Take a hatchback and raise it a bit and you end up with a subcompact crossover like the Honda HR-V. All mainstream manufacturers have one of these models now and that’s because they’re easy to park, offer enough room for a city runabout, and they’re fuel efficient. So how does the HR-V compare to the rest?
Engine – The Honda HR-V is powered by a naturally aspirated 1.8L inline-4 producing 141 hp and 127 lb-ft of torque. With a body that tips the scales at 1,423 kg for this Sport trim, the little 1.8L engine does not provide quick acceleration off the line. It needs to be revved to get going. The power is all at the top of the rpm range as is the peak torque so it doesn’t feel as peppy as the Mazda CX-3.
However despite the constant revving from a stop, fuel economy is nearly identical to that of the CX-3 at 8.4 L/100km during my time with the HR-V. That’s 0.1 L/100km better than what Honda claims at 8.5 L/100km for a combined fuel economy figure. If your commute consists of mainly highway driving, you could get as low as 7.7 L/100km.
Transmission – In the past, there was an option for a manual transmission with the Honda HR-V. However for the 2019 model year, it is no longer available. A CVT is the only available transmission and unfortunately it behaves like a more traditional CVT. As in, it holds the rpms at very high numbers when accelerating and is slow to react to driver inputs when going for an overtake on a highway. On the plus, it does help the HR-V reach the good fuel economy numbers.
Braking – The brakes are adequate for a crossover of this size. Stopping is straightforward with an easy to modulate brake pedal. Forward collision alert and emergency braking are standard features across all trim levels.
Handling – While acceleration is disappointing, handling is not. Once you do manage to get up to speed, you can feel confident that the 2019 Honda HR-V will go around twisty roads without needing to slow down too much. The steering, while vague in feel, is direct and quick to react to inputs. There’s also a decent amount of grip from the tires and with the available AWD system, you can take it on some light off-road trails.
Ride Comfort – Normally subcompact SUVs have bouncy rides due to the short wheelbase, the Ford EcoSport comes immediately to mind. But the Honda HR-V is the opposite as it has one of the best rides in this class. It’s not Rolls Royce comfortable but you can drive over potholes without your eyes jiggling out of their sockets.
Interior Space – Depending on your height and where you sit, you can either be comfortable or wanting for more leg room. At 6’4”, I just just fine in the front seats although a bit more leg room would have been nice. However the rear seats are tight for someone my size. Those rear seats though have a party piece as they not only fold down but they can also fold up so that you can carry taller items that would not fit in the trunk.
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – Cabin insulation from the outside world is not the greatest in the HR-V. Wind and road noise are prevalent at highway speeds but worse still is the engine noise when accelerating. It is not a pleasant sound and it overshadows every other sound including the radio.
Interior Design – The interior design is reminiscent of other Honda models. Unfortunately it does not have the new infotainment system of the Accord but it does have a volume knob (if you read my Honda Civic review, you’ll know why I’m highlighting that). I particularly like the climate controls of the HR-V and I hope that other Honda models incorporate them in the future. One thing of note is the excellent outward visibility. Blind zones are nearly non-existent and so long as you have the rear headrests down, rearward visibility is also excellent.
Odds and Ends
Gadgets – Compared to other subcompact crossovers, the 2019 Honda HR-V comes very well equipped even on the base LX trim. The aforementioned forward collision alert and emergency braking are standard as is lane departure warning and keep, auto high beam, and adaptive cruise control. Upgrade to the Touring trim and LED headlights are standard. It would be nice if the LED headlights were an option on the lower trims because the regular projector halogens are dreadful at night.
On the inside, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility is standard across all trims but the LaneWatch blind spot display is only available on the Sport and Touring trims.
Exterior Design – The HR-V received some revised exterior touches from the 2016 to 2018 model years. The styling is not as bold as the Toyota C-HR but it stands on its own in a crowded shopping mall parking lot. Plus you’ll never lose it with this Orange Burst Metallic paint.
In all the 2019 Honda HR-V stands out on its own in a crowding subcompact class with safety features that are available as standard, versatile cargo solutions, and smooth ride comfort. It is however more expensive than the competition when comparing the base models at just over $23,000 CAD. But tick all of the options and the Touring trim is around the same price as others at $32,000 CAD.
Thank you to Honda Canada for providing the vehicle. www.Honda.ca