Thursday, April 21, 2016

Honda's new HR-V a small SUV with large appeal

Mark Glover’s AutoGlo car reviews also can be seen on the Business page of The Sacramento Bee’s website

Sacramento, California ­– Just when I thought there was no more room for another entry in the already crowded entry-level, crossover sport-utility vehicle market, along comes the all-new 2016 Honda HR-V.

Right off the top, I can tell you that it is a good addition.

It’s just-right in size, handles well and is equipped with some unique goodies that you typically don’t see in this sector.

The fact that it’s a fuel-sipping Honda is icing on the cake.

My tester was the comparatively upscale 2016 Honda HR-V EX-L with all-wheel drive, a continuously variable transmission and a navigation system.  Even with all that, the starting price is a reasonable $25,840.  A basic two-wheel driver version starts at less than $20,000.

The HR-V looks sleek in profile, and hey, is it a two door?

That’s the question I asked when I walked up to the tester, feeling like an idiot moments later when I realized that the rear door handles were installed flush at the very back of the rear passenger windows.

Oops.  Actually, it looks pretty cool.

The vehicle is a study in practicality.  The 1.8-liter, four-cylinder, 141-horsepower engine growls a bit when asked for maximum performance, but the power plant handles most of what’s asked of it, getting exceptional fuel mileage of 27 miles per gallon in the city and 32 mpg on the highway in the bargain.

The HR-V was easy to steer, and I found it to be secure and stable in rainy, wet conditions.  Body rigidity in slalom maneuvers was excellent, which I found surprising for an entry-level crossover.  I could say the same about the four-wheel disc brakes.

So, given the HR-V’s smallish size, it probably can’t carry much cargo, right?  Not so fast; with the rear seats folded, the EX-L offers cargo space of nearly 56 cubic feet.  Yeah, that’s a lot of groceries.

Interior comfort was good.  Ditto the layout of controls, easily reached from the driver’s seat.  Another plus: high safety ratings from the feds and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Cool touch: Speedometer illumination changing from white to green when fuel efficiency is being maxed.

Even cooler touch: At the push of a button, the “Automatic Brake Hold” feature keeps the brake engaged during extended stops in traffic, then automatically disengages when the driver’s foot touches the accelerator.

All in all, this is an SUV that most Every Man/Woman can afford.  The HR-V gets an “A” for effort in its debut year.

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