MIAMI BEACH, FL – Honda expects the new HR-V to establish a beachhead quickly in the nascent Small CUV segment, judging by the automaker’s volume goals.
Honda is targeting 70,000 sales of the HR-V in the U.S. over the first 12 months, putting it roughly on par with Subaru’s XV Crosstrek, the No.1 model in WardsAuto’s Small CUV segment last year with 70,956 deliveries.
“Though a smaller package than its siblings, (the) HR-V draws on the same Honda strengths in packaging, fuel efficiency, refinement and value-for-money,” Jeff Conrad, general manager-Honda Div. for American Honda, tells media here at a preview of the vehicle.
No doubt fueling Honda’s optimism for HR-V volume is the success of the CR-V and CUVs in general.
The CR-V again was the best-selling midsize CUV in the U.S. last year, with 335,019 sales, overtaking Honda’s Civic compact car (325,981) for the first time.
Americans’ desire for CUVs seems limitless.
Sales in the category hit a new record last year, increasing 11.8% to 4.43 million, WardsAuto segmentation data shows, making CUVs once more the industry’s biggest segment.
The Small CUV sector, where the HR-V resides, grew 19.1% last year, buoyed by large increases by the Buick Encore (up 53%) and XV Crosstrek (up 32.0%).
The HR-V, on sale May 15, and the new Chevrolet Trax and Jeep Renegade, which went on sale in December and February, respectively, are expected to grow the segment further.
There is no direct competitor to the HR-V, says Alice Lee, product planner for the vehicle.
“We don’t really think any one competitor is offering…the cargo and the passenger room and the fuel economy and the styling (in a balanced way), so we don’t really see a clear-clear competitor,” she tells WardsAuto. “Some might mention the Crosstrek or (Nissan) Juke or the (upcoming Mazda) CX-3…but we really think that none of those competitors really do all things well, which we’ll offer with this car.”
The CR-V once was a small CUV, but over the years has grown to midsize proportions.
Spurring the development of the HR-V was Honda research showing buyers still want a CUV with the size and price of the original CR-V, Lee says.
The HR-V is 10 ins. (254 mm) shorter overall than today’s CR-V. It will be available in three trim levels: LX, EX, and EX-L Navi, with the LX beginning at $19,115 not including an $880 destination charge, or roughly $3,500 less than the base ’15 CR-V.
All HR-V buyers get the Civic’s 1.8L SOHC 4-cyl. The 1.8L makes 141 hp at 6,500 rpm and 127 lb.-ft. (172 Nm) of torque at 4,300 rpm in the HR-V, slightly lower figures than in the Honda compact car.
Like most new Hondas, the engine is mated to the automaker’s in-house Earth Dreams CVT in front- and all-wheel drive models. A 6-speed manual also is available on FWD HR-Vs.
Honda estimates HR-V fuel economy of 31 mpg (7.6 L/100 km) combined in FWD CVT grades, while FWD manual models will yield 28 mpg (8.4 L/100 km) combined. The AWD model should average 29 mpg (8.1 L/100 km).
Standard features on the LX include front and rear 12V outlets, auto up/down driver’s window, cruise control, rear disc brakes and reclining second-row seats.
The EX grade, starting at $21,165, adds a moonroof, heated front seats and door mirrors and chrome interior trim, while the EX-L Navi grade, beginning at $24,590, has standard navigation, leather seats and steering wheel and SiriusXM radio.
Honda expects more than half of HR-V buyers will be new to the brand, with the primary customer likely 18-34 years old, with a $59,000 annual household income. The model is expected to appeal equally to men and women buyers.
Secondary customers will be slightly older Gen Xers, as well as Baby Boomers.
“We’re attracting 99% of the driving population,” says James Jenkins, manager-product planning for Honda Trucks. “Whether you’re Gen Y, Gen X, Boomer, we’re going after the youthful-at-heart crossover buyer that wants to use the car, utilize the seat configurations, they want to travel with it, they want a child seat in the back – the HR-V does all that and more.”
The HR-V is being built at Honda’s new Celaya, Mexico, plant, also home to the vehicle’s platform-mate the Fit subcompact car. Honda this week announced it will begin dual-sourcing the Fit for the U.S. this fall from its Yorii, Japan, plant, to free-up capacity in Celaya should the HR-V be more popular than initially anticipated.