5 Innovative Hondas from the Last 15 Years

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The “I” in i-VTEC stands for intelligent. Honda has been a company of innovation, ever since they decided to stuff a motorcycle engine into an automobile. Praise be to Honda’s VTEC engines, with their short strokes and high revs. Here are five innovative and game-changing Hondas that would have made Soichiro Honda proud.


1. S2000


A rear-wheel-drive sports car with razor sharp handling. A 9000RPM revving, 120 horsepower per liter four-cylinder engine. Yes, we are talking about the ultimate Honda hot rod of the new millennium, the S2000. Capable of being a reliable cruiser, or a ragged edge racer, the S2000 is the ultimate example of Honda’s philosophy on performance. The S2000 received a handful of revisions over its 10-year lifespan, including a slightly larger engine (2.2L vs. 2.0L) and a sendoff edition, coined “Club Racer.” The CR had weight reduction in the form of no radio, no air-conditioning,  the soft top replaced with a removable hardtop, more hardcore suspension tuning, wider tires, and we can’t forget the black lug nuts of course!


2. Civic Si


The EP3 Civic Si (2002-2005) was a bit of a limp-wristed effort by Honda. Fortunately, they came back swinging in 2006 with the 8th Gen Si. Packing 200 horsepower worth of K20 engine and an 8,300RPM redline, this car was an absolute screamer. Coupled with the quick shifting and close-ratio 6-speed manual transmission complete with Helical limited-slip differential, this Civic was happy to be kept in the VTEC zone above 6,000RPM. Throw in a well-tuned sports suspension and you have the return of Honda as the top dog in the sport compact market. If you want to be a JDM fangirl or fanboy, the lights, bumpers and other panels from the Civic Type-R can be swapped over, making all Honda fans envious.


3. Accord V6 6-Speed


Since 2003 Honda has offered the Accord V6 with a slick-shifting 6-speed manual transmission. The J-series V6 engines pull hard and sound absolutely thunderous in VTEC. It’s a comfortable highway cruiser that happens to have enough guts to usurp some unsuspecting sports cars. If you want the ultimate sleeper, pick up a four door model (2003-2007); few were made, but they are out there. 2008+ models have the larger 3.5L J35 engine, shared with the Pilot, Odyssey and TL; that means plenty of grunt for your personal sports coupe.


4. Insight


How many hybrids can you buy with a manual transmission? The Insight was one of the first hybrid electric vehicles sold in the United States. Due to a highly aerodynamic body, and a very low curb weight, under 1,900lbs(!), it promised ridiculously high MPG figures and surprisingly adept handling. With its quirky looks and manual transmission, the Insight is one of the few cool hybrids for those in the know. First generation hybrid technology was a little bit shaky in the reliability department. If the batteries are dead, that makes the Insight a perfect candidate for a K20 swap; 200 horsepower in this little tin can make for a rocket.


5. Civic Type-R


We’ve looked at the past, and we have looked at the present, but now we look to the future, the very turbocharged future. Honda has finally embraced turbocharging (ignoring the old RDX) with the new Civic. The Type-R boasts 300 horsepower from 2.0L VTEC engine, a “sub-8” lap time at the Nurburgring, and radical styling. Honda is aiming the new CTR squarely at the mostly European hot hatchbacks that seem to top the sales charts, and they are certain that they can dethrone the Golf-R, Focus RS or just about anything else. Do you know the best news of all? It’s coming to the United States. Long live the Type-R and its VTEC brethren.


For more information on maintenance and repairs, please check out our do-it-yourself technical articles at https://honda-tech.com/how-tos/.

Jake Stumph is a lifelong car enthusiast and racer, who has operated as the content editor for Internet Brands Automotive since 2015. He runs Corvette Forum, 6SpeedOnline, Honda-tech, and LS1tech, among other Internet Brands Automotive websites. His work has been featured by several other prominent automotive outlets, including Jalopnik and Autobytel.

He obtained a bachelor's degree in Political Science at the Ohio State University in 2013, then pivoted from covering politics and policy to writing about his automotive adventures, something that, he says, is a lot more fun. Since that time, he has established connections with most of the world's major automakers, as well as other key brands in the automotive industry.

He enjoys track days, drifting, and autocross, at least, when his cars are running right, which is uncommon. You can check out what he's up to on his YouTube channel, as well as his Jake Stumph Racing Instagram account. He can be reached via email at [email protected]

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