Honda is known for its standout conventional vehicles: the Civic, the Accord, the CR-V, and so forth. Generally speaking, a Honda can be expected to be bulletproof reliable, fun to drive, and perfectly inoffensive.
But Honda also has a refreshing tendency to get weird. Sometimes, the company make bold design choices and try seriously off-beat styles. Even if you look at their “normal” cars, you can pick out oddball tendencies and choices (ever notice those CR-V mustache taillights?).
Below are six of Honda’s weirdest cars that, even with years of hindsight to digest them, still don’t make much sense.
Honda Del Sol (1993-1997)
Honda has two very well-regarded affordable speed machines in its history: the CRX and the S2000. The Civic Del Sol (later just the Del Sol) came in between: it was a targa-top front-wheel-drive Civic that sort-of fought the Miata.
Still, it gets a nod of appreciation for a feature that was only available in European and Asian markets, the TransTop. With the push of a button, the trunk would raise itself, extend mechanical arms to extract the top and store it within a special compartment.
Honda Insight (2000-2006)
In the Insight, Honda beat the Toyota Prius to America with a mass-market hybrid. The first generation, maximized for aerodynamic efficiency, made the Prius look normal. It had bizarre-looking covered rear wheels. It was also available with a manual transmission.
Honda Element (2003-2011)
The Element was a boxy non-off-roader. Fittingly for the early 2000s, it launched with more cladding than sheet metal on the exterior.
It didn’t have a B-pillar, opting for some FJ Cruiser-style half rear suicide doors. But the Element did at one point offer a "dog package" that made the car more canine-friendly — so you can’t say Honda didn’t have a strong read on their customer base.
Honda Ridgeline (2004-Present)
The Honda Ridgeline is an outlier among trucks, mainly because it’s not a body-on-frame truck — it’s a unibody crossover with a truck bed hung in back. It’s perfectly adequate for what buyers need from their pickup these days: room for a family, halfway decent fuel economy and a bed that maybe comes in handy once in a while.
Acura ZDX (2010-2013)
Acura saw the sports coupe crossover coming, but they took the concept too literally. The ZDX was too much of a coupe on top, rendering the back seat and cargo space useless — yet was too much of a midsize SUV on the bottom. It had rear door handles on the window and a relentlessly chipper grin. The ZDX transcended segments, but not in a way buyers particularly liked.
Honda Crosstour (2010-2015)
Honda started with a sensible idea: create a spacious crossover based on the excellent Accord sedan. The trouble came with the execution. Designers apparently couldn’t decide whether it should look like an SUV, a wagon or a hatchback, aimed for the precise middle of the Venn diagram...and ended up with a lifted, rear-heavy platypus.