While we have two months left in 2017, everything that will come out in the automotive world, has come out, meaning it is now time to crown the best car company of 2017! While this is a subjective case of what is ‘best’ and what is not, there are some rules to my measurement. First and foremost, while I am a car enthusiast, I am trying to keep my choice broad and not immediately gravitate towards the performance brands. There are other segments to the market beyond the one I care about. However, as the enthusiast segment is a segment, it can’t be ignored entirely.
Essentially, I am looking for the company that has moved the automotive world forwards for the most consumers. While it can be argued companies like Bugatti or Pagani advance car culture forward, most car buyers simply don’t care about these brands, if they even know them. After all, only 1% of the 1% of the 1% will be able to afford them, and as such, they can’t receive my top honors. Quantity has a quality all its own after all. For some, my choice will be no surprise, while for others it will be pure sacrilege; but, for me, there can only be one company to take the top honors home, and that is Honda.
There are three cars in Honda’s model lineup for 2017 that convinced me that they were the ‘best’ car company of the year, and these are the Honda Civic, Accord, and NSX. I know, I know, the NSX is an Acura, however as Acura is wholly a Honda company their products are fair game. Sadly, as their lineup is a little chilly at the moment, I doubt they will come up in conversation that much. To best demonstrate why Honda is the top of the pantheon in my book, we will look at each of those three cars and how they have impacted the segment and the car market as a whole.
2017 Honda Civic
When people think of the most generic car they can, often times an image of a Honda Civic is brought to mind. For the newest generation of Civic, Honda has looked to change that. Immediately prior to the new Honda Civic coming out, the last-generation Civic was a bland, cheap econo-box that college students got to sip fuel for weeks on end. Nothing about it, absolutely nothing, was noteworthy, beyond perhaps the strange two-tier gauge cluster used in the car. Even the ‘fast’ version, the Civic Si, was down on power, technology, and looks compared to its competitors.
The newest-generation Civic has performed miracles in overcoming the design language of its predecessor. Comparing the two images of the Civics above, the white, newer one features more dramatic overall styling, as well as a significant platform upgrade resulting in more space and better ride quality. While the previous Civic was powered by a fuel-sipping naturally aspirated four-banger, the new Civic has two engines on offer for the ‘normal’ models of Civic. The ‘base’ naturally-aspirated 2.0L four-cylinder produces more power than the old 1.8, and for the first time in the long history of the Civic, a turbocharged engine is an option. This turbo engine, a 1.5L four-cylinder, brings the Civic into the modern age, and offers a powerful ‘normal’ option for those interested.
As the picture above shows, the interior of the Civic was not left untouched. The older interior on the right was a hodgepodge of screens and vents, seemingly thrown wherever Honda had room for them. The driver-centric center console, which makes sense in sports cars like a Supra or a Corvette, did not work in the Civic, and makes little sense in a practical, family-oriented car. Luckily, as the picture of the new car on on the right demonstrates, Honda ditched all of that and designed a much more traditional interior, trimmed in much more premium-feeling materials.
While the Civic came out in 2016 rather than in 2017, it earned consideration for this year, as Honda has completed the model range, releasing the Coupe, Hatchback, Si Sedan, Si Coupe, and Type R this year. The Coupe and the Hatchback are differently styled versions of the Sedan examples already on the market, and are both handsome little cars. The Hatchback earned a ‘Sport’ trim, featuring a small bump in power and a special body-kit with center exit exhaust.
The Civic Type R is a storied and famous nameplate, one most American’s had to lust after from afar as they never saw fit to bring it to our shores. Luckily for car enthusiasts everywhere, Honda has changed its mind, and for the first time ever, the Civic Type R is available in America. Powered by a 2.0L four-cylinder turbo engine, the car produces 306hp and is shifted via a 6-speed manual transmission. While most high-performance competitors have switched to an AWD platform, the Civic Type R resolutely remains FWD only. Owners of the Type R don’t have to worry about people knowing what they have, because Honda has styled, and styled, and styled the car some more to show off its muscles. Honestly, I can take or leave the boy-racer looks.
The most amazing thing about the new Civic is where it has come in such a short time. Up until a few months ago, I heard local dealers on the radio offering the previous generation of Civic at amazing lease rates, brand new and on the lot. To come from the dismal blue car show at the top of this section, to a model range with 4 engines, 6 models, and lots of excitement, is amazing. This car, the new Honda Civic, was a major player in earning Honda my top honors of the year.
2018 Honda Accord
While you have almost certainly seen a new Civic on the street—and maybe even gotten one as a Lyft or Uber vehicle—it is unlikely you have seen the new Accord, as they have only gone on sale in the last few weeks. If the picture above, which shows the new 10th generation Accord, looks like the new Civic, you can be forgiven: for the first time in either cars history the two vehicles share a platform, although in the Accord’s case it is stretched and includes more leg room. Honestly, as the car is so new, I have yet to actually experience one; however, I feel comfortable in including it in the list due to the proven platform it is on, and the success with their last reinvention, the Civic.
The Accord faces a harder re-invention process than its smaller Civic sibling because the last generation was not a bad car by any means. As the picture above shows, the older car was a handsome design, if a bit long in the tooth. Because of that, Honda has kept many elements of the older design, such as the general shape of the upper grille bar and headlights, as well as the side profile and door creases. The largest change comes from the more open front end, which has a larger grille as well as re-designed fog light surrounds.
Likewise, the interior has been ‘touched up’ rather than totally redesigned. The largest change comes, again, from Honda ditching their two-tier screen system, instead using one large, stylish screen. To me, the most exciting change to the interior comes from the addition of a simple technology: an NFC (Near Field Communication) chip to Bluetooth phones to the car. Simply touch your phone to the spot, and you are connected.
The powertrains of the Accord are all new, losing the characteristic V6 for the first time since it was added. Instead, the Accord borrows heavily from its Civic stablemate, using the 1.5T engine from the upper-trim Civics, and the 2.0T engine from the Civic Type R. While the dimensions and aspiration might be the same between the Type R engine and the Accord engine, they are not quite the same, meaning it is not tunable to those limits.
Despite that, I believe that this car will revitalize the Accord line just as the new Civic revitalized its own.
2017 Acura/Honda NSX
While the new NSX is not as loved as its predecessor, I think that—like its predecessor—the current NSX will only grow finer in people’s opinion as time goes on. The new NSX uses a powertrain layout similar to McLaren P1’s and Porsche 918’s, for an eighth of the cost. The NSX is a performance hybrid starting at $137,800, which has a 3.5L twin-turbocharged V6 paired with electric motors to produce 573 combined horsepower. As two of the electric motors are sitting on the front axle, each powering a wheel, the NSX is capable of some truly “Super Handling-All Wheel Drive” or “SH-AWD” as Acura likes to call it—yes, that is what those badges mean on the back of Acura’s.
Again, I have not driven one—surprise, surprise—and so cannot give much of an opinion, yet it contributes to this list for a similar reason as the Civic. Whereas the Civic has come an impressive distance from its not-so-great predecessor, the current NSX was essentially developed out of thin air, and still turned out so impressive sounding. It is for this reason, the vast improvements and reinventions to almost every point of their model line, that Honda earns TheSpeedTrap.net’s Car Company of 2017 award.
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I recently recieved a degree in History from the University of Nevada, Reno.