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We discover a feature that will make Honda HR-V #1 in 2015

Buyers are discovering the do-almost-anything utility in Honda’s latest sub compact entry. In a week of driving HR-V, we discover what sets this exceptional crossover apart from the crowd.

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I first met 2016 Honda HR-V at the Los angeles Auto Show last fall. Honda’s pitch master and Senior Vice President Jeff Conrad had stated that HR-V was nothing like any manufacturer’s entry in what he called a “White Hot” growing segment. As SUVs and crossovers outsell every segment in the market, sans pickup trucks, Conrad’s prophesy rings true. Honda has hit a home run with HR-V.

But what sets this Fit platformed “World Car” apart from the other sub compact CUVs?

For me, it’s the drive and ride experience of HR-V. Once again as demonstrated throughout the lineup, Honda engineering has designed a subcompact exhibiting a much larger car ride, road stability and handling-feel. Frankly, the experience is a bit mind bending. After an hour or two behind the wheel of 2016 HR-V, in our case the all-wheel-drive (AWD) with navigation offering, one loses all sense of small car sacrifice and compromise.

HR-V exhibits none of the shortcomings of “Smallness” while effortlessly executing daily tasks generally reserved for minivans, light pickup trucks, and dare we say it, 2015 Honda CR-V.

O.K, I’ll say it, I want one

While I’ve had one or two readers dismiss HR-V as diminutive and a bit underpowered, they unfortunately did not have the opportunity to spend a week behind the wheel of Honda’s next success story. While not the most powerful offering from Honda’s stable, HR-V is surprisingly resilient and persistent when encountering high winds, truck traffic, city congestion and doubling as a light hauler.

Real Time ™ All-Wheel-Drive sets 2016 HR-V way above the competition

But where our 2016 HR-V AWD test mule truly shines is while driving over transitional surfaces. The Real Time ™ All-Wheel-drive when combined with Honda’s mechanically bulletproof 1.8 Liter i-DTEC normally aspirated 4 cylinder, and the best constant variable transmission (CVT) in the industry, concurs gravel, grass and moderate off-road drive conditions with ease.

While driving HR-V over gravel and grass based road/ trails I noted ZERO traction loss. And frankly, as a life-time 4 wheel drive truck owner, I’ve never experienced any vehicle off road quite like HR-V. When we combine near unlimited tractability, with exceptional interior configurability, decent road handling and ample power, I find 2016 HR-V to be an exceptional drive and ride experience. As stated by Honda’s Jeff Conrad “ There’s nothing else like 2016 HR-V on the market today,” I agree.

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JeffS (not verified)    June 17, 2015 - 6:53AM

Hey, Good day Parks. Just a general observation about Honda/Acura; You hit the nail on the head, a large part of what makes Honda a Honda, for the most part they offer something a mite different than you will find with other Brands. They seem to always come up with a bit different offering, driving dynamic and combination of features that one can't find elsewhere. It's this unique approach that has allot to do with Honda drivers being one of the most loyal groups in the Industry. More and more consumers are discovering that with each, "new" offering Honda/Acura puts on the blocks, (e.g. HR-V). I was one of those who, "assumed" the HR-V was a bit underpowered to offer up ,any real
driving, "Fun". A Friend bought one about 2 weeks ago, let me take it for a spin, much to my surprise the thing is capable of putting a smile on your face in terms of performance. No, it's not a speed demon, but I never got the impression that it was, "under powered" either. It definitely has some, "fun factor" built in and also handles allot better than I expected it would, felt amazingly, "solid". Thinking outside of the box has always been a strong suit of Honda, and based on recent sales, the marketplace appears to be coming to a larger appreciation of such. Honda is on a roll and building a momentum that isn't gonna run out of gas soon with so much more to come. All Best.

Parks McCants    June 17, 2015 - 12:12PM

In reply to by JeffS (not verified)

Good morning JeffS. Well my friend, right you are! Looking to the sales number Honda HR-V will be the sales leader for the summer driving season. Although I do find the $ price pushing the limits in this segment, what do I know, I'm old school. My week behind the wheel of the AWD varient with navigation was a reminder of the utility one finds behind a sub compact hatchback. It's truly a performance-transformer. I believe we'll see an S variant sporting Honda's turbocharged Earth Dreams 4 cylinder within a model year or two. That will round out the lineups appeal. The HR-V returned me to the days of the V.W. Variant Wagon, Honda Civic Hatchback of the late 90 s, and, tosses in a Real Time All-Wheel Drive option for good measure that truly does work! This is a great all around task master and daily driver. One note: Hey Honda, please opt a power driver and passenger seat for HR-V. Its all the car lacks in taking it to the pinnacle of the segment. Take care JeffS.

JeffS (not verified)    June 17, 2015 - 1:24PM

In reply to by Parks McCants

You know, when I bought my SI I had the exact same thought, it would be nice if there were power seat adjustments. My Wife and I take turns driving the car, so we adjust the seat back and forth to our liking. It has become second nature. Now that we know where we want the seat, takes no time or any real effort. More importantly, just as in the HV-R, once you find your seat setting, the chairs are way comfortable and supportive, (to my butt anyway, my wife also). If at purchase Honda offered a power seat option for the SI, I would have bit. Now that I've owned it a while, I'm not so sure. If it was a 500.00-1000.00 option, I might have just decided to keep the money in my pocket. Let me finish by saying, I have sat in some good looking thrones, that were power adjusted and still could not find my ideal driving position, or find them to be particularly, "comfortable". I found the seats in the HR-V very comfortable, supportive and quickly found my driving position. Yes, should be offered as an option, but being as they are not, (yet), is far from a deal killer as far as I'm concerned. Good day to you Fellow.

Russ (not verified)    June 22, 2015 - 7:47AM

"Buyers are discovering the do-almost-anything utility in Honda’s latest sub compact entry."
Interesting summarization as basic "utility" should include light towing. The predecessor Element had towing capability. This is a city commuter, a taller hatchback, rather than a utility vehicle. Without a hitch option, one cannot even mount an external bicycle rack or camping accessory. Unfortunate, as HR-V's marketed overseas have towing capability. Honda is likely protecting the CR-V. One of the reasons the Element was killed off is that it stole CR-V sales from more affunent buyers than the intended market.

Parks McCants    June 22, 2015 - 9:53PM

In reply to by Russ (not verified)

Take your gripe up with Honda Russ. Note: HR-V is a Honda Fit platformed crossover, I'll stand by my personal assessment. You may be on the right track as to CR-V marketing. Your guess is as good as mine. As you've noted, towing is not restricted in other markets. Take care.

harry (not verified)    June 25, 2015 - 11:09PM

I've read this twice, and can't figure out what "the feature that will make the HRV #1" is.

Are you referring to the AWD system? If so, what makes it better than the Subaru awd, which is generally said to be the best by experts?

Parks McCants    June 26, 2015 - 12:15PM

In reply to by harry (not verified)

Good morning Harry. "For me, it’s the drive and ride experience of HR-V." Take a look at your Subaru of choice. No argument here, they are good cars, I've personally owned 3 in my lifetime. 1. Coupe-like driving environment. Take a minute to sit in HR-V.. 2. Engine: while Subaru's low center of gravity engine works well, it does consume oil between service, Honda does not. 3. Real-Time all-wheel-drive. HR-V shares this system with CR-V, time tested and mechanically bulletproof. It's automatic and seamless. 4. Honda CVT with wheel mounted paddle shifting: this is smoothest shifting, constant variable transmission in the industry. Hey, Like I said, both makers offer a very viable product. We'll see where the market take HR-V, I'm sold on it. Take care.