Honda For 1998
By Carey Russ
1997 was the best-ever year for Honda, so is it going to leave well enough alone? Not likely. The sixth generation Accord leads the Honda line into 1998. This perennial favorite has undergone the most comprehensive redesign in its history. The Passport sport-utility has also been redesigned, and new models of the CR-V mini-SUV will be added during the 1998 calendar year. The Odyssey minivan and Civic coupes and sedans receive minor enhancements. A natural gas- powered version of the Civic is on the way. The sporty Prelude is unchanged.
The sixth-generation 1998 Honda Accord is the most changed of any in the brand's 22-year history. Sedan and coupe models have more interior space, enhanced safety and security features, more powerful yet more efficient engines, improvements in ride quality and handling, and a higher level of standard features. The exterior styling is completely new as well. To say that there is a strong difference between the sedan and coupe models is understatement, as only the headlights are shared.
All Accord models have a new, more rigid chassis for improved ride and handling and lower noise levels. Sedans are now classified as "midsized", up from the "compact" classification of previous generations. The Sedans are offered in three trim levels, and coupes in two. Topping both lines are cars powered by a 200- horsepower, 3.0-liter V6 that uses Honda's patented VTEC variable valve timing system. Other sedans use a new, low-emissions 2.3-liter, 150-horsepower VTEC 4-cylinder or a 135-hp. non-VTEC version of the same engine. Coupes are available with the V6 or the VTEC 4- cylinder engine. All 4-cylinder Accords have the choice of a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic with the Grade Logic shift control system. V6 models are only available with the automatic.
The Passport, Honda's midsized sport-utility, has had its first major redesign since its introduction in 1994. The 1998 Passport is more refined where it needs to be civilized, without compromising ruggedness. Slightly larger than before, it has been restyled inside and out, and has more room and a higher level of standard equipment.
Two trim levels, each available with 2- or -4-wheel drive, are offered. All 1998 Passports have a new 205-horsepower, 3.2-liter, dual overhead cam V6 engine. A reinforced chassis and redesigned suspension provide better handling and comfort on or off the road. Dual airbags, 4-wheel antilock brakes, and child-proof rear door locks are standard safety features.
The category-breaking CR-V will celebrate its very successful first year in the Honda lineup in February, 1998. At that time, several new variations will be announced.
The Accord-based Odyssey is the most carlike minivan made. Because of its design and low center of gravity, it combines passenger car comfort and handling with an amazing amount of interior space. Four hinged doors make access easy. It has some significant new features for 1998.
All 1998 Odysseys have the 2.3-liter, 150-horsepower VTEC 4-cylinder engine that is also used in the new Accord. The exterior styling is freshened., and new fabrics and a new instrument panel and steering wheel highlight interior changes.
The Civic line of small sedans, coupes, and hatchbacks has been around for 25 years now. Some of the many available models have minor exterior differences for 1998.
Over the years, the Prelude has matured into a seriously quick sports coupe. The fifth generation was introduced last year, and has been a sales success. It is unchanged this year.
Offered in two trim levels, the Prelude is the technological showcase of the Honda line, with a 195-horsepower, 2.2-liter VTEC 4- cylinder engine. A 5-speed manual gearbox is standard. The optional 4-speed automatic has Sequential SportShift for manual shifting. The top-of-the-line Type SH has an unique Active Torque Transfer System differential for improved handling and traction.