The US Environmental Protection Agency has just released its ratings for the littlest Honda crossover, and the figures are pretty impressive. In front-wheel-drive form with the optional continuously variable transmission, the HR-V is rated at 28 miles per gallon in the city, 35 on the highway and 31 combined. Those figures make it the most economical conventionally powered SUV on the market. (The EPA doesn't distinguish between truck-based sport-utes and car-based crossovers)
Among crossovers, the FWD HR-V outperforms the Nissan Juke, Kia Soul, Chevrolet Trax, Buick Encore... the whole lot. Only the Mazda CX-5 matches it on the highway rating, which is noteworthy since it's a much bigger vehicle. Along with the forthcoming Fiat 500X and Jeep Renegade, Mazda's nearly here CX-3 hasn't been rated yet (we predict it will score better than the HR-V, if only to improve on the fuel economy ratings of its larger CX-5 counterpart). Of course, there are hybrids that get better ratings than the Honda, but comparing a hybrid to a conventional vehicle is like comparing apples to electrically charged oranges.
Naturally, the picture changes a bit if you go for all-wheel drive or the available six-speed manual. In AWD spec (only available with the CVT), the HR-V gets 27 city, 32 highway and 29 combined. The front-driver with the six-speed suffers a worse fate at 25 city, 34 highway and 28 combined. No matter which way you slice it, of course, the Fit hatchback upon which the HR-V is based, with its CVT hooked up to a smaller engine and with less weight to motivate, still sips fuel more lightly than the HR-V. But as far as crossovers go, Honda's new HR-V is looking pretty frugal.