JDM Honda Vezel to Enter US as the Honda HR-V

Posted by Stephen On Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

We first saw the Honda Vezel in the form of the Honda Urban SUV Concept at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show near the beginning of last year. Then, in December 2013 – just a few short months ago – the Fit-based Honda Vezel went on sale in the automaker’s home market of Japan. At the time, Honda confirmed that the crossover would eventually make it into the US during 2014 and Europe during 2015, but gave no more specific plans than that.

Honda Vezel

Today, Honda’s plans for the US debut of the Vezel crossover have finally been confirmed. Except the Vezel won’t be the Vezel at all… It will be the Honda HR-V.

Sound familiar?

If you were a Honda fan back in the late 90’s, you’ll remember that the original Honda HR-V (below) was a “lightweight cross-country” SUV (back before the term crossover came into popularity) that was marketed to a young, hipster demographic. Just as today’s Vezel is based on the Honda Fit, the old HR-V was based on the Honda Logo supermini. Its mission was simple – offer all the benefits of an SUV in a more maneuverable, highly economic package. However, as popular as it was initially, the HR-V was ahead of its time in a bigger-is-better culture, and by 2006 Honda officially discontinued all versions of the model.

Honda HR-V

Today, the automotive market is finally catching up to the HR-V of old, so even though the Vezel is a substantially different vehicle from the old HR-V, it only seems appropriate that Honda would use the moniker.

The news comes from a Honda fansite called VTEC.net. Apparently, Honda has recently introduced the HR-V to its North American dealerships at a promotional meeting. In addition, Honda has recently renewed its filing with the US Patent & Trademark office for the HR-V name. All of it points to the resurgence of the HR-V as the Honda Vezel, although it’s officially still hearsay at this point. When AutoNews contacted Honda for comment, their spokeswoman would only say, “Stay tuned.” Rather cryptic.

As for what we can expect from the resurrected HR-V, all you have to do is look to the JDM Honda Vezel. The subcompact crossover currently comes equipped with two powertrain options – a 1.5L four-cylinder i-VTEC with direct-injection, and another hybrid option using the same engine plus a high-output electric motor. Both options come with a CVT, and both options offer incredible fuel economy; 58 mpg and 76 mpg respectively, thanks in part to the new Reactive Force Pedal technology. The Vezel is also the first of Honda’s hybrids to get Real Time AWD.

All in all, we expect the Honda HR-V to be a smashing hit when it arrives in US dealerships near the end of this year. Our guess would be that we’ll see the crossover make its debut at the LA Motor Show before it goes on sale at the beginning of December. And then maybe we’ll see its European debut at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show next Spring.

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