In a billboard poised over downtown Denver, the latest Honda Passport strikes an upward pose in front of trees, rocks, and water. The 2020 Honda models are arriving, and they are taking owners in new and exotic directions. Are you going to climb, zoom and disappear into solid black with them? Or are you looking to see what the updated 2020 Honda Accord has to offer as a class-leading sedan? There is also a new brand-wide "global platform" on the way in 2020 to refresh the Honda line going forward. If you've been confused with all the Honda offerings lately, you're not alone; this consolidation suggests that Honda is too.
How's the Honda Civic being updated for 2020? Any more models with a stick shift?
Yes, Honda's now following the not-universally-observed maxim that a sports model should let the driver handle the gears. In 2020, the Civic will offer a six-speed manual on the fairly basic Sport model if that's all you really want. Well, it's not quite down to the AM radio and bench seat kind of austerity. In fact, Civic Sport gets some excellent upgrades like a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system in place of the cheap afterthought it had before. Buyers of the Sport Touring model, however, get it fully loaded and have the option of getting the excellent six-speed stick for a fun, interesting and economical car to drive.
Is the 2020 Accord a pace car or pulling ahead with new features?
You got it right; the 2020 is a pre-update year as far as we can tell. That means that a great car is serving as a bookmark until the next round of improvements arrive in 2021. The Accord is still a great choice, and maybe the consolation prize for 2020 buyers would be to opt for the Sport, EX-L or Touring trims which allow the addition of a stronger 252-horsepower engine or a 212-horse hybrid engine with great MPG, and not worry about the gadgets coming up in the next model year.
Will Honda's more roomy and family-oriented models get a 2020 refresh?
The Honda Pilot is feeling style pressure from Ford and Kia competitors and is due for an appearance refresh, but as a family-oriented three-row crossover, it's doing its job. Electronics have not kept up with those offered in the Accord and other models. The 2020 Honda Odyssey provides a 25th Anniversary Accessory Package and a standard 10-speed automatic transmission. The CR-V 2020 is still cruising in camouflage with some tweaks to the looks, but no major upgrades spotted on test vehicles. The HR-V subcompact SUV adds Sport and Touring trims -- just a few years on the market and Honda's ready to give buyers more.
Is Honda a real off-road competitor? How are the new Pilot, Passport and Ridgeline?
That billboard in Denver says Pilot is ready for the woods but remember, the cool Black version might get lost there. The 2020 Honda Ridgeline offers a black edition, dressed to impress with a unibody platform more SUV-like driving in a truck. The 280-HP 3.5L V-6 is expected to remain in the 2020 model. The Passport is should continue, yawn, with the all-new 2019 design, 280-HP engine, 9-speed automatic, front-wheel-drive with AWD option and the usual optional safety gadgets. If you liked it in 2019, you'll like it in 2020.
Full or Part Electric
Honda has been moving towards serious EV production with a commitment to all European models electrified by 2025. Look for Honda's "Electric Vision" and the new Honda E urban EV which came out for 2020 as a prototype comparable to the BMW i3. North American offerings still lag global options -- wake up, America and Canada! At least give hybrid a try if you don't think you'll manage with 100% plug-in power. Electric motor-driven instant acceleration is nice.
What does Honda have to offer in 2020 that's close to a sports car? Anything?
Toyota has awakened and brought back the long-awaited Supra, but Honda leaves that kind of work to the Acura division. For consumer-model Hondas, the 2020 Civic Type R is worth a look, 306HP, and a 6-speed stick standard. Demand has been high, so expect the 2020 models to divide between a standard model and a luxury edition and maybe still have more "dealer profit" included.
What is the 2020 Honda Architecture? If it's a cost-savings move, will the customer have fewer choices going forward?
Honda is definitely looking to get "more competitive" whatever that means. They're closing a plant in the UK, dropping costs on a short timetable and making serious cuts in new product development hours. The Honda Architecture improves parts sharing among models and cuts trim options so yes, there won't be as many brochures or webpages to review for buyers. The good news is, they're pushing research and development harder and cranking out EV products, so maybe the cuts are for a good cause.
What new tech features are there? Anything in the safety or driving assist department?
The Honda Sensing safety and driving assist package will be standard on all models by 2022, says Honda. They plan to have automatic emergency braking on 95 percent of models by 2020, and while individual features of the package will be added and upgraded, the most notable change for 2020 will be models like the Civic Si getting access to the upgrade.
Paint it black -- what is the Honda 2020 Black Edition? A stealth Pilot, maybe?
Starting at over $50,000, the 2020 Honda Pilot Black Edition has gotten blasted with new updates for this model year. Grille, badges, wheels and extensive trim pieces get toned down to stealth mode along with the body's treatment in Crystal Black Pearl paint. Turn on the headlights, fog lights, and red trim lights and park it in your driveway on a foggy night and Vincent Price would be proud. The interior is logoed and darkened accordingly for the full effect, with first and second-row captain's chairs. It's about $1,500 more than the Honda Pilot Elite, with the same 3.5L V-6, AWD and 9-speed automatic transmission.
What about the Fit, Clarity and Insight? Are they getting any interesting updates?
Next-Gen Fit with dual-motor hybrid power and a new look also called the Jazz overseas, may just stay overseas and leave North American markets wanting. It even appears to look more like a crossover than a subcompact, but if Americans don't want cool, attractive and technologically advanced hybrids with excellent design and great features, well, why should Honda tempt them? Of course, the CR-Z may have soured many U.S. hybrid buyers with its "looks 9, performance 5" disappointment. The Clarity PHEV is California-only now, and the hybrid Insight keeps the features -- and price -- about the same.