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2016 Honda HR-V Review  

The 2016 Honda HR-V debuts at Miami beach prior to this summer’s release to dealers across Canada.

  • Honda HR-V main

THE PROS & CONS

What’s Best: Affordable blend of crossover qualities and Honda’s legacy of bulletproof reliability.

What’s Worst: A competent performer but not exactly a pulse racing sporty ride, even with the 6MT.

What’s Interesting: A hybrid electric version, under the Vezel name, boasting 3.7L/100km fuel econ numbers is available in other global markets. Maybe here, someday?

Honda HR-V 2016 at a glance

BODY STYLE: subcompact crossover utility vehicle.
DRIVE METHOD: front-engine, front-wheel drive or Real Time AWD.
ENGINE: 1.8-litre 16-valve SOHC four-cylinder (141 hp, 127 lb/ft)
CARGO (LITRES): 688 (FWD) or 657 (AWD); With rear seats folded 1665 (LX, EX FWD), 1631 (LX AWD), 1583 (EX, EX-L Navi AWD).
FUEL ECONOMY: FWD 6MT 9.3/7.0L/100 km (city/hwy); FWD CVT 8.3/6.7L/100 km (city/hwy); AWD CVT 8.8/7.2L/100 km (city/hwy)
PRICE: LX FWD 6MT $20,690; LX FWD CVT $21,990; LX AWD CVT $24,290; EX FWD 6MT $23,190; EX FWD CVT $24,490; EX AWD CVT $26,790; EX-L Navi AWD CVT $29,990;

MIAMI, FL- The 2016 Honda HR-V joins the hottest segment in the automotive industry, the small crossover niche consisting of new multifunctional pocket performers that blend utility, affordability and fuel economy with a new sense of style.

These sub-compacts boast edgier design, along with technologies that have trickled down from premium products, all combined to the tune of younger, more vibrant vehicles for next gen customers.

And just about everybody has crashed this party.

Although one of the original contenders – Suzuki – faded in the stretch, a long list of new, existing and future subcompact crossover utility vehicles (CUVs) includes the Mazda CX-3, Fiat 500X, Infiniti QX30, Buick Encore, Chevy Trax, Jeep Renegade, MINI Countryman and the Nissan Juke to name just a few.

There are also North American debut rumours of the Ford EcoSport based on the Fiesta and new versions of Hyundai’s iX25 and the Toyota CH-R.

Honda used to have a “Sport Cute” of its own in this segment.

It was called the CR-V.

But after four generations of “It’s bigger, it’s better!” evolutionary changes, the CR-V, like its Toyota RAV4 competitor, has outgrown its original category. The increasing demand for a smaller, more affordable CUV pretty well forced Honda to slip the HR-V (or Honda Vezel in Japan) into that bottom rung of the SUV/Crossover lineup.

The 2016 Honda HR-V may be about the same size as the original CR-V from almost 20 years ago, but it is based on Honda’s latest Global Subcompact Platform, sharing almost 30 percent of its underpinnings with the Honda Fit.

While the CR-V has grown into family-friendly dimensions, Honda is aiming the HR-V at the smaller vehicle needs of younger couples and empty nesters.

Compare the HR-V ($20,690) with the Fit ($14,575) and the larger CR-V ($25,990) and you find that it fits almost precisely between the other two in size, price and capabilities.

And compare the HR-V with some of the competitors listed above and you get a lot of blank looks from the Honda execs and engineers. Honda’s design philosophy with the HR-V was to blend their idea of the perfect proportions of coupe-like styling, SUV utility and attitude with minivan-like passenger and payload versatility. And they invariably insist that the competition have erred in various directions when it comes to balancing those combinations.

RELATED: A prototype of the Honda HR-V sub-compact SUV at The Paris Motor Show

This “segment buster” starts with a sporty and sleekly angled exterior with distinctive curves and edges, along with body sculpted coupe-like styling lines, emphasized further by raised and concealed rear door handles, a common “coupe-style” trick used by other vehicles like Nissan Xterra, Jeep Compass, Hyundai Veloster, the new Spark and even Honda’s own Acura ZDX.

Inside, the coupe-like emphasis continues with a driver-oriented cockpit, a high deck console and a nicely delineated gauge and instrument package.

2016 Honda HR-V interior

The seven-inch instrument display panel works very nicely. There’s an oddly narrow set of ventilation slots in front of the passenger but nothing to really complain about. The cabin is quiet, comfortable and very roomy for a subcompact.

2016 Honda HR-V lane watch display

I was surprised that I was able to “sit behind myself” in a fairly spacious second row. A centre-mounted fuel tank layout allows the reconfigurable 60/40 Magic Seat to fold flat, expanding cargo room from 688 litres to 1665 litres.

The Magic Seat also allows the seat bottoms to flip up for a “tall” configuration, allowing owners to fit taller items from floor to ceiling behind the front row.

Under the hood, Honda opted for the Civic’s 1.8-litre SOHC 16-valve four-cylinder engine with i-VTEC instead of the Fit engine, providing North American customers with the kind of power they expect. The motor make 141 hp at 6,500 rpm and 127 lb/ft of torque at 4,300 rpm and can be mated to a standard six-speed manual or an optional continuously variable transmission (CVT) with Honda “G-design” shift logic.

2016 Honda HR-V engine

Entry-level models can blend economical front-wheel drive with either transmission but Honda’s Real Time AWD with Intelligent Control System can be mated to the CVT tranny for the kind of all-weather security that Canadians usually opt for.

I drove most of the different powertrain configurations and they are all competent.

Manual transmissions are becoming a rarity, even in this subcompact segment and while shifting the cogs yourself doesn’t really add much in the way of adrenalized excitement in the HR-V, it at least allows for an economical purchase option. And the HR-V handles nicely with electric power steering, a taut handling suspension and disk brakes at all four corners.

The 2016 Honda HR-V comes in three trim choices – LX ($20,690), EX ($23,190) and EX-L Navi ($29,990). The CVT automatic adds $1,300 and AWD bumps the price by about $2,300. Exact prices are listed in the specs below.

2016 Honda HR-V side view

Content levels, luxuries and leather wrappings correspond to the trim upgrades and price increases but the HR-V starts well loaded with even the entry-level LX model offering heated front seats, power windows, power mirrors and power door and tailgate locks, intermittent windshield wipers and de-icer, electronic parking brake, included rearview camera, 17-inch alloy wheels, tilt/telescoping steering wheel with audio and cruise controls, Bluetooth HandsFreeLink phone interface and Honda’s seven-inch touchscreen Display Audio telematics interface with 160-watt four-speaker audio system.

That’s already a pretty complete package, and with the choice of trim levels, transmissions, drive layouts and other options there are plenty of ways for Honda customers, about 10,000 of them according to Honda’s sales hopes, to make the 2016 HR-V their very own.

2016 Honda HR-V rear view

RELATED: 2015 Honda CRV Review

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