Review: 2016 Honda HR-V AWD EX-L

Review: 2016 Honda HR-V AWD EX-L

The 2016 Honda HRV AWD EX-L, in addition to being a mouthful, is the new entry into the Honda CUV portfolio. It’s also the brand’s antidote to middle aged spread. That’s what happens as things mature. The Honda Civic in its original form arrived no bigger than a roller skate and in its current form exists almost as a mid-sized sedan.

With the spread occurring naturally, or otherwise, it was time for Honda to once again start at the bottom, to bring new vehicles, and customers, into the fold.

What is it?

A five-passenger, four-door hatchback, the HR-V is the newest Honda, which is based on its best-selling Fit sibling. Powered by a 1.8-liter inline four-cylinder with multi-port fuel injection, it manages 141-horsepower and 127 lb-ft of torque. It is available with front wheel drive, or in the case of our tester, Real Time All-wheel-drive with Intelligent Control and hillside assist.

The unibody constructed HR-V has a MacPherson strut front system with a torsion beam rear, and stabilizer bars at both ends. Steering is through an electric power assist rack and pinion system.

The HR-V is available in three trim levels including base LX, mid-level EX and our high-zoot EX-L version. While the LX and EX are equipped with a standard six-speed manual transmission, they both offer an available front-wheel-drive version of Honda’s Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). With our high-toned HR-V it is exclusively equipped with the CVT and AWD.

Being top of the line carries a certain status and accordingly a certain expectation as to the features it includes. To that end, our EX-L came with leather seating, rear privacy glass, a rearview camera with dynamic drivelines, the LaneWatch right sideview lane changing camera, a seven-inch touchscreen display for both navigation and audio systems, foglights, keyless entry, power ports, Honda’s rear configurable Magic Seat, and a one-touch power moon roof.

What’s it up against?

Count an entertaining crop of competitors to go head-to-head with the HR-V, or at least CUVs with entertaining commercials. The Viagra-popping Fiat 500X comes to mind as far as commercials go, but also count the Mazda CX-3, Nissan’s Juke and the Jeep Renegade to provide all the competition the HR-V needs.

How does it look?

Definitely part of the family, albeit the new, more modern part of the family, the Honda HR-V borrows cues from its more seasoned brethren. In EX-L trim it features size appropriate alloy rims and a minimal amount of black trim, letting the good looks of its sheetmetal shine through instead. We liked the way the rear hidden door handles were virtually undetectable to a passive viewer.

The bowed effect seen in the greenhouse glass gives no hint of the space inside. Adequate headroom and a ton of cargo space are the benefits that owners will soon realize when driving this newest Honda.

And the inside?

The interior of the HR-V is well executed but breaks no new ground in the styling department. There is leather seating, a two-toned dashboard and nicely laid out instruments. While many decry the recent design trends of very few buttons on the instruments, audio and climate controls, we think in this case, the Honda interior design team got it right. Perhaps it’s the compact feel of the vehicle or the simply the design of the instruments themselves, but the package works.

In addition to the steering wheel-mounted paddle shift levers and pushbutton starter, there are other nice, if awkwardly placed touches including a series of power, HDMI and USB ports mounted underneath the center console. The idea to include them is good, their placement, questionable.

The second row offered good legroom with a slightly elevated seating position, with the ability to recline slightly. Those same reclining seats can fold forward in a 60-40 split and offer a total of 23.2 cubic feet in the upright and locked position while folding them forward yields a grand total of 55.9-cubic feet.

But does it go?

While acceleration is not exactly the HR-V’s strong suit, great mileage is. When you are at speed, the 1.8-liter transverse-mounted, inline four-cylinder engine has no problem cutting through traffic. It’s the getting there from a standing start that is the challenge. The CVT is, well, a CVT that does tend to drone on as they are wont to do. Zero to 60 comes in nearly 10-seconds, which to some may seem like an eternity, but it’s tough to argue with the 25 city / 34 highway mpg that the EPA says you will get. We observed an average of 27.8 mpg during our week in the HR-V.

And just to show the HR-V is trying to be a good citizen, even though its driver may not be, the car gives you visual cues as to whether you are being a responsible driver or not. Normal, respectable driving styles are rewarded with a green ring around the speedo. Exercise the full weight of your right foot, and the green disappears in favor of the standard white surround. As annoying as that sometimes may become, it’s not as though harsh drive styles are shown a red ring discourage more exuberant driving styles.

This HR-V has a fun sporting vibe that encourages a mildly excitable driving style through curves and the occasional expressway on-ramp. On an actual highway’s best smooth surfaces you’ll go all day with nary a care. It’s when the highway turns to concrete with its variable expansion joints, that the torsion beam rear kit lets you know its displeasure.

Leftlane’s bottom line

With the HR-V, Honda rounds out the offerings with a size and shape for nearly all its customers. Refined design, interior cargo capabilities and high mileage add high value to what’s destined to be another of the brand’s best-sellers.

2016 Honda HR-V AWD EX-L base price, $25,840. As tested, $26,720.

Destination, $880.

Photos by Mark Elias.

  • Aesthetics


  • Technology


  • Green


  • Drive


  • Value


  • Score


Review: 2016 Honda HR-V AWD EX-L Reviewed by Mark Elias on September 3 Honda bolsters its CUV lineup with a pint-sized offering. Rating: 3.5

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