Honda is the car company with the reputation for sterling reliability, but with an edge of sport over Toyota’s competition. While it’s hard to go wrong with anything in Honda’s lineup, what do you buy that is fun, reliable, a good value, and a bit different from the competition? Read on as we show you the best of Honda and why it edges out the competition.
The tiny Honda Fit is advertised as “the 5-door car with attitude.” The Fit backs that up with phenomenal handling for a front-wheel drive car, which are typically nose-heavy, and it’s especially impressive for this price range. The Fit communicates clearly what the suspension and steering are doing, like a large go-kart, offering nearly as much feedback and control as the more expensive Fiesta ST. The Fit is the fun value leader of this segment, but also offers more interior room than the Fiesta and your rear passengers will appreciate the extra headroom. The six-speed manual is a joy to operate, the seats fold nearly flat like a minivan, resale value is excellent, and everything inside feels more expensive than it is. The gas mileage is stellar as you would expect, with 40 MPG achievable on the highway. It’s not just a great small car; the Fit is a great car.
When was the last time you saw a ’90s Honda Civic out on the road? It was probably this morning. The ninth-generation Civic (2012 to 2015) is built on the reputation for safety and durability, and it’s no wonder the Civic is today one of the cheapest cars to insure. This was the last generation of the hybrid, but the HF model also achieved 40+ MPG. The Si delivered a sport tuned suspension and 205 horsepower, and even the base LX has a surprising amount to offer. It leads the class for interior ergonomics, gas mileage, reliability, resale value, and safety. The Civic tried to be the car for everyone, and it largely succeeded. This is the car that can save you money at the gas pump now, pass off to the kid for driver’s education in 10 years, and later they’ll take it to college.
Minivans prove that compromise can provide a win for all sides. The Honda Odyssey provides more cargo room than compact and even midsize SUVs, yet doesn’t take the gas mileage penalty of traditional SUVs. Based on the best-selling mid-side Accord, the Odyssey drives as well as a sedan, but can hold so much more. The rear cargo area can hold just short of 150 cubic feet of stuff with the seats down, or put them up and haul eight adult-sized individuals in comfort. It’ll return 27 MPG highway if you’re light on the gas pedal, or a solid 248 horsepower if you step on it. Plus, an IIHS study showed the Odyssey has one of the best survivability rates of any vehicle on the road.
Sure, the compact CR-V sells better, but for Honda SUVs, the Pilot is where it’s at. The second generation Pilot features tough urban design cues with sharp creases, but a cushy interior for passenger comfort. It’s built on the same Accord/Odyssey chassis, so it has the on-road manners of a mid-size sedan. There’s comfy leather seating, hands-free calling, an eight-inch touchscreen, and three-zone climate control. The Pilot isn’t all soft though. It’s got capability in the powerful and efficient 3.5L V6 driving the front wheels. Or there’s optional all-wheel drive for foul weather. It’s Honda’s only three-row SUV, but that large size is easy enough to maneuver since a backup camera has been standard since 2013. Finally, it’s not just a nice place to spend time, but also a safe place. The same IIHS study that loves the Odyssey above also ranked the Pilot among the statistically safest vehicles you can buy.
If you don’t need to pull a yacht up a mountain with a bed full of cinder blocks, then Honda has the truck for you. After decades of stagnant ideas in the truck market, Honda entered the ring and released the Ridgeline in 2006 to critical acclaim. Rather than a full-size like the Ford F-150, the Ridgeline is more of a mid-size, and delivers a car-like ride thanks to sharing some parts with the Pilot. There’s cool storage solutions, like a lockable trunk under the bed, and the unique chassis design that allows more interior space than conventional crew cab pickups. The 3.5L V6 engine primarily drives the front wheels, but switches to all-wheel drive as the situation demands. It’s a real truck too, able to tow a 5,000-pound trailer while a 500-pound ATV sits in the bed. It’s decent on gas, handles well, scores excellent in every crash test, and will even fit in your garage. The Ridgeline is the truck you’ll actually use.