BY RON SESSIONS, Contributor Even though FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles)…
Compact utility-focused vehicles are becoming ubiquitous in the auto industry’s quest to achieve maximum fuel efficiency without forgoing practicality. Honda recently introduced its latest endeavor to reach this goal in its 2016 HR-V crossover.
We tested the five-door all-wheel-drive EX-L with navigation. Refreshingly, nearly all features came standard at no extra cost, ringing in at a total MSRP just below $26,000 before destination and handling. Not bad for a CUV with Honda’s reputation for reliability and longevity.The HR-V excels at being practical. With leather-trimmed seats, a 7-inch infotainment display and navigation, multi-view rear camera and XM satellite radio, this Honda is meant for everyday use. We appreciated the wide opening revealed upon raising the lift gate (a generous 46.5″ wide and 35.4″ tall). Too often, crossover vehicles chop off their tail ends, compromising the storage space behind rear passengers. The 60/40 split fold-down rear seats extend cargo possibilities beyond what you might think from the exterior point of view.
Moving toward the front cabin, the driver and first passenger have adequate elbow- and headroom. The interior layout is clean and clutter-free, with a focus on the 7-inch display and climate control sliders.
Honda takes aim at younger buyers who have always known touchscreens, eliminating tactile buttons and knobs in the HR-V. Typically, we hate it when automakers go in this direction because the touch points are so frustrating; it can be incredibly difficult to understand how much pressure is required to get the slider item to do what you want it to do. But, Honda has succeeded with its sliders nestled on a piano black interface just below its media display. We found these sliders to be well positioned, well lit and to function exactly when and how we expected them to. Honda gets a pat on the back for this one.
For us, the HR-V’s seats are more comfortable and better bolstered than other Honda products, possibly a byproduct of the petite size of this vehicle.
The seating position is great if you’re shorter than 6-foot, but much taller than that and you’re likely to find it difficult to get comfortable in the driver’s seat. Back seats are fairly spacious considering the size of the car, and they are also more structured, providing better support for rear passengers. What’s even cooler is that the rear seats flip up for temporary cargo capabilities, such as a plant (pictured above) that is too tall to stand up securely in the rear storage area.
But while the 2016 Honda HR-V impresses on the inside, it falls short of fantastic overall.
Its 1.8L 4-cylinder engine with 141hp feels underpowered for a car of this size — the HR-V is just slightly smaller than the CR-V — and the Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) exacerbates the driving experience.
We found the ride in Honda’s HR-V to be a bit unrefined. It is slow off-the-line and doesn’t give the driver the confidence needed in a metropolitan area where quick acceleration for merging onto busy highways is vital.
We found that the HR-V is best suited for running errands, taking short trips in both urban and suburban environments.
If your daily drive experience consists primarily of interstate stretches and the need to keep on pace with traffic, then we’d suggest reconsidering this particular Honda and, instead, opting for one of the brand’s satisfying 6-cylinder vehicles. Steering on the open road at highway speeds can be vague. We found our car regularly drifted into the lane parallel to ours.
So, what did we like about the Honda HR-V?
What we like most about the 2016 HRV is that it isn’t fussy. It is everything it claims to be – a practical, fuel-efficient Honda that’s compact, yet completely capable of carrying the people and cargo that you need it to. However, we’d like to have seen a better transmission; the CVT struggles too much to provide an enjoyable ride.
Features We Appreciate on the 2016 Honda HR-V:
• 29 mpg combined fuel economy rating
• 7-inch media display with navigation
• Multi-view rear backup camera
• XM Satellite radio
• Bluetooth hands-free system
• USB ports both in the front and rear
• Electronic parking brake
• Tilt & telescopic steering wheel
• 60/40 split rear seats
• Heated front seats
• LED taillights
Would we recommend the HRV? We certainly think its worth consideration, but you may also want to check out well-executed Mazda CX-3 on your list for comparison. We think you may find the performance and ride from Mazda superior and the exterior design more interesting.
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