz Si
For the ninth month in a row, the top-selling car in Japan is the Toyota Prius, helping hybrids make up more than 20-percent of all auto sales in Japan.
In February, Toyota sold 35,875 Prius hybrids, while the Honda Fit came in second place with 24,973 units sold. That’s quite the gap, especially considering third place was the new Toyota Aqua (Prius c in America – read our review here) that sold 21,951.
Hybrid models are now making up nearly half of Toyota total sales in Japan while Honda announced that 60-percent of their Fit sales are hybrid variants. Rounding off the top five was the Honda Freed in fourth place (13,293 sold) and the Toyota Vitz in fifth (11,288 sold). Over 40-percent of the Honda Freed sales are also hybrids.
The more interesting news is the fact that the Aqua hybrid production isn’t even keeping up with demand. The Japanese automaker originally planned to build 12,000 Aquas per month but now overwhelming demand has customers waiting almost six months for their vehicle if they placed their orders today.
Honda took the first major step in its Honda Electric Vehicle Demonstration Program by delivering the first 2013 Fit EV to the city of Torrance, California.
The program will set up the retail market launch of the Fit EV to customers in California and Oregon starting this summer. Over the past year, the city of Torrance and Honda has been working together to gather input from local residents about potential recharging station locations and held numerous public awareness events with the Fit EV. The city of Torrance will also receive a Honda plug-in hybrid for additional testing at a later date.
“This is an exciting day as we take another important step toward Honda’s comprehensive vision for reducing CO2 emissions while at the same time advancing our relationship with the city of Torrance,” said Steve Center, vice president of the Environmental Business Development Office at American Honda. “Honda has a long history with electric vehicles starting with the introduction of our first battery-electric car, the EV Plus, nearly 15 years ago. With Honda’s extensive experience and the real-world feedback from the city of Torrance, we will be even more prepared for the further customer adoption of electric vehicles.”
The Honda Fit EV will have a 123 city-mile per charge (76-mile range combined adjusted city/highway), powered by a 20-kWh lithium-ion battery and 92 kW coaxial electric motor. The Fit EV can be fully recharged in as little as three hours when connected to a 240-volt circuit.
Honda will also be testing the Fit EV with Google and Stanford University in order to receive real-world feedback on the new electric vehicle.
The 2012 Chevrolet Sonic is besting the competition for safety ratings, for now. The little sub-compact Sonic scored a five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to beat out the Ford Fiesta, which only scored four out of five.
Safety isn’t the only thing we’re pleased to say makes the Sonic great, it’s a peppy starter car that comes available with a six-speed manual and a turbocharged four-cylinder that had us scooting past the speed limit with surprising ease. It also comes with 10 standard airbags.
The Sonic still has to go up against its other competition: this year’s Kia Rio and Honda Fit, which both have yet to be rated. The 2012 Nissan Versa sedan also still has to be rated, but the verdict isn’t looking good for its hatchback brother with three of five in the frontal crash category and four of five in rollovers.
Poor ratings aside, the Sonic hasn’t won the race yet. It got four out of five stars in the rollover category, so there is still a chance the unrated cars can equal or best it.
Of course, that rating is coming hot off the heels of a recall over missing brake pads in the Sonic. We’re willing to assume the rating is based on completely assembled cars.
The Sonic is also a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Read Autoguide’s Chevy Sonic review here.
While the 2012 Honda Civic has clearly not impressed the staff at Consumer Reports, the same can’t be said for its smaller sibling the Fit.
For the second year in a row, the Honda subcompact has been named as the best value choice when it comes to small cars; it was also judged best value overall from a field of some 200 competitors, high praise indeed.
During its evaluation of finding the year’s best value vehicles, Consumer Reports, tested cars, SUVs and trucks from a total of 11 different categories. Scores were determined based on a five-year ownership cost of each vehicle, including depreciation, insurance premiums, fuel costs, interest on financing, repairs and maintenance and sales taxes. Consumer Reports also added it’s own road test scores and projected reliability to each tally.
When all was said and done, the Fit emerged as the overall winner in the small car category, followed by the Toyota Prius Hybrid, Volkswagen Golf TDI (manual gearbox), Toyota Corolla and Scion xD. Most of these cars scored twice as high as the average vehicle rating in the value survey, while the Chevy Cruze, which finished last in the small car category, still earned a total score close to the average overall value of all vehicles tested.
Rik Paul, automotive editor at Consumer Reports, said in regards to the survey, that “a cheap vehicle can wind up costing you more money over time or can be disappointing down the road. We think real value is what you get for your money.” Indeed.
Chinese-built cars are arriving in North America, but before you reach for the keypad, we’re not talking about hordes of BYD, Chery, Geely or Brilliance models washing up on our shores, rather the fact that Honda is now importing Chinese assembled examples of its Fit subcompact for consumers in Canada.
This forms part of a decision by Honda and other Japanese automakers to reduce dependence on vehicle production in the Home Islands due to the current high value of the yen against other major world currencies, which is severely eating into profit margins.
In Honda’s case it also helps squeeze more money out of its small cars, which are relatively popular with buyers in Canada, yet traditionally far less profitable than larger models.
In terms of quality (often a subject that’s brought up regarding Chinese consumer goods), Honda says it shouldn’t be an issue, it’s Canadian executive vice president Jerry Cherkin stating, “we are fully confident that these vehicles meet all Honda standards.”
Honda has been exporting Chinese built Fits for some time, particularly to European countries (where it’s sold as the Jazz) with few issues, thus in many regards adding Canada to the roster of export markets seems a logical step.
However, despite these Fits showing up on dealer lots north of the border, so far, there are no plans to sell such cars in the United States.
Michelle Krebs, a senior analyst with Edmunds.com believes American consumers are more resistant to the idea of buying Chinese products, especially cars, thus the concept of doing so at this point, given that the US is still a major source of both profit and prestige for Japanese automakers, would probably not work in Honda’s favor.
[Source: NY Times]
The Honda Fit EV just made its World Debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show and we want to take this opportunity to tell Nissan that it needs to watch its mirrors. Promising a range close to the Leaf Leaf (123 miles vs 138 for the Leaf), and a price of just $36,625, the new Fit EV offers virtually all of the benefits of the Nissan, but with a platform that has already proven to be versatile and fun.
Honda will initially offer the Fit EV on three-year lease plans for around $399/month and plans to find around 1,100 takers in those first three years. We don’t think that is an unrealistic expectation at all. The electric Fit joins natural gas, fuel cell and hybrids in the Honda lineup, making it one of the most diverse lineups in terms of alternative energy sources.
Honda will begin leasing the Fit EV to customers in select California and Oregon markets next summer, and will expand to six East Coast markets in early 2013.
Gallery: 2013 Honda Fit FV
MINI has announced that they will be entering the B-Spec racing class in 2012, with MINI of Charleston, a franchise owned by Hendrick Automotive Group.
The B-Spec car will be a base Mini Cooper Hardtop with a 1.6L 121-horsepower engine. The car will weigh 2,535 lbs and KW Variant 1 coilovers, upgraded brake pads and lines and a full roll cage system. The MINI will go up against the Honda Fit, Mazda2, Fiat 500 and other subcompact cars when racing begins next year.
The Sports Car Club of America’s B-Spec class is meant to give automakers and racers alike a relatively affordable platform to go racing with machines similar to those available from the factory. While safety and chassis modifications are allowed, engine power is restricted to keep the playing field even.
Honda and Mazda were among the earlier adopters, fielding Fit and Mazda2 B-Spec prototypes respectively. Now, Fiat and Ford are looking into the series, and the automakers tested Fiat 500 and Fiesta B-Spec cars at Michigan’s Grattan Raceway last week. Kuno Wittmer and Andy Vrenko piloted the 500 and Fiesta, while Peter Cunningham and Charles Espenlaub represented Honda and Mazda. All cars were equipped with engine restrictors and 100 pounds of ballast, while engineers were on hand to compare lap times between the four cars.
If the formula gains traction among racers, 2012 could be a banner year for American sports car racing, as an entry-level series has long been needed to reinvigorate interest among potential participants.
As a result of identifying problems with power window switches, Honda Motor Co. has announced it is recalling some 960,000 vehicles worldwide.
The recall is mostly related to 2006 to early 2010 Fit subcompacts (totaling almost 800,000). In addition, in the U.S., the company is also recalling some 80,111 CR-Vs from the 2006 model year for similar problems. The recall is a result of potential problems such as fire hazards that could result from faulty electrical contacts in the switches.
Another vehicle being recalled is the CR-Z hybrid, including some 5,626 currently on US roads. In this case the problem concerns the vehicle’s Engine Control Unit; the CR-Z has come under criticism for its rather underwhelming performance, especially as it relates to fuel economy.
Honda hasn’t said how much this global recall will cost, though with it following in the wake of supplier struggles resulting from the March 11 earthquake in Japan, it has proved yet again, that 2011 is shaping up to be one of the most difficult years the automaker has faced in recent times.
There’s a lot more competition in the sub-compact segment than there used to be, and yet the Honda Fit continues on as a stand-out model. Those looking to see what Honda will deliver for the next generation of the car will have to wait a little longer. In the mean time, the Fit has received a list of small upgrades and additions for the 2012 model year.
The Fit’s stand-out style gets a mild update for 2012. Base models get paint-matched mirrors and a new hubcap design while Sport models get a new grille, black headlight bezels and a new shade of silver for the 16-inch wheels. Fit Sport models also gain standard equipment with the addition of steering wheel audio controls, while Bluetooth hands free controls now come on models equipped with the optional navigation system.
There are no changes under the hood with the 1.5-liter 4-cylinder still making 117-hp and 106 lb-ft of torque.