The latest trend in SUVs or crossovers is in the subcompact class. And Honda, with their extremely popular CR-V compact crossover, thought the market needed a somewhat smaller version of that top seller. As such, their 2016 HR-V five seater slots in below the CR-V size wise (about 10 inches shorter) and price wise (about $4,000 less). Their midsize Honda Pilot resides at the top of the line as it offers third row seating that the CR-V and HR-V doesn’t.
The HR-V comes in three trim levels of base LX, EX and top-shelf EX-L that was tested. All are powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder that puts out 141-hp and 127 lb/ft of torque.
Buyers get a choice of a 6-speed manual transmission or a CVT trans for the FWD version. For their optional on-demand AWD, which most folks here in the Snowbelt would choose, the CVT is the only choice. The combination carries EPA mileage ratings of 27 city, 32-highway mpg.
This little four-banger breathes hard, especially with four people aboard. When merging onto busy four-lane highways, you’ll need a large opening to squeeze in so you don’t get rear-ended. The drivetrain is somewhat noisy but that’s expected from a vehicle in this price range. However it’s a little out of character for Honda who’s known for building solid, quiet powertrains.
Step-in into the nicely furnished cabin is a mere 19 inches. However, there’s an 8-inch wide threshold to step over, which is a bit of a stretch. Front leather seats are a bit on the firm side but have good lateral support. Back seats seemed to have a little more padding.
With an ECO mode button on the dash, the feature urges the driver to drive economically. And to show that economy, a blue circle around the speedometer turns green. That beats constantly checking a gauge.
A 7-inch display serves to show GPS nav, multi-angle (including a wide-angle view) rearview camera and audio functions. HVAC controls are touch activated and similar to a Smartphone or iPad. While the unit looks sexy, if not touched correctly it doesn’t register. This could pose a problem while driving.
Honda has also been offering a right turn camera embedded within the right side view mirror in most of their line. It’s essentially a safety feature so when making a right turn the driver can see if another motorist is sneaking up alongside.
The back seat offers easy ingress/egress and there’s generous leg and headroom. But tall riders will have to duck their heads upon entry since the roofline slopes sharply rearward due to its coupe-like styling. Vertical, instead of horizontal, rear door handles are employed.
Rear visibility is good since Honda uses low profile headrests that slide down over the top part of the seats. The rests though have to be raised for rear passengers otherwise the rests would be protruding into their backs.
Back in the cargo area, there’s 31.5 inches of depth, 45 in width and 32.5 inches high. With the seats up there’s 23.2 cubic feet of space, and with them folded, 55.9. This is understandably less than the larger CR-V at 36 cubic feet with the seats up. HR-V’s seatbacks fold completely flat, allowing reasonably tall items to be carried. There’s also some small item storage under the cargo floor and around the space saver tire.
The only major complaint with the HR-V is that it would be nice to have an AWD lock if the car should get stuck in snow or mud. Even if it had this feature, the HR-V is not intended for serious offroad use.
Ride wise, the HR-V feels more like the larger CR-V with a comfy ride and exceptional handling. A tight turning radius (2.71 lock-lock) with electric power assisted steering makes for easy parking. The vehicle feels planted on sharp turns and there’s no jittery sensation when encountering rough roads or over unimproved railroad crossings.
Price wise and nicely loaded including a sunroof, lane change alert and more, the AWD EX-L with navigation prices out at $25, 840. The AWD EX at $23,215 and base LX at $21,165. Added to these reasonable prices, the HR-V received the government’s top “Good” crash rating.
The only decision buyers have to make is how much cargo space is needed. Comparing the CR-V, which has ample cargo space, the HR-V has much less. If that’s most important, you can’t go wrong with the CR-V.