When it comes to cars, Americans have traditionally thought that bigger is better. Yet, Honda is betting big on the smallest entry in its expanding SUV line-up. The new 2016 HR-V shares the same underlying platform as the Japanese maker’s subcompact Fit hatchback, and it’s expected to serve as “a gateway to our line-up,” says Jeff Conrad, the general manager of the Honda brand.
But Honda is by no means alone. What was once a modest niche is rapidly becoming one of the market’s hottest segments. It’s hard to find a single major manufacturer that doesn’t have a small utility vehicle in its showrooms, or at least one on the way.
Sales are expected to nearly triple this year, to around 236,000, forecasts Stephanie Brinley, a lead analyst with IHS Automotive, in large part because automakers have been able to supply both the chicken and the egg.