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.


Scion iA trounces sibling in San Francisco!

Scion flew a gaggle of writers to San Francisco last week to show us two new cars, both due in September.

The iM ($19,255, including freight) is a subcompact hatchback based on a car Toyota sells elsewhere as the Auris. The iA sedan ($16,495) came about when Mazda chose to not bring the Mazda2 to the States; it is essentially a rebadged Mazda2.

Both cars are sold “mono spec,” i.e., in a single, well-equipped trim, with available options installed at either the port or at the dealership.

2016 scion iA
2016 Scion iA

Standard iA features include:

  • Cruise control
  • A/C
  • Keyless entry with push-button start
  • Low-speed pre-collision system
  • Rear-view backup camera
  • 7-inch touch screen multimedia system with voice recognition
  • Tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel
  • Two years of free maintenance

Though it’s not exactly a standard feature, the iA also boasts a massive-for-the-segment trunk (though at least a few inches are trimmed from the rear seats to accommodate).

2016 Scion iM
2016 Scion iM

The iM features list is even more impressive:

  • 7-inch Pioneer Display Audio unit with standard HD Radio and Aha™
  • Rear-view backup camera
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel
  • Scion’s first 4.2-inch color TFT multi-information display
  • Dual-zone automatic climate control
  • Color-keyed heated power-folding exterior mirrors
  • Hill Start Assist

Both cabins are impressively finished, with contrast stitching, abundant soft-touch surfaces and pleasing ergonomics.

Because I’m such a hatchback fanboi, I expected to come away favoring the iM. But it was the iA that took first-place honors on the winding backroads south of the City. Its lowly twist-beam rear suspension (the iM is all-independent) notwithstanding, it retained its cool no matter how hard we pushed it along the tight and twisty redwood-lined drive route. Its 105-horsepower, 1.5-liter engine performed stoutly, whether mated with the standard six-speed automatic or optional six-speed automatic.

I’ll have more to say about both cars in a upcoming Spokesman-Review piece. Watch this space.