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The News for December 22nd, 2017

Greg Kachadurian December 22, 2017 The News! 26 Comments

Welcome to the Hooniverse News! As always, this is a weekly recap of some of the biggest stories in the automotive industry without the fluff or bull. There’s also just a little opinion of mine because I can. This week:

  • Honda is bringing back the Insight

  • Hennessey says third-axle trucks are still cool, will sell the VelociRaptor 6×6

  • All-new Acura RDX and Infiniti sedan concept teased ahead of NAIAS

  • What’s your automotive news?

Honda Insight Prototype

Honda is bringing back the Insight at next year’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit and it’ll be very different from what we’ve seen previously. The first Insight launched in 1999 as a bare-bones coupe and we got a revival ten years later as an inexpensive five-door, but this hybrid is going upscale for its third generation.

We’ll get full details at NAIAS next month, but Honda is claiming an “entirely new approach” to styling, packaging, premium features, and performance so it’s more in line with what today’s buyers are looking for. If all goes to plan, they say it’ll be a hybrid without any of the inherent compromises. So basically a hybrid that’s “normal”. One of the suits at Honda describes it as “a great car in its own right, independent of what’s happening under the hood”.

Its looks to be positioned just below the new Accord and above the Civic, so it’ll be a size that’s convenient for most families but still offer mileage that’s “competitive with other compact hybrid models” – as of now they’re not talking stats, but the EPA’s numbers should be pretty nice.

With it being touted as a more premium car now, one number that might also increase is the price. The last Insight launched as the most affordable hybrid on the market… that might not be the case again.

[Source: Honda]

Hennessey VelociRaptor 6×6 goes on sale

And now for something completely different.

Remember when adding a third axle to pickups and G-Wagens was cool? Hennessey still remembers, which is why they’re bringing their old VelociRaptor 6×6 concept to production and opening the ordering books. To those who’ve erased the concept from their memory, this is a Ford Raptor that gets a substantial power boost and a third axle for no reason other than because they can.

Here’s the rundown: it starts as a standard Ford F-150 Raptor SuperCrew and gets Hennessey’s VelociRaptor package, which through some turbocharger upgrades bumps power to 605 horsepower and 622 lb.-ft. of torque. Then they cram an additional locking rear axle under the bed, rework the Fox suspension, and throw on new 20″ wheels wrapped in Toyo Open Country tires for good measure. Finishing touches include custom front and rear bumpers, an exterior roll bar, and additional LED lightning.

They say it can go anywhere, fast. It’s certainly quick for what it is with a 4.9-second 0-60 mph time. “Anywhere” might be a relative term though, because all 50 trucks scheduled for production are almost certainly going to Dubai and nowhere else. A Raptor with bigger turbos and a third axle will set you back $349,000… so yeah, Dubai.

[Source: Hennessey Performance Engineering]

NAIAS teasers

With the first big auto show of the new year just a few weeks away, manufacturers are already teasing what they’ll be bringing to Detroit. In addition to that Insight mentioned above, Acura and Infiniti have both announced their big debuts already (in less detail).

Acura is bringing an all-new RDX crossover which is the culmination of their “most extensive redesign in more than a decade”. It’s designed and developed in America for the first time and will also be the best performing RDX yet… which is typically how these new generations are supposed to work. The RDX is their strongest seller, so I’d expect to see a lot of work put in to this one.

Infinti’s teaser is for an unnamed concept (though they way they name things these days, it should probably stay that way). They say it’ll take the traditional sedan to “its next stage of evolution” with “smarter, more compact and less intrusive powertrains”. So it’s going to be another electric sedan that’ll be scrapped and turned into a hybrid crossover instead. Got it.

[Sources: Acura, Infiniti]

What’s your automotive news?

That’s all I’ve got for you this week, so now it’s your turn. If you saw anything, fixed something, broke everything, or otherwise did anything even remotely car related that you want to share with your fellow hoon, sound off in the comments.

Have a good weekend and happy holidays!

[Image © 2017 Hooniverse/Greg Kachadurian]

  • Sjalabais

    3 axle Raptor loading capacity: 4 yetis and 2 unicorns.

    • outback_ute

      Maybe it was just reading this on my phone in a small font size but for some reason I initially read the last bit as 2 morons. You can understand my mistake?

      • Well, at least one needs a license, so I would prefer a unicorn behind the wheel over a moron.

        • Rover 1

          We try not to let morons drive cars, we just let them run countries.

          • Quite a risky way to keep them busy off the road.

  • GTXcellent

    I’ve been married to MiSSus GTXcellent now close to twenty years – and I STILL haven’t figured out that I need to listen to her regarding anything automotive!
    About a month ago, she said that the Saab was making a “noise” she thought was coming from the rear. Of course I dismissed it – I told her that the brake rotor(s) have a ridge built up, and that’s why they “squeak” at slow speeds. She continued to express her opinion that it was not a “squeak” and was something more significant. So the other night she gets home and tells me that the noise is soooo loud now that she cannot hear the radio. Uh oh.
    I only needed a test drive from our garage out to the shed – yeah, she was right. Definitely a noise. A very loud grinding noise. Jacked the rear of the car up, and I couldn’t physically turn the driver’s rear tire. Oh no. Pulled the wheel – brake pads were gone and the caliper was wearing into the rotor. Oops. Sorry dear.
    Ever change brake pads and rotors on an NG Saab 9-3? Remember back to the discussion a few weeks ago about special tools we hate? Yeah, that’s why I’m paying the shop to fix it.

    Merry Christmas one and all.

    • I’ve had similar experiences with my daughters.

      Middle one would complain about her 1998 Escort and I ignored her because it was old and tired but, I thought, solid. Then she called saying her brake light was on. Uh oh. I told her to stay put and I grabbed a bottle of brake fluid went to rescue her. I topped off the brake fluid and drove it home. It was pulling right at every stop, the parking brake no longer worked, there was a significant exhaust leak and she had destroyed a tire a few days prior. Not to mention that it had been wrecked and repaired twice since we had bought it 6 years ago and the ac no longer worked. Still, it ran strong and rode pretty good. Still, I felt terrible and decided that it was time to retire it. Just too many issues to deal with. I got about $220 for it for scrap.

      My oldest had complained about the sound of the HVAC fan in her Mazda3.. I sort of blew it off, but then I drove it for a couple of days. It wasn’t just a noise, it was like an air raid siren. Plus it wasn’t blowing as hard as it should. I replaced the fan that weekend.

      I decided that I needed to drive their cars every few weeks just to be sure everything is OK.

      • I have that strategy in my role as family team’s bicycle mechanic, since they don’t sense issues the way I do…

    • Rover 1

      That’s a great Christmas present. A lesson on the importance of listening to your wife.

  • kogashiwa

    That new Insight might be the best looking version yet of the Accord Crosstour design language.

  • JayP

    Must be my age showing.
    I got an email from Ford introducing the 2018 Ecosport. I saw it at the Tarrant Co Auto Show last year, no intro but the Ford rep who was German knew all about it. This one being a non-US spec had a 6 speed manual. Had my attention.

    I go to build one online… only an automatic is available.
    But AWD is a $1500 option on any car but necessitates the 2L 4. Base is the 1L 3.
    Still, $20k? I’ll wait for discounts.

    2017 New Jeep Renegade, 6 speed AWD are cut to $15k.

  • If the new Insight is a hatch it’ll be a serious win. The only thing I miss from the Prius over the Accord Hybrid is the hatchback versatility.

    We’ll be replacing the Accord in 2025 or so, I’m thinking that a 2022-2023 Insight might just be perfect.

  • wunno sev

    on night shift, so i took my time to fix the sloppy tie rod, get an alignment, and fix the exhaust on the Volvo. i also removed a large aluminum tube that accidentally fell into the tank on the Mercedes, and i even made it to the gym before work four of the five days of the week. i should be on night shift more often!

    i wish Honda would stop moving upmarket and just make good shit. i know they have to compete with Toyota and my dream Honda would please nobody but me, but food for thought: i once heard Honda described – maybe here, actually – as an engine company that put decent stuff around its engines, which is a far cry from the Honda we know now.

    was Soichiro the force that kept them in line? granted, the company carried on its legacy for a decade after his death without straying, but there has clearly been a shift. was Jobs the only one keeping Apple innovative? will Amazon someday lose focus without Bezos?

    i work at a company with an “eccentric visionary” boss, and there’s no question in my mind that he keeps the ship on course. it’s not because he’s an effective manager, or a smart businessman. he has the control and idealism to keep the institution from straying. the core product sells itself without the frills of the competition, and it sells well.

    maybe Honda’s current course was inevitable, is what i guess i’m saying. get enough shareholders in on the game, lose your visionary leader, and the writing is on the wall – from now on, you’re just gonna be normal.

    i know nothing about business. don’t listen to me.

    • cap’n fast

      there should be A GREAT KILLING of accountants who tell engineers that they can not have “that”. “That” which makes shit work right out of the box. control modules that do not crisp themselves for no good reason other than they are the cheapest shit the accountants could find. I am customer of automobile manufactures’ and I am the one that determines what quality is. If the cars are not reliable, they have zero quality for me. i will shop elsewhere.”
      “That” component of design that does not fail at the most inopportune of times. “That” engine that actually meets design specification for power out put and fuel economy at rated power out put or emissions controls that last more than once around the block.
      so, do not feel alone in your solitude of inevitable failure of all things automotive, we are with you…

    • Rover 1

      Honda started off by making piston rings. Which should sum their credos up nicely. Deceptively simple but actually very difficult to make properly and of super critical, exacting tolerances requiring the utmost precision to make properly.

      But at the same time, almost disposable.

      They’ve veered too closely to the disposable side in their cars lately.

      • wunno sev

        i think one could argue that they’ve always been disposable. try to find a clean ’90s Civic in the Midwest. they didn’t have the strength (or corrosion resistance) to go for decades. granted, the median terminal mileage of a ’93 Civic is probably way higher than that of, say, a contemporary 190E, but (imho) older Japanese cars weren’t built to last forever. they just worked perfectly until they weren’t worth it anymore. (i will make an exception to this theory for trucks.)

        but i think you’re right – Honda took incredibly complex, inherently troublesome things and just did them better. they showed that impeccable execution is more important than a feature set. who does that across their entire product line now, the way Honda did?

        it’s hard to separate out the changes at Honda from the changes in cars at large, but with this latest generation they’re trying to move upmarket, and i too am skeptical that they can stay focused. for all i think the new NSX and Civic Type-R are severely dope, i’m troubled, because as halo cars, those are supposed to embody Honda’s philosophy. in the ’90s that meant wowing us with what a different approach to engineering could achieve. today it feels like it means doing the same stuff as the competition for less money. still great engineering, but it’s hard to picture Honda building a weirdo like the S2000 today.

    • I guess I should introduce night shifts at my regular office job…

  • cap’n fast

    so, is this the first of April or what?

  • Smaglik

    Took the m5 on a 6 day road trip with the parents. Still have to return home from Phoenix, but she’s performed quite well. Only one hiccup….3 times I got what sounded like an electrical chirp from what I think was the blower motor, but it wasn’t the usual fan-is-old-bearings-are-drying-out chirp, tied to fan speed. This one was consistent, and almost sounded like really loud interference on the stereo, like when you installed that massive amp at 17 and didn’t properly isolate it. Once it quit immediately when I killed the climate control. Once it did shortly after I killed the climate control. Once I had to turn the car off to kill it. I hope it’s the FSU. That’s easy. The motor requires dash removal. I need to investigate.

    Regardless, here’s a photo from the day it snowed in Durango. I didn’t have to drive that day, happily.

    Hope the photo shows. My first time trying to upload one.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a3909876d6ce5b62cbe6fe6ce19c29c96c192e05e1baff53c4e482367bb2ddb4.jpg

  • Sjalabais

    Just done with Christmas eve, gifts delivered, kids in a squeeky sugar rush. My boy got a 1973 Volvo 244 “1 of 1008” collectible in 1:43. They say “premium”, but they also say “Volov 244”, sigh:
    https://i.imgur.com/RMll3iRl.jpg

    • smokyburnout

      they weren’t collectible until they caught the “Volov” error after 1008 units

    • Zentropy

      Cool car– always loved the grille/headlights under that flat hood. I may look that one up and get it for myself, with or without the misplaced “v”.

      • Sjalabais
        • Zentropy

          Early 200s are sweet, no doubt. I love them for the reasons you just described, though I’m a four-door rather than a coupe kinda guy. Finding one is the problem!

          • Sjalabais

            I even agree with you. Have always been a utility guy myself, and when I took that two door home, several friends made fun of me for not buying the wagon I was always waxing on about. Perfection would be a 145 Express, truly usable classic. Are you in the US? Early 240’s are certainly best in my mind, even though some utility purists would say the model has been improved all the way up until 1993. Had ’93 B230FX, too. Awesome engine, but the car was trouble prone and basically every plastic bit had a crack in it.

    • Zentropy

      Ooh, I might have to get this one. I love 122s.
      https://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/RnwAAOSw8DJaHXe5/s-l500.jpg