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Car Reviews

First Drive – 2016 Honda HR-V

Miami, FL – “Versatility, technology, fun-to-drive and stylish,” said Jean-Marc Leclerc, Vice President, Auto Sales and Marketing at Honda Canada. These were desires from consumers when asked about what they would like from a compact crossover.

Those four traits were what Honda focused on when creating the all-new 2016 Honda HR-V. The HR-V in its second go-around (it was built back in 1999 on a supermini platform, only to last until 2006), slots below the No. 1 selling import nameplate SUV, the CR-V, and aims to make significant strides in the fast-growing compact segment.

The HR-V looks nothing like its former self with use of the Honda Fit hatchback platform. It's an elevated version for those that enjoy a higher seating position coupled with a fun and youthful flair.

The first thing you will notice as you walk around the vehicle is a catchy rear door handle that can be found at the window level, eerily similar to the Hyundai Veloster. It's gimmicky and shows me that Honda is trying too hard to impress. If you want to be cool, create something that's hip and blows people's minds. Placing a door handle in an unusual spot won't instantly get you a ticket to the VIP area.

Luckily, the rest of the exterior does the job in making the HR-V an instant attraction. It has a lot of styling and motion in its build, which is not typically found in this segment. Honda has created a sloping coupe-like motion coming from the roof to the nose of the CUV, as well as to the rear. Up front, the HR-V has a bold grille that creates a powerful stance for its size. The HR-V utilizes some sporty and sharp cuts across the body emphasizing that youthful coolness it was hoping to achieve.

Inside, the HR-V shows off its versatility. First of all, it's longer, wider and taller than the Fit, but slightly shorter than the CR-V with maintaining its same amount of knee and legroom.

All of the great versatile features from the Fit are incorporated into the HR-V. There are five seat modes that include: Normal, Split, Tall, Utility and Long. To summarize this, you can adjust the seating from pulling just one seat down or up to having a complete flat floor with a max cargo of 1,665 litres of space. If you need to put a mountain bike or surfboard inside, no problem, the HR-V caters to your adventurous needs.

As great as the CUV looks from the outside, I have to scale that excitement down a notch when addressing the interior. The dashboard plastic comes off cheap, the seven-inch multimedia touchscreen is bland, but the worst of it has to be the horizontal vent that sits in front of the front passenger seat. I'm not sure what they were going for there? More is not all the time better.

The reason I come off harsh with Honda's design comes down to a belief that they needed to make the HR-V look like all-new creation, and not just bits and pieces that reflect other vehicles in the lineup. It's a growing segment and it might far surpass offerings like the Chevrolet Trax and Mitsubishi RVR, but it has to line-up against the upcoming Mazda CX-3, Kia Soul, Nissan Juke, Jeep Renegade and Subaru XV Crosstrek.

On the road, the HR-V powers its way smoothly with the use of the 1.8-litre four-cylinder that's found in the Civic rated at 138 horsepower and 127 lb.-ft. of torque. All of the vehicles on hand were all-wheel drive, so they all came with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Otherwise, you can opt for a front-wheel drive with a six-speed manual gear shifter. 

The ride was smooth, comfortable and relaxing. The aim of this compact crossover is not to be a speed burner, so don't get your hopes up, when you struggle to power your way into the left lane for an intersection turn. On a positive note, the CVT doesn't allow much engine noise to enter the cabin, so your smooth and quiet drive stays consistent.

The HR-V will get you from A to B with a reasonable amount of fuel usage. The all-wheel drive version on the press trip is rated at 8.8L/100 km in the city and 7.2L/100 km on the highway.

The combination of a impressive fuel efficiency and an inexpensive low price of $20,690 for the LX trim in front-wheel drive and with a six-speed manual tranny are the ingredients that Honda hopes will drive consumers to the dealership. Starting prices top out below $30K for the EX-L with navigation and all-wheel drive, so you can worry less about significantly going over budget while negotiating.

The 2016 Honda HR-V should appeal to younger families that are looking to either slightly upsize or downsize, depending on what they've previously owned. The HR-V has a youthful vibe with plenty of versatility and practicality, that would appeal to the more adventurous or constantly-travelling consumer.

The 2016 Honda HR-V will go on-sale during the summer season.

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