LA AUTO SHOW

L.A. Auto Show: Honda unveils HR-V compact crossover

The builder of the nation’s most popular SUV – the Honda CR-V – has the same big ambitions for the smaller HR-V it unveiled Wednesday at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

The compact crossover is an all-new model for Honda, which is betting that an early entry into the fast-growing segment can help lock down a leading position."The HRV is a virtual Swiss Army knife of capability, efficiency and versatility," said Honda Division Senior Vice President and General Manager Jeff Conrad.

"Need to haul a bike or maybe a dog crate? HRV has got you covered," he said. "How about two buddies and a pair of longboards? No problem."

Like many other new compact crossovers, the HR-V is based on an existing compact car, Honda’s Fit hatchback. It shares the Fit’s appetite for cargo and people, swallowing 58.8 cubic feet of stuff with the rear seats folded, Honda said.

Though it sits on the Fit’s platform, the HR-V is powered by a drive train borrowed from the large Honda Civic -- a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 138 horsepower and 127 pound-feet of torque.

Buyers can choose between a six-speed manual (on front-wheel-drive models only) or a continuously variable automatic transmission.

The HR-V goes on sale this spring, which will give it a healthy head start on the long line of rival automakers prepping to launch their own compact crossovers. This includes Mazda with its CX-3, another compact crossover debuting at the L.A. show on Wednesday.

Chevrolet, Fiat, and Jeep are also bringing their own versions to dealers in 2015. Meanwhile, Ford, Toyota and Hyundai are said to be working on their own versions.

Crossovers of any size, meanwhile, have become the most popular vehicles in America in 2014 – outselling sedans for the first time.

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