Having worked as a technician for a Honda dealer for the last four months has exposed me to many of Honda's models from the past two decades. While it is true that they are very reliable machines overall, the reputation Honda has as a master of ergonomics perplexes me. I see little evidence of it, finding that usually it's done well, but not any better than other manufacturers out there. And sometimes Honda makes some monumental mistakes.
The Element has the shifter mounted on the dash, slightly awkward if the transmission is an automatic, absolutely infuriating if it's a manual. Why? There's nothing to support your arm while shifting, maximizing your fatigue while caught in rush hour traffic or enjoying a twisting road. While some may consider taking an Element down a tight, curvy road a recipe for disaster, taking the last gen Civic Si should be a joy, except for the same shifter-on-the-dash design. Different is not automatically better.
Talking about the Civic, the current design features an unusual split-level instrument cluster. The tach is on the bottom, while the digital speedometer is on the top tier. It's disconcerting at first, and serves no purpose other than to make the tach basically useless. All the magazines say they grew accustomed to it. I say The Master of Ergonomics shouldn't design something you have to grow accustomed to.
Then there's the CR-V with the not quite column mounted, not quite dash mounted shifting column. Or the Prelude with the neo-Buick dash, placing some of the gauges in the middle of the car to "include the passenger" in the driving experience. The list goes on, but the point is that the Master of Ergonomics doesn't really deserve the title.
As a side point, I have yet to see any mention that the current Civic features a radio design that is not removable, being an integral part of the dash. Apparently Honda thinks they know best when it comes to car audio. This goes against the whole "personalize your machine" movement that Scion has latched onto. Good move Honda.
2 hours ago