2016 Honda HR-V
With few exceptions, Honda has not made it a habit to rush into a new market segment. Their general philosophy seems to be to let others be pioneers, and if volume warrants, then launch a model that bests the early entrants. Right on cue, as the subcompact utility niche rapidly turns into a significant slice of the vehicle pie, Honda is entering the fray with the new 2016 HR-V.
The Honda HR-V slots under the wildly popular CR-V compact ute, but with a structure that is loosely related to the five-door Fit subcompact car. Many of the Fit’s best traits also carryover, including a very solid, sporty driving feel, and second row Magic Seat which is unrivaled for its versatility. With the Magic Seat folded up, the HR-V can carry taller items than most mid-size utilities.
The HR-V’s useful interior also includes 24.3 cubic feet of cargo space behind the back seat, and a maximum of 58.8 with the seats folded flat. Both numbers are larger than Fit and well above direct crossover rivals. In addition, one can fully recline the front passenger seat for extra-long items.
There’s a familiarity to much of the 5-passenger HR-V’s switchgear and displays, yet the layout appears truly unique to the Honda lineup, as are the touch-based automatic climate controls in EX and EX-L trim. There’s plenty of small items storage space in the two level center console, and the HR-V is also Honda’s first use of an electric parking brake. A multi-angle rearview camera is standard, while advanced safety features like Honda LaneWatch are available.
Powering the HR-V is a single-cam, 1.8-liter I4. The engine is lifted not from the Fit, but from the compact Civic, with a class-competitive 141 horsepower. The only downside is the available CVT automatic transmission. Still, it’s less fun-robbing than most of its type, and even with it the HR-V feeling quite peppy. A 6-speed manual is standard, but only in front-wheel-drive. All-wheel-drive HR-V models add the CR-V’s automatic Real Time system with Intelligent Control.
While a surprising fun utility to drive on back roads, overall street ride quality is most compliant. Suspension duties are handled by MacPherson struts up front, with a simpler torsion beam at the rear.
The demand for above average fuel economy always ranks high with small vehicle buyers. The HR-V boasts Government Ratings of 28-City, 35-Highway, and 31-Combined with 2-wheel-drive; and 27-City, 32-Highway, and 29-Combined with all-wheel-drive.
For our exclusive test of the 2016 Honda HR-V, be sure to catch MotorWeek episode #3435 that begins airing on May 2, 2015. For a complete listing of the public television stations that broadcast MotorWeek, go to motorweek.org and click the “About The Show” tab at the top. MotorWeek is also seen Tuesday evenings on the Velocity cable
Despite a lot of competition, Honda once again has prepared well to enter a crowded market. The all-new 2016 Honda HR-V offers plenty of it inside, while not taking up a whole lot of it outside. That, plus good power, and a starting price just a hint under $20,000, the HR-V will likely become the subcompact utility to beat.
2022 Volkswagen Jetta GLI
We’ve been getting a lot of MQB chassis time in lately. That’s Volkswagen’s nearly all-purpose front and all-wheel drive compact underpinning that supports such fun-to-drive models as the Golf R and Audi’s S3, both of which we recently tested. Now, it’s the turn of another MQB model, the Volkswagen Jetta GLI, a tidy sedan that has long been one of our most favorite VW’s of all time.
The GLI is, for all intents and purposes, to the Jetta what the GTI is to the Golf hatchback. So not only does it get more power than the standard Jetta, it puts it into play more effectively with VW’s VAQ electronic limited-slip differential. A major part of the GLI’s much improved handling, along with a multi-link rear suspension and sport-tuned dampers.
The GLI may not be a hard core performance car, but it remains an extremely seductive car to drive, while also managing to have a very different sport sedan feel than the GTI hot hatch. The GLI to us is a little more laid back. Yet has lots of potential when you turn thing up a notch. Throw in plenty of interior space, some great seats, and a smooth ride; and that’s pretty much everything we look for in a sporty daily driver.
Another part of what makes the fun factor high is the standard 6-speed manual. Throws are a little long, but the shifter is very positive and feels good overall. A 7-speed DSG is also available if you must.
The spacious and well put together four-door interior would have made for a nice Audi not that long ago. Revisions here for 2022 include upgraded materials, but there’s also a new sport steering wheel with a clutter of touch-sensitive controls.
GLIs include lots of gloss black trim, along with red accents throughout the cabin. VW’s digital cockpit is now standard on all Jettas. The GLI upgrades to a 10-inch fully configurable version.
Outside, all ’22 Jettas don a new grille. The rear bumper is revised with larger exhaust outlets…dual on the GLI… plus fresh wheel designs. GLI also adds exterior gloss black trim and red accents, along with projector beam headlights, a honeycomb-finished rear diffuser, and 18-inch rims.
There is not quite as much power in the GLI as in the current GTI, with VW’s 2.0-liter turbo-4 outputting 228-horsepower and 258 lb-ft. of torque. But there’s no lack of grunt at all, and that’s plenty enough to make it quicker than most in the compact sedan class.
The GLI’s trick differential can send all of the engine power to one front wheel if need be. Sport mode puts the adaptive dampers at their firmest setting, which kept body roll to a minimum when the roads get curvey.
For our complete road test of the 2022 Volkswagen Jetta GLI, be sure to catch MotorWeek episode #4142 that begins airing on PBS June 24, 2022. For a listing of the PBS public television stations that broadcast MotorWeek, go to motorweek.org and click the “About the Show” tab at the top. You can also watch weekly episodes of MotorWeek on our cable partner MAVTV with new episodes airing each Saturday at 7:30 PM. Check their entire schedule at MAVTV.com. MotorWeek can also be streamed in its entirety on PBS.org/MotorWeek, as well as on PBS Living, a part of Amazon Prime Video. Roadtest videos are also be available at motorweek.org and on youtube.com/motorweek.
The 2022 Volkswagen Jetta GLI is just the latest really-good-time that the MQB chassis has visited upon us. Indeed, we’re sure glad Volkswagen still offers the affordable and fun Jetta GLI sedan, and even more happy to drive it every chance we get.