What Do You Do When a (Former) Friend Says, "I Want a Honda HR-V"?

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain

It’s time for a new car, I told Mae last night.

She was explaining to a group of friends how she tore the passenger side mirror off and drove across the MacKay Bridge, on a particularly windy evening, with the mirror swinging about like an unchoreographed contemporary dancer.

The dangling power mirror, which another friend disconnected at Mae’s request, was only the latest issue. First, it’s a Saturn Ion Quad Coupe. Issue number two: the air-conditioning died long ago, and Mae’s reluctant to spend a single penny redeeming this car. It’s bitterly cold in eastern Canada now, but A/C is needful for one-third of the year and helpful for the other nine months. Finally, it’s a Saturn Ion Quad Coupe with a manual transmission.

“Ooh, aah, save the manuals,” you say. And I’m with you. Mae’s with you, too. But I’ve spent enough time — way too much time — in manual shift Ions to know that in an extremely hilly city, the Ion’s shifter/clutch combo is worthy of dread. Not all manuals are worthy of saving.

Now the mirror’s off, and the conversations Mae and I have had over a period of many months culminated in her succinct statement last night: “I want a Honda HR-V.”

Insert awkward pause.

These are the moments an auto journalist fears. Mae’s a good friend. (Or at least she was, until I discovered she was pro-HR-V.) Last winter, brutally ill myself, I was filling in at a craft show for my sick and pregnant wife. Mae drove 40 minutes outside the city in a Saturn Ion Quad Coupe to fill in for me.

So I couldn’t lie. I couldn’t hide the fact that I once wrote a widely-read piece for TTAC entitled, “ The 2016 Honda HR-V Is Honda’s Worst Current Product.”

I told GCBC readers the HR-V’s cabin is, “far from a soothing environment.”

“The loud drone of the engine and dreadful tire noise would make me avoid long highway journeys,” I wrote earlier this year.

I asked, as we do in all GCBC reviews, whether you should buy something else instead. The answer? “Yes, you should.”

The HR-V is uncomfortable, loud, slow, and overpriced. The LATCH system’s lower anchors are among the worst-placed I’ve encountered.

So no, I couldn’t lie. But having finally succeeded in getting Mae to this juncture, after months of attempting to convince her that air-conditioning and heated seats are really nice features, how could I push back against her vehicular tastes, especially with three other friends measuring the length of the awkward pause?

Fortunately, the case against the HR-V is particularly easy to make these days. With the fifth-generation Honda CR-V set to appear at dealers in the next few days, remaining fourth-gen 2016 CR-Vs are handsomely discounted. Besides the fact that the CR-V, North America’s top-selling utility vehicle, is the superior vehicle to live with, the CR-V is also the better long-term proposition because of better resale value and because Honda dealers have better CR-V margins with which to work in order to make a deal.

According to Honda.ca, Mae could lease an HR-V LX with all-wheel drive for $185 bi-weekly over four years, with 24,000 kilometers per year (15,000 miles) and no money down. Or she could get into an all-wheel-drive CR-V SE with the same terms for $191 bi-weekly.

A $6 payment difference.

Add in the CR-V’s fuel economy penalty and the difference maybe expands to $10.

For Mae, if she decides she’s ready to accept a payment instead of driving the Ion until it needs to be abandoned on the side of the Trans-Canada Highway in Shubenacadie, the answer is obvious.

Quiet, far more spacious, with superior ride quality, the CR-V is a no-brainer in this case. The CR-V SE is better-equipped than the HR-V LX, too, adding fog lights, variable intermittent wipers, two extra speakers, and proximity access to the HR-V LX’s equipment list.

Yet this story is not a story unique to Canada, nor is it unique to Mae. In the U.S., a 2017 $27,440 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring AWD can be purchased for $216 bi-weekly, MazdaUSA.com says, but a $31,070 2016.5 Mazda CX-5 Grand AWD is only $23 more bi-weekly. Fuel economy penalty: $6 bi-weekly, according to the EPA. Advantages: superior power-to-weight ratio, more than triple the cargo volume behind the rear seats, nearly 20 percent more passenger volume. The results: Americans buy and lease six times more CX-5s than CX-3s. Of course you would.

America’s top-selling subcompact crossover, the Jeep Renegade, is a $26,120 vehicle in Latitude 4×4 trim with the 2.4-liter/9-speed combo. Over 60 months with no money down, Jeep currently says the bi-weekly payment is $201. Only $11 more bi-weekly would get you a Cherokee 4×4 in Latitude trim.

Mae shouldn’t replace her Ion Quad Coupe with a Honda HR-V. This I know.

Yet it’s quite likely that a subcompact crossover, regardless of brand, is never the better deal than its compact equivalent.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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  • Wildcat Wildcat on Dec 21, 2016

    Why not just let someone buy what they want? I wouldn't buy one myself, only because I need something larger. Would I discourage others? Certainly not. Only they can determine what fits their needs, and what they are comfortable with. Not everyone wants or even likes manual transmissions (present company included--I did my time with manuals and I'm past it), nor needs gobs of power, or has to nitpick about every little thing about someone else's car. Tell me about it, though--I drove a first-gen CR-V, one of the first in the country, for 19 years. Yes, it lacks power. And yes, it's not so quiet, or luxurious, or loaded with unneeded features. Certainly not perfect. But you know what? It got me around. It fit my needs. It has hauled more stuff than I even remember, including helping move four or five households of "stuff" over those years. It's still running fine 290k miles later on its original engine and trans. I keep it around as a "beater" since I just can't kill the thing, and don't want to beat up the newer cars. I brought my youngest home from the hospital when she was born in that car, and she'll probably be using it as a college car next year. The HR-V will do the same for those who need it and like it. So will most other vehicle choices out there. When I picked up a used CR-V a month ago, I had asked how the HR-V was selling. The salesperson sold me that for a little more money, people were buying the CR-V instead. Yet when I see sales figures for the HR-V, they have been stronger on average per month over the past several months than they were in the several months prior. Someone is buying them. I believe it's regional. It may not be so popular in the Great Lakes area.

  • 993cc 993cc on Apr 05, 2022

    So, what did she end up getting?

  • Stephen My "mid-level" limited edition Tonino Lambo Ferraccio Junior watch has performed flawlessly with attractive understated style for nearly 20 years. Their cars are not so much to my taste-- my Acura NSX is just fine. Not sure why you have such condescension towards these excellent timepieces. They are attractive without unnecessary flamboyance, keep perfect time and are extremely reliable. They are also very reasonably priced.
  • Dana You don’t need park, you set auto hold (button on the console). Every BMW answers to ‘Hey, BMW’, but you can set your own personal wake word in iDrive. It takes less than 5 minutes to figure that that out, btw. The audio stays on which is handy for Teams meetings. Once your phone is out of range, the audio is stopped on the car. You can always press down on the audio volume wheel which will mute it, if it bothers you. I found all the controls very intuitive.
  • ToolGuy Not sure if I've ever said this, or if you were listening:• Learn to drive, people.Also, learn which vehicles to take home with you and which ones to walk away from. You are an adult now, think for yourself. (Those ads are lying to you. Your friendly neighborhood automotive dealer, also lying to you. Politicians? Lying to you. Oh yeah, learn how to vote lol.)Addendum for the weak-minded who think I am advocating some 'driver training' program: Learning is not something you do in school once for all time. Learning how to drive is not something that someone does for you. It is a continuous process driven by YOU. Learn how to learn how to drive, and learn to drive. Keep on learning how to drive. (You -- over there -- especially you, you kind of suck at driving. LOL.)Example: Do you know where your tires are? When you are 4 hours into a 6 hour interstate journey and change lanes, do you run over the raised center line retroreflective bumpers, or do you steer between them?
  • Mike Bradley Advertising, movies and TV, manufacturing, and car culture have all made speeding and crashing the ultimate tests of manhood. Throw in the political craziness and you've got a perfect soup of destruction and costs.
  • Lou_BC Jay Leno had said that EV's would be good since they could allow the continued existence of ICE cars for enthusiasts. That sentiment makes sense. Many buyers see vehicles as a necessary appliance.