Electric Vehicles

Does CR-V Hybrid mean an electrified Odyssey, Pilot on the way?

The Honda CR-V Hybrid plays into the company's larger plan to sell more electrified vehicles.

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

Earlier this year, the 2020 Honda CR-V made its debut with a new powertrain variant. Dubbed the CR-V Hybrid, the model will likely be able to go around 500 miles between fill ups, when optioned in its lightest variant in optimal driving conditions.

With the addition of the CR-V Hybrid and Honda's recent commitment to electrify two-thirds of its global automobile unit sales by 2030, it's reasonable to assume that the clock is ticking on electrified versions of two of the company's most popular U.S. models, the Odyssey and Pilot.

2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid red back rear tailgate trunk Honda has introduced the CR-V Hybrid for the 2020 model year.Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

With electrification, there are a few ways for manufacturers to go. There's a more traditional hybrid, with a battery attached to one to four motors that uses mostly gasoline in combination with an electric power boost. There is also a plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) powertrain, which allows customers to plug in their car's battery to an outlet and receive electric power to be used instead of gasoline while allowing the customer to retain their gasoline fuel tank for use for when the electric power runs out, or to supplement power availability at high speed.

Many futurists see PHEVs as being a good next step for buyers looking to have the best of the EV and gasoline-powered world.

"AutoPacific's data suggest that Odyssey customers would really respond to a plug-in hybrid powertrain," said Kim. "Our 2019 New Vehicle Satisfaction data show that 41 percent of 2019 Odyssey owners are willing to consider a plug-in hybrid powertrain next time, compared to just 24 percent of all new vehicle buyers this year. Honda has long had a reputation for powertrain efficiency and innovation, so a high-tech fuel efficient PHEV powertrain for Odyssey could make for an excellent brand fit."

2019 Honda Pilot Place your bets on Honda offering electrified powertrain options for the Pilot and Odyssey in the not too distant future. Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

Honda builds the Odyssey, Pilot, Passport, and Ridgeline beside each other at Honda Manufacturing of Alabama. The current Pilot generation was launched first, in 2016. It underwent a facelift for the 2019 model year. The Ridgeline was re-introduced in 2017 and the current Odyssey generation debuted in 2018. Passport was added back to the Honda lineup in 2019.

Consumers are likely about three years away from seeing a redesigned Pilot and even further from a redesigned Odyssey, but could be closer to seeing new powertrain choices introduced as the company pushes hard to that 2030 goal. This would be a similar formula to what Honda has done with the CR-V, which had its current model introduced in 2017 and got a refresh this year.

"We are expecting a mid-cycle refresh for [Odyssey in] the 2021 model year," said Ed Kim, Vice President, Insights, AutoPaciifc. "We think the PHEV powertrain is likely to come out with the mid-cycle change, so a fall 2020 introduction wouldn't be impossible."

The Pilot and Ridgeline have a flat load floor that sits relatively high off the ground. This type of setup allows for slightly easier electrification design, because the battery pack can be situated along the bottom of the vehicle. However, the Odyssey only has 4.5-inches of ground clearance which, on the surface, seems like an impediment.

"A minivan actually makes really good sense for implementing a plug-in powertrain," said Kim. "Due to the lower sliding door tracks, the floor is a bit higher, and that leaves room under the floor for batteries. This is exactly what Chrysler did with the Pacifica Hybrid, mounting its batteries where its Stow-n-Go second row seats would normally go under the floor. It's easy to imagine Honda doing something similar with Odyssey; like the Pacifica, Honda should be able to incorporate a battery pack under the floor in a way that doesn't impede on interior space. And, in a minivan, interior space is of course extremely important."

Chrysler already sells a PHEV version of the Pacifica, the Pacifica Hybrid, so it makes sense that Honda would be exploring electrified versions of its minivan.Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

There are significant fuel-saving and quickness advantages to driving hybrid or PHEV vehicle. Honda says that the 2020 CR-V Hybrid, "brings quicker off-the-line performance and is anticipated to achieve a 50 percent higher city fuel economy rating than the non-hybrid CR-V." These advantages are likely to carry over into any future Honda vehicle development.

It's important to note that Honda designs its vehicles unlike most manufacturers, from the inside out. This means that customers are likely to see benefits from hybrid or PHEV powertrain adoption rather than the sacrifices, like the higher-riding rear seats and diminished cargo space, some automakers force consumers to make should they want to choose an alternative powertrain. However, hybrid and PHEV models tend to come at a higher price than traditional gasoline-powered models.

Currently, Honda sells the electrified Accord Hybrid, Insight, and Clarity in the U.S.

When contacted about this story, a spokesperson for Honda said, "We don't comment on future products."

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

Mitsubishi has restyled the Eclipse Cross for the 2022 model year.

Photo courtesy of Mitsubishi Motors

The restyled 2022 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross has debuted, with most of its changes coming to the exterior of the compact SUV. The first-generation Eclipse Cross debuted as a 2018 model and has received minor upgrades since then

"From the day we started to rethink the new Eclipse Cross, we wanted to address an attitude of boosted road performance and eco-friendliness, all with a stand-out style that will take this SUV to the next level," said Minoru Uehara, chief product specialist of MMC, who is responsible for leading and facilitating the creation of the new Eclipse Cross. "Besides the contemporary exterior and comfortable and smart interior, Mitsubishi Motors' legendary Super All Wheel Control (S-AWC) system ensures that drivers are always in control for their next adventure."

2022 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross has gotten a new touch screen for 2022.Photo courtesy of Mitsubishi Motors

The automaker is calling the Eclipse Cross "design-forward". It's most changed at the front where the has gotten rid of its underbite for a more sophisticated face. There's also a new bumper guard and refreshed light layout.

At the rear, a redesigned hatch and rear window means that the much-derided spilt-style rear of the first years' of the model's life is gone. Its hexagon design is designed to be reminiscent of the company's iconic rear-mounted spare tire shape.

The cabin of the Eclipse Cross features silver accents and light gray leather seats. Door trims now coordinate with a car seat color.

At the center of the dashboard is a new 8.0-inch infotainment screen that has been moved closer to the car's front-row occupants for easier use. There are now volume and tuning knobs. Mitsubishi has removed the SUV's touch pad.

Mitsubishi has carried over the turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine, which is paired with a continuously variable transmission, for the new model year. There are currently no plans to add a plug-in hybrid variant of the Eclipse Cross in the U.S. market though it will be available in select markets across the globe.

All-wheel drive continues to be available.

Mitsubishi plans to launch the 2022 Eclipse Cross in Australia and New Zealand next month. It will come to the U.S. in the first quarter of 2021.

The company recently announced that it's planning to bring five new vehicles to market in the next 18 months.

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The 2022 Volkswagen Taos is the newest member of the compact SUV segment.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG
The 2022 Volkswagen Taos, the Tiguan's little brother, has been revealed. The model is a compact SUV designed to go head-to-head with the likes of the Toyota RAV4, Ford Escape, Nissan Rogue, and Honda CR-V.
The introduction fo the Taos as Volkswagen works to flush out its North American market offerings, first with the Atlas Cross Sport late last year then with the ID.4 electric SUV just last month.

2022 Volkswagen Toas The Volkswagen Taos sits below the Tiguan in the VW lineup.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

"Taos is our fifth new addition to the Volkswagen SUV family in just four years, and we're thrilled to keep finding new ways to meet the needs of American families," said Scott Keogh, CEO, Volkswagen Group of America. "Taos will bookend our compact SUV offering, giving buyers all the style, technology, and drivability that Volkswagen is known for at an even more affordable price."

The Volkswagen DNA is instantly apparent by anyone looking at the model. Its front end comes with a grille with familial ties to the Tiguan and Atlas while the light signature is borrowed from the ID.4. Top trim levels of the model feature VW's adaptive front lighting system. A panoramic sunroof is also available.

VW will offer the SUV in eight paint colors and with four wheel designs. Seventeen-inch aluminum-alloys are standard. Buyers can opt for their choice of 18-inch wheel designs (machined or black finish) or 19-inchers.

Size-wise, the Taos is a little larger than the 2020 Nissan Rogue Sport and a little shorter than the 2020 Ford Escape. It's 9.3 inches smaller than the Tiguan but has a wheelbase that's longer than the CR-V.

2022 Volkswagen Taos

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Despite its compact size, the Taos has just 1.6 cubic feet less passenger space than the two-row Tiguan - 99.5. That's far less than the spacious CR-V, which comes in at 105.9 cubic feet, but more than the 94.1 cubic feet in the Mazda CX-30.

Taos features 28.1 cubic feet of luggage space behind the second-row seats and 66.3 cubic feet with the second row folded down. Again, that puts it between models with the Rogue having more space and the Buick Encore GX having far less. The model offers a good amount of legroom for front and rear passengers.

Volkswagen is touting the Taos's interior design aesthetic and high-quality fit and finish. In typical VW style, the cabin is full of clean lines, seemingly all well-organized.

Two-tone seats are standard on the Taos, whether they're covered in the base cloth or available leatherette or leather seating surfaces. The top tier Taos model is available with a unique French Roast and black color combination.

VW developed the Taos especially for the U.S. market and it shows. The list of standard features includes automatic headlights, push-button start, keyless entry, an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat, dual-zone climate control, rain-sensing wipers, a heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, heated side mirrors, and heated washer nozzles.

2022 Volkswagen Taos The Taos shares its looks with the rest of the VW stable of SUVs.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Volkswagen Digital Cockpit is standard, meaning that there are no analog dials on the dashboard. Each model comes with Wi-Fi capability and an infotainment system powered by the company's MIB3 operating system, which is shared with Audi. An 8-inch infotainment touch screen is standard while wireless charging, 10-color ambient lighting and a BeatsAudio system is available.

The automaker has made its IQ.Drive suite of driver assistance technology available on every Taos. The suite includes forward collision warning with autonomous braking, active blind spot monitor, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, Travel Assist, and Emergency Assist. Park distance control is available.

Taos is powered by the same turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that runs the Jetta. Paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission in front-wheel drive models, the engine makes 158 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. Those number are on the low end of what is offered in the segment. All-wheel drive Taos models get a dual-clutch seven-speed automatic transmission.

Volkswagen plans to sell the Taos in three trim levels: S, SE, and SEL. Taos will be produced in the North American Region at Volkswagen's Puebla, Mexico factory. More details and pricing will be announced ahead of the launch in the summer of 2021.

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