Virtues of the Fit, Civic, and CR-V
Honda enters the subcompact crossover segment with the 2016 Honda HR-V. The new model combines attributes of the subcompact Fit hatchback, compact Civic sedan, and compact CR-V crossover. Based on the same platform as the Fit, the mini crossover gets motivation from the same powertrain as the Civic and features a crossover stance similar to that of the larger CR-V.
Like the Civic, our all-wheel-drive 2016 Honda HR-V EX-L Navi tester is powered by the automaker’s 1.8-liter SOHC I-4 mated to a CVT. Power is sent to all four wheels via Honda’s Real Time AWD with Intelligent Control System. The HR-V is rated 141 hp and 127 lb-ft of torque. At the track, the HR-V reached 60 mph in 9.5 seconds and finished the quarter mile in 17.3 seconds at 82.2 mph.
Braking chores are handled by 11.5-inch vented discs up front and 11.2-inch solid discs in back. Two-piston calipers clamp the front discs, and single-piston calipers clamp the rear. Other brake features include ABS and Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) to redistribute brake pressure based on vehicle load distribution. Braking from 60 mph took 127 feet.
The suspension consists of a MacPherson strut in front with a torsion beam in the back, as well as 24mm front and 19mm rear stabilizer bars. Alloy wheels are standard and wrapped in 215/55R17 all-season tires. Steering duties are handled by Honda’s electric power steering system. The HR-V lapped the figure eight in 28.0 seconds at 0.62 g and pulled 0.84 g around the skidpad.
Those acceleration times are behind the front-drive 2015 Chevrolet Trax LTZ we tested. That model hit 60 mph in 9.0 seconds and passed the quarter mile in 16.8 seconds at 80.9 mph. Braking and handling numbers are closer: The Trax LTZ stopped in 127 feet and lapped the figure eight in 27.9 seconds at 0.69 g and pulled 0.82 g around the skidpad. We will have to wait to get our hands on an all-wheel-drive Trax to see how the acceleration numbers compare
The 2015 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk 4×4 we tested was also slightly faster than the HR-V (9.1 seconds; 17.0 seconds at 80.0 mph), but the Honda had better on-road manners. Braking from 60 was similar at 126 feet, and the Renegade Trailhawk lapped the figure eight in 29.0 seconds at 0.59 g and pulled 0.73 g around the skidpad.
On the road, the Honda HR-V’s 1.8-liter four-cylinder and CVT combo produces sound very unlike a Honda. Rather, the SOHC VTEC engine sounds harsh and doesn’t like to rev as we’ve come to expect from Honda vehicles. Part throttle seems to yield better acceleration than wide-open throttle. Everyone who drove the subcompact Honda crossover noted its firm ride and average handling.
“The HR-V is fine around town, but if you ever want moderate or better acceleration, you’ll be disappointed,” associate editor Scott Evans said. “It’s a dog on the freeway. The engine sounds like it’s working really hard. I generally like Honda’s CVT, but [this] is a bit sluggish.”
Associate editor Benson Kong agreed. “The engine has to audibly work hard to pull the CUV along,” he said. “I don’t remember the 1.8 sounding this strained in the Civic, and I guess that means the new base DOHC I-4 can’t come soon enough. The CVT logic does a fair and appropriate amount of thinking. It had the engine pinging redline while merging onto the freeway before simulating gear changes as the speed increased.”
Although the Magic Seat allows numerous passenger and cargo configurations, the interior doesn’t escape criticism. The dashboard design is more Toyota RAV4-like than what you’d expect in a Honda, and the volume control on the infotainment system was universally criticized. “Why does every touch control except volume, the most used, work great?” Evans asked. The steering wheel volume controls were deemed the better choice. Most drivers found the location of the USB, 12-volt, and HDMI connections in the lower section of the two-tier center console awkward, especially while driving. The infotainment touchscreen was a stretch for the driver due to the placement of the center HVAC vent. Although gimmicky, the right blind-spot monitor was useful.
Senior production editor Zach Gale found the CD player slot a welcome feature that is disappearing from modern cars but thought its placement above the infotainment screen could have been better. He also noted Honda’s unique approach to temperature controls. “While I’d appreciate rotating knobs for HVAC controls, the Honda has a neat trick,” he said. “Swipe the temperature all the way up, and the temperature goes to High — and vice versa for Low temperature — and you can get the system’s full force of air — or the lowest amount — by doing a full swipe of the other HVAC control.”
With Honda using trim levels rather than option packages, pricing for the HR-V is pretty straightforward. The $26,720 2016 Honda HR-V AWD EX-L Navi features leather seating with heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, an infotainment system with 7.0-inch touchscreen, a multi-view rear camera, and automatic climate control. Exterior features include a moonroof, 17-inch alloy wheels, foglights, LED taillights, and a tailgate spoiler.
The 2016 Honda HR-V offers the thoughtful packaging of the Fit hatchback with the elevated ride height and visibility of the CR-V crossover. Unfortunately, the Civic’s engine and transmission don’t appear to be enough for the all-wheel-drive system and taller ride height. The ergonomics and design are also questionable. For those who put a priority on packaging and reliability over performance, the Honda HR-V is a compelling entrant in the growing subcompact crossover segment.
|2016 Honda HR-V EX-L AWD|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$26,720|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV|
|ENGINE||1.8L/141-hp/127-lb-ft SOHC 16-valve I-4|
|TRANSMISSION||Cont. variable auto|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||3,093 lb (59/41%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||169.1 x 69.8 x 63.2 in|
|0-60 MPH||9.5 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||17.3 sec @ 82.2 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||127 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.84 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||28.0 sec @ 0.62 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||27/32/29 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY||125/105 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.67 lb/mile|