Honda HR-V EX-L Navi
The New Kid in Town
By Ron Amadon
DAMASCUS, MD. – As small sport utility vehicles fly off dealer lots almost as fast as they can be prepped for sale, who can blame Honda for wanting to come up with a stretched version of the versatile Fit?
The 2016 HR-V is 9 inches longer, 3 inches wider, 3 inches taller, and rides on a wheelbase that is 3.2 inches longer than its older brother. That adds extra space out back for hauling possessions as Honda smartly carried over the so-called “Magic Seat.” It bends and folds like the most athletic dancer you have ever seen to make way for everything from pumpkins to tubas.
An upscale interior with lots of soft touch surfaces and stitching jazzed up the tested top-of-the-line EX-L model. Fit and finish were up to the usual high Honda standards.
During a rare fall spell of hot and humid weather, front passengers appreciated the cool air coming from the wider than normal air vent positioned right in front of them. That big vent should really be welcome this winter when it blasts out hot air on a frigid morning.
The EX-L adds leather covered seats, steering wheel and shift knob, as well as navi, satellite and HD radio, roof rails and a day/night rear view mirror.
Operators will find the instruments easy to read, and their eye might catch the changing colors of the ring around the speedometer. Green is the color of choice if you want to be frugal with the fuel, but as Kermit the Frog said, “It’s not easy being green.” On the test car, green only appeared when my foot was off the accelerator.
Unfortunately, the seven inch touchscreen carried over from the Fit with its impossible to adjust while driving controls. Fortunately there are tuning and volume adjustments on the steering wheel. The navi system worked just fine.
I found the HR-V to be a bit noisy on the highway and the seats, with short bottoms, were not particularly comfortable on an all day journey despite numerous adjustments. There was ample room for two in the second row.
Cargo space in the Fit is 16.6 cubic feet with the seat up and 52.7 with it down. That compares to 23.2 cubic feet in the HR-V with the seat up and 55.9 cubes with its folded
The Fit has a 1.5 liter 4 good for 130 horsepower while the HR-V has a 1.8-liter unit rated at 141 horsepower. Yet the Fit is a half second faster to 60. Reason? The HR-V, because of its larger size, is 420 pounds heavier.
Both come with a CVT that allows the little four to rev like mad in rather noisy fashion while producing only gentle amounts of forward motion. Various testers reported a 0-60 run between 9.5 and 10 seconds and that is slower than much of the HR-V’s competition.
Fuel economy wise, the HR-V produced 26 mpg during a week of driving in suburbia. The EPA judged it at 27 city, 32 highway, for a combined 29 mpg.
The engine lugs around town with some vibrations in the cabin. Using the paddle shifts really didn’t help performance much.
Moving the shift lever to the “S” mode did, from a seat of the pants stand point, improve things slightly. But the HR-V needs a real six speed transmission and more than few more horsepower.
Having said that, the HR-V excels as a suburban run about zipping easily into parking spots at the market, and then hauling kids off to whatever is next on the schedule.
And cheers to Honda for including a top-notch safety feature – the right side blind spot camera that engages whenever you engage the right turn signal. It takes the blind out of the spot.
In the end, what you drive home is an economical, exceptionally well built small utility vehicle that will last you hundreds of thousands of miles. Even at 100K my personal experience has been that a Honda is then just coming into its own, providing it has had routine servicing. That means you will enjoy many, many miles of driving after the last payment has been shipped off to your lender.
And speaking of payments, the tested EX-L carried a base price of $25,840. Add $880 for shipping and the bottom line is a budget pleasing $26,720 with lots of goodies including power moonroof and automatic climate control.
The HR-V carries a base model price of $19,115 with a stick shift, moving up to $19,915 with an automatic, both with front drive. Add AWD to the mix, and the entry price rises to $21,115.