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By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

The Honda HR-V is a smaller version of a compact crossover – or maybe just a bigger hatchback depending on how you view it – toting utility space and style plus an affordable cost and fuel economy at 29 miles-per-gallon combined with all-wheel drive.

I drove a 2016 Honda HR-V with the standard 141-horsepower 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine featuring a continuously variable transmission (CVT) and All-Wheel Drive. There are three trim grades – the base LX, EX, EX-L with Navigation. My top-of-the-line EX-L with Navigation trim featuring the following standards: leather-trimmed upholstery; ten-way power driver’s seat; heated front seats; dual-zone climate control; Multi-Angle Rearview Camera with Dynamic Guidelines and Honda LaneWatch; seven-inch audio touchscreen display; an upgraded seven-speaker audio system; an SMS text messaging function; Bluetooth; Pandora Internet Radio; HD and XM Radio; Honda Sensing Feature Suite; HondaLink Next Generation; a power liftgate; moonroof; projector-beam halogen headlights; fog lights; roof rails; and eighteen-inch alloy wheels. Total price as described came to $24,690.

The all-new Honda HR-V competes in the beyond-compact SUV category that includes the Mazda CX-5 (and even the new and smaller Mazda CX-3 as well as the Nissan Juke.


Stylish But Comfortable Results: No matter the size, Honda can do great things with interior configurations and the HR-V is no exception – it gets the Fit’s second-row “Magic Seat” that allows for folding versatility to accommodate larger cargo. And like most Honda’s, the base trim is a steal with a standard rearview camera, Bluetooth, Pandora Internet Radio and a text messaging function that reads smartphone texts aloud through the audio system. You’re going to go without some luxuries even with the fully equip model – no power liftgate or safety technology – but normal for this class. Honda has done away with a volume dial on their models, which continues to be confusing (touch dials only).

Reliability & Safety Factor: The 2016 Honda HR-V is has some mixed results with the IIHS, scoring “Acceptable” in small overlap front and side crash tests; “Marginal” in child seat anchors (LATCH) ease of use; and “Good” in all remaining categories. I will say Hondas are one vehicle where smaller children can click themselves in easily. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives it an overall rating of 5-Stars. Safety features include vehicle stability control, anti-lock brakes with brake assist, side-curtain airbags, and Advanced Compatibility Engineering.

Cost Issues: The 2016 Honda HR-V offers a very competitive price with the base LX starting at $19,215 with my top-of-the-line EX-L with Navigation reaching $24,690. The 2016 Mazda CX-5 starts at $21,795 and can go as high as $29,870 when loaded (it is also a Top Safety Pick with the IIHS). The 2016 Nissan Juke starts at $20,250.

Activity & Performance Ability: The fuel economy is the main draw to the 1.8-liter engine, as performance does suffer under this smaller powertrain configuration. My CVT-equipped model produced a droning sound, but that’s the transmission you get with the all-wheel drive option. That said you’ll still have reliability and something a tad more impressive that what a sub-compact delivers. It’s not match for the Mazda CX-5’s 184-horsepower SKYACTIV-G 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. Do check out the Hyundai Tucson’s 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and quick-shifting seven-speed transmission as well.

The Green Concern: The Honda HR-V offers 28-city and 35-highway for a combined 29 miles-per-gallon with all-wheel drive. You can get that combined number on a few compact crossovers (like its larger sibling, the Honda CR-V), but with front-wheel drive only.

FINAL PARTING WORDS With 2016 Honda HR-V, consumers get a sub-compact crossover gentle on price and fuel economy at 29 mile-per-gallon combined with all-wheel drive. While the smaller interior has been smartly designed for addressing cargo issues, the 1.8-liter engine’s cadence isn’t what I’d call desirable.

2016 Katrina Ramser

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