Honda HR-V — Styling of a coupe, space of a utility

By David Finkelstein

A  recent opportunity to drive the all new 2016 Honda HR-V  Crossover telegraphed a resounding takeaway message that there is  finally a vehicle to  compete head-on with the Nissan Juke. The  five passenger, imported,  HR-V  blends the styling of  a coupe, the  toughness, space and utility of an  SUV and overall refinement one would seek in a versatile multi-dimensional  vehicle.

Its positioned  in the rapidly growing sub-compact crossover market. Assembled in Mexico, the HR-V comes in three  trim levels: LX, EX and EX-L  Navi.

Its flexible cabin features 100.1 cubic feet of passenger  space and 58.8 cubic feet of  cargo volume with the second-row seats folded forward.  Honda says this amount of  space rivals some  competitors'  midsize SUV cargo capabilities. 

The HR-V's dynamic appearance looks somewhat sporty. The vehicle's solid stance  is aided  by its cabin  shape and a bold and powerfully tapered front  end design.  It has  distinctive side contours including a  sharply upswept character  line and  deeply sculpted lower body,  which then  flows into a tapered rear fascia, for  added visual  appeal.

The somewhat hidden rear door handles further  enhance HR-V's coupe-like demeanor. The “pull open-outside handles”  are positioned up and towards the top rear corner  of the door frame assembly.

The crossover's interior has a sophisticated look and the cabin is  quite airy and comfortable.  It  has  an abundance of  soft-touch materials and  premium detailing.  The high roof line makes getting “in and out” seamless even for a tall driver. But, as with the case of many other competing vehicles, Honda is also using hard plastic touch surfaces with a number of the interior components in order to help keep the  MSRP more in line. 

What further appears to be right  out of  the Toyota Prius interior design blueprint, the USB plug-in hubs  and  12-volt power point are positioned in a very eccentric location  — forward and  under the center console.  I also couldn't help but notice that there aren't any  lockable storage compartments  within the interior.

Using the audio system for  the first time  can be somewhat confusing.  That's where the owners manual comes in handy, placed in the oversize/large glove compartment, of  which I might  add, has a  welcomed and well engineered “slow/damping” opening  door.

The HR-V's power comes  from a highly  refined and responsive  1.8-liter single overhead cam,  16-valve, 4-cylinder engine.  It generates  a peak power output of 141  horsepower  at 6,500  rpm's and  127 lb.-ft. of torque. With the car I tested, the engine was mated  to a  fuel-efficient continuously variable automatic transmission  (CVT).   Part of it's lucid operating quality  is due in part  to Honda's advanced  electronic shift logic. The HR-V is also offered with  a 6-speed  manual transmission,  with in the LX and EX, FWD trim  levels. 

Besides front-wheel-drive, Honda's "Real  Time" all-wheel-drive  (AWD)  with Intelligent  Control System  is available as  an  option. As expected, the AWD system offers up notable  all-weather  traction  and additional handling.

Driving efficiency and cabin  interior quietness are  further aided by the vehicles slick aerodynamic  shape and  a lightweight yet  rigid body structure. Additionally,  significant noise-insulating  materials have  also been incorporated  within the body itself — some hidden while others are in  plain view  such as door frame and window moldings. 

The body utilizes Honda's  next-generation  Advanced Compatibility Engineering for   enhanced frontal  collision protection. Furthermore,  around   27 percent of the body itself is  composed of ultra-high strength  steel for improved rigidity. This also helps to  enhance collision-protection,  handling response, ride quality  and a quiet cabin  environment.  

Electric power steering   provides a refined and sporty steering  feel while minimizing fuel usage.  All models feature power-assisted  four-wheel   disc antilock brakes with electronic brake distribution plus  an  electronic parking brake with automatic "roll-back"  brake  hold.  Standard, are 17-inch  aluminum alloy wheels matched with all-season tires.

Safety technologies help achieve a collision  safety performance rating of 5-Star's  overall. It's also a Top Safety Pick  from the Insurance Institute for Highway   Safety. Standard are  a multi-angle rearview  camera; dual-stage,  multiple-threshold front airbags;  driver and front passenger  side airbags;  side-curtain  airbags for all outboard seating  positions; and a tire  pressure  monitoring system. Honda's  LaneWatch display  is included with EX and  EX-L Navi trims. 

Some standard features across the lineup are tilt and  telescoping steering wheel; cruise  control;  steering  wheel-mounted  controls for audio, cruise control and  phone interface;  160-watt  4-speaker audio system with 5-inch  color LCD screen; auto-off   headlights; ECO assist mode control;  extendable sun visors; LED  taillights;  rear passenger heater outlet ducts plus  intermittent rear windshield wiper;  power  windows and door locks; and floor mats.

The EX trim includes fog lamps,  180-watt audio system with 6-speakers, push button start, automatic  climate  control, heated door mirrors and other enhancements. The top trim  EX-L Navi adds leather seats, steering wheel cover and  shift knob, satellite linked  navigation and audio system, H-D  Radio and roof mounted overhead rails. 

Depending on the trim level  and powertrain, the EPA numbers will differ a bit.  Overall, the  EX model with FWD and CVT automatic transmission shows 28-mpg city  and 35-mpg with highway driving.

The 2016 Honda HR-V is covered  by a  comprehensive 3-year/36,000-mile  new vehicle limited warranty  and a  5-year/60,000-mile powertrain  limited warranty.  The stating price is $19,115 excluding destination charge.