SUV of the Year

Honda HR-V: 2016 Motor Trend SUV of the Year Contender

Small, But Amazingly Useful

Small, But Amazingly Useful

We Like: Its cargo versatility and room, available manual, safety features.

We Don’t Like: The thrashy CVT/engine combo, USB port placement.

There is no question the HR-V, which jumped into the hot subcompact crossover segment about the same time as the Mazda CX-3, is a useful small crossover.

Stay tuned to MotorTrend.com as the 2016 Motor Trend SUV of the Year contenders and finalists are revealed in advance of the official winner announcement on the evening of November 16. Learn about other SUV of the Year contenders at the links below. Check out the SUV of the Year evaluation process HERE, and read about the evolution of our Of The Year awards HERE.

In the cabin, the HR-V puts Honda‘s best foot forward: packaging. Although about a foot shorter than the CR-V, the subcompact has lots of passenger space. The back seats actually have headroom, and with the rear seats folded there’s an abundance of cargo space. The seat bottoms can also be folded up to create a vertical cargo area. It’s amazing for a tiny crossover. “Truly a game changer,” Ed Loh said.

The driver’s view is clear with little obstruction. And the HR-V comes with an expanded-view side mirror to help eliminate blind spots. That’s in addition to Honda’s optional LaneWatch on the right, and the crossover is five-star rated by the NHTSA and an IIHS Top Safety Pick.

A few folks had some problems with the placement of the USB ports, which are essentially underneath the center console in a triangular area that’s hard to reach for adults. Others criticized the short, unsupportive bottom cushion on the driver’s seat. But the main complaints concerned the buzzy CVT mated to a noisy 1.8-liter four-cylinder that makes 141 hp. From stoplights it’s not bad, but it takes 9.5 seconds to run from 0 to 60. It strains under heavy acceleration load, as when entering a freeway from a stop. Jason Cammisa was emphatic: “Keeping up with quick traffic, the engine is screaming near its 6,700-rpm redline. Just. Make. It. Stop.”

We’re happy Honda offers a manual, even if it’s only a FWD unicorn. Its shifter is Honda-signature smooth. The manual ran to 60 a full second faster but still lacks power at highway passing speeds. The ride was acceptable, good at alleviating highway jostles. The HR-V isn’t really meant for off-road use, but the CVT-driven AWD version had no problem with our hill. The manual did OK but required lots of rpm and turning off traction control.

2016 Honda HR-V EX EX-L
Base Price $22,045 $26,720
Price As Tested $22,045 $26,720
Vehicle Layout Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV
Engine 1.8L/141-hp/127-lb-ft SOHC 16-valve I-4 1.8L/141-hp/127-lb-ft SOHC 16-valve I-4
Transmission 6-speed manual continuously variable automatic
Length x Width x Height 169.1 x 69.8 x 63.2 169.1 x 69.8 x 63.2
Wheelbase 102.8 in 102.8 in
Curb Weight (F/R Dist) 2,891 lb (61/39%) 3,093 lb (59/41%)
Acceleration, 0-60 mph 8.5 sec 9.5 sec
Quarter Mile 16.4 sec @ 83.3 mph 17.3 sec @ 82.2 mph
Braking, 60-0 mph 125 ft 127 ft
Lateral Acceleration 0.83 g (avg) 0.84 g (avg)
MT Figure Eight 27.8 sec @ 0.61 g (avg) 28.0 sec @ 0.62 g (avg)
EPA City/Hwy/Comb 25/34/28 mpg 27/32/29 mpg
Energy Consumption, City/Hwy 135/99 kW-hrs/100 miles 125/105 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 Emissions 0.68 lb/mile 0.67 lb/mile
Real MPG City/Hwy/Comb 28/33/30

2016 Motor Trend SUV of the Year Contenders: