Given the continued growth, both in sales and girth, of its popular CR-V, Honda saw an opportunity to create a new entry-level crossover SUV model. The result is the all-new 2016 Honda HR-V. If Honda’s Pilot is "papa" and its CR-V is "mama," then the HR-V should fit perfectly within the family as the "baby."
Although all new, Honda’s 2016 HR-V has a familial resemblance to other models in the Honda family.
Being the tyke of the family doesn’t mean there’s a lack of utility, though. Just like the subcompact Fit hatchback on which it’s based, the HR-V has what Honda calls a "Magic Seat," which is a configurable rear seat that gives the HR-V a distinctive ability to take on bulky or long cargo items with relative ease. The HR-V also provides high fuel economy, a sporty driving feel, available all-wheel drive and a solid collection of tech and convenience features for the money. If you want a crossover SUV but have found the mainstays a little too big or expensive, Honda’s HR-V could very well meet your needs.
The HR-V happens to be part of a growing group of subcompact crossover offerings. The segment includes Nissan’s Juke, which is more powerful but less roomy than the HR-V, and the recently introduced Jeep Renegade, which boasts the best off-roading credentials of the bunch. Another new option is the Mazda CX-3, which distills the Mazda CX-5’s sporty personality into a smaller package. There’s also the stylish Fiat 500X to consider. You’ll want to check out at least a few of these before you decide, but if interior versatility and space are priorities, Honda’s "baby" crossover could very well be the ideal pick.
While the 2016 Honda HR-V’s gas savings will bring a smile, its 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine’s power is less impressive. In-town driving or highway cruising are sufficiently relaxed and efficient, but when forced to accelerate quickly, the 2016 HR-V feels sluggish. The droning engine sound on CVT-equipped models at full acceleration is also loud and off-putting. Going with the 6-speed manual transmission helps alleviate the droning, but it’s only available with front-wheel drive.
Honda’s 2016 HR-V handles well, but acceleration is lacking.
Beyond the performance disconnect with the 1.8 liter four and CVT, we are pleased by the HR-V’s level of on-road refinement and composure. It feels solid and sporty when driving around turns, and its highway drive is cozy and composed. Another bonus is the HR-V’s excellent outward visibility, which combines with its small size to make it an easy auto to drive in urban environments.
The 2016 Honda HR-V subcompact crossover seats five and comes in three trim levels: LX, EX and EX-L Navi. The LX starts off with 17-inch alloy wheels, full power accessories, cruise control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a height-adjustable driver seat, a configurable 60/40-split folding rear seat (Magic Seat), a 5-inch display screen, a rearview camera, Bluetooth phone and sound connectivity, and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player and a USB port.
There are three available trim levels for the Honda HR-V. The EX-L Navi comes with a navigation system and leather.
Opt for the EX and you’ll enjoy a sunroof, rear privacy glass, foglights, keyless ignition and entry, heated front seats, automatic climate control, a passenger-side blind spot camera (Honda’s LaneWatch), a 7-inch touchscreen display, a six-speaker sound system (with an additional USB port) and HondaLink.
Topping the line is the EX-L Navi. It further comes with roof rails, leather upholstery, a navigation system, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and satellite and HD radio.
Even in base LX trim, the 2016 Honda HR-V’s interior impresses with its design and amenities. Entering and exiting is very easy, and once inside you’ll enjoy an interior devoid of gimmickry. The gauges are large and visible, and most controls fall readily to hand and are simple to use.
The 7-inch touchscreen display on EX and EX-L Navi trims handles the entertainment, communications and navigation functions as well as the HondaLink smartphone app integration system. It’s not our favorite interface, as we’ve found the on-screen menus a little confusing and the lack of a physical volume knob off-putting. Note that Android phones are currently incompatible with HondaLink, although Honda claims that this will change soon.
Seating is cozy for four average-size adults. And with its relatively generous greenhouse, there’s an expansive feel to the HR-V often missing in compact crossovers with more adventurous styling (Nissan’s Juke) and/or coupelike profiles (the Mercedes GLA). To be sure, this isn’t your neighbor’s Suburban, but it’s big enough that you can take the neighbors to dinner.
The Honda HR-V stands out in its class for its roomy cargo area and configurable rear seat.
You’ll still be able to haul a good amount of stuff with your HR-V, though. With a child safety seat on the "40" side of the 60/40-split rear seat, for instance, the HR-V can still easily accommodate a road bike on the other side (with the front wheel removed), which is a rare feat for a subcompact crossover. The rear seat bottom can also be raised to create a narrow but tall space behind the front seatbacks, or you can lower the front passenger seat to accommodate long items like surfboards.
With the rear seats up on a front-drive HR-V, there are 24.3 cubic feet of luggage space available. Folding the seats flat opens 58.8 cubic feet, which is excellent for this class. All-wheel-drive HR-Vs have slightly less space (23.2/57.6).
Standard safety features for the Honda HR-V include antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front seat side airbags, side curtain airbags and a rearview camera. Honda’s LaneWatch blind-spot display is included in both EX and EX-L Navi trim levels.
In our instrumented testing, an EX-L Navi AWD stopped from 60 miles per hour in 124 feet, which is an average distance.
The Honda HR-V comes with a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine good for 141 horsepower and 127 pound-feet of torque. For the front-wheel-drive LX and EX, the engine comes paired with a standard 6-speed manual transmission. A continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) is optional on those trim levels and standard for the front-drive EX-L Navi. All-wheel drive (AWD) is an available option on all three trim levels, but only with the CVT.
In SUVS testing, an HR-V EX-L Navi with AWD accelerated from zero to 60 miles per hour in 9.7 seconds, which is slower than average for a subcompact crossover.
According to the EPA, a front-drive HR-V will get 28 miles per gallon in combined driving (25 city/34 highway) with the manual transmission or 31 miles per gallon combined (28/35) with the CVT. Opting for all-wheel drive reduces fuel economy slightly to 29 miles per gallon combined (27/32).
Roomy interior and seating; versatile cargo loading thanks to unique rear seat; high fuel economy; excellent outward visibility.
Honda is well known for producing efficient, fun-to-drive and fun-to-own vehicles at affordable price points. The new 2016 HR-V is the latest of the breed.