Remember back when all everyone wanted was to own a tiny Chihuahua? Tiny dogs were in vogue and now sadly animal shelters are overflowing with this family friendly breed that did nothing to deserve that except becoming popular with irresponsible breeders. This problem reached its zenith after the release of a film called “Beverly Hills Chihuahuas” and a series of Taco Bell commercials in which a cute Chihuahua uttered the slogan of the fast food giant/shame inducer that at the time was “Yo Quiero Taco Bell.” (It means “I want Taco Bell” in case you were dropped on your head by your father/uncle/cousin as a baby.)
Now, we aren’t calling the new mini-cute crossover utility genre that is currently booming with entrants like the Buick Encore, Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, Fiat 500X, Jeep Renegade, Nissan Juke and what appears to be the soon to be future king called the 2016 Honda HR-V, the Chihuahuas of the automotive world. But they are small, cute and surprisingly mighty.
Roxy, our canine back seat and interior automotive tester has learned that the hard way on more than one occasion by cold nosing the rear end of a passing furry friend just to see if it actually was the “original” Taco Bell Chihuahua. She still thinks one day she will meet that dog. Like that will happen. She does, however, know a guy named Carlos whose voice they used in those once so very famous ads. But he’s not a dog so that isn’t impressive to Roxy. So let’s see if she will say “Yo Quiero el Honda HR-V” or if she will decide “Yo Quiero el Nissan Juke.” Or maybe she will get Carlos to say it for her.
2016 Honda HR-V EX
The 2016 Honda HR-V is a perfect example of why humans are such total pains in the ass most of the time and the main reason they are never relaxed enough to sleep 19 hours a day. Dogs are and with how many terrific new models Honda has introduced lately and have coming in the pipeline Its easy to see Honda’s dominance in keeping true to its independent corporate identity and refusal to abide by what is considered the correct trend.
Sometimes this backfires with wacky cars and the howling of some loser in a chat room who likes to ruminate on the good old days of Honda which he wasn’t even alive to see since he is only as old as the invention of the VCR.So as a mom to six litters of puppies I was forced to have for my previous owner, let me tell you I know a lot of maternal wisdom. Young pups, the good old days are just are just another way of talking about a time there was an unfair balance of power that worked in the favor of a certain group and made them feel superior to others and more secure. Those days are just old.
But with the 2016 Honda HR-V this Japanese company behind such blockbusters as the Civic, CR-V, Accord and Fit has done it yet again with the perfectly proportioned, roomy, nicely built and ridiculously affordable leader of the compact SUV pack. Yes, I already just gave away the winner but our EX tester had what my owner called a “sweet” 6-speed manual transmission and wasn’t a stripped out torture chamber either (also known as a bathtub to a dog).
You can add leather seating, in-dash navigation (Honda offers a navigation app on your smartphone for $50 that plays on your center touchscreen that is cheaper) or all-wheel drive but for that you have to opt for the CVT automatic which admittedly is the best of its type. Standard features included an impressive sounding 6-speaker AM/FM/CD/multi-USB/HDMI/Bluetooth streaming audio system, steering wheel mounted audio, cruise and on board computer controls, 17-inch alloys, automatic headlamps, a power moonroof, automatic climate control, the Honda Link Infotainment system and a decently potent 1.8 liter 141 horsepower 4-cylinder motor donated by the Civic.
Only once on a very, very steep incline did the engine struggle a bit but with one slick double downshift we rocketed the revs skyward and soon the hill was behind us. And the HR-V motor sounded like it was having fun, encouraging us with an enthusiastic engine note that is so hard to find in any 4-cylinder SUV nowadays as they all seem tuned to sound like cows giving birth if put under any strain. Truly, the engine is excellent here as nothing is lost in VTEC translation into this crossover unlike perhaps a person like Shakira who is amazing when she performs in Spanish but becomes as annoying as Joe Jonas, the older brother of Nick Jonas with half the talent and 3 times the ego, when she performs in English. Seriously, get over yourself Mr. Bushy monobrow ex-Disney boy. What? Oh wait, sorry Shakira that last insult was meant for Joe Jonas.
To sum up, the 2016 Honda HR-V simply is the dominant entry in this exploding crossover/SUV segment and the fact that it is so affordable (starting just over $19,000) makes it all a sweeter deal. The final nail in the Juke’s still worthy coffin is the HR-V’s utility with a well-shaped 24.3 cubic foot cargo hold behind the second row with that growing nicely to 58.8 cubic feet with the second row folded flat.
With that much extra cargo carrying ability you cancram an extra Jonas Brother in the back of the HR-V—maybe that third one who is married living in New Jersey while his brothers are out dating pop stars and Miss Universe.
And as for Nick he is willing to take of his shirt for any gay man who will then buy his record. That’s how my owner James got his copy. Later he claimed to be victim of Jonas Brother abdominal hypnotism. Sure, that’s why he knows the words to each song.
2015 Nissan Juke SL
When I was walking out to the 2015 Nissan Juke compact SUV (I walk myself, my owner does not walk me) and finally got a look at the styling I suddenly had a sneaking suspicion that my owner had strapped me into my harness a bit too tightly. So tightly, in fact, that I was convinced I was hallucinating. I became convinced that I was not sitting in the back seat of a regular SUV but rather I was trapped inside the stomach of a giant radioactive Amazonian River Toad. I prayed we wouldn’t drive by any bodies of water for fear that the 2015 Nissan Juke might just decide it was time to jump in for a swim.
But after a few days I realized that this wasn’t really some sort of science project gone awry but that the 2015 Nissan Juke actually is one of the most daring yet somehow successful SUV designs to ever be attempted. And once all the dust settled I had little doubt that even though at first glance the 2015 Nissan Juke looks scarier than the thought of Mariah Carey one day having to teach her children to drive, it makes for a tempting buy for the single dog owner or a couple with one medium to large size hound. I myself am a petite medium. On a good day. .
But while the Juke is a whole lot of fun to look at, it really isn’t all that practical as an SUV. First off, the cargo area is a paltry 10.5 cubic feet making it useful pretty much only for tying down cat carriers. And I don’t like that idea one bit. However, when you fold the rear seats down cargo volume grows to 35.9 cubic feet but then where would I sit? I did so enjoy the nicely bolstered leather seats in back of our test Juke but for humans legroom where I belong may also be found to be a bit lacking. I think this is what humans refer to as style over substance.
As I take care of all of the finances at home, I was very impressed with how much value was packed into our $25,240 SL test model which as standard gives you leather, a back-up camera, in-dash navigation, power everything, a moonroof, Bluetooth, an impressive Rockford Fosgate sound system with USB/iPod connectivity (my human can’t drive without music), 17 inch alloys and rear tinted windows so I could look out at people but no one could see me. I am rather famous you know.
Our tester was a front wheel drive model (all-wheel drive is optional) with the standard CVT automatic which is improved but nowhere near as fun as the 6-speed manual (according to my driver) in the Nismo model which shares the same engine as lesser Jukes. This is the same manual transmission that my human said had long throws that occasionally made him go into the wrong gear. Sure, that’s why. And I am a parakeet. But I would never tell him that.
Besides the polarizing exterior appearance the other jewel in the 2015 Nissan Juke’s crown is the very unique but surprisingly potent 1.6 liter 188 horsepower/177 lb. feet of torque turbocharged 4-cylinder that really is one of Nissan’s finest engines in their entire lineup. Not only does it growl as menacingly as I do at the pizza guy but it also returned 28 miles per gallon over the course of a week on regular unleaded.
If you knew how my owner drives then you would realize what a miracle that is and why I always insist on wearing my safety harness. Plugging it into the car seat D-rings was a snap and the Juke’s ride height made it so no one needed to give me a boost when jumping up inside. Also, have you seen the price of premium unleaded lately? I may just be a dog but even I know when someone is ripping me off. Thankfully, if you buy a 2015 Nissan Juke you will never feel short changed.
(Warning: Nissan introduced a dangerous color customization scheme for the 2015 Nissan Juke where owners can choose contrasting colors for things like the mirror caps, door handles, interior air vents, the rear hatch spoiler, various spots on the bumpers, around the foglights, in the alloy wheels with our favorite change possibility being the black and dark burgundy leather seats. Nissan makes no requirements that your trim colors all be the same. Some Juke’s will no doubt be horribly mutilated as a result. Available colors include purple, yellow, orange, ocean blue…our advice? Pick one accent color please.)