Honda Dream Garage Showcase
We all know that Honda makes an wide variety of products, with motorcycles being at the top of my personal list, but at the Honda Dream Garage event for journalists of all kinds, I didn’t realize just how many different things Honda builds that you can put in your garage. Honda gave me a chance to sample a few of their products from outside of the motorcycle world, while allowing others a shot at two-wheeled fun.
Because the event was for all kinds of media, the choice of motorcycles at the event focused on beginner-friendly machines, such as the Grom and CB300R, along with DCT-equipped models, such as the NC700X DCT and CTX700 DCT. We’ve tested both of those motorcycles extensively, and suffice to say that both the NC700X and CTX700 are friendly and capable machines that benefit greatly from Dual Clutch Transmission technology.
Honda showed us countless products from the automobile, marine, powersports, and power equipment ranges, along with stand-alone engines that Honda builds for us in products marketed by other companies. For instance, I was completely unaware that Honda built engines that are used in pressure washers, as well as making such utilitarian products as pumps. The array is dazzling, and Honda is the largest seller of internal combustion engines in the world.
Let’s take a look at the products I sampled that Honda would like you to fill your Honda Dream Garage with:
2016 Honda Accord Sedan Sport
This refreshing of the Honda Accord was the focus of the Honda Dream Garage event, as the Accord is the top of the Honda automobile line. The 2016 Accord is an update for the 9th generation Accord, which has been around since 2013. Keep in mind that “Car and Driver” has put the Accord on its “10 Best” list 29 times.
The 2016 Honda Accord gets a more rigid body, an upgraded chassis, larger wheels (up to 19-inch on some models) and some highly impressive technical options that I can’t wait to see migrate to motorcycles. At the top of that option list is the multi-system Honda Sensing.
The Collision Mitigation Braking System with sensor fusion technology, and its Forward Collision Warning subsystem, uses a radar unit in the front bumper, along with a camera, the car visually and audibly alerts you if it determines you are about to collide with it. If you don’t to anything to avoid the collision, the CMBS will brake the car on its own. This system recognizes both vehicles and pedestrians, and the alerts can be adjusted to taste. I didn’t test this system!
The Lane Keeping Assist System uses a camera and the Electric Power Steering to make sure you stay in your lane at higher speeds, except when you mean to change lanes. At speeds between 45 and 90 mph, the LKAS will shake the steering wheel to let you know if you’re drifting out of your lane. If that’s not enough to get you to regain your attention to the road, the system will add corrective steering torque to get you back in the center of the lane. Like the CMBS, it can be switched off. I did test this technology, and it works. It’s a very cool idea and is a great safety technology that will keep cars from drifting inadvertently into a lane where motorcyclists are riding.
An extension of LKAS, the Road Departure Mitigation system helps keep the Accord from running off the road. If it detects that you’re about to end up in a ditch, both steering and braking are initiated by the car to correct the situation. I also tried this, and it works impressively.
Adaptive Cruise Control is pretty cool, though I didn’t have a chance to use it. Designed for light-traffic conditions, and using radar, it will automatically adjust your speed in cruise control mode should you get to close to the vehicle in front of you, or someone moves closely in front of you. As a bonus, it speeds back up if the slowpoke moves out of your lane. The ACC is usable from 25 to 90 mph and is fully adjustable.
There were plenty of other safety features in the 2016 Honda Accord Sedan Sport that I drove, including Traction Control, 4-Channel ABS, Electronic Brake Distribution, and a multi-angle rearview camera. Definitely, we will be seeing a number of these features on motorcycles in the future.
I drive a truck, so the 2016 Honda Accord Sedan Sport seemed great to me from a driving aspect. Handling was quite good, and the paddle-shifting 6-Speed Automatic Transmission with Sport Mode was flawless. The 3471cc V6 motor in the Sedan Sport puts out 278 horses at 6200 rpm, and I easily ran it into the 6800 rpm redline. The 24-valve, SOHC, i-VTEC motor is slightly undersquare, so there’s plenty of torque on tap for real-world acceleration — 252 ft/lbs of torque at 4900 rpm has a good feel to it, and it does it on regular unleaded while getting an EPA MPG overall rating of 27 mpg.
Also, the 2016 Honda Accord Sedan Sport has amazing connectivity with your phone. Using Apple CarPlay and Android Auto software, it gives you all sorts of access to phone apps by way of a 7.7-inch touch screen in the dash. You can send voice-generated texts and have the replies read to you, use Siri Eyes Free, and the navigation system uses voice recognition, while Honda HD Digital Traffic lets you know what roads ahead are clogged. Awesome stuff!
2016 Honda Pilot
I took a quick spin on an off-road course that included a steep, sandy climb for the AWD SUV. The big push from Honda is the new Intelligent Traction Management system. Basically, it allows you to select from four different AWD modes — Normal, Snow, Mud, and Sand. Using drive-by-wire, it keeps traction so you the Pilot will perform better off-road.
The hill that was built was pretty steep for an SUV. So, when I approached it in Normal mode, which relied on me, I asked the Honda tech how to approach it. He suggested about 4 mph. Much to his chagrin, I was able to climb the hill in Normal mode using a deft touch on the throttle, something no other journalist had done. However, when I switched it into the Sand mode, it made climbing the hill much easier with plenty of room for error. It’s a good system if you take your Pilot off-road.
Not yet available for sale, the Honda Uni-Cub is a battery-powered personal mobility device that propels you along at 3.8 mph. Now, that may not sound too exciting, but it does it without any hand or foot controls. Subtle body movements do it all. You lean left or right to change direction, forward to go, and backward to stop.
It took a bit of time for me to get used to it, including the only crash of the day, but plenty of other people adapted to it instantly. Perhaps my motorcycle training worked against me!
The Uni-Cub is a cute little thing, just 24.4 inches tall and weighing 55 pounds. You have to be 4’ 9” to take this ride and if you’re over 220 pounds, you have to go on a diet, but that is going to fit a wide range of adults. It’s good for about four miles on a charge of the lithium-ion matter, which only takes 90 minutes to recharge.
2016 Honda Pioneer 1000
This is Honda’s newest and biggest SxS (side-by-side), and features an all-new 999cc motor and 6-speed Dual Clutch Transmission. With 14-inch aluminum wheels shod with 27-inch radial knobbies, the Pioneer 1000 has advanced features like four-mode differential lock, high-low sub-transmission, a convertible bed, and power steering.
I was able to make some pretty good time on the Pioneer 1000 on the off-road course that featured a variety of obstacles. The big SxS is highly stable and accelerates strongly with a passenger. I didn’t have a chance to drive the fully loaded Pioneer 1000-5 Deluxe fully loaded with five-aboard, however. Two-up, it was an impressive machine.
2016 Honda Pioneer 500
At the opposite end of the SxS spectrum is the Pioneer 500, with is much smaller than the 1000 and carries only a driver and passenger. With features like paddle shifting, independent rear suspension, and a 450-pound cargo capacity, the 500 is not a stripped down machine. Capable of fitting in the bed of a full-size truck, the Pioneer 500 is also incredibly fun to drive. It is agile and quick, adding fun to a machine that is ostensibly designed as a utility vehicle. I suspect hunters will love it.
Honda FRC800 Rear-Tine Tiller
At heart, I’m a city boy and don’t know the first thing about tillers. I can tell you, however, that having never operated one, that the Honda FRC800 was extremely beginner friendly. I was tilling in no time, and the intuitive controls made the self-propelled tiller easy to use. I just pulled the lever and was digging dirt like there was no tomorrow. For the gearheads, the FRC800 has a 270cc motor, four speeds (three forward, one reverse), 12-inch tires, and a 20-inch wide tilling width. It weighs 265 pounds, but I certainly couldn’t tell that, as it was moving itself along with chain drive quite efficiently.
Honda HSS928AWD Snow Blower
I grew up in Southern California, so I have never shoveled snow in my life. That’s fine — I never want to! With the Honda HSS928AWD snow blower, I will never have to. Like the tiller, a novice like me was up and running in no time, even if I was blowing sawdust rather than snow on the hot day. Using the same 270cc OHV motor as the tiller, the HSS928AWD powers itself, so all I have to do is sensibly guide it. Yeah, these things have a nasty auger and you do not want to get anywhere in their vicinity! Honda claims the HSS928AWD will clear 1900 pounds of snow in one minute, and an amiable exhaust shoot means you can aim snow at any bystander (which I’m sure you’re not supposed to do). What I can tell you is that it’s easy to use and impressively powerful.