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"The 2016 Honda HR-V is going to succeed for two simple reasons: It’s a Honda and it’s not goofy looking. The former is a given, especially among the non-automotive enthusiast set who just wants reliable transportation. The latter was driven home at the introduction of the Honda HR-V, a new vehicle for the Japanese automaker in the suddenly white-hot, sub-compact crossover market. Honda expects to sell 70,000 of these in its first model year.

As James Jenkins, manager of Honda Light Trucks, Product Planning, put it, “Gen Y doesn’t want to drive something that looks goofy. They don’t want to explain it to their friends.” Hear that, Nissan Juke? Honda thinks you have some explaining to do.

So, let’s take a moment to explain the Honda HR-V so Generation Y doesn’t have to. It’s a sub-compact crossover built on the same platform as the Honda Fit, a sub-compact car that’s a master of maximizing interior space in a small exterior package.

While Honda is targeting the HR-V at people ages 18 to 34, it’s going to be folks older than that who really appreciate this sub-compact crossover. It’s going to have the Fit’s practicality but a higher seating position. As in, you’re going to be able to exit and enter the HR-V a lot more fluidly than you could the Fit. High hip points are a huge selling point for folks well beyond being hip.

Of those 70,000 units being sold in the first year, Honda expects half to be people new to the Honda brand. What they’ll have to be careful of is people downsizing in price from the Honda CR-V, the extremely popular compact crossover that rules its segment with an iron fist. The HR-V is not significantly smaller than the CR-V in size.

Its width is 69.7 inches vs. 71.6 inches for the CR-V. The wheelbase is 102.8 inches vs. 103.1 inches on the CR-V. But the HR-V has a starting price of $19,915 with the CVT. The CR-V starts at $23,445. There is an HR-V with a six-speed manual transmission that starts even lower, at $19,115. You can’t buy the CR-V with a manual so it’s not fair to highlight the price difference.
You are going to see differences in performance. The Honda CR-V has a 1.8-liter, single-overhead-cam, 16-valve, four-cylinder engine (also found in the Honda Civic) that produces 141 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 127 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,300 rpm. The Honda CR-V has a 2.4-liter, dual-overhead-cam, 16-valve, four-cylinder engine with 185 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 181 lb. ft. of torque at 3,900 rpm.

But in drives around South Beach in Miami and out towards the Keys, we sat in a lot of traffic. When the roads did open up briefly, acceleration was fine and it cruised along nicely at highway speed when the brief opportunities presented themselves.

That gets me thinking the Honda HR-V is going to be the perfect commuter crossover vehicle. It’s rated at 28 mpg city and 35 mpg highway for a combined 31 mpg.

It’s also going to be a nice vehicle on the weekends for hauling stuff. It has the Honda magic seat in the second row (also found in the Fit). It folds up for extra storage space, especially of taller items that aren’t going to fit in a standard crossover.

Another strong selling point for the Honda HR-V, especially here in New England, is that all-wheel-drive is available on all except the introductory trim level. The extra cost is a fairly reasonable $1,200, which means you can get the CVT entry-level Honda HR-V starting at $21,165—making it a perfect New England commuter vehicle.

Finally, the Honda HR-V just seems to have a big interior. It’s small on the outside but big on the inside. Sure, that sounds like a cliché but it has an impressive 100.1 cu.-ft. of passenger space and 58.8 cu.-ft. of cargo volume with the second-row seats folded down.

Honda says the HR-V has space to rival some competitors’ midsize SUV offerings, and there seems to be no reason to doubt them.
2016 Honda HR-V

Price, base (with destination): $19,100. Fuel economy with CVT/FWD: 28-city/35-highway/31-combined. Drivetrain: 1.8-liter, single-overhead-cam, 16-valve, four-cylinder engine.
Horsepower: 141 @ 6,500 rpm. Torque: 127 @ 4,300 rpm. Overall length: 169.1 in. Wheelbase: 102.8 in. Height: 63.2 in. Width: 69.7 in. Curb weight: 3,062 lbs.
The Honda HR-V is a sub-compact crossover that doesn’t feel small. It has the right combination of fuel economy and comfort to be a perfect commuter vehicle, especially when combined with all-wheel-drive.
Combine AWD with a six-speed manual transmission and Honda has a crossover that sets itself apart from the pack. Unfortunately it’s not offered.
Honda has created such a good crossover in the sub-compact HR-V that it’s popular CR-V crossover could feel some sales heat."
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