Words: Stephen Spyropoulos
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: January 25, 2016
Some say that comparison is the death of joy, but I have to disagree. We need comparison in our lives because we live in such a fast paced and technologically dependent society. We simply want to know the highs and the lows of everything in order to make it better fit our lifestyle.
When we look at the influx of small crossover utility vehicles (CUVs) to the market, the same rules apply. Having so many similar options in the market make purchasing decisions difficult for consumers. Two of the most popular CUVs: the Honda Hi-rider Revolutionary Vehicle or HR-V and the Jeep Renegade make the selection ever more painstaking for potential car buyers due to the anticipated hype surrounding both. But I will give away the ending right here and now: The HR-V takes the gold.
Looking at the exterior designs of these mini-SUVs, it becomes very easy to see that they come from different worlds. The exaggerated styling of both vehicles gets rid of the dreaded thoughts that you are simply driving a taller version of a hatchback.
The tiny Jeep is quite boxy with oversized elements from the headlights to the wheels, stemming to the overrepresentation of the 7-slot-grille imagery throughout the vehicle. The HR-V on the other hand aims for the minimalistic and non-fussy approach while still maintaining the brand’s infamous front-end single chrome bar design. Sleek and swept-back bodylines stretch from front to back, giving the HR-V more engaging looks over the Jeep.
However, the Renegade is polarizing in city traffic, especially in that orange jump suit – it catches eyes everywhere it goes. Meanwhile the HR-V blends seamlessly into the crowd, avoiding bright colours or crazy exterior design cues.
Being among the smallest in their respective lineups, the HR-V and the Renegade both stay true to the saying—“good things come in small packages”. They are both diamonds in the rough to their respective target markets. The HR-V is faultlessly suited to city and suburban use by couples or small families, with the optional all-wheel drive to be able to tackle both the snow and the mud.
The Jeep can also tick off the same categories, but it provides considerably better off-road performance. Especially in the Trailhawk trim, which is an all-out balls-to-the-wall muddin’ machine, and has the equipment and the price tag to go along with it. Unfortunately, both of the comparison vehicles in this test were the FWD models, so off-roading fun did not play a critical role during this comparison.
Underneath the hood, the Japanese competitor throws down 141-hp from a 1.8-litre four-pot paired with a 6-speed manual (a CVT is also available). The Jeep’s smaller 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder is rated at 160-hp and only comes with a 6-speed manual. The Renegade can also be optioned to feature a larger and more powerful motor that pumps out 180-hp but is solely mated to the 9-speed automatic. It should be noted that while all-wheel drive is available on both models, only the Honda is restricted to being front-wheel drive when the buyer selects a manual transmission.
The largest differences between the two small-timers exist in their respective driving dynamics. The HR-V has sufficient power and does feature Honda’s i-VTEC system. But it won’t put you on the edge of your seat or have you gripping the S2000-like shift knob as if you’ve been invited to some Tokyo Drift session. Did somebody say wabaki?
Seriously though, I do have to commend Honda on giving the HR-V a manual gearbox and shifter that is so reminiscent of the infamous S2K. The way your arm sits parallel to the transmission tunnel, the light clutch, and extremely precise gearbox make the HR-V so easy to drive that even an infant could operate it.
The heavier Renegade on the other hand is more powerful, but reminds us that there is no replacement for displacement. There is so much turbo lag that if you don’t lay your foot into the throttle, you would never know that the Jeep has the stronger motor.
Having driven both the manual gearbox and the automatic unit on the Renegade, I do have to say the Renegade is best suited with the nine-speed autobox. The throws in the manual Renegade are long and not as precise as the HR-V’s, leading to a very underwhelming experience.
On pavement, the Jeep and The HR-V are fairly even in terms of body-roll and smoothness. Thanks to its ground clearance, the Jeep is the more sensitive one on edgy terrain. However, it should be noted that the North Edition does not offer as many off-road features as its Trailhawk brother does, like the beefier off-road tires and 4x4.
Out of the many advantages the HR-V has over the Renegade, fuel economy was the most surprising. Over my test week with the HR-V I averaged a fantastic 7.9 L/100km on 87-octane fuel with a mix of 70/30 highway/city. Meanwhile in the lumbering Jeep, I only averaged a mere 10.2 L/100km on the required 91-octane with the same highway/city split. Helped by the Eco button and its feathery 1,314 kg curb weight, the HR-V is the easy winner over the Jeep’s 1,446 kg frame.
Inside, the HR-V also takes the cake in terms of interior volume. For such a small crossover, the HR-V is the roomiest in the segment and excels at accommodating adult passengers in both the front and rear. The Honda also offers the same “Magic Seats” that appear in the Honda Fit which fold up to allow for more cargo room. Furthermore, the HR-V enables you to fold the front seat down so rear passengers can use it as a footrest and stretch out their legs. With over 1,665 litres of available cargo volume, the HR-V can haul whatever you need without any problems.
In the Renegade however, fitting four fully-grown adults can be a bit of a challenge – the back seats are quite cramped. Also, the Jeep only features 1,438 litres of cargo space behind the front seats. For interior styling however, the point does go to the Renegade. The brown and light grey cloth interior contrast well against the orange paint job. The interior felt really comfortable to sit in and proves useful on long road trips. The HR-V’s on the other hand was a very bland black cloth interior with little to no pizazz other than the infotainment system.
Pricing for the two models also play a deciding role for consumers. The HR-V LX model I tested starts at $20,690. Meanwhile the Jeep Renegade North creeps ever so close at $27,685. For the extra cash, I wish the Jeep had more standard equipment. Useful options could have been all-wheel drive, a larger infotainment system, or at least some kind of navigation upgrade—the Jeep taught me I really needed to brush up on my compass skills. This made the HR-V quite the bargain basement deal and the economical choice between the two.
Both the 2016 Honda HR-V and the 2015 Jeep Renegade are great choices in the CUV market, with great materials used in both and unique driving dynamics. It was tough making a final decision on which was better. The Honda wins on interior room, fuel economy, and has the better six-speed manual. Meanwhile the Jeep wins on power, semi-off-road capability, and its peculiar styling. But with these vehicles being mini-SUVs it is impossible to ignore the simple fact that people buy these things in order to fit more things in the interior than a compact car could handle.
While the Renegade can be seen as an icon in the making—I mean it even has its own song to go along with its namesake—the Jeep unfortunately falls short of expectations. The HR-V is the far more sensible choice, and if we were to look at the overall bang for your buck argument, it is easy to see why the HR-V is outselling the Renegade.
The HR-V is currently a hit among new buyers coming into the Honda brand, and will likely continue to dominate the CUV market for the next little while. The Jeep is trying to play the HR-V’s game, but it is simply outmatched and outgunned when it comes to being an efficient city commuter.
型号 Model: 2016 Honda HR-V LX 2WD
顏色 Paint Type: Crystal Black Pearl
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $20,690
試車售價 Price as Tested: $20,690
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,610
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,294 / 2,044 / 1,605
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,314
引擎 Engine: 1.8-litre naturally aspirated i-VTEC four-cylinder
最大馬力 Horsepower: 141 hp @ 6,500 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 127 lb-ft @ 4,300 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 6-speed manual
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, FWD
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 9.3 / 7.0 / 8.3
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 7.9
輪胎尺碼 Tires: P215/55R17 All-Season Tires
型号 Model: 2015 Jeep Renegade North 4x2
顏色 Paint Type: Omaha Orange
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $25,995
試車售價 Price as Tested: $27,685
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,570
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,230 / 1,880 / 1,690
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,446
引擎 Engine: 1.4-litre MultiAir Turbo four-cylinder
最大馬力 Horsepower: 160 hp @ 5,500 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 184 lb-ft @ 2,500 - 4,000 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 6-speed manual
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, FWD
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway ) L/100km: 9.8 / 7.6
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 10.2
輪胎尺碼 Tires: P215/65R16 All-Season Tires