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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 h[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."
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