Compact crossovers recently surpassed midsize sedans as the bestselling class of vehicle. With that market firmly established, automakers are betting on even smaller models to become the next big thing. Honda enters the sweepstakes this year with the HR-V, a subcompact that retains the basic crossover qualities that won over buyers years ago.
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2016 Honda HR-V Overview
What's New for 2016
The HR-V is an all-new model.
Choosing Your Honda HR-V
The HR-V is based on the Honda Fit, and will remind you of a seven-tenths scale model of the brand's larger and wildly popularly CR-V. Like its big brother, the HR-V holds an astonishing amount of cargo for its size -- up to 59 cubic feet. That puts it in front of the new breed of extra-small crossovers, and even ahead of some compacts.
The rear seat easily accommodates two adults -- three-across seating is only practical with children. The seat itself folds down as expected, but can also fold up and flip backward, leaving a deep storage well in its place, a feature Honda calls Magic Seat.
Every HR-V is powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder good for 141 horsepower, about what you would expect in this type of vehicle. A six-speed manual transmission comes standard, and a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) is available for $800. The CVT is required with the optional all-wheel drive system, which we consider a bargain at $1,250.
You can expect 28 mpg in combined driving with the six-speed, and a class-leading 31 mpg with the CVT. Heavier all-wheel drive models deliver a still-impressive 29 mpg.
Comfort and convenience features will be determined by trim level:
There are no individual options for the HR-V beyond the usual dealer-installed accessories.
There's a $2,050 price difference between the LX and EX, which is small enough for us to recommend using the EX as your starting point. Its upgrades hit all the right spots, making the HR-V feel like a complete crossover that you can live with for a long time.
2016 Honda HR-V Review
At the rate the subcompact crossover segment is growing, we're not in the least surprised that Honda has jumped into the game with its new HR-V. It's the latest proof that you can go small without giving up the essential qualities that endeared Americans to crossovers in the first place.
Pricing and Equipment
Like many vehicles these days, the HR-V dispenses with individual options altogether and gives you a choice of three comprehensive trim levels:
- Priced at $19,115, the LX comes with all the basics like power windows and locks, air conditioning and a four-speaker sound system. There are a few surprising touches for a base model, including a rearview camera, 17-inch wheels, and Bluetooth phone and audio. A six-speed manual transmission comes standard, and a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) is available for $800.
- The mid-level EX ($21,165) benefits from a slate of comfort upgrades such as heated front seats, a sunroof, automatic climate control and rear privacy glass. You also get keyless ignition and blind spot monitoring. The CVT remains optional.
- For $24,590, the EX-L Navi adds the CVT, a leather interior, navigation, and HD and satellite radio.
All models equipped with the CVT are eligible for all-wheel drive, which we consider a bargain at $1,250.
Every HR-V is powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder good for 141 horsepower, a reasonable amount for this type of vehicle. The engine feels peppy enough in two-wheel drive models, but things slow down a tad with the all-wheel drive system installed.
Performance highlights include:
- Transmissions: We're glad Honda saw fit to offer a six-speed manual, and not just on the base model. Of course, most buyers will go for the CVT (it's required with all-wheel drive), which includes a Sport mode and shift paddles, both of which will come in handy when you need quick acceleration.
- Steering/handling: The HR-V's suspension is tuned for comfort rather than tackling curves. We agree with that approach, especially in light of the Honda's smooth and compliant ride. We found it superior to everything in this class, including the fancier Buick Encore.
- Fuel Efficiency: With the manual transmission, you can expect 28 mpg in combined driving, which seems good enough until you consider that the CVT boosts that figure 31 mpg. So equipped, the HR-V is nothing less than the benchmark of small crossover efficiency. With all-wheel drive, though, it achieves a merely excellent 29 mpg combined.
- The CVT is obviously tuned for economy, so you might be tempted to reach for the Sport button for snappier response. That habit will surely take the shine off the HR-V's stellar mileage ratings.
- The extra weight of all-wheel drive is a noticeable drag on performance. We don't recommend it outside of the snowbelt.
- The so-called Magic Seat folds down like any other second row, but can also fold and flip backward, leaving a deep storage well in its place (that's the "magic" part).
- You can arrange the interior for up to 59 cubic feet of cargo space, enough to put the HR-V clearly ahead of most competitors.
- The back door handles are mounted high on the rear pillars, requiring an odd contortion if you want to get out.
- We found the touch-sensitive climate controls to be challenging to operate while driving, not to mention needlessly fancy. Conventional buttons would work just fine.
The Most Pleasant Surprise
In defiance of the HR-V's petite footprint, the back seat can accommodate two adults with no problem (until one has to open the door, that is).
The Least Pleasant Surprise
The HR-V didn't inherit any of the athleticism we've come to appreciate in Honda's passenger cars.
The Bottom Line
Any driver with a tape measure will walk away impressed by how much crossover Honda has stuffed into a pint-sized package.
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