2016 Honda HR-V
by John Davis
With few exceptions, Honda has not made it a habit to rush into a new market segment. Their general philosophy seems to be to let others be pioneers, and if volume warrants, then launch a model that bests the early entrants. Right on cue, as the subcompact utility niche rapidly turns into a significant slice of the vehicle pie, Honda is entering the fray with the new 2016 HR-V.
The Honda HR-V slots under the wildly popular CR-V compact ute, but with a structure that is loosely related to the five-door Fit subcompact car. Many of the Fit’s best traits also carryover, including a very solid, sporty driving feel, and second row Magic Seat which is unrivaled for its versatility. With the Magic Seat folded up, the HR-V can carry taller items than most mid-size utilities.
The HR-V’s useful interior also includes 24.3 cubic feet of cargo space behind the back seat, and a maximum of 58.8 with the seats folded flat. Both numbers are larger than Fit and well above direct crossover rivals. In addition, one can fully recline the front passenger seat for extra-long items.
There’s a familiarity to much of the 5-passenger HR-V’s switchgear and displays, yet the layout appears truly unique to the Honda lineup, as are the touch-based automatic climate controls in EX and EX-L trim. There’s plenty of small items storage space in the two level center console, and the HR-V is also Honda’s first use of an electric parking brake. A multi-angle rearview camera is standard, while advanced safety features like Honda LaneWatch are available.
Powering the HR-V is a single-cam, 1.8-liter I4. The engine is lifted not from the Fit, but from the compact Civic, with a class-competitive 141 horsepower. The only downside is the available CVT automatic transmission. Still, it’s less fun-robbing than most of its type, and even with it the HR-V feeling quite peppy. A 6-speed manual is standard, but only in front-wheel-drive. All-wheel-drive HR-V models add the CR-V’s automatic Real Time system with Intelligent Control.
While a surprising fun utility to drive on back roads, overall street ride quality is most compliant. Suspension duties are handled by MacPherson struts up front, with a simpler torsion beam at the rear.
The demand for above average fuel economy always ranks high with small vehicle buyers. The HR-V boasts Government Ratings of 28-City, 35-Highway, and 31-Combined with 2-wheel-drive; and 27-City, 32-Highway, and 29-Combined with all-wheel-drive.
For our exclusive test of the 2016 Honda HR-V, be sure to catch MotorWeek episode #3435 that begins airing on May 2, 2015. For a complete listing of the public television stations that broadcast MotorWeek, go to motorweek.org and click the “About The Show” tab at the top. MotorWeek is also seen Tuesday evenings on the Velocity cable
Despite a lot of competition, Honda once again has prepared well to enter a crowded market. The all-new 2016 Honda HR-V offers plenty of it inside, while not taking up a whole lot of it outside. That, plus good power, and a starting price just a hint under $20,000, the HR-V will likely become the subcompact utility to beat.