The 2016 Honda HR-V almost feels like old news, given that we saw the car previewed as the Honda Urban SUV concept at last year’s Detroit auto show, and that the Japanese-market Honda Vezel was shown a year ago in Tokyo. Now, however, the 2016 Honda HR-V is finally making its U.S.-market debut before going on sale in early 2015.
Based on the 2015 Honda Fit, the 2016 Honda HR-V is one of the newest entries in the burgeoning subcompact crossover segment. Key rivals include the Jeep Renegade, Mazda CX-3, and Chevrolet Trax. Visually, the HR-V recalls its big brother, the Honda CR-V, albeit with many styling cues drawn from the Fit. A tall grille that cuts into the lower bumper and angular headlights define the rounded front end, strong creases run from just behind the front fenders to the “hidden” rear door handles in the C-pillar. The entire roofline is curved, plunging toward the sloped liftgate that sports creased arcs below the license-plate frame. The car’s rear is topped by a roof spoiler, and all the fenders have black plastic cladding for a more rugged, SUV-like appearance. The interior resembles that of the Fit, with a large speedometer directly in front of the driver, the radio atop the center stack, and a smattering of climate controls beneath it.
Beneath all that sheetmetal, the 2016 Honda HR-V uses a version of the 1.8-liter inline-four engine found in the Honda Civic, albeit here retuned for slightly less power at 138 hp and 127 lb-ft of torque. Buyers who select a six-speed manual transmission — the HR-V is one of the few crossovers to still offer a stick-shift in the U.S. — can have only front-wheel drive, but the majority of HR-V buyers will gravitate toward the continuously variable transmission that can be paired with either front- or all-wheel drive.
Like the Fit on which it is based, the 2016 Honda HR-V makes excellent use of its small exterior dimensions. Despite measuring just 169.1 inches long and 69.8 inches wide, the HR-V offers 24.3 cubic feet of cargo room with the rear seats raised and 58.8 with them lowered. That puts the HR-V’s cargo volume midway between that of the Fit and of the larger CR-V crossover. Like the Fit, a centrally mounted fuel tank allows for a low floor, as well as the clever “Magic Seat” arrangement that lets the Honda’s seats easily flip and fold into many configurations.
A generous level of standard equipment on the 2016 Honda HR-V LX includes a backup camera, an electric parking brake, and a sound system with Bluetooth and Pandora radio integration. Options for the EX and EX-L include Honda’s LaneWatch blind-spot camera, satellite radio, push-button start, heated front seats, navigation, a power sunroof, and leather upholstery.
The big question is how the 2016 Honda HR-V will stack up in terms of price and fuel efficiency when compared to the Fit and CR-V. The 2015 Honda CR-V returns up to 27/34 mpg (city/highway) with front-wheel drive and starts at $24,200 with destination, so expect the HR-V to considerably exceed those EPA numbers and to start closer to the $20,000 mark.