The Honda Urban SUV, introduced at the 2013 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, is a thinly veiled version of a production crossover SUV that is coming to the United States in the 2014 calendar year. The new model will slot into the lineup beneath the Honda CR-V, is built on the same platform as the Honda Fit, and will have a fuel-efficient Earth Dreams powertrain as standard equipment.
When the production version of the Honda Urban SUV hits showrooms, it will be gunning for the Buick Encore, Fiat 500L, Jeep Compass, Kia Soul, Mini Cooper Countryman, Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, Nissan Juke, and Subaru XV Crosstrek.
Honda says the Urban SUV Concept features “aspirational design” and “sophisticated styling,” and we would agree. Compared to a homely CR-V, the Urban SUV Concept is gorgeous, proving that people with genuine design talent toil in Torrance.
Unfortunately, as is Honda tradition, by the time the Urban SUV Concept rolls down an assembly line on what are sure to be undersized wheels, all the cool stuff will be erased, leaving nothing but that unmistakable swoosh on the side and the trick hidden rear door handles in the rear roof pillar.
There is potential for redemption, however. Honda says the production version of the Urban SUV Concept will have the same Magic Seat design as the Fit hatchback. If you’ve ever had the chance to live with a Fit, you know it really is a Magic Seat. And it means the Urban SUV Concept will carry more stuff, and a greater variety of stuff, than you might ever guess.
Aside from promising a fuel-efficient Earth Dreams powertrain, Honda isn’t divulging what might be employed to propel the production version of the Urban SUV Concept. The smallest and least powerful Earth Dreams engine currently offered in a Honda is the 185-horsepower, 2.4-liter 4-cylinder installed in the Accord and paired with a continuously variable transmission.
Wait a second. The Urban SUV is smaller and lighter than a CR-V, looks all kinds of better than its sibling, and might have a 185-horse engine capable of 30 mpg in combined driving? That actually sounds terrific.
But what if this Fit-based crossover gets the same engine as that tiny little hatchback, a 117-horsepower, 1.5-liter 4-cylinder motor? That doesn’t sound good. Not good at all.
Honda confirms that the production version of the Urban SUV Concept will offer “next-generation telematics,” which means it will be available with HondaLink cloud-based smartphone integration technology. You’ll never need to miss a single tweet or friend request while on the road in whatever Honda decides to call this thing. We nominate the name “Urban.”
The problem with the lovable but now deceased Honda Element was that it was ugly. The Honda Urban SUV Concept, in concept form, is not ugly. Not even close. As long as Honda brings the Urban SUV Concept to fruition as is, at least in top trim, it should prove to be another huge hit for an automaker that rarely stumbles. At the very least, Honda, keep those wheels. They’re perfection.