The 2016 Honda HR-V is an all-new subcompact crossover SUV one size smaller than the popular Honda CR-V. The HR-V was designed to combine a coupe-like appearance with the practicality of a minivan and the toughness of an SUV. It’s based on the versatile and economical Honda Fit.
The HR-V conveys a sportier, more athletic appearance than the CR-V with more sharply sculpted lines.
Interior styling is clean and well organized. We like the HR-V’s center stack with the optional, upgraded display.
Versatility is one of the HR-V’s strong suits, with thoughtful touches that maximize space and comfort. For example, the roofline is slightly curved, which allows for more headroom in the cabin. Rear passengers also get plenty of hip- and legroom.
Many features that showcase the HR-V’s utility are shared with the Honda Fit, such as a 60/40-split seat that can fold completely flat, or flip up to make space for taller items. Whether the seats are up or down, the rear cargo is square and flat, making for plenty of space and allowing easy access.
The 2016 Honda HR-V is comfortable to drive but not sporty. All HR-V models are powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder that makes 141 horsepower and 127 pound-feet of torque. Front-wheel drive is standard, all-wheel drive is optional.
Most models come with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) but a six-speed manual is available with front-wheel drive. The CVT achieves better fuel economy and is EPA-rated at 28/35 mpg City/Highway for front-wheel-drive models, but feels gutless when the throttle is punched. The manual transmission is more fun and engaging, though fuel economy suffers with an EPA rating of 25/28 mpg City/Highway.
The 2016 Honda HR-V fits between perfunctory and fun and is a solid choice for those seeking compact versatility.
HR-V competes with the more distinctive Fiat 500X, the sportier Mazda CX 3, and the Chevrolet Trax, which shares underpinnings with the more upscale Buick Encore.
Honda HR-V looks sportier than the Honda Fit, with short overhangs and sharp creases and more aggressive angles. In front, the nose resembles the larger CR-V, but with a wider front grille and a stronger nose. From the side, the HR-V’s curved roofline, punctuated at the rear by a roof spoiler, gives the little crossover a coupe-like appearance while maintaining headroom for occupants. A sharp, rising character line runs from the door up into the D-pillar. In the rear, a strong crease swoops from the outside of each tail light, creating a wide grin.
The cabin of the 2016 Honda HR-V is a step up from the Fit, though it still has a lot of fabric and plastic. Controls are well laid out, and we like the 7-inch touch screen found on EX and EX-L-Navi trims, which sits flush with the center console and isn’t perched atop the dash and set far back like the displays found in other Hondas, such as the Civic.
The gearshift lever and center console sit up high, separating driver and passenger into their own respective compartments. Below the center stack is a small storage space that can accommodate a phone, with a USB port. Side door pockets are wide but not tall.
Seats are comfortable, and fit average-sized and tall people quite well. Smaller occupants might have difficulty getting comfortable due to the limited adjustability of the manual seats. Fabric seats are fine but not luxurious; the leather on the EX-L trim is a step up but is somewhat stiff.
Rearward visibility is good considering the diminutive rear window. Also helpful is the Honda LaneWatch feature, which displays a side view of the vehicle on the central screen when the turn signal is activated.
Like the Fit, the HR-V is incredibly versatile thanks to clever packaging and a variety of thoughtful features. The 60/40-split rear seat that can fold completely flat, and Honda’s Magic Seat can flip up to make space for taller items. Whether the seats are up or down, the rear cargo is square and flat, making for plenty of space and allowing easy access. With all seats in place, cargo space measures 25 cubic feet. With the seats folded flat, there’s up to 58.8 cubic feet. That’s more than the Chevrolet Trax, which offers only 18.7 cubic feet and 48.4 cubic feet, respectively.
Driving the 2016 Honda HR-V is comfortable. The 1.8-liter four-cylinder is adequate for everyday commuting and light errands.
The most fuel-efficient choice is the front-wheel-drive model with the continuously variable transmission (CVT), which feels fine in normal traffic but lags between shifts and feels gutless when the throttle is punched. The better option is to use included paddle shifters, which can select from a number of pre-set gear ratios. It makes the HR-V more fun, but sacrifices fuel economy. The six-speed manual transmission is predictably more engaging, though gas mileage suffers.
Ride and handling are on par with other Hondas, with an independent front and rear torsion beam suspension that eats up bumps and ruts 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.
The Honda HR-V is an attractive choice in the entry-level crossover segment. It might not have the sportiness or panache of other newcomers, but it offers the proven versatility and reliability for which the brand is known.
NewCarTestDrive.com correspondent Laura Burstein filed this report after her test drive of the Honda HR-V near Miami, Florida.