This week, I take a look at the newest entry into the hot sub-compact crossover SUV segment, the all-new 2016 Honda HR-V. When I first saw pictures of this SUV, it appeared that Honda had taken its popular CR-V and shrunk it some. In reality, they are very different.
This 2016 HR-V is based on the same chassis as the Honda Fit hatchback, which has been a big hit. For some people, the Fit just isn’t big enough, and for them, the HR-V is a terrific alternative. This falls perfectly between the Honda Fit and the Honda CR-V.
Under the hood, you’ll find a 1.8-liter 4 cylinder, non-turbocharged engine that is putting out 141-horses. This is not the engine that comes in the Fit however; this engine actually comes standard in the Honda Civic.
My review vehicle is all-wheel drive and has the continuously variable transmission, which I am normally not a big fan of, but I must say this feels less like a CVT than others. The all-wheel system does everything by itself; nothing has to be switched on. In the two-wheel drive version, you can get a 6-speed manual transmission, something that is getting harder and harder to find, especially in an SUV.
My tester HR-V is the top of the line EX-L with navigation system. You can drop down to the middle of the road and get the EX, or continue downward to the entry level LX, which has a base price of $19,115 with the manual transmission.
From the outside, HR-V looks like a large hatchback with a swooping roofline, and hidden rear door handles. The door handles contribute to the overall sleek look, but are not going to be very handy for your 3-year old. The front view is clean with a subtle grill and molded hood. When you walk around to the rear, it is very reminiscent of the Acura RDX.
The big surprise for me came on the inside when I saw how much interior room the HR-V has. Excellent engineering created plenty of room for 5 adults and more than ample headroom. The leather seats are comfortable, although a power driver’s seat would be nice, especially in the EX-L.
Standard Equipment on the EX-L includes pushbutton start, keyless entry system, power moonroof, heated front seats, Bluetooth audio, automatic temperature controlled air, and hands-free voice recognition.
All electronics run from a 7” touchscreen color monitor, and this is a source of irritation for me. I would much prefer knobs for some of the functions like the stereo volume, or to tune the radio. You can mitigate some of this by using the steering wheel controls.
The HR-V has large, adjustable cup holders in the see-through center console, where you will also find two terrific features-an electronic parking brake, and brake hold. Brake hold allows you to take your foot off the brake at every stop, and it releases when you touch the gas pedal. You cannot help but notice the huge air vents to the right of the dash to help cool the back seat passengers.
My favorite feature, however, is Lane Watch. A camera mounted on the right exterior mirror gives you a terrific view of traffic to your right. If you turn on your right blinker, the camera shoots a live video to the touchscreen. If you want it on all the time, push the end of the turn signal. This is a terrific feature I wish all cars had. You also get a rearview camera at no charge.
Another really cool feature is the back seat, which Honda calls the Magic Seat. The 60/40 split seat folds up from the bottom, and down from the top. You can even fold the passenger front seat backwards if you are carrying something long. You need to remove the headrest for maximum room. Open the tailgate and you will find a surprising amount of cargo area, and a wide, low opening for ease of loading cargo. With the Magic Seat folded down, you have 56 cubic feet of cargo area, which is very impressive for a small SUV.
The HR-V rides well and handles like a bigger SUV than it is. It is easy to park and make a U-turn with, and it is pretty quiet inside, something Honda has worked hard to achieve. The gauge cluster is easy to read, and the outer-lighted rim turns green when you are maximizing the fuel economy.
Speaking of fuel economy, it is very good for an all-wheel drive SUV at 27 in town and 32 on the highway. The MPG numbers are achievable when you hit the green Eco button, but performance suffers, and acceleration lacks.
A couple of things of note: for those comparing this to the popular Honda CR-V, this one is 10 inches shorter, 2 inches narrower, and 1 and half inches shorter in height. You should also know the all-wheel system is strictly for those times when the weather is bad, not for going off-road, the ground clearance is not good.
The HR-V makes good sense to me and I find it very practical. It is priced OK too, coming in at $26,700 completely loaded like this one, and that puts it about $3000 under a comparable CR-V.
I rate the 2016 Honda HR-V EX-L at 4 ½ out of 5 stars, knocking off only for lack of controls on the dash. The only fear Honda should have is how many people will choose the HR-V instead of the CR-V.
What I liked most: Fuel Economy, Lane Watch, and the back seat.
What I would change: The lack of knobs to operate the sound system and A/C.
MSRP: Base price $26,720, as equipped $26,720.
Fuel Economy: EPA rated at 27 City/32 Highway, 29 Combined.
Fuel Tank: 13.2 gallons of regular unleaded.
Dimensions: 169.1” long/69.8” wide/63.2 high.
2016 HR-V in a few words: Small on the outside, big on the inside!
Trailer Towing: N/A
Warranty: 4 year/50,000 mile bumper to bumper, 6 year/70,000 mile powertrain warranty and roadside assistance.
Car Pro Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 Stars.
Dealers: We have terrific Honda dealer affiliates in Akron, Austin, Baton Rogue, Birmingham, Cleveland, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Phoenix, Redwood City, Sacramento, and San Antonio.
Manufacturer’s website: Honda