Subcompact SUV Comparison: 2016 Honda HR-V
Our roomy and refined favorite.
Starting Price: $20,015 | Build
Above Average: Value and performance
Below Average: Infotainment
Consensus: Clearly the one to beat in this class, it has the goods
700 Miles in 101 Words
A new player in a growing segment, the Honda HR-V uses the subcompact Fit underpinnings to build a worthy little brother to the benchmark CR-V in the class above. The styling is crisp and modern and the interior reflects these sensibilities with a clean look enhanced by quality materials. The 1.8-liter engine provides almost the same output as larger engines in the test and it never felt overtaxed when cruising along at 80 mph while delivering over 29 mpg. And even though CVTs have some drivability issues, the unit in the HR-V is well matched to the engine and performed seamlessly.
Strengths and Weaknesses
The 2016 Honda HR-V is the roomiest in the segment and at the same time is easy to drive, delivers great fuel economy and is easy on the eyes. Here’s a quick look at how the HR-V performed across our more subjective categories, followed by deeper dives into each rating.
Highway Driving On the extended stretches of Interstate 10, the Honda HR-V had plenty of power to keep up with traffic and it was quite happy moving along at Arizona’s posted 75 mph speed limit. The dreaded motorboat drone of CVT technology is well controlled in the HR-V; only occasionally would you hear a pitch change when urging the car forward to pass. For a subcompact crossover SUV, the HR-V was well planted to the pavement and resisted being blown around in the high winds through the pass near Palm Springs. The right-side lane camera is a nice feature, especially when looking to move back into a lane after passing an 18-wheeler.
City Driving The compact size of the HR-V makes it easy to wheel around city streets and when parking. The light feel of the power steering is a Honda trademark and it definitely helps in low- speed maneuvering. The added benefit of the high seating position makes it feel like you are in a larger vehicle, much larger than the Fit it’s based on. The responsive powertrain and linear feel to the brakes contribute to the HR-V’s deft touch in gliding through stop-and-go city traffic.
Sporty Driving Being easy to drive doesn’t necessarily translate to sporty driving fun. If you want more communicative, meaty steering look elsewhere. And while our HR-V was outfitted with all-wheel drive, that too doesn’t translate to canyon-carving agility. The AWD in the HR-V is set up for traction primarily in wet or snowy conditions, sending torque to the rear wheels only when it detects slip at the front. As a result, the extra weight of the AWD merely holds the HR-V back from being as spirited as say, the Mazda CX-3.
Interior Appeal The interior design and materials of the Honda HR-V are top notch. It’s not a flashy layout and doesn’t have the sexy leather of the Fiat nor the neat little heritage styling cues of the Renegade. But then again, the Honda is about getting the job done with no muss or fuss. The seats are comfortable, the visibility great and the controls are, for the most part, intuitive and easy to use.
Infotainment The only disappointing feature of the HR-V is the infotainment system with its touchscreen regimen. It’s not easy to directly select a channel or to use the head unit to raise or lower the volume, although the steering wheel-mounted volume control mitigates this somewhat. The system was fairly simple to use when pairing a phone, but the voice recognition protocol for using the phone and navigation is a bit clunky in execution.
Rear Seat With the largest passenger volume among the vehicles in the test, the rear seat of the HR-V offers plenty of room for two adults or even three over short distances. Honda's rear "Magic Seat” folds down to create a flat load floor (see below), or the seat bottom can also fold up against the seat back so you can slide tall objects into the second row.
Cargo Utility The space behind the second row is also the largest in the group and with the fold-flat second row, the HR-V can accommodate up to 55.9 cu. ft. of cargo. It should be noted that AWD versions sacrifice over a cubic foot of space over the FWD version.
Fuel Economy The EPA rates the HR-V at 27 mpg city/32 mpg highway and over the course of the test it delivered 29.3 mpg, just about on the money for its combined 29 mpg rating. Given the performance and capacity of the vehicle, it’s impressive mileage.
Resale Value Hondas have traditionally held their resale value and there’s no doubting that the HR-V will do the same, especially in light of how affordable it is. Our 2016 Honda HR-V AWD EX-L with Navi is the top-of-the-line model with a base price of just $25,840 and was the lowest priced vehicle in the test. With a high level of content, AWD and plenty of room, the Honda HR-V is a winner.
Inside and Out: Honda HR-V Photo Gallery