If you need more evidence that the crossover utility vehicle market is one of the hottest, if not the hottest, in the auto game, just look at the new subcategory that is forming in the segment: subcompact CUVs.
Honda is one of the latest entrants in this fairly new category, introducing its 2016 HR-V. It is built on the same platform as Honda’s popular Fit hatchback car, and as such, provides a smaller crossover utility option than its sibling vehicle, the also popular CR-V.
But don’t let its small exterior appearance fool you. This vehicle has a surprising amount of interior space that lets front seat passengers ride very comfortably and gives back seat riders a fair amount of room as well. There is also a nice little area for hauling cargo, so trips to the grocery store or weekend getaways with a little baggage are no problem. That space is 24.3 cubic feet when the rear seats are up, or 58.8 cubic feat when they’re folded down.
We recently took a very brief look at another new subcompact CUV, the Mazda CX-3. We did not get an opportunity to sit in or drive that model, but we asked about interior space in comparison with the HR-V, and the Mazda executive conceded that the HR-V has more. Other competitors in the market include the Nissan Juke and the Fiat 500X.
On the outside, the body styling of the HR-V takes some cues from its larger, older sibling, the CR-V. But it also has its own distinctive touches with its low roofline, tapered sides and sleek front to back stance.
The HR-V’s engine is a 1.8-liter four-cylinder that makes 138 horsepower and is also found in Honda’s Civic. Transmission choices include a continuously variable transmission or six-speed manual. CVTs often take criticism from auto reviewers who say that they make the car feel as though they are never quite in the proper gear. We generally tend to disagree with this assertion, though, and especially in recent years, as CVTs have improved, they seem to perform just fine.
Front-wheel drive is standard on the HR-V, with all-wheel drive optional. Fuel economy is very good, with models featuring the CVT and front-wheel drive (the most common configuration) being rated at 28 mpg city, 35 highway.
The HR-V offers a rearview camera and six airbags, among other things, as standard safety features. Higher trim levels of the HR-V also include Honda’s LaneWatch feature, which allows the driver to see a display of the area to the right and rear of the vehicle when the driver turns on the right turn signal. We’ve mentioned this feature before as one of the best safety innovations on the market, and hope that it becomes far more common.
The interior, in addition to being surprisingly roomy as mentioned above, also is functional. The back seats can fold down to expand the cargo area, or you can fold the seat bottoms up to accommodate taller items you might need to carry. The front passenger seat also folds down, which allows you to haul longer things that might extend through the entire length of the vehicle.
The HR-V has a price tag that starts at around $21,000 and ranges to about $27,000.
If you want great fuel economy, a fairly roomy and usable interior space and a sporty-looking body design in a compact crossover package, the Honda HR-V might just be exactly what you need.