When road test editor Erick Ayapana offered me the 2016 Honda HR-V as a new long-termer, I was a bit hesitant. I’m not on board with the whole crossover/SUV craze, and to be honest, 141 horsepower didn’t sound too enticing, especially when you’re constantly surrounded by all the hot metal at the Motor Trend office. Give me a fun hatch or wagon over an SUV any day. But a free car is free, so how could I complain? Plus, it’s a manual and not a minivan like my previous long-term steed.

Fast-forward seven months, and the HR-V is still a slow compact crossover, but I’ve grown to appreciate its strengths. Although it’s classified as compact, it’s the perfect size for someone like me—single, no kids, lives in the city, and takes frequent weekend trips. It’s small enough to nimbly sneak around traffic yet spacious enough for a weekend camping trip with a couple friends—especially with the Thule rack and cargo box I added. At 6.7 inches (1.7 inches more than a Fit), ground clearance is sufficient enough to get you through graded dirt roads to most campsites or snowy mountain roads to your favorite ski resorts. Add all-wheel drive and snow tires, and it should be plenty capable for most weekend adventurers.

The interior, which I’ve criticized for being cheap, has held up well. It reminds me of my old Honda Del Sol, which had interior panels fashioned from Rubbermaid plastic but still looked fresh after 20 years. The HR-V seats ended up stain- and tear-free, and the rubber mats kept all the really nasty stuff off the carpet. The only thing that went amiss was one of the cargo net hooks that unscrewed itself from its mount, which was an easy fix at the dealer. The second-row space and versatility is up there in the class, besting our old Mazda CX-3 and Nissan Juke long-termers when it came to hauling passengers and gear. Honda’s Magic Seats are ingenious and allowed the HR-V to swallow more gear than its smallish exterior would suggest. To my friend’s amazement, I stuffed half the stuff in his apartment in the car when I helped him move. Although editor-in-chief Ed Loh didn’t get a chance to try to load his 8-foot surfboard inside, there’s no doubt it would have fit.

It’s reliable, too. After an uneventful 20,348 miles, the HR-V went through two services at the tune of $149.29, which consisted of oil changes and tire rotations. It was due for another when Honda took it back, so figure another $75 to that for a total of around $225. That’s on par with our 2015 Honda Fit, which cost $289.98 for three services. Our 2016 CX-3 cost $534.45 after 35,386 miles, which is relatively more costly to run, and our 2011 Nissan Juke racked up $446.35 after 22,500 miles. I wish I had more to report, but it’s a Honda, so go figure.

On the fuel economy front, I managed 27.8 mpg, which is right there with the EPA’s estimate of 25/33/28 mpg city/highway/combined but falls short of our Real MPG rating of That’s not bad considering I was constantly ripping VTEC to keep pace and pass traffic. Plus, it’s excellent compared to the 22.9 mpg for our Juke and comparable to the 28.1 mpg our AWD CX-3 managed. I consider my right foot to be heavier than average, so I think it’s safe to assume it would fare better with the average driver.

Along with saving you money on maintenance and at the pump, buying one won’t break the bank. Our EX manual starts at $22,045, which gets us heated front seats and mirrors, a 7.0-inch display, Honda LaneWatch, automatic climate control, smart entry, and push-button start. For less than $20K, a base LX still gets all the important bits such as the Magic Seats, Bluetooth connectivity, a multiangle rear camera, and climate control with knobs. You also still get a crossover with a versatile and roomy cabin, a handsome exterior, good fuel mileage, and Honda reliability. Not to mention a tossable chassis that will surprise you when the road gets all squiggly.

The HR-V’s strengths no doubt outweigh its faults, and it took me a while to appreciate it. Although I’m still not into compact crossovers, you definitely can’t go wrong with an HR-V. Judging by how many I see on the road, many share the same sentiment.

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