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632 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This review from Detroit News really is hammering the HR-V on it's non-existent personality, calling it basically an appliance. But then again, most car shoppers won't care.

Honda offers sporty coupe-like styling with SUV versatility in the compact crossover 2016 HR-V. (Photo: Honda, Wieck)
Hip-hop look, but hardly hip-hop performance. This V is a droner.
Stomp on the accelerator pedal and the standard, continuously-variable-tranny mates with a 141-horsepower, 1.8-liter four-banger (the only engine offered) for a truly snail-like experience. Starting a garden tractor stirs more emotion. Fortunately, the snail is as quiet as, well, a snail — thanks to adequate sound deadening. Note: Wind noise is noticeable at highways speeds over 70 mph — assuming you ever get there.
Other mechanicals check the appliance boxes. Excellent fuel economy (I managed 29.1 mpg despite flogging the foal like a Derby contender). Fine, all-wheel disc brakes. Electronic steering. Push-button start. An all-wheel-drive system essential for Midwest blizzards but that nicely rotates this tiddler around corners when you're feeling frisky in spring-time. It's not as playful as the Fiat 500X micro-ute (a decidedly non-appliance personality) — but neither is it as unwieldy as the segment's macho dude, the Jeep Renegade. Despite its recent, sporty forays back into Formula 1 and IndyCar racing, Honda seems willing to concede the class-handling award to the forthcoming Mazda CX-3.
After all, who throws an appliance around corners? Most of the ute drivers I follow these days drive with all the aggression of a baby stroller.
Settle into the front seats of my $26,720 EX-L-trimmed tester and the generic interior appears straight from Honda's appliance department. The driver's side is a bit uncomfortable, with little bolster support. Only a pump control is offered for moving the seat up and down.
Even the console looks like a microwave — devoid of rotary buttons, its instruments operated entirely by illuminated buttons on the black plastic interface. Still, it's a happy advance from recent, confusing Honda split screens that surely had focus groups screaming expletives. Both the HR-V and the forthcoming, mid-sized Pilot ute have returned to a single console screen. Climate controls are nestled below with available heated seats, you are getting sleeeeepy, you ...
... should check this out, dear!
Honda has an inspired pouch — mimicking the clever Chrysler 200 and Volvo XC60 — below the shifter which offers excellent storage for e-devices, two USBs, a power outlet, an HDMI cable, and partridge in a pear tree. Indeed, the larger center console is more functional than anything in class — including two adjustable (up and down for smaller/larger drinks) cup holders and a center storage compartment rare for a class where cars are narrow (see the cramped Chevy Trax).
Thank the wide Fit platform on which the HR-V sits.
More Fit DNA resides in the backseat. Magic backseats to be exact — which open acres of room by folding and tumbling just like in the Fit. Preferably not with me in them, of course. I can easily sit behind my 6'5" self in the second row. Thank the V's 169.1 inches in length — a good 2 inches longer than its competitors.
You won't get much sunburn back there — Honda doesn't offer a full sun roof like Fiat — but the headroom is excellent. That Fit influence again. The 60-40 rear seats offer extended cargo space that can reach all the way to the dash if you flatten the front passenger seat.
The dashboard itself is as sexless as a bread crisper — though thoughtfully functional. An adjustable air vent runs the length of the dash for those steamy summer trips, and there is an analog push button — hooray! — to zero-out the odometer.
The HR-V doesn't offer a mirror-born blind spot assist package like the Fiat and Renegade — but something more creative. Flick the turn signal and the entire center console screen illuminates with the image from a camera hidden under the passenger mirror. The view complements the mirror itself — offering a more expansive field of vision behind you. Mrs. Payne, frustrated by the inherent, C-pillar blind spot in most crossovers, wanted to hug the engineer who thought of this.
But perhaps the sub-$20K, base HR-V's most ingenious feature is that, like the CR-V years ago, it is one of the first mainstream micro-ute offerings in a segment long populated by misfits like the Kia Soul and Nissan Cube. Customers who buy Hondas rarely stray to anything else given their appliance-like reliability.
And by allowing itself some Fit-like cleverness and CR-Z-like fashion, the HR-V may offer buyers enough personality to resist the sexier — if reliability-cursed — products from Detroit automakers.
Too bad that personality doesn't extend to another powertrain. Like, ahem, a 200-horsepower SI option. I mean, I know no one is going to confuse the HR-V with an ATS-V. But if you're using a "V" in your name shouldn't you offer just a little "VROOM"?
Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at [email protected] or Twitter @HenryEPayne.

2016 Honda HR-V
Vehicle type: Front-engine, front or all-wheel drive, five-passenger sport ute
Price: $20,875 base ($26,720 AWD as tested)
Power plant: 1.8-liter, single-overhead cam inline-4 cylinder
Power: 141 horsepower, 127 pound-feet of torque
Transmission: 6-speed manual (FWD only); Continuously variable transmission (CVT)
Performance: 0-60 mph, 8.4 seconds - manual; 9.5 seconds - CVT (Car & Driver)
Weight: 2,888 pounds (base); 3,109 AWD as tested
Fuel economy: EPA 25 city/34 highway/28 combined (manual); 27 city/32 highway/29 combined (CVT AWD)
Report card
Highs: Versatile interior; Clever blindspot assist
Lows: Pep-challenged tranny; Another engine option, please?
Grading scale
Excellent ★★★★
Good ★★★
Fair ★★
Poor ★

632 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I don't think anyone expects the HR-V to be a sports car, but many reviewers noted that the Fit was "fun to drive" which doesn't require speed from a big engine.
Many of us were hoping the HR-V would be the same. It's diconcerting to see terms like "truly snail-like experience", "Starting a garden tractor stirs more emotion", and "Too bad that personality doesn't extend to another powertrain."

547 Posts
Detroit is dead. The reviewer knows it. This review is mostly about style and the inevitable (somewhat justified) gripes about the engine power.

738 Posts
At the end of the day, the HR-V serves a demand and does well at what it does, maybe the reviewer is wanting it to be something it isn't, something it shouldn't be.
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