Honda kills the Insight again, Toyota raises its Crown, GMC poshes-up the Canyon. All this and more on today’s issue of The Morning Dump.
Welcome to The Morning Dump, bite-sized stories corralled into a single article for your morning perusal. If you’re morning coffee’s working a little too well, pull up a throne and have a gander at the best of the rest of yesterday.
For over twenty years, the Honda Insight hybrid has led cycle after cycle of live, die, get reborn in a more normcore form. It’s a bit like Kenny from South Park, now that I think about it. According to Honda, rebirth stops now. Yes, the current Honda Insight is getting put out to pasture in June in favor of a future electrified Civic. Where have we seen this before? (The Mk1 Honda Insight was discontinued partly due to slow sales and partly due to the Civic Hybrid). Honestly, who can blame Honda? Most people have absolutely no idea that the third-generation Insight exists, and anyone who drives one will find that it isn’t very good. The first half of the accelerator pedal’s travel doesn’t do much, fuel economy is disappointing compared to a Corolla Hybrid or Elantra Hybrid, and the fuel tank is the size of a Zippo. Sure, the Accord-derived interior touches are nice, but the new Civic’s interior is properly nice.
In addition, discontinuing Insight production at Honda’s Indiana plant frees up room for more CR-V Hybrids, an important thing considering how the electrified compact crossover segment is about as hot as the surface of Mercury. In its official press release, Honda stated that it’ll “introduce all-new models of CR-V this year,” so we’ll likely see the next-generation CR-V debut before the end of the year. Talk about burying the lede.
Honestly, I’m excited to see how Honda’s plans for electrification pan out. The new Civic is pretty damn good, so it’ll be nice to see new interiors spread across the Honda range. Maybe Honda should rename uts interior design direction though; “Simplicity and Something” feels very first-draft.
Crown The Empire
The Crown is one of Toyota’s most important historical nameplates. Sure, the Corolla may be more popular and the Land Cruiser may be more iconic, but the first Toyota available in America in 1958 was the Toyopet Crown. It was expensive, not very quick, and apparently not very reliable at high-speed. However, it was extremely well-built. In a period road test, Motor Trend wrote “The Toyopet is so rigid that jacking up one wheel at the rear bumper quickly lifted the other rear wheel.” Considering most cars of the ‘50s had all the rigidity of wet spaghettini, that’s an impressive accomplishment. Indeed, the Crown has remained a luxury sedan akin to a Mercedes-Benz E-Class for the past 67 years. However, that might be about to change.
According to Reuters, a new Toyota Crown is on its way and will actually be a luxury SUV. Hey, it’s a sign of the times. The people who used to buy posh sedans are all getting older and the high driving position of an SUV allows easier entry and egress for those with aging joints. The alleged SUV form of the new Crown isn’t the only big change possible – not only is it rumored to be offered as a hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fully-electric vehicle, it’s also alleged to be coming to North America. This lines up with a leaked dealer document that appeared on The Drive and other outlets in February claiming that a U.S.-market Crown will go on sale in October. Would a posh electrified SUV tempt buyers into paying Lexus money for a Toyota? It looks like we might find out. Also, true JDM sedan fans need not worry; a new Crown sedan is allegedly also in the works.
Hyundai Brings The Juice
Everyone’s gearing up to build more electrified cars, and Hyundai just debuted some massive plans for American production. How massive? Only a $7.4 billion investment plan to build EVs, upgrade manufacturing plants and develop smart mobility technologies. Hey, how’s that for a buzzword salad. In all seriousness, Hyundai plans to build an EV assembly plant and a battery factory somewhere on American soil according to Automotive News.
While the location for the new dedicated EV plant hasn’t been decided yet, Hyundai plans on choosing a location by the end of the year. On top of this, Hyundai has announced that Santa Fe Hybrid crossover SUV production will come online in Montgomery, Ala. this October, marking the first time a hybrid Hyundai will be made in America. Also on the schedule? American production of the Genesis GV70e electric premium compact crossover. Hyundai expects production of these two models to create 200 jobs; none of this sounds bad to me.
Beadlocks And Bum Warmers
The next-generation GMC Canyon mid-size pickup is set to debut this summer, and GMC has given everyone a little sneak peek. While major changes in this teaser photo appear limited to some seriously thick fender flares, the AT4X badge on this Canyon’s door offers a huge hint to the direction of GMC’s next compact truck. AT4X is a fairly recent trim level seen on the facelifted 2022 Sierra 1500 pickup truck. Think one part hardcore off-road, one part Denali luxury. In the Sierra, stitched interior materials, locking diffs and spool-valve dampers abound while skid plates, all-terrain tires, a Bose stereo and massaging seats round off the Sierra AT4X’s mission to take drivers off the beaten path in luxury car comfort.
As such, it shouldn’t be a surprise that this Canyon gets black-and-silver wheels with beadlocks that are likely fake, a massive set of Goodyear all-terrain tires, rock rails and natty fender trims. While it’s still unknown what level of luxury new Canyon drivers will be treated to, the current GMC Canyon Denali offers some hints. It wouldn’t be surprising to see wood trim, heated and ventilated leather upholstery, hi-def exterior cameras and a branded premium stereo on the AT4X’s equipment list. As for off-road toys, the Canyon AT4X could see the extremely capable differential and suspension package from the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2. Of course, this is largely speculation for now. Everything will become crystal clear when the next-generation Canyon is unveiled this summer.
Whelp, time to drop the lid on today’s edition of The Morning Dump. I’ll be honest, I’m not entirely mad at rumors of Toyota making a Crown SUV. There’s never really been a more efficient era of SUVs, and heaps of sidewall to deal with our crumbling North American infrastructure is admittedly rather nice. While we’re all conditioned to hate crossover and I’ll always own and love German non-functional transportation, I could definitely see myself the right crossover to my fleet in the future. Having something that won’t get beached on unplowed streets and has enough cargo space to haul body panels and diff cases sounds pretty swell to me. Would you consider doing the same or are you an anti-crossover die hard?
Lead photo credit: Honda