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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883


Don Adair: Sober-sided buyers will fall for Honda’s subcompact HR-V

Ignore Myers-Briggs. Forget the Rorschach inkblot test. Your truest self is best revealed by the cars you buy.

Say you’re shopping subcompact crossovers. Do you pick the funky Nissan Juke or the wicked-cute Fiat 500X? The fun-to-drive Mazda CX-3 or the off-road-ready Jeep Renegade?

Or is yours the practical pick, Honda’s clever HR-V? 

Based on the Fit hatchback and touched by engineering innovation, the HR-V delivers comfort, efficiency and the segment’s most purposeful interior. It’s stable, confident and quiet at highway speeds and nimble enough for the thrust-and-parry of the daily commute.

The HR-V carts four adults in a quiet cabin done up in top-shelf materials and boasting unimpeachable fit-and-finish. Large buttons and excellent ergonomics reflect Honda’s business-like attitude.

Rear-seat legroom measures a more-than-generous 39.3 inches.

The HR-V is well equipped. Standard features include full power accessories, cruise control, tilt-and-telescoping steering, height-adjustable driver seat, display screen, rearview camera and Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity.

Its 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine makes a marginal but sufficient 141 horsepower. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard, with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) optional. The CVT is standard on AWD models and on the top-most EX-L trim.

With the CVT, FWD models deliver 31 mpg combined (28 city/35 highway); AWD is good for 29/27/32. The six-speed drops efficiency to 28/25/34, but cuts the cost of admission by $800, which, at current prices, buys a lot of fuel.

Honda’s genius for rethinking the fundamentals produces the HR-V’s signature versatility. Moving the gas tank from its traditional home beneath the cargo floor to a well-protected location under the front seats, yields a massive, flat-floored cargo hold and sets the stage for the piece de resistance, the second-row “Magic Seat.” 

The Magic Seat’s 60/40-split seatback folds flat in conventional fashion to open up its oversized cargo hold. But, uniquely, its bottom cushions can be flipped upright, which creates a well behind the front seats deep enough to hold a bike, say, or a tall plant.

The front passenger seatback folds flat to make room for long, narrow loads. 

Casual-storage options throughout the cabin are scant, however.

The drivers sits high in the saddle and enjoys excellent outward visibility. The tilt-and-telescoping steering column and height-adjustable front seat help all but the tables drivers find a comfortable driving position. Six-footers will want to avoid the rear seat due to limited headroom.

On the road, the HR-V is refined and composed. Wind and road noise are muted. Heavy throttle products the expected CVT drone, but the paddle shifters can be used to subdue its most annoying qualities. 

The HR-V’s sturdy platform and wide stance create a stable feel that might be described as sporty were it not for sluggish steering and a lack of car-to-driver communication. 

The HR-V epitomizes practicality. It doesn’t take a shrink to know its owners are sober-minded consumers who value quality, longevity and versatility. It’s as simple as that.

Contact Don at, or visit

2016 Honda HR-V AWD EX-L Navi
Vehicle base price: $19,125
Trim level base price: $25,840 As tested: $26,720
Options: The HR-V AWD EX-L with navigation is a fully equipped trim. Our tester included no options.
EPA ratings: 29 combined/27 city/32 highway
Regular unleaded fuel specified

Don Adair
Don Adair is a Spokane-based freelance writer.