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Honda drops 2016 HR-V price-performance bomb on auto industry

Is North America ready for Honda’s next “big thing?” Looking to the MSRP and specifications of Honda’s latest light truck offering, 2016 HR-V just dropped a well-priced-performance bomb on the auto industry.

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Saving the best details for last in the ever-changing world of automotive design when introducing a segment-busting compact crossover is good business. But, admittedly, we didn’t anticipating what came next in a long-line of April announcements. On viewing 2016 HR-V for the first time in Miami, Florida, and while knowing that HR-V's MSRP would fall somewhere below CR-V, we questioned Honda’s ability to hold the price line on HR-V

O.K., we do enjoy extending a new product roll-out storyline as much as the next guy. But for us, 60 days was a bit of a grind when it came to sharing one of the few and perhaps the most important detail for wanna-be 2016 HR-V crossover buyers; the price! As we shared our initial impressions of the interior and exterior designs, tech and drive features in earlier HR-V articles, all that remains as of this posting is first-drive impressions, dealer arrival dates and MSRP.

2016 Honda HR-V crossover is visually captivating and fun to drive

Although a close rendition of the Fit platformed HR-V(Vezel) has roamed the roads of Japan for well over a year, that particular car, while sharing a handful of specifications with American Honda’s HR-V is not what owners will purchase in North America. Manufactured In Celaya, Mexico, 2016 HR-V will manifest a well balanced high-utility coupe-like crossover, with true foul weather and off road capabilities, something you won’t find in 2015 Fit.

A Bit more power, greater ground clearance and all-wheel-drive option

Featuring Honda’s mechanically bulletproof Civic derived 1.8 liter 16 valve DOHC i-VTEC 4 cylinder gasoline engine, 6 speed close ratio manual transmission,(FWD only) and Honda’s well received CVT automatic transmission, 2016 HR-V offers crossover buyers the long awaited utility of a sub-compact 5 door hatchback with sport tendencies, while claiming the highest fuel efficiency rating in the segment. *25/34/28 LX 2WD, 6 speed.

Note: 2016 HR-V possess a split-performance personality, here’s what we’re referring to. In normal (subtle) city and low RPM highway driving, Honda’s iconic 1.8 liter 4 cylinder pairs very well with the CVT automatic transmission. The engine remains quiet, the ride experience calm and docile.

However, as previously discovered while driving 2015 Fit, when we aggressively(grab some pedal) depress the Drive By Wire ™ accelerator, all hell breaks loose for a second or two as the CVT attempts to read the engines rapidly changing RPMs. This is when HR-V gets a little noisy inside, a rare occurrence in the HR-V driving experience.

In essence, 2016 HR-V takes Fit utility, cargo, passenger configuration versatility and packages it in a coupe-like environment and puts a sport-ish driving slant on it. While not a Type-R by any stretch, HR-V is as close as North American Honda fans will come to a compact performance hatchback for 2015. Good looking, sporty and fun to drive, Honda hits a segment shaking homerun with HR-V.

First drive impressions

This is where Torque News puts the brakes on the accolades(just a bit) as to HR-V road handling, mechanical-performance attributes and exterior-interior noise transference. HR-V is not a luxury vehicle, hence, may be a bit rough around the edges for prospective buyers looking to HR-V for premium quiet and comfort features in a well equipped sub-compact crossover.

While 2016 HR-V interior ergonomics, soft and hard textured finished surfaces, seating, visibility and personal connectivity is heads and shoulders above the competition, in what is often touted as the hottest segment in automotives today, HR-V is not downey-soft, marshmallow comfy or as quiet as a kitten’s breath while sleeping.

HR-V’s an utility CUV dressed in coupe-like clothing. A light-truck if you will, and drives a bit like one. If you enjoy the power of Honda Civic, the drivability and interior quiet level of Fit, and the foul weather and near-off-road capability of CR-V, you’ll love HR-V.

HR-V ride and safety features

2016 Honda HR-V presents a relatively firm ride comfort and road tractability, while pushing economical sub-compact crossover fun factor to new levels. Remarkably, the affordable HR-V features legendary Honda mechanical reliability, tech-driven active safety and standard features generally associated with larger crossovers sporting a MSRP to match.

In HR-V, Buyers' will discover a well-priced compact CUV loaded with high tech standard features, state of the art aerodynamics, active and passive road noise reduction measures, a sophisticated suspension and decent road handling. As to driver and passenger safety, HR-V features a full compliment of airbags, Honda ACE ™ body structure, ride stability, advanced braking, standard backup camera with directional lines, lanewatch and much more. Based on in-house testing, Honda predicts a 5 star crash test safety rating for 2016 HR-V

Honda’s newest crossover offering features comfortably supportive seating, ample head, knee and shoulder room, premium soft and hard surfaces while presenting ergonomically correct access to all controls and occupant convenience; HR-Vs coupe-cockpit like driving environment feels like a warm safe hugg. We like that to, but please don’t tell anyone.

Active and passive safety features

One stand-out feature that we appreciated while driving in South Beach traffic was Honda’s turn signal activated right side Lane Watch ™ camera. For 2016, this feature can also be activated with the push of a button position on the end of the turn signal lever. Buyer’s will also find Honda Watch ™ safety suite feature options, stereo system, navigation and personal connectivity options available in the higher trim levels.

A little stiff

Torque News did find the amplitude reactive dampers(dual staged shock absorbers) on HR-V to be initially stiff in city driving. Yet, as we put some drive time on HR-V, the suspension began to settle down a bit on Florida highways. We also noted at times, a bit more wheel-tire bounce than we experienced in 2015 Honda Fit. We attribute this to the larger rim and tire size featured on HR-V. Remember, HR-V is the portal vehicle to Honda’s light truck lineup.

Due to flat terrain, We didn’t have the opportunity while in Florida to put HR-V to a thorough offroad-test, or hill-climb, that will come later. However, we did thrash it around a bit in the gravel and transitional hard sand. HR-V AWD transitioned from hard to soft road surface seamlessly. Borrowed from CR-V, this Real time ™ all-wheel drive system is time tested and mechanically bulletproof.

Possible off-road capability

Crawling around and under 2016 HR-V in MIami we discovered decent ground clearance and heavy swingarm, suspension components. Also, Honda has installed a hard-fabric belly-pan membrane between HR-V’s passenger compartment and the road. We believe that with minor modifications, HR-V could do double duty as a mild off-road runner; the power,s there!
Measurable performance and fuel efficiency

While driving HR-V, Torque News discovered a fuel efficient, responsive engine of reasonable throttle response and measurable acceleration. HR-V in its present manifestation does not present an “E” ticket performance drive and ride experience of neck snapping G force and unlimited torque across the shift range. However, we did find 90 mph speeds while traveling down Florida highways; decent in-city maneuverability; more than adequate 0 to 60 mph on ramp speeds, responsive handling and acceptable interior noise levels.

With a bit more peddle and off-road utility than Honda Fit, a lower price-point than CR-V, HR-V will be an overnight sales success for American Honda Motors.

Refined interior of visual and sensory-pleasing, trims, fit and finish

We found HR-V’s nicely appointed driving environment to be easily accessible, infinitely adjustable and surprisingly roomy; featuring decent visibility, leg, hip and headroom, front and rear. At 6 ft 5 inches, this journalist anticipated a bit of compromise as to personal fitment in HR-V’s coupe-like driving environment, not the case.

As reported earlier from the Los Angeles Auto Show, 2016 Honda HR-V lives large. Featuring premium fabric and optional leather power activated, heated front seating, and 2nd row Honda “Magic Seat” 40/60 split bench with near-flat cargo deck convertibility, HR-V readily doubles as a very cool looking work horse. We like that!

A specification or two

2016 Honda HR-V CUV is available in front wheel drive, and all wheel drive with 4 trim variants. We believe that 2016 HR-V presents a purchase, drive experience like no other in the sub-compact SUV, crossover segment. With a base MSRP of $19,115(6 speed manual transmission, front wheel drive) HR-V may in-fact present the greatest value found in today’s white-hot compact crossover segment.

Honda Civic, Fit and CR-V fans will love 2016 HR-V

In an age of a perception driven, quagmire of want and wish meets the realities of the market, we all want more for less, the greatest bang for the buck, something for nothing and chips for free. Honda’s gone to great lengths to provide the greatest not so sub-compact crossover purchase value for the $; through the development and marketing of what’s arguably a breakthrough in affordable performance, comfort and safety features packaged in an aesthetically pleasing, fun to drive, Fit platformed crossover.

Honda keeps it simple with one motor, 2 transmissions, 2 drive choices and 4 trim variants

For us, the icing on the cake that is HR-V is segment leading interior ergonomics, exceptional fuel economy, sporting good looks, and a simple yet wide-variety shoping list of standard and optional feature value; and of course the bottom $ line.

We also like the availability of all-wheel-drive in this sub-compact urban assault vehicle. Buyer’s will find a standard list of features showcasing Honda’s latest rear camera technology, Lanewatch ™, ABS, electronic brake force distribution, drive stability features, a push button activated parking brake, standard 17 inch alloy rims, premium 18 inch wheel option,a wonderful color pallet, and much more.

Priced a few dollars more than a comparably equipped Honda Fit-Tech and less than the best selling compact SUV in North America, Honda anticipates brisk sales for 2016 HR-V CUV. The middle of May will find a nationwide release of Honda’s next “Big thing.” We’re looking forward to driving a production HR-V very soon.

A final thought or two

While 2016 HR-V may not be the end all, be all in sub-compact crossover performance and off-road utility, it does represent an affordable, quality built, fun to drive and easy to look at automotive transformer of measurable personality and likable characteristics. For us, HR-V is a very viable purchase consideration for those drivers wishing for a crossover featuring ease of maneuverability, an interior of multi-configurable passenger and cargo placement, sensory pleasing, quality feel body line and interior finishes. HR-V sits in a niche of it’s own. It truly unique unto itself.

As Honda’s Jeff Conrad stated in Los Angeles, “When HR-V comes to market there will be nothing else like it.” Looking to the competition, we agree. Priced from MSRP $19,115+ for the basic yet well equipped LX 2wd 6 speed manual transmission, to MSRP $25,840+ for the top of the lineup 2016 HR-V EX-L CVT AWD with Navi, HR-V presents a purchase or lease opportunity for automotive buyer’s seeking a bit more fun and standard featured safety than is generally found in an entry-level 5 door hatchback.

From what we discover in HR-V, Honda hasn’t cut any corners on vehicle drive capability, measurable performance, safety and comfort features. HR-V drives like it looks, and is a great automotive purchase value. Honda tells us that 2016 HR-V will be distributed to dealers nationwide(beginning) the week of May 2015. We're excited!

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Tim (not verified)    April 30, 2015 - 5:22PM

"what is often touted as the hottest segment in automotives today"
"today’s white-hot compact crossover segment."

Let's see, why did Toyota discontinue the Corolla based Matrix CUV a year ago? We can chalk up the end of the similar Vibe to Pontiacs demise.

And what's with all the truck references? It's a Fit platform. Or is it, other than the back sear?
And you're making me link to the Civic article in the hopes of finding out whether this 1.8L motor is the Earth Dreams direct injection version.

In all fairness, I've been looking to replace my '04 Vibe with this car and several dealers are emailling me daily whenever a bit of new info comes out. They still don't have a delivery date.
So this article provides some useful info that they have yet to come up with, like ballpark price.
I hope Honda buys you a steak dinner for all the gushing tho.

Btw, what is the best selling compact SUV in N. America?? Highlander?

Parks McCants    April 30, 2015 - 8:15PM

In reply to by Tim (not verified)

Hey Tim, how you doing? The Vibe apsolutely did not put the Pontiac name plate in the dumper. The "white hot" refference is a direct quote, and targets one if not the fastest growing automotive segments. Compact and midsize crossovers are selling! As to the ngine. No, it's not an Earth Dreams D.I.. couldn't tell you why Honda has opted for an older 1.8 Liter engine design for HR-V. In talking with engineering, I'm assured that the engine provides the best fuel economy and the broadest torque band for the CVT aplication. Honda refers to HR-V as the portal vehicle to the light truck lineup. And no, the # 1 selling non fleet compact SUV in North America goes to Honda CR-V, 8 out of the last 11 years. I was pretty clear as to what could use a bit of improvement in HR-V. However, it's a great purchase value. Check it out.. Steak sounds good. Hey Honda! As to pricing : The +, is tax licence and fees. That is Honda's stated MSRP

Tim (not verified)    May 1, 2015 - 2:44AM

In reply to by Parks McCants

Thanks for an informative article. And you beat out the dealers.
And I'm not knocking CUV's. My '04 Vibe is great. In fact, I haven't bought anything without a hatch since before my '76 Capri. Ironically, this HR-V is for my wife and the Vibe is going to our daughter. If she doesn't care for the HR-V, the backup is a new Civic (no hatch anymore). The new Civics are about the size of an older gen Accord she had, so it's a good fit. So how much of the "Fit platform" is going into the HR-V? Honda seems to be backing away from this stance. Both are coming from Celaya, but it's a Civic motor, and you imply above the chassis and underbody are toughened up. Wonder how many parts will interchange? Very few parts interchange on the Matrix / Corolla CUV combo, except most of the drive train.

Parks McCants    May 1, 2015 - 2:18PM

Hello Tim. You'll see the difference between Fit and HR-V on first look. HR-V is wider, a bit taller, offers greater ground clearance, features a bit more horsepower and torque. The interior is more Civic Si-like than Fit like. It's just a bit more stylish than Fit , smaller than CR-V. It's in a league of its own. Don't read me wrong here. I believe that Honda Fit is a great little hatchback. Depending on yuor wife's intended use, HR-V may or may not be the car for her. You should have a sample of HR-V in your region by the end of May. Happy driving...

Tim (not verified)    May 26, 2015 - 1:52AM

In reply to by Parks McCants

I believe he's referring to the software problem recall on the double clutch trans overseas.
That setup isn't offered on the new HRV in the USA. Only the six spd manual and the cvt automatic.
There is a Honda press release on the issue which announces the recall.

Tim (not verified)    May 24, 2015 - 12:12PM

Test drove a couple last week. The Boss loved them, especially the height.  I thought the ride a bit harsh, but that's in line with the entry truck CRV meme. The handling appeared to be good, consistant with the firm ride, but the salesgal was in the back seat.  I doubt they have the famous double wishbone front suspension. This is no Formula I car. The gas tank is under the front seats like the Fit for good weight distribution.

True to Honda form for at least a generation, we said we wanted a light (desert) color, but not white or silver (which you can't find in a parking lot).  Nada. We had hopes for the misty green, but that turned out to Army olive drab, looking like a duece and a half. The flat Milano red was ok, but came with a black interior and looks like a fire engine. We settled on the Orchid white, mostly because the pearlesence looked cool and the grey interior. Haven't seen the blue yet, but it's guaranteed to be dark.

For $2500 more, the EX has great great value over the LX. Lots of goodies and toys for the money. Moonroof, etc.

My first experience with a CVT was fine. Modern 4-5 speed automatics shift so smoothly, you can hardly tell the diff. The paddle shifters are more toys to play with.  I hope Honda got the bugs out as I recall a guy in a trans shop rebuilding one of the first Civic HF CVT's from the 90's twice in two years.
Thx for the tip on the Vezel CVT software. I will look this up. It would be very unlike Honda engineers to ignore a known problem. It would be interesting to find out how many computer chips/dsp's this thing has considering such things as brake distribution, stability control and ABS. Not to mention load sensitive airbags.

My local dealers are selling for msrp only, some with expensive addons. Not surprising considering the dealer invoice is only about $500 less according to TrueCar.  This gives me about five dealers withinin $50 of each other. I'm tempted to trade in an old Dodge junker as a price differentiator.

All in all, another fine Honda auto.  The SOHC iVTEC Civic engine is the R18A1, which is pretty much bulletproof. Now if they could just hire Martha Stewart as a paint consultant.

socrates2 (not verified)    May 26, 2015 - 3:13PM

Tim and Parks, thanks for the info. I did a bit more research. Seems the "new" HR-V as sold in the US is nothing more than the *Civic* drivetrain with a micro-SUV body.
So, if any problems were to surface, they'd be due to the Civic drivetrain, not the Vezel's as released in Japan.
Again, thanks.

Parks McCants    May 26, 2015 - 9:00PM

In reply to by socrates2 (not verified)

Hello Tim. While the HR-V features a 1.8 Liter fuel injected i-VTEC engine as featured in Civic, that's where the similarity ends. The Engine and CVT have been tuned specifically to the job on hand. One prime example of this is a broader, lower RPM torque curve and shift point specific to the larger tire, rim size and weight of HR-V. It works well. Check it out for yourself when you find a minute to drive it.

Tim (not verified)    May 26, 2015 - 10:42PM

In reply to by Parks McCants

Thanks, that's good to know and makes perfect sense. The R18A1 is the Civic version of that motor. They'll probably even give it a different designation. My guess is they just couldn't do enough magic to the Fit 1.5L Earth Dreams motor for it to work well in a 400+ more lbs, AWD & 17" wheel platform. I hope they keep pursuing the direct injection technolgy though. I'm also curious how the Vezel drive train is set up. Apparently, they were offering DCT. That's pretty sporty.

socrates2 (not verified)    May 27, 2015 - 12:02AM

Parks McCants, thanks. You provide primo technical information. I needed it badly and got it. As of today, my daughter is the proud owner of an HR-V. Thanks again for providing the background on the modifications vis a vis the Civic. Good stuff to know!

Sterling Ross (not verified)    January 19, 2017 - 12:34PM

Just bought one , great CAR though a little under powered . The magic seats do offer up a LOT of room . It handles great with factory tires At 7000 ft with snow and ice in flagstaff AZ . I'd recommend it for anyone who's looking for a good all around car with some growing room . I'd give it 5 stars but I don't particularly envy the engine and transmission setup but on the other hand the gas mileage is great. I get closer to 37 average going down and up from Sedona through the canyon but I do coast through the switchbacks pretty well. Considering that I am paying the exact amount as my previous clunker-heap the car has amazing value.