When we drove the new 2016 Honda Fit earlier this year, we had to get an attitude adjustment because we were just coming off a test drive in the BMW M4 performance coupe. This week, a similar thing happened as we just finished up in the Lexus RC 350 performance coupe.
We were ready for the all-new 2016 Honda HR-V because we knew it’s based on the Fit, which we were thoroughly impressed with.
Is the new Honda HR-V as good as it’s stablemate?
And if you think it’s just a smaller CR-V, think again.
The new hatchback conveys a sportier, more athletic appearance than the CR-V with more sharply sculpted lines. We were impressed initially with the exterior styling the minute they dropped off the compact car. Over the weekend, we tested a top-of-the-line, Milano Red 2016 Honda HR-V AWD EX-L with Navigation ($24,590).
The Honda HR-V is an all-new subcompact crossover, one size smaller than Honda’s popular, small CR-V SUV. Honda designed the HR-V with a coupe-like appearance, with the rear door handles hidden at the upper top of the door.
Honda HR-V is based on the versatile and economical Fit.
Check out a quick video overview of the HR-V:
Features & Options
This 2016 Honda HR-V EX-L Navi CVT AWD ($24,590) features leather upholstery, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, navigation with voice recognition and real-time traffic, HD radio, and satellite radio capability.
It also gets automatic climate control, heated front seats, six-speaker, 180-watt stereo system, 7-inch display screen with the HondaLink interface, Pandora internet radio capability, text message function, second USB port, power sunroof, fog lights, and Honda LaneWatch.
The all-black interior with a light contrasting headliner was attractive and the cabin is well laid out. It features some soft-touch materials and also some plastic, like the Fit. Controls are well placed and we like the 7-inch touch screen for the audio and navigation found on this EX-L model.
It sits flush with the center console.
The upgraded leather seats are comfortable and a bit firm but will fit average-sized and tall people quite well.
Rearward visibility is good considering the coupe-like rear window and we could drop the headrests for a better view out the back. For a sub-compact, there’s a surprising amount of legroom in the back. The 60/40-split rear seat can fold completely flat and offers lots of cargo-carrying ability. Whether the seats are up or down, the rear cargo is square and flat, making for plenty of space and allowing easy access with a low load height.
With the rear seats up, cargo space measures 25 cubic feet. With the seats folded flat, there’s up to 58.8 cubic feet.
Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs
Honda HR-V models are powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder gas engine that makes 141 horsepower and 127 pound-feet of torque. Front-wheel drive is standard, all-wheel drive is optional. The CVT achieves better fuel economy than the 6-speed manual and is EPA-rated at 27/32 mpg city/highway and 29 combined mpg for all-wheel-drive models.
We like the sporty driving dynamics of the compact HR-V, but not thrilled with the Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). We do like the AWD option on this little crossover, but Honda does not offer the manual gearbox with all-wheel-drive.
The saving grace for the CVT is the steering wheel paddle shifters that allow the driver to shift it like a manual. It makes the HR-V much more fun, but sacrifices fuel economy.
We would rate the Honda HR-V with CVT mid-range on the fun-to-drive meter. Using the paddle shifter raises the meter a notch or two. We would still take the 6-speed manual over the CVT any day, but you will only get it with front-wheel-drive.
For those who live in cold weather climates, the AWD is a must have.
The CVT feels fine in normal traffic, but lags between shifts and feels like it is starving for power when the throttle is punched. Although, most drivers will probably find the 1.8-liter four-cylinder adequate for everyday commuting and weekend errands.
Ride and handling are good. The HR-V uses an independent front and rear torsion beam suspension that absorbs bumps without being overly cushy. The HR-V gets a stiffer structure and additional sound dampening versus the Fit, which makes for a quieter, more stable ride. One notable feature is the standard LaneWatch, which displays a side view of the vehicle on the central screen when the turn signal is activated.
We found it very nice in traffic as it helps with blind spots when switching lanes.
The 2016 Honda HR-V is all about versatility and is a good choice for city commuters looking for a fuel-efficient, entry-level crossover. It is roomy enough to haul adults, kids, and the family dog. If you don’t need AWD, we would get the 6-speed manual gearbox.
It also comes with the proven Honda reliability.
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