Category Archives: Auto, Cars, Trucks, SUVs, Car Gadgets

Aging Civic Si still has a bit of pep in its step

About the only thing that’s changed between now and Honda Civic Si’s 2012 refresh is that now the sedan — which is also available as a coupe variant — is that the Si now faces even stiffer competition in the sport compact space. Today, the 2015 Honda Civic Si must do battle with the excellent Volkswagen GTI and the more power Ford Focus ST, both of which are newer models with newer tech and more powerful, turbocharged engines.

The Si, on the other hand, is powered by a naturally aspirated, high-compression variant of Honda’s 2.4-liter i-VTEC engine — the same block that you’ll find in a Honda CR-V, but with a different port-injected head. Peak output is stated at 205 horsepower and 174 pound-feet of torque.

The competition makes more power with turbocharging, but the Si continues to use a naturally aspirated engine.
Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Like its predecessors, this i-VTEC engine uses the automaker’s famous Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control system that switches over to more aggressive tuning at higher RPMs. In older models, the transition was a dramatic one — there’d be no power at low engine speeds and then a sudden surge of torque at about 5,800-6,000 RPM — but this generation’s 2.4-liter boasts better low end torque than so the transition is more subtle.

The transition is so subtle, in fact, that Honda has seen fit to install an i-VTEC light on the dashboard that lets drivers know that VTEC has indeed kicked in, yo. The improved low-end torque is more accessible and makes the Civic Si is a much more flexible and zippy car around town, but I miss the Jekyll and Hyde drama of the old 2.0-liter engine.

That light is accompanied by five additional LEDs that illuminate in sequence as the RPMs rise toward the 7,000rpm redline, acting as a shift indicator. And additionally, the dashboard’s multi-information display features a power meter that indicates how much of the peak power the engine is currently generating. Of course, like most live performance meters, bad things happen if you’re watching the lights and gauges instead of the road.

The i-VTEC light lets the driver know that VTEC has kicked in, yo.
Antuan Goodwin/CNET

A six-speed manual transmission is the only gearbox option for the 2015 Si and it puts power to the front wheels. A standard helical limited-slip differential makes sure each of the drive wheels do their part putting power to the road.

Underpinning the Civic Si is a sport-tuned version of the standard Civic’s MacPherson strut front suspension and rear multilink setup. The Si also features larger antisway bars on both axles.

Check out the 2015 Honda Civic Si sedan (pictures)
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2015 Honda CIvic Si sedan

2015 Honda CIvic Si sedan

2015 Honda CIvic Si sedan

2015 Honda CIvic Si sedan

2015 Honda CIvic Si sedan

On the road, the Honda Civic Si is as effortless and precise as its legend implies, but it now seems to lack a really engaging feel. Part of this is the fault of the electric power steering system, which is lacking in the feedback department. I also didn’t really enjoy the overly light clutch pedal.

Yes, the Civic Si is quicker than it’s ever been, but piloting the Si doesn’t feel as special as previous generation Si models or even my old 2004 Acura RSX Type-S (which used the same underpinnings and powertrain as its contemporary Civic Si cousin).

On the road, the Civic Si is faster than ever, but it doesn’t feel as involved or as dramatic as its predecessors.
Antuan Goodwin/CNET

The Civic’s cabin is, well, complicated.

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Triguard Universal Car Covers for Sedan from $23 + free shipping

CNET’s 20th anniversary

What shaped 20 years of tech?

We asked some of today’s most influential minds to share their exclusive stories about how tech has changed the world we live in.

See the revolution

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Tire Pressure Monitor Valve Stem Cap 4-Pack for $2 + free shipping

Fullness99 via eBay offers the Tire Pressure Monitor Valve Stem Cap 4-Pack for $2.46 with free shipping. That’s tied with our mention from last week and the lowest total price we could find by a buck, outside of the price below (and other eBay merchants). These caps fit on any standard size tire valve stem and provide visual alerts of each tire’s pressure. They’ll ship from China, with an estimated delivery time of three to eight weeks. Deal ends July 24.

Of note, Jewelry Work via eBay offers it for $1.99 plus 80 cents for shipping. They will also ship within three to eight weeks.

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2015 Honda CR-V: Revised, but not ruined (CNET On Cars, Ep. 69)

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In this episode:

  • 2015 Honda CR-V Touring AWD — full boat version of the latest CR-V refresh.
  • Smarter Driver: Why LATCH tethers are such a pain and three cars that get them right.
  • Car Tech 101: Invisible Cars
  • Email: Upgrade your old car’s current headlights.
  • Top 5: World’s Biggest Carmakers

Honda’s CR-V didn’t invent the category of compact crossovers – Toyota’s RAV4 is generally given that honor – but it acts like it did. Often the top seller, it benefits from being part of a category that is Honda’s birthright: Sturdy, efficient vehicles that are handsome if not aspirational. I am pleased to report they have not messed with the formula, but they have really added to it. Spend enough money and the 2015 CR-V let’s you check the tech in a lot of new ways.

I think you’ll enjoy our Car Tech 101 on the invisible car technologies that are under development: Invisible in the sense of making it easier to see out from your car. In the last few years we’ve really seen a thickening of car roof pillars as well as a raising of rumps and incursion of 2nd row headrests. You practically need a periscope to drive. Those intrusions aren’t going away, but visually they might.

Instead of a Top 5 best selling cars we offer you Top 5 Global Carmakers: The companies that crank out the most vehicles, under a range of brands. I think you’ll find the rankings, moves and bits of trivia about who owns what rather interesting. We compiled this data as we develop our plans to cover more cars that aren’t sold in the U.S., as many of you have requested.

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Modest improvements keep the CR-V relevant, but not dominant

This week, the 2015 Honda CR-V arrived in the Car Tech garage. The fourth-generation CR-V dates back to 2012, but the compact SUV received a facelift for the 2015 model year and an “Earth Dreams” powertrain makeover.

Around town, the CR-V proved to be modestly zippy, but its performance is focused on comfort and efficiency. Under the hood is a 2.4-liter “Earth Dreams” four-cylinder engine good for 185 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque. Earth Dreams Technology is Honda marketing-speak for a suite of fuel efficiency boosting technologies, including low-friction internals, revised i-VTEC variable valve timing, and direct injection.

Along with the Earth Dreams engine comes a new continuously variable transmission (CVT), now the only gearbox available on the 2015 CR-V. Enthusiasts tend to think of CVT as a four-letter word (figuratively speaking), but the CR-V’s transmission works well in tandem with its four-cylinder engine. Together they are quiet and don’t draw attention to themselves when driven at moderate speeds. Really mash the right pedal and the power delivery is good, but accompanied by the characteristic CVT drone at full throttle.

Check out the updated 2015 Honda CR-V Touring…
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2015 Honda CR-V AWD Touring

2015 Honda CR-V AWD Touring

2015 Honda CR-V AWD Touring

2015 Honda CR-V AWD Touring

2015 Honda CR-V AWD Touring

Together, the new engine and transmission combo net the CR-V an mpg gain of about 3 to 4 mpg across the board. In all-wheel drive trim, it’s estimated to do 28 mpg combined — or 26 city and 33 highway mpg. The front-wheel drive model gets an extra 1 mpg in each category. Tapping the ECON on the dashboard button puts the CR-V into its most efficient operating mode and gives drivers their best shot at the EPA’s estimates. In this mode, the throttle response and the CVT’s programming are adjusted for more mpgs.

Our Touring model arrived fully loaded with all-wheel drive, navigation, and all available creature comforts. During my testing, I was only able to average 20.1 mpg.

Let’s talk about that navigation system for a moment. The Honda infotainment system is a bit convoluted. It features a two-tier dashboard display centered around a 7-inch color touchscreen and a smaller i-MID information display at the top of the dash. The 2015 CR-V swaps its “Honda Satellite Linked Navigation” system for a new 7-inch “HondaLink” setup, which boasts improvements in functionality that bring it into parity with the new HR-V and Fit models. For some reason, though, the system still manages to feel dated.

The new HondaLink navigation system still manages to feel dated and slow to respond.
Antuan Goodwin/CNET

I liked that the home screen uses large icons that are easy to tap and read when the vehicle is in motion, but I didn’t like that I had to return to the home screen whenever I wanted to change the displayed function. If I was navigating and wanted to quickly change my radio station, I’d have to pop out to the home screen, then drill into the audio menu. This wouldn’t be so annoying if the HondaLink system weren’t so slow about everything. There’s about a 1-second delay between tapping a button and seeing the desired response, so that trip to the homescreen and back takes about 3 to 5 seconds. Faster response and physical shortcut buttons on the dashboard would be massive improvements.

The HondaLink system does feature an HDMI input and MirrorLink compatibility, so if you have a smartphone that supports that functionality, you can use its navigation on the touchscreen instead. There are also two USB ports for connecting digital media sources and charging mobile devices.

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OBD2 Bluetooth Diagnostic Scanner Tool for $5 + free shipping

Bigger Gift via eBay offers this OBD2 Bluetooth Automotive Diagnostic Scanner Tool, model no. ELM327, for $4.51 with free shipping. That’s tied with last week’s mention and the lowest total price we could find now by $3, outside of other eBay sellers. This wireless Bluetooth device scans OBDII codes for 1996 and newer cars, light trucks, and SUVs to reveal the reason you’re getting a “check engine” light on your vehicle.

Expect shipping to take up to eight weeks.

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