Sizing up Honda’s pint-sized HR-V

Honda HR-V
Honda HR-V

After spending a week enjoying the deep delights of Acura’s MDX crossover, we climbed into its tiny new cousin, Honda’s $20,000 HR-V.

Sized — and priced — midway between the little Fit and the CR-V, the pint-sized crossover packages traditional Honda virtues — rock-solid body structure, firm-but-compliant ride and quiet, comfortable cabin — in a small and efficient footprint.

Hopping out of the serene and luxurious MDX into the lower-flying HR-V requires an attitude adjustment. The 4,200-pound MDX is sports-car quick and its nine-speed automatic a symphony in shifting. Size-wise, the 2,900-lb HR-V is a go-kart by contrast, but, with its 135-horsepower driven through a continuously variable transmission, acceleration is decidedly pokey.

If the HR-V sells as well as expected, I expect we’ll see a turbocharged rendition somewhere down the road.

My AWD tester is rated at 29 combined/27 city/32 highway. Standard equipment includes alloy wheels, full power accessories, rearview camera, Bluetooth phone connectivity and Pandora Internet radio.

My loaded EX-L ($26,720) brings the works, including my favorite Honda feature, LaneWatch. When the driver signals a right turn, a video image looking rearward down the car’s passenger side appears in the center console display. In town, it alerts the driver to bicyclists coming up on the right; in freeway traffic, a set of distance markers helps the driver know when it’s safe to return to the right lane after passing a slower-moving vehicle.