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Honda: What's new for 2009

New Fit and Pilot -- and can a diesel be far off?

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2009 Honda Fit Sport left-front view

2009 Honda Fit Sport

Photo © Aaron Gold

CONFIRMED:

ACCORD: The V6 engine has been re-rated to 271 horsepower (from 268), with torque ratings of 254 lb-ft for automatic cars and 251 lb-ft for manuals (both up from 248). Actual engine output hasn't changed, but Honda says the original 2008 figures, taken from pre-production engines, were too low. Other than that, the Accord is unchanged.

CIVIC: (photo) The front fascia has been redesigned and the taillights now have clear turn-signal lenses with amber bulbs. A new DX-VP model (sedan only) adds air conditioning and a CD player to the base-model DX for an extra $750. The LX-S adds alloy wheels, "sport-trimmed" seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel, trunk spoiler and a chrome exhaust pipe tip for an extra $600 over the mid-line LX. New standard equipment for various Civic models includes a three-spoke steering wheel (all models), electronic stability control (EX-L, Hybrid), USB audio jack (EX, EX-L, Si, Hybrid), fog lights (Si), and new alloy wheels (EX, EX-L, Si). The optional navigation system now includes Bluetooth phone connectivity, and Hybrid models can be had with an optional ($1,200) leather package similar to the one introduced on the 2008 Civic EX-L.

CR-V: Three new paint colors have been added.

CR-Z: Honda has confirmed that a sporty hybrid car is in the pipeline, though no production timeline has been announced. The new car will be patterned after the CR-Z concept shown at the 2007 Tokyo Auto Show.

ELEMENT: The boxy crossover will get updated styling for 2009.

FCX CLARITY: Leasing for the hydrogen-fuel-cell-powered FCX Clarity started in summer 2008; actress Jamie Lee Curtis took delivery of the second customer car.

FIT: (photo) Just two years after introducing the Fit to the US market, Honda has a new version for 2009. Though the old Fit's trick rear seats and center-mounted fuel tank remain, the new Fit gets radically improved styling, an updated engine, and an available GPS-linked navigation system.

INSIGHT (2010): Honda's new small hybrid now has a name, and it's a familiar one. The new Insight is a five-passenger, five-door hatchback that looks (in concept form, at least) like a cross between a Civic and a Toyota Prius. Honda will show the Insight Concept at the 2008 Paris Auto Show, and the production car will go on sale in the spring of 2009. Honda says the Insight will be "the most affordable hybrid vehicle to date." (The rumor mill says pricing will start around $18,500, about 5 grand below a 2009 Honda Civic Hybrid.) Honda plans to sell around 200,000 Insights, half of those in North America.

ODYSSEY: No significant changes.

PILOT: Honda's large crossover gets a complete redesign for 2009, with Element-inspired exterior styling, improved accommodations for 8 and a roomier interior.

RIDGELINE: Honda's pickup gets updated front, rear and interior styling, slightly more power for its 3.5 liter engine, revised transmission gear ratios, and a host of new features including optional Bluetooth phone compatibility and a backup camera.

S2000: No changes.

RUMORED:

i-DTEC DIESEL: Honda's new 2.2 liter clean diesel engine -- which reportedly will meet 50-state emissions requirements without the need for BLUETEC-style urea injection -- is expected to debut in a Honda vehicle for 2009 or 2010, though which car that will be remains a mystery. Best guess: the Accord or the CR-V.

STREAM: Honda may bring the Japanese-market Stream, a tall wagon/minivan crossover similar to the Mazda5, to the US in 2009.

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