Will U.S. buyers welcome mini Honda Vezel crossover in 2014?
While Honda hasn't shared any specifications for the proposed North American Vezel, it has stated that the small mini-van-like urban gorilla grocery hauler, will share the 1.5 liter direct injection four cylinder engine currently powering the Fit.
Granted, not all cross-over buyers are concerned with off-the-line performance, nor do they necessarily require all or four wheel drive systems.
Honda’s intended goal is to inject a small crossover into the market that fills a niche slightly below the company’s CR-V. Looking to the original CR-V, Honda returns to the future with the introduction of the Vezel.
Granted, the Vezel is pleasant to look at. For me it’s reminiscent of a ¾ scale Infinity QX50.
The producer of the all new 2014 Civic Si, Accord Coupe and fuel cell concept has once again combined S.U.V. and sports coupe design concepts in a small, entry level crossover. I appreciate the design integration of sports coupe meets S.U.V..
Fit based crossover? I've several friends and family members( mom) that drive the Fit, they love it. And, at a curb weight of 2500 lbs find the power to be adequate. Also, they find the average mileage ( 35 mpg) to be thrifty.
Personally, I find the Fit to be nose heavy and “blind spot” abundant. While the greenhouse cab forward design is spacious, the interior noise level is quite noticeable.The ride and handling is small car harsh. Hopefully, what Honda is marketing as a comfortable “coupe like” interior with minivan back seat elbow room, will not share the ride and comfort characteristics of the Fit.
Due to the car’s blind spots,The Fit is quickly becoming the fender bender king of the auto repair industry. However, In Japan the Hybrid Fit has displaced the Toyota Prius as the top selling gas, electric Hybrid in that nation. While not announced today, perhaps Honda intends to produce and market a hybrid Vezel in North America.
Back to the Vezel.
Building an S.U.V. on the scale of the Fit seems a bit counter-intuitive to me. But I’m not Honda of Japan. What I do know is that if Honda doesn't introduce the Vezel under a ‘green platform’, the small mini- S.U.V. will hit the bricks coming up against long established entry level S.U.V. crossover producers and long-time Kia Sorento and Hyundai Tucson owners.
The Tucson in standard trim has a msrp of $21,400.; a few dollars higher than a fully loaded Fit. For the dollar one receives a 2 liter 182 hp 4 cylinder, married to a 6 speed automatic as well as 50/50 split all wheel drive is standard. Claiming a combined mpg of 29, the Tucson and other competing small S.U.V’s will be tough for Vezel to displace in the North American marketplace.
While I’m confident that Honda has performed extensive demographic and market feasibility analysis, I have to ask myself, who is Honda’s intended market for the Vezel? It’s that average, body size, body count, cargo capacity and the consumer’s perceived safety thing. Don’t get me wrong, I owned a Geo Tracker for a few years, as well as a Suzuki XL7. You can no longer buy either make in the U.S..
Will the new Honda Vezel go the way of Suzuki?
Most Americans interviewed found these cars to be clownishly small, and failed to buy them in profitable numbers for the manufacturer. The market spoke, the car models exited the market.
Producing a Honda SUV with the dimensions of a FIAT 500 L may prove to be a marketing disaster.
And then there’s the price point. A full loaded Fit approaches the $20,000 mark. What will the Fit platform Vezel cost? Arguably a fine automobile for daily commuting and grocery hauling, can Honda produce a viable small crossover for under $20,000?
Closing point:In the case of the proposed Vezel crossover, the relatively under-powered Fit platform and price, as well as a very crowded domestic market may prove to be the downfall of Honda’s entry into the North American mini- crossover arena.