Nothing else we do here at Autoblog is quite like our longterm reviews. That's why we always try to keep a few vehicles in our longterm garage at any one time. These vehicles stay with us for anywhere from 12 weeks to 12 months and become our workhorses, shuttling and moving people, pets, groceries, gardening supplies, sports equipment, furniture and just about anything else you can imagine. We get to use, drive and maintain them like an actual owner would, giving us a good look at things we may not pick up on in some of our other reviews. Few, if any, of our longtermers have been as versatile as our recently-departed 2018 Honda Ridgeline RTL-E. In fact, we were so in love with the truck that we twice asked Honda to extend the loan.
The second-gen Honda Ridgeline debuted in 2017. It's still an oddball (a unibody truck based on the Honda Pilot and Passport with features like a trunk and a tailgate that articulates in two places) in a field of traditionalists like the Toyota Tacoma, Chevy Colorado and Ford Ranger, but that's what's so compelling about it. It's not trying to be like those other trucks. For better or worse, it's an alternative take on a conservative segment. For many people, it's the truck you actually need, not the one you want, even if that means it's occasionally a bit boring. Read our thoughts below. It's not perfect and it's not cool, but know that one of us on staff enjoyed the truck so much that he's looked at purchasing one for his family.
We've had quite a bit of news about manual transmission take rates this week. On the disappointing side, we learned that Toyota doesn't sell many manuals in the models it offers them, and even the 86 sports car is sold more with the automatic. On the encouraging side, most people still buy Miatas with a manual. Now we have data from Honda that's partly encouraging and partly discouraging: it sold more manuals in 2018 than 2017, but the portion of overall sales is still small.
We'll focus on the good news first. Honda sold 30 percent more manual transmission-equipped cars in 2018 than in 2017 for a total of 45,601 cars. Making that number even more impressive is the fact that the Honda brand's total sales for the year went down by 2.2 percent.
As the waves of rain showers continue to roll across the United States, Mazda has issued a recall related to a car's most important springtime feature: windshield wipers. Due to a faulty relay, the wipers on some 2016-2018 Mazda Mazda3s might stop functioning. The recall potentially affects 187,798 cars.
According to NHTSA recall No. 19V272000, some 2016-2018 Mazda3s might have a malfunctioning windshield wiper relay within the front body control module that causes the wipers to become inoperable. As a resolution, Mazda will replace the old modules with new ones that have an "improved wiper relay design." This can be done at Mazda dealerships for free.
A car infotainment system's ability to utilize Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa has become a major commodity in recent years, as customers continue to blend and connect various aspects of their 'smart' lives. Until now, none of Toyota's 2018-and-earlier products were compatible with smartphone integrations, but that's changing. Toyota announced a surprise upgrade for the 2018 Camry and Sienna, a retrofitting to include CarPlay and Alexa capabilities.
Toyota was pretty late to the game in introducing Apple CarPlay to its vehicles. Toyota launched the integration with the 2019 Avalon, and now offers the feature standard on most of its 2020 vehicles. That it took so long for the Japanese company to include the technology irked some customers, and now Toyota is trying to make good.
The Japanese government granted a record number of visas for foreign nationals in 2018, as more people from China visit the country.
The Foreign Ministry says the country's embassies and consulates issued more than 6.95 million visas last year. That's up 19 percent from the previous year, and a record high.
The number of cases of domestic violence in Japan reached a record high of more than 50,000 last year.
The National Police Agency says officers issued warnings in 51,172 cases of domestic violence last year. The figure is up about 7,000 from the previous year, and is the largest annual total since the prevention law took effect in 2001.