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2016 Honda HR-V: The first three months with our jack of all trades

We only had the long-term 2016 Honda HR-V in our fleet for one week, and for me, the do-anything crossover was immediately useful. Its honeymoon phase coincided with a number of long-haul drives, plus I had to move. This ambitious start is why we're a quarter of the way through our long-term test, and the HR-V already has over 6,000 miles on the odometer.

In classic suburban chariot style, the HR-V is a jack of all trades. And when it comes to road trips, the HR-V is just as enjoyable while slogging up flat interstates as it is along beautiful country roads. I've driven it in all types of weather, packed it with people, and filled it with cargo. I've spent more time in our long-term Honda than pretty much any car that came before it. Here's what I've learned.

Long Hauls

I've driven the HR-V from my home in Detroit to my sister's place in Traverse City, MI – a 500-mile round trip – four times. On one occasion, an early winter blast hit northern Michigan on my way to the cute, beachside tourist town. From intense fog and rain to sunshine to a sudden snow squall, I had every one of the elements thrown directly at me over the course of one drive.

I find a lot of the HR-V's onboard safety technology distracting, and I worry that drivers can become too reliant on these features. Blind spot alerts and cameras are designed to make us safer, yes, but they're no replacement for an attentive, engaged driver. For instance, in the rain and sleet, the nifty Honda Lane Watch camera displayed only gray blobs. Ditto on the back-up camera, meaning that while the technology technically functioned as advertised, the weather rendered it useless. The HR-V has a solid suite of safety tech, but you don't have to rely on the cameras and bells and whistles. The driver's side mirror has an extended-view distortion to the glass. Visibility is great.

The HR-V was a champ in the gross weather, and I was thankful for our mid-level EX trim's all-wheel drive. And this was even before we fitted the HR-V with a set of Michelin X-Ice 215/55R17 winter tires – expect to hear about those when we actually get some more snow here in Detroit. Optioning all-wheel drive means you're stuck with the continuously variable transmission (a manual is available with front-drive), which isn't great, but it smoothly delivers the engine's 141 horsepower and 127 pound-feet of torque. Editor Alex Kierstein agreed, writing in our logbook, "Overall, I think the CVT isn't great ... but for loafing around town and the freeway, at least it wasn't offensive. Sure, the buzziness of the engine is accentuated by the CVT, and the combo ain't quick. It's smooth enough in normal driving."

Moving Day

After two back-to-back road trips, it was time to move. I figured I'd need the help of multiple trucks and friends, but I was wrong. The HR-V's Magic Seats, an element borrowed from the Fit, were just as magical as advertised. They easily tumbled and folded with a quick pull of a release latch. Folding all the seats down resulted in a perfectly flat cargo area, with 56 cubic feet of cargo space. Boxes and bookshelves slid in with ease. Granted, I don't have a ton of stuff – moving all of my earthly possessions using the HR-V made me both pride myself for apparently rejecting rampant materialism while wondering how I had nearly made it to 30 years old without a dresser or decent dining room table. Still, I moved everything I own in only four trips.

Day To Day

Editor Pete Bigelow wrote some logbook notes about the interior being a letdown, but I disagree. Even after several hours of driving I still found the heated cloth seats comfortable, with plenty of hip room and support. I like the layout of the controls – they're simple to navigate and use. The cupholders are a blessing, you can adjust them to securely hold an eight-ounce cup of coffee or a 24-ounce water bottle.

After so many miles of use, I found a couple of problems. When my iPhone was plugged in, I had to select "iPod" to play the songs loaded onto my phone, but to use the Podcasts app on the same device, I had to switch over to "USB" in the media menu. It's annoying, but the real problem has to do with the actual placement of the USB ports, which are all under the center console and hard to see. The angle makes it difficult for anyone actually sitting in the car to plug something in or take something out. It's only slightly easier if you're out of the car and bending over the seats to reach the ports. While this placement keeps wires out of the driver's way, it's incredibly awkward to navigate. Still, a small blemish on an interior that, as I mentioned earlier, is so darn useful.

The HR-V never wowed me in terms of power or performance. It's not a hot car, and for most people, it's nothing to get excited about. But for those who need real-world capability, it excels in just about any situation you throw it at. Trust me, I know.


Days in service: 83
Miles driven: 6,165
Observed fuel economy: 28.7 mpg
Out of pocket repair/service cost: $0 Featured GalleryLong-Term 2016 Honda HR-V Source

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