I suppose I could spin this as “boy, what a difference a year makes." Three notable new entries joined the small-crossover field at the L.A. Auto Show—next-gen versions of the Honda CR-V, Ford Escape and Mazda CX-5—and while the first one comes as a 2012 model, the other two are badged as 2013s. And unfortunately for Honda, the new CR-V lives down to its chronological standing as the member of this trio that’s most behind the times.
It’s a shocking outcome that shows the depths of Honda’s ongoing difficulties as it tries to recover from both the spring tsunami/earthquake in Japan and the more recent catastrophic flooding in Thailand, where a significant number of the automaker’s suppliers are located. The result, according to Honda, has been a 200,000-unit reduction in vehicle supply to the U.S. alone. Amazingly, Honda’s year-to-date sales volume is “only” down by about 53,000 units, but that just disguises another issue. Even as its YTD sales have slipped by 5.3 percent, Honda has had to deal with a disaster of another kind—a very strong yen—that is now taking a big bite out of profits on the vehicles it is able to sell.
A lot of folks no doubt thought the all-new Honda Civic and CR-V would go a long way toward helping cure these ills, but production problems and weak reviews have severely stunted the immediate outlook for the former, and the latter raises some concerns of its own. Honda says there will be no production issues with the 2012 CR-V and early reviews for the vehicle have been positive, but for an “all-new” model, from a company that used to be known for its advanced engineering, it displays some surprisingly old technologies—especially in terms of its powertrain.