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The FREE Complete Bay Area Auto Enthusiast Guide
NEWCOMER, ROOMY HONDA HR-V LACKS POWER

By NITISH S. RELE - motoringtampabay@gmail.com
It is a notch or two below the bestseller CR-V. Maybe Honda felt a subcompact SUV was needed to fill in a niche of sorts. And that the HR-V does for the most part, successfully. 
Available in front-wheel or all-wheel drive, the 2016 HR-V gets a 1.8-liter inline-4 cylinder engine packing 141 horsepower @ 6500 rpm and 127 pounds-feet of torque @ 4300 rpm. It is mated to a clunky and noisy continuous variable transmission, which definitely needs some work on behalf of Honda engineers. However, the MacPherson strut front and torsion-beam rear suspension is up to the task of smoothing rough surfaces on the road. The Electric Power Steering is direct and accurate, making it easy to place the five-seater in corners.
Sitting on the unit-body structure is the traditional H emblem, surrounded by multi-reflector halogen headlights while the rear gets LED tail lamps and spoiler. Space is aplenty in the airy interior with 100.1 cubic feet of passenger volume and 58.8 cubic feet with the 60/40 second-row, easy-to-fold-flat Magic Seat as Honda calls it. Step inside and the rounded three-meter instrument cluster of 140-mph speedometer, tachometer and driver information center draw attention. Save fuel by keeping an eye on the speedo as it illuminates from white to green. Paddle shifters on the tilt/telescopic steering column are welcome as is the striking brushed chrome and piano black trim. Other standard niceties include auto a/c, 7-inch touch screen, leather on the seats and shifter knob, center storage bin, push-button start and two 12-volt power outlets.
Dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag with rollover system, Vehicle Stability Assist, traction control, four-wheel antilock brakes with electronic brake distribution, hill start assist, rearview camera, side-impact door beams, front-seat active head restraints, electric parking brake, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights are standard. A convenient feature is LaneWatch, which displays a wide-angle view of the passenger side road on the i-MID (Intelligent Multi-Information Display). The image appears when the right turn signal is activated.
No doubt Honda saw a need for an entry-level vehicle on the market today. Priced just right with a spacious cabin and impressive fuel-sipping numbers, the HR-V is worth a test drive. However, a slight power boost and a quieter-shifting transmission could make this SUV a moneymaker. Just like its big brother CR-V.

HR-V
Tires: 215/55/R17
Wheelbase: 102.8 inches
Length: 169.1 inches
Weight: 3,109 pounds
Fuel capacity: 13.2 gallons
City: 27 mpg
Highway: 32 mpg
Base price: $25,840
Web site: www.honda.com

CALLING ALL HONDA DEALERS IN THE WEST CENTRAL AREA: if you would like to be listed here as one of the test-drive dealerships, e-mail us at motoringtampabay@gmail.com