Its new CEO for America says what needs to be done.
Like all automakers these days, Honda is still dealing with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and maintaining production and sales is vital. But it's also a time for reflection. As everyone adjusts to the new normal, Honda is taking a closer look at its current lineup to decide if any changes are necessary. The automaker also just so happened to get a new CEO for its US operations, whose first day on the job was May 4.
Automotive News spoke with Honda America CEO Dave Gardner about a number of topics, among them hot-selling vehicles like the Honda CR-V and Pilot crossovers. The CR-V, as some already know, is the company's best-seller in the US, but it still behind its arch-rival, the Toyota RAV4. Is there a specific reason for this? Perhaps.
"Our SUVs are not perceived to be as rugged as we believe they are," Gardner said. "And so I think our focus is going to be strengthening this core group of light trucks and maximizing the potential we have there." The new Honda Passport is a very good start. Another vehicle we're anxious to see receive more attention is the Honda Ridgeline mid-size pickup truck.
Despite its unibody construction instead of a traditional body-on-frame chassis like that of the Ford Ranger, the Ridgeline is extremely capable, but its somewhat softened exterior styling might be hiding that. Launched for 2017, the Ridgeline should also soon be receiving a midlife refresh which will hopefully bring the more "rugged" attitude Gardner mentioned.
Taking a more rugged approach could also benefit the CR-V. The latest RAV4's styling is very SUV-like and if Honda wants to gain ground here, then today's CR-V, also launched in 2017, should ditch its softer appearance. But what about adding additional crossovers? After all, the reborn Toyota Venza very recently debuted. "I think our focus is going to be strengthening this core group of light trucks and maximizing the potential we have there," Gardner added. Another Honda Crosstour wagon apparently won't be happening.
Honda's current four crossovers and one truck lineup won't expand, but they sure could benefit from a stronger emphasis on off-roading capabilities. Enhanced styling could solve that.