What’s Hot and What’s Not in the 2020 Honda Lineup

Being one of the largest automakers in the world and certainly one of the most important companies in the U.S. with around 8.5 percent market share, there’s naturally a lot going on around the Honda lineup each year. The next apparent focus for any car maker worthy of its salt is electrification. Unlike a number of companies which had already announced a significant action plan in that regard, Honda is still keeping things private. At least in the U.S., that is. Their European electrification plans are a bit more palpable as the company is expecting two-thirds of their volume there to feature some sort of a hybrid or all-electric powertrain by 2025. We, however, will focus on things scheduled to happen sooner and closer to home – the 2020 Honda lineup in the U.S. to be more precise.

Honda’s U.S. sales have amounted to 1,486,827 units in 2017 which is their best result since they traversed the Pacific ocean and opened up their base of operations in Los Angeles back in 1959. They started off by selling motorcycles, mind you, and their first passenger car in the U.S. wouldn’t arrive until 1970, but that’s beside the point right now anyway. The important part is their sales have actually taken a turn for the worse in 2018. Concluding with November 2018, the American Honda Motor Company has managed to market a total of 1,307,553 vehicles in the U.S. which is a slight 3.3 percent downturn compared to the same period in 2017 when they had sold 1,352,572 cars.

MY 2020 is expected to be one of the turning points for the Honda brand. The North American customers will be deprived of the all-new Urban EV concept-based electric car, but they’ll get a number of facelifted and/or redesigned models currently on offer instead. Whether that will be enough to keep the sales momentum going remains to be seen, however. It’s evident that the Japanese will have to address their recent lack of creativity on the U.S. market sooner rather than later, though. Without further ado, here’s what to pay attention to when it comes to Honda cars in 2020.

What’s Hot in the New 2020 Honda Lineup

07. 2020 Fit

The 5-door subcompact hatchback is in for a major overhaul during MY 2020. This petite, affordable car nourishes the essence of early Honda years by providing simple yet effective means of city transportation. With around 50,000 units sold per year in the U.S., the Fit doesn’t count among the most popular Honda vehicles here, but that was never its intention anyway. The smart city car offers plenty of cargo space for its class, an abundance of tech gear, and excellent fuel economy. The 2020 Honda Fit will be an all-new fourth-generation model set to adopt a slightly different strategy than the outgoing units. At least from a design standpoint. The forthcoming Fit, whose early mules have already been caught testing, will apparently sport a more horizontally-oriented design which should give it a sportier look. Expect the prices to see a slight bump after the proposed generation shift, as base models will likely be available from around $17,000.

The current Honda Fit is anything but a fast car, and the next-gen models won’t try and change that. A 130-horsepower 1.5L inline-four served as the third generation’s sole powertrain offering in the U.S., but that might soon get changed. The next-gen models might incorporate a 1.0L turbocharged 3-cylinder engine the Japanese are using overseas instead. This would further improve already good fuel economy figures without sacrificing any power. In fact, it’s making 129 ponies at the moment which splits the difference of the outgoing engine’s 128 hp with a CVT and 130 hp with a manual straight down the middle. As far as transmission choices go, it’s still too early to tell whether the next-gen Fit will retain a stick. A CVT gearbox, on the other hand, is almost certain to carry over.

06. 2020 Passport

Although the Honda Passport is a newcomer to the Honda lineup, the Passport nameplate itself is anything but all-new. Produced at the Subaru and Isuzu of Indiana assembly in Lafayette between 1993 and 2002, the old Honda Passport SUV was actually a rebadged Isuzu Rodeo. All-new for MY 2019 – the resurrected Honda Passport is now a crossover tightly based on the slightly larger Pilot built at the Japanese automaker’s Lincoln, Alabama plant. Although built upon the same platform that’s also shared with the Ridgeline pickup, the Passport is six inches shorter than the Pilot and accommodates up to five people at max. With that in mind, it’s obvious the Passport will slot below the Pilot, but still above Honda’s best-selling model overall – the compact CR-V. This will pit it against a long list of highly successful competitors including the Nissan Murano, Ford Edge, Hyundai Santa Fe, etc. Taking the Japanese car maker’s build quality and reliability into account, I believe the Passport will do just fine despite competing against the already-established competition.

Apart from sharing the Pilot’s platform and, more or less, overall shape, the all-new Honda Passport also borrows its engine. Powered by a 3.5L naturally aspirated V6 with 280 ponies and 262 pound-feet of twist, the Honda Passport offers more power and better towing rates than most of its competitors. The engine itself is tied to a 9-speed automatic transmission which is another improvement over its opponents. By the time 2020 arrives, the Passport might also offer a smaller turbocharged 4-cylinder option, but we wouldn’t bet on that. Likely to start from around $30,000, the Passport should undercut its opposition in this segment as well. It remains to be seen how its fuel economy will fare, but the new crossover should definitely rate better than the larger Pilot which returns 20 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway.

Honda Passport front 3/4 view

05. 2020 Civic Type R

The Honda Civic Type R will probably be your best option of owning a truly hot hot-hatch now that the Focus RS has been axed from the U.S. lineup. The current, tenth-generation Civic Type R has had its issues here due to its rather polarizing look and low production numbers which has lead to some ridiculously high dealer markups. Although the suggested retail price stands at around $35,000, most Type R’s have had their prices inflated to as much as over $50,000. The facelifted 2020 Honda Civic Type R is supposed to fix both of the aforementioned issues. A test mule of the updated model showcases a smaller rear wing which significantly changes the hot hatchback’s demeanor, and higher production numbers should finally take care of the annoying dealership markups. The remaining changes should be evenly distributed alongside the car’s front and rear fascias.

At the moment, the U.S. market Honda Civic Type R cranks up a hefty 306 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of rotational force. The same 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that generates that power will motivate the facelifted model as well, but it should receive reinforcement in terms of additional horsepower. Its main competitor, the Ford Focus RS, has had as much as 350 horsepower from the get-go which is a goal the 2020 Civic Type R should aim to achieve, if not surpass. The front-wheel-drive hot hatch has been available with a proper 6-speed stick as its only transmission choice and we doubt that’ll change anytime soon. The redesigned Type R hatchback should retain its $35,000 price tag – only for real this time. More info should become apparent as we zero in on the reveal date.

Honda Civic Type R test mule front 3/4 view

04. 2020 Pilot

There aren’t many better options on the market for prospective three-row crossover buyers than the facelifted Honda Pilot. Updated for MY 2019, the 2020 Pilot will carry over mostly unchanged. The mid-size crossover offers almost minivan-like practicality thanks to an abundance of space both for passengers (up to eight of them) and their cargo. It also offers a refined ride and plethora of available safety features – some of which have become standard after the mentioned facelift. For instance, every new Honda Pilot from base to range-topping Elite trims comes with the standard Honda Sensing system that includes lane departure warning, forward collision warning, collision mitigation braking system, and road departure mitigation system among other features. A new infotainment system has also been included. Entry-level models start from just under $31,500, while the Elite trim costs a hefty $48,000, on the other hand.

The Honda Pilot shares its platform and powertrain with both the Ridgeline pickup truck and the all-new Passport crossover. Their 3.5L V6 is capable of providing up to 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque which is more than plenty for a vehicle of the Pilot’s size. The mid-size crossover also offers a 9-speed automatic gearbox with paddle shifters, but exclusively on the top two trim levels: Touring and Elite. The remainder of the lineup still clings to the old but proven 6-speed automatic transmission. MY 2020 might see the modern nine-speed migrate to the more affordable units, but we’ll hold that thought until the official confirmation arrives. Even without it, the Pilot’s naturally aspirated V6 is smooth, powerful, and relatively efficient, so we can only expect it to get better going forward.

Honda Pilot front 3/4 view

03. 2020 CR-V

Fully redesigned in 2017, the fifth-generation Honda CR-V is in for a mid-term facelift for 2020. One of the best-selling vehicles in the U.S. can’t afford to slip up and give its competitors any room to operate on outmaneuvering it. When it arrived, the fifth-gen CR-V was miles apart from its competitors. It’s safe to say it’s still probably the best choice in its segment, but the gap has definitely been reduced. The compact crossover still has a long way to go before the facelifted model makes its debut, hence details are still stingy on that bit. The current model’s traits are expected to remain at the center of Honda’s strategy for the model. A versatile interior with lots of space for its class, an upscale cabin, an abundance of safety gear, a comfy ride, and great crash test scores are only a few such perks that come with CR-V ownership. On the other hand, the compact crossover wasn’t designed with excitement in mind, so forget about scoring any thrills by driving one.

Most CR-V’s are powered by a fuel-efficient 1.5L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine capable of putting up 190 ponies and 179 lb-ft of torque and returning up to 30 miles to the gallon combined. The entry-level Honda CR-V LX, however, comes exclusively with an older 2.4L 4-cylinder engine that’s good enough for 184 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque. The base engine also returns only 28 mpg combined if paired with front-wheel drive. The optional all-wheel drive reduces the final figure by a single point. One of the main reasons behind the CR-V’s solid fuel economy and not overly joyous ride is a mandatory CVT transmission which still manages to provide the necessary power when called upon. The refreshed CR-V should retain its current price range which starts at around $24,500 and reaches its summit just below the $33,000 mark – before extras, of course.

Honda CR-V front 3/4 view

02. 2020 Insight

The compact hybrid car dates back to the early millennium years, but it’s come a long way since. Based on the Civic sedan, the third-generation Honda Insight offers a great value considering it starts from below the $23,000 mark. Even the range-topping Touring grade is still affordable at $28,000, plus it offers a number of features the entry-level models don’t, like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration (also available in the mid-grade EX models), or a mobile hotspot that’s exclusive with the Touring package. Based on the Civic, the Insight retains the popular compact car’s excellent driving dynamics. It also boasts a wide array of active safety gear and a rather spacious cabin. Not to mention the excellent fuel economy of up to 55 mpg in the city and 49 mpg on the highway. Then again, the Insight is a hybrid and 52 miles to the gallon combined is the least one could have expected from it.

All-new for 2019, the Honda Insight pairs a 1.5L 4-cylinder engine working on the Atkinson cycle with a permanent-magnet synchronous electric motor and a smallish 1.1-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. The total hybrid output amounts to 151 horsepower and 197 lb-ft of rotational force which is far from enthusiastic, but quite expected from a dedicated hybrid car on the other hand. The Insight’s 1-speed direct drive is able to propel the 3,000-pounder to 60 mph from a standstill in just under 9 seconds and to a top speed of 110 mph. Push the accelerator pedal too hard and its otherwise enjoyable cabin will soon be overflowed with undesirable road noise. Then again, the Honda Insight is intended as a city car first and foremost, so you won’t get a lot of opportunities to push its “pedal to the metal” anyway if you use it accordingly.

Honda Insight front 3/4 view

01. 2020 Ridgeline

The Honda Ridgeline has been a one-of-a-kind type of pickup truck on the U.S. market for a while now. Although it boasts a lower payload and smaller towing capabilities than its mid-size pickup truck competitors, the Ridgeline drives like a car – more than any single one of them. It’s also got some unique traits like an innovative bed with a power outlet, hidden bed trunk, and an audio system. However, the window is definitely closing for Ridgeline as it is, since a new batch of mid-size trucks is getting ready to flood the market. The all-new Jeep Wrangler-based Gladiator and Ford Ranger should provide a stern competition – not only for Ridgeline – but for the remainder of smaller truck offering in the U.S. This, combined with the fact the 2020 Honda Ridgeline will likely remain unchanged, means the Japanese utility vehicle’s sales are in for a major hit. Moreover, the Ridgeline’s starting price of $30,000 probably won’t do it any good either.

Honda’s take on the compact truck can only be ordered with a sturdy and powerful 3.5L V6 engine capable of putting up 280 ponies and 262 pound-feet of torque. This is another segment where the Japanese truck fails to offer diversity. Despite the fact its V6 has worked rather well with a 6-speed automatic gearbox before, the 2020-year models will likely switch to more contemporary 9-speed units which should help improve the pickup’s fuel economy by a slight margin. In spite of a few obvious shortcomings, the Honda Ridgeline still remains one of the best offerings on the market for people in need of a light daily driver pickup truck. Especially considering how the Ridgeline is stacked with advanced electronic safety gear and boasts a higher-quality cabin than most of its competitors.

Honda Ridgeline front 3/4 view

What’s Not in the New 2020 Honda Lineup

02. 2020 Accord

The tenth-generation Honda Accord is one of the best mid-size sedans on the market right now. Despite the fact it’s always been one of the best vehicles in its class, MY 2020 will be this generation’s third. As such, the 2021 Accord is expected to undergo a mid-cycle facelift which could bring a number of interesting changes. Needless to say, if you’re in the market for a mid-size sedan and the 2020 Accord piques your interest, maybe it’s better to sit out on it and bide your time for another year. If not for anything else, then at least in order to find out how much of an improved package the Japanese will manage to offer. Meanwhile, the 2020 Accord offers a plethora of standard safety gear, upscale cabin feel, great handling, and an affordable starting price of under $24,000. Considering all of the aforementioned, it actually pains us seeing the Accord listed among the less fortunate Honda models for MY 2020.

A duo of peppy turbocharged 4-cylinder engines is another one of the Honda Accord’s strong points. Most Accords will make do with a 192-horsepower 1.5L turbo four, but those in need of more power could opt for a 252-horsepower 2.0L four-banger. They’ll need to go for the range-topping EX-L and Touring trims, or a slightly more affordable Sport trim in order to gain access to these, however. Making ends meet in one of the highest-competitive segments traditionally, the Accord naturally also offers a hybrid powertrain. It generates a total of 212 ponies thanks to a 2.0L naturally aspirated 4-cylinder engine and electric motor fusion and returns up to 48 miles to the gallon according to the EPA. Unlike before, the Honda Accord doesn’t offer a V6 option anymore. Chalk it up to modernization, but we’d still like to see it regardless.

Honda Accord front 3/4 view

01. 2020 Clarity

Although it’s one of the most versatile nameplates on the U.S. market as a whole, the Clarity is still searching for its spot under the sun. Available as either a plug-in hybrid, all-electric vehicle, or a fuel-cell car, the Clarity offers a wide range of fuel-conserving choices none of its competitors can boast with. Actually, the mid-size sedan doesn’t really have any real competitors – at least not if we take its entire lineup into consideration. Separately, though, every single Clarity model competes against a smaller or larger number of opponents. Although the Clarity hybrid is available across the country, the EV is limited to California and Oregon, while the fuel-cell version is exclusive to California alone. What’s more, the latter two are also only available for lease, while the hybrid starts from around $33,500 which is considerably higher than the Accord hybrid’s base price.

All three versions sport an engine of their own. The plug-in hybrid Clarity combines a 1.5L 4-cylinder engine, dual electric motors, and a 17-kWh lithium-ion battery for a combined output of 212 ponies and 232 lb-ft of torque. The engine often drones while returning 0nly 42 mpg combined (Accord manages 48). An upside is the fact it’s also capable of drone-less 47 miles of all-electric range. The Honda Clarity EV sports a 161-hp electric motor and a smallish 25.5-kWh battery pack that’s only good enough for 93 miles of range. The utter disappointment of Clarity EV is mitigated by 365 miles of hydrogen-powered model’s range. The fuel-cell Clarity also uses a single electric motor mounted on the front axle, but this unit develops slightly higher 174 horses. Every single Honda Clarity version boasts strengths and weaknesses of its own, but neither manages to edge out its competitors. The fuel-cell Clarity is on a good path, but then again, you’d have to live in the Golden State to obtain one, and you’d still be confined to a rather limited network of hydrogen stations.

Honda Clarity front 3/4 view