Honda has a reputation for doing things differently and in the process often moves into a leadership position. Their track record lists hundreds of innovations from being the first Japanese car maker to open a manufacturing plant in the United States (in 1982 in Marysville, Ohio) to developing the first engine to meet U.S. Clean Air Act emission standards (the CVCC ? Compound Vortex Controlled Combustion) to building an innovative small jet airplane.
While the 2016 Honda HR-V Crossover might not rank with those events, it does show the brand?s innovation as it pushes into a new niche market. Honda has been the leader of the crossovers and small SUV movement with the CR-V ranking as the best-seller for 2014 and actually for the last decade. We think that?s an outstanding vehicle in that category.
However, the market seems to be embracing even smaller vehicles from a bevy of newcomers including entries from Mazda, Chevy, Jeep and Fiat. Now, Honda is moving into that slot with a new sporty and smaller model, the 2016 Honda HR-V. While on the other end of the spectrum they have totally re-modeled their larger SUV, the Pilot, and we?ll have a report on that in a couple of weeks.
Developed from Honda?s Global Compact Series platform, which is also basis for the highly regarded Honda Fit, the HR-V is no ordinary compact crossover; it comes to market in an energetic, more luxurious personal crossover form.
We think that?s a fresh new approach that could be just what the market is looking for, especially younger buyers stepping up to something with more substance and older buyers who want something smaller, but don?t want to give up all the conveniences and features of their luxury car.
With its coupe-inspired styling which even includes hidden rear door handles (in the ?C? pillar), the HR-V has a bold sculptured look with a dramatic upswept character lines.
The interior is almost strangely clean, with limited buttons and knobs. Two large glass panels on the center stack include the touch controls for nearly all the navigation, audio, climate and vehicle controls. We like the electronic parking brake and the redundant steering wheel buttons, but miss a few things like audio tuning and volume knobs. Soft touch surfaces are plentiful and add to the upscale look.
Designers have provided spacious storage spaces on either side of the console, with additional space under the front of the console with a power outlet and a couple of USB Ports. It is easy to pair your phone with the audio and communication to use Bluetooth connectivity, HondaLink and other enhancements.
The interior is much more spacious than the exterior advertises. Four adults sit comfortably with plenty of headroom, and the middle rear seat is even a reasonable size for a fifth person. For people who compare numbers, the HR-V interior space is about five cubic feet smaller than the CR-V. Cargo space is 24.3 cubic feet with the rear seat back in place. The 60/40 split Magic Seat? back drops to a flat surface by pulling one lever. That expands cargo area to 58.8 cubic feet with a very low load height thanks to the forward placement of the fuel tank.
The HR-V is available in three trim levels: LX, EX and EX-L with Navi (navigation). Recently announced prices range from as low as $19,995, including the destination charge for a LX with six-speed manual transmission and front-wheel drive to $26,720 for the EX-L Navi AWD. And there are virtually no options. The LX and EX are available with the manual transmission and the CVT is an $800 option. AWD adds $1,250 and is only available with a CVT transmission.
A 141-hp 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine powers the HR-V and most models have the CVT as the standard transmission. The Honda CVT is efficient and we like that this one has shift paddles simulating seven speeds, but we still prefer real gears. The 2016 Honda HR-V provides responsive handling and acceleration. A full out 0 to 60 mph run takes 8.4 seconds according to buff magazine figures. This is not a racy car, but it?s fun to drive holding its own to provide sure-footing handling on corners with little body lean. Honda has mastered the electric power steering giving the HR-V a precision feel with normal steering input effort. Fuel economy is listed at 27 mpg city, 32 mpg highway with a combined of 29 mpg. We averaged 29.1 mpg.
The available Real Time AWD with Intelligent Control System drives the front wheels during normal conditions but adds power to the rear wheels on faster takeoff or when other potential slippage is detected.
One especially useful feature is the new Brake Hold system. Press the button at the rear end of the console and when you stop at a traffic signal, you can take your foot off the brake without the car creeping forward. It makes driving in stop-and-go traffic much easier when you don?t have to sit there with your foot on the brake. It also has Hill Start Assist which gives you time to move a foot from brake to accelerator before it starts to roll backward downhill.
Honda is big on safety and the HR-V is built with the next-generation Advanced Compatibility Engineering? (ACE?) body structure for enhanced frontal collision protection.
Other electronic safety features include a standard rearview camera on all models and the innovative Honda LaneWatch? on the EX and EX-L models. Rather than using lights to warn the driver of vehicles in the blind spot, LaneWatch activates a rear-facing passenger side camera to show what?s in the blind spot on the navigation screen. The camera activates automatically when the right turn signal is applied, or manually when the driver presses the button on the end of the turn signal stock. Honda displays the driver?s side blind spot in the expanded view side mirror. This works well, but we still both prefer the traditional blind spot warning light on the mirrors.
The 2016 Honda HR-V will likely cannibalize some of the CR-V shoppers, but it?s also going to attract new customers with its excellent price point, good fuel economy and exciting styling. Honda has a great 1-2-3 SUV lineup now and there will be a 4th if we count the SUV-like Ridgeline pickup which is getting a total makeover and will be back in 2016.
To learn more about the 2016 Honda HR-V go to http://automobiles.honda.com/hr-v/ .