2016 Honda HR-V, it’s a bit like a mutt!

DSCN3981bNow pay attention, because what is being featured here today might just be the most important new vehicle to go on sale in Canada this year.
It is called the Honda HR-V, and it is a crossover that is like a mutt!
What I mean by that is, this vehicle shares bits and pieces from other Honda products, but as a whole, is a proper vehicle with its own identity and charms.
As you can probably make out from its name, the HR-V is related to Honda’s very popular CR-V crossover/SUV, but shares no parts with it. It does however share its platform with the subcompact 2015 Honda Fit, only that platform has been expanded in all directions to house this crossovers body.
So, you must be thinking, if it has a Fit platform, it’ll have the Fit’s drivetrain also, right?
Wrong.
While in other markets that might be the case, but for North America, Honda felt that buyers on this vast continent will prefer a bit more go power, so hence they took the engine out of their extremely popular Civic sedan – Canada’s best selling car for over 16 years – and plonked it in the HR-V. In detail, that means you get a 1.8 litre, four-cylinder motor that features a single over head camshaft and variable valve timing. In the HR-V, this motor produces 141 hp and 127 lb-ft of torque. Customers can choose between a six-speed manual gearbox, or a CVT automatic. A point worth noting is that while Honda offers the HR-V in either front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive trim, only the CVT equipped models get to send power to all-four wheels.
I got to sample both examples at the HR-V’s launch event, which was held in the sunny city of Miami, Florida back in March.
OK, let’s go back to the opening point, why do I think the HR-V is the most important vehicle to go on sale in Canada this year? Because, after spending a day driving it, I came to the conclusion that this is exactly all the vehicle most Canadians would ever need.
First of all, it is very spacious. The reason for that is because Honda really defied convention – as with the Fit – and have located the cars fuel tank in the middle of the chassis, rather than the rear. This not only improves safety, but also luggage space, which is now a lot deeper than it would have been otherwise.
This vehicle also has a very flat floor, which opens up space for humans, dogs, cats, alligators (lots of these in the State of Florida), or whatever else you want to carry in it. It also features the smartly designed magic folding seats in the rear, which will allow you to carry tall plants vertically – given my wife’s fondness with foliage, this is an important detail.
Up front, the HR-V gives you the high, commanding driving position usually associated with larger SUVs, a feature that will surely attract a large portion of the demographic – because, if you’re sitting up higher, you’ll get a better view ahead of the road, and that is not just for comfort, but can be a safety feature also.
While you might be sitting tall in the HR-V, thanks to its car-based platform, it rides and handles like a car, which is what we all want – honestly, hardly anyone buys SUVs these days to go off-roading, so on-road handling is what truly matters.
Buyers these days want the image and style of the SUV but the comfort and handling of cars, and the HR-V accomplishes this task very well, at least while driving on the mostly smooth and arrow straight roads of Miami. I’ll have to borrow one to spend some time on Canadian roads to see how it really fares, but first signs are very good. The car rides bumps well and is a lot quieter than I expected it to be.
Adding to the comfort is the HR-V’s interior layout. Everything is clean and well laid out – no confusing gadgetry here. But it isn’t spartan either, not even in base LX-trim. Features such as heated front seats, 7-inch audio display, multi-angle rear view camera, 17-inch alloys, electronic parking brake, and a lot more is standard. If you want all the gadgets, the EX-L trim will even give you leather seats, navigation system, satellite radio and lane departure warning, among other things. This might be Honda’s entry-level crossover, but it sure isn’t equipped like one.
I spent a good amount of time in the HR-V, and still felt relaxed – that almost never happens with such vehicles.
Any complaints? Well, apart from the whine from the CVT gearbox under hard acceleration, all else is fine. And to rectify this issue, just buy the manual version, which is a lot more fun to drive anyway.
Fuel economy is expected to be good also. While I didn’t get to do proper mileage testing at the event, Honda claims that the HR-V will average around 8.0L/100km on a city and highway combined route, which is quite good.
Pricing you ask? A base HR-V is yours from $20,690 – while a loaded model will set you back about $30,000.DSCN3985
Honda Canada expects to sell around 10,000 units of the Celeya, Mexico built HR-V per year, and I think that is a very conservative number. After all, Honda Canada sells about 40,000 units of the CR-V annually, and about 70,000 units of the Civic in the course of the year. In my mind, the HR-V makes the most sense for those looking for a family vehicle, and certainly something Civic sedan buyers should look into when they go to a Honda showroom.

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