We’ve been driving our 2016 Honda HR-V long-term test car for just over six months now and have enjoyed our daily experiences with this ‘right-size’ crossover vehicle. Based on the Honda Fit platform, the HR-V won top honors in last year’s 2016 Green SUV of the Year™ program. It impresses for a wide variety of important reasons, not the least of which is its ability to do its job extremely well – and might we add very efficiently – without the need for exotic powertrain technology.
The HR-V is propelled by a 1.8-liter, 140 horsepower four-cylinder that provides an admirable balance of performance and economy, as we’ve come to expect from Honda over the years. This i-VTEC 16-valve engine delivers power through a CVT automatic transmission that’s standard on all-wheel drive model like our HR-V EX-L Navi AWD tester. Unlike many constant velocity transmissions, the CVT in the HR-V has a pleasingly positive feel under both acceleration and braking. To further enhance the driving experience, the HR-V can be switched to Sport Mode, with dual paddle shifters providing more control over the CVT. A six-speed manual transmission is standard fare on front-drive variants with the CVT optional.
When introduced, the two-wheel drive CVT model scored an EPA fuel economy rating of 28 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway, with the AWD version netting a slightly lower EPA mpg rating of 27 city and 32 highway mpg. With our typical efficient driving style we’ve found that we can regularly achieve average fuel economy of 32 mpg. During economical cruising on the highway, the HRV can easily be coaxed into the mid- to upper-30 mpg range.
For those who would like a little help with efficient driving, Honda has incorporated its Eco-Assist technology into the HR-V. Pushing the green ECON button on the dash programs the engine and transmission computer controls to operate at peak efficiency. A visual aide around the speedometer changes color to serve as an alert to indicate when the HR-V is being driven economically. Green is very efficient, light green is good, and white not so good, the latter typically displayed under conditions like hard acceleration.
Considering the HR-V’s compact exterior dimensions, interior space is impressive, particularly in the rear cargo area. With the rear seats folded flat it can swallow up nearly 59 cubic feet of gear, while offering the versatility of Honda’s fold-up rear bottom seat cushions for carrying taller items.
It’s common for most vehicles to offer a split folding rear seat these days, but Honda has taken rear seat versatility a step further with its innovative Magic Seat in the HR-V. In its basic form it functions as a 60/40 split bench that can be folded flat for longer cargo. The Magic Seat, however, can also accommodate taller cargo upright by folding the seat bottom up against the seat back for maximum vertical room. Beyond interior innovations like this, we are also impressed with the overall fit and finish found throughout the HR-V.
Most surprising is the way the HR-V adapts to everyday life. It is unassuming and friendly for those days when you just require transportation, yet fun to drive when you want to really take control and enjoy the driving experience. When driving gets a little more spirited, the HR-V’s solid feel, steering response, and braking performance instills confidence on the road. It accomplishes this without compromising comfort and ride characteristics. This is a vehicle you can drive cross-country with minimal fatigue.
With just over 7,000 enjoyable miles now on the odometer, we’ve found our long-term HR-V compact crossover fulfilling so many missions well, we just can’t imagine life without this in our test fleet. We’re looking forward to many more miles behind the wheel of Honda’s award-winning Honda HR-V. We’ll follow up a bit down the road with some Midwest cold and winter weather performance with the HR-V’s all-wheel-drive system.