Good Things, Small Package: The 2016 Honda HR-V

Front 3/4 view of 2016 Honda HR-V
The 2016 Honda HR-V.

If you'd asked me if there was room or need for a Honda crossover smaller than the pioneering CR-V, I'd have said no.

I'd have been wrong.

Rear view of 2016 Honda HR-V
2016 Honda HR-V.
Small...very small...crossovers are the hot spot in the automotive industry right now.  And the HR-V pretty much checks off every box on the list of what makes a winner:  Small size, comfort for five, and a reasonable amount of utility, to boot.

A lot of the underpinnings of the HR-V come from the sub-compact Honda Fit, but what meets the eye has been designed specifically for the HR-V.  The impression is that Honda shrunk a CR-V.  In fact, the HR-V is about six and a half inches shorter than the original 1997 CR-V, but riding on a wheelbase only 4/10ths of an inch shorter.  With 19 years of progress in packaging, that makes the HR-V roomier and more useful than the first CR-V and even easier to maneuver and park.

A base 2 wheel drive HR-V can be had for as little as $19,115, but the Honda press fleet folks sent us a loaded one...the top-of-the-line all-wheel drive EX-L with navigation.  The base price for that model is $25,840, but you will want for nothing.

Interior view of 2016 Honda HR-V
2016 Honda HR-V interior.
Say yes to the EX-L with Nav and you get...well, obviously, navigaton...but also leather-trimmed seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a 7-inch color touchscreen display with backup camera, voice recognition, a six-speaker audio system with SiriusXM satellite radio, HD Radio, HD Traffic, Bluetooth, USB, steering wheel-mounted controls for the audio system, SMS text messaging functionality, push button start, LaneWatch, automatic climate control with filtration, heated front seats, a fold-flat second row, auto-dimming rear-view mirror and electric parking brake.

The 1.8-liter, 141 horsepower, 16-valve i-VTEC four-cylinder has decent power, and is connected to a Continuously Variable Transmission. which results in an EPA fuel economy estimate of 27 city/32 highway...about what the big brother CR-V gets .

You might be wondering how much utility there is in a crossover utility vehicle this size. I was wondering that, too.  And then Navigator informed me that someone 10 miles from our home had just posted that they were giving away pea gravel...for which Navigator has a use in our increasingly drought-friendly back yard.  All we had to do was bag it and haul it.

Rear cargo area of 2016 Honda HR-V
2016 Honda HR-V rear cargo area.
The photo is of the beginning of our adventure.  I'll cut to the chase.  One ton and change...53 50-pound bags of pea gravel...came home with us that day.  Never wanting to overload the HR-V, we took multiple trips.  Five bags the first time.  Then eight.  Then ten.  And finally, two trips of 15 bags.  The HR-V took it like a champ, with no apparent impact on performance or gas mileage.

If you're looking for a small crossover, the HR-V belongs at the top of your test-drive list.