The Honda HR-V was one of the original small SUVs but was only sold in Australia for from 1999 to 2001. That was the first time around. In 2015 Honda brought the new generation HR-V back to Australia, but by then the country had gone small SUV crazy with the Mitsubishi ASX and Mazda CX-3 being the big favourites. In the past two years even more small SUVs have rushed in such as the Toyota C-HR and Hyundai Kona.
So in this sea of small SUVs how does the HR-V compare? And which of the three types of HR-Vs is best for you? This review takes you through the entire HR-V range.
Price and features
How much is a HR-V? Well it depends which one because the HR-V range has three grades, or trim levels. There’s the entry level VTi which lists (RRP) for $24,990, then the VTi-S for $27,990 and then the top-spec $34,340 VTi-L with the ADAS safety pack. The dealership you rock up to may have a driveaway price, too.
They all have the same engine size, so the price difference comes down to the standard features. The VTi comes standard with a 7.0-inch multimedia touchscreen with Bluetooth connectivity for your iPhone or Android smartphone, sat nav (navigation system or GPS, call it what you will), and a reversing camera, but there is no Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, nor is there a CD or DVD player. The screen hooks up to a sound system with six speakers (no subwoofer), and other goodies include climate control air conditioning, cloth seats, auto halogen projector headlights with daytime running lights (DRLs), AM/FM radio, LED tail-lights, electric park brake, cruise control, and 16-inch alloy wheels.
Spending another $3K to step up to the VTi-S could be the smartest three grand you’ve thrown at a car because along with all of the VTi features, it’ll buy you get 17-inch rims, proximity key (also known as keyless entry or smart key), push button start, LED headlights and DRLS (not HID), a leather steering wheel and advanced safety equipment such as city speed auto emergency braking (AEB).
The top-spec VTi-L is a fairly big leap up in price (to $33,340) but you’re being rewarded with leather upholstery, power adjustable driver’s seat, heated front seats, panoramic sunroof, and front and rear parking sensors. You’ll still get the same infotainment system as the grade below.
Only VTi-L buyers are able to option the $1000 Advanced Driver Assist System (ADAS) pack, too, which is really just extra safety equipment in the form of Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning and adaptive high beams.
There’s no power tailgate, not even on the top of the range VTi-L, and while it doesn’t really get cold enough here to warrant one, there’s no heated steering wheel, either.
If you’re looking at a Honda HR-V, here’s a price guide vs the competitors in its segment: Toyota’s C-HR which ranges in price from $28,990 to $35,290; the smaller Mazda CX-3 starts at $20,490 and tops out at $37,890; the Hyundai Kona costs from $24,500 to $36,000; and the Mitsubishi ASX ranges from $25,000 to $37,000. As a model comparison, versus its rivals the HR-V is good value for money – but all Honda HR-V models are front-wheel drive (4×2) – there’s not all-wheel drive (AWD) or 4×4 available, which can be had in competitor models.
Our test car was White Orchid Pearlescent which is an optional colour, and there’s five other hues to choose from including Carnelian Red, Morpho Blue, Lunar Silver, Modern Steel (grey), and Ruse Black (which almost looks like it has a purple tinge in some lights). The only no-cost paint colour is Taffeta White.
There’s an entire catalogue of HR-V accessories including side steps, sports packs, floor mats and a rear aero bumper – no bull bars or nudge bars though.
Where is the HR-V built? Thailand, like most of the Japanese brand’s models sold in Australia. In other markets, some of the brand’s models come with Homelink technology, a system that can connect your car to your home, even offering a garage door opening system – but that’s not in the HR-V.
The HR-V isn’t as edgy and cool looking as the Toyota C-HR or the Hyundai Kona, but despite that conservative styling the Honda is handsome with its broad bonnet, deep grille, large headlights, and sculpted door panels. I can’t get excited about the HR-V’s plain tailgate and rear bumper, though – not in the way I can about the Kona’s sleek, modern design .
The C-HR is the longest of those rivals and while the HR-V looks big in size, too the dimensions show it to be 65mm shorter end to end than the C-HR at 4294mm, and 23mm narrower than the Toyota at 1772mm across, but taller at 1565mm. Ground clearance (mm) is 170mm.
Telling the grades of HR-V apart from the exterior is easy if you know what to look for. The base grade VTi doesn’t have roof racks (roof rails) or front fog lights, while the mid-spec VTi-S doesn’t get the top of the range’s sunroof, chrome door handles, and dark tinted rear glass.
Unlike the Kona or C-HR the HR-V doesn’t have a particularly sporty body kit, but all grades do get a rear spoiler.
The HR-V’s cabin, which you can see in the interior photos, will be familiar to anyone who’s sat in any new Honda recently with its irregular shapes and quirky functionality. All dashboard gadgets seems to be slightly driver focussed, the front passenger instead has three air vents to keep them amused.
The top spec VTi-L gets leather seats, the other two have cloth and the shiny piano black plastic on the centre console is sexy but hard to keep clean.
It’s the interior dimensions though which are the star, however. Read on below.
Ah, it might not be as cool looking as the C-HR, Kona and CX-3, but the HR-V is more practical than them. It’s about clever use of space and Magic Seats, Honda’s words, not mine. But first, legroom in the back row is excellent – I’m 191cm tall and can sit behind my driving position with about 10cm to spare – that is outstanding for this class and far more room than the CX-3, C-HR, ASX and Kona, which see my legs jammed into the seat back.
Headroom is good, but not in the back seats of the top spec VTi-L because of its sunroof which lowers the ceiling down.
Magic Seats is Honda’s term for the versatile seating in the second row. The seat bases can fold up vertically, like in a theatre, and that means you can carry tall objects like plants. It’s impressive.
So are the boot dimensions – 437 litres, in comparison the C-HR’s is 377L, the ASX has 393L of boot space, the CX-3’s luggage capacity is 264L and the Kona has 361L of storage space.
The rear windows have a dark tint anyway, but a cargo cover (tonneau cover) in the boot keeps the contents a bit more private. There’s a cargo liner available in the accessories catalogue, too.
Storage space elsewhere in the cabin is excellent, with a great centre console unit which provides decent sized hidey holes for your wallet or purse and adapts to take tall and short cups. There are just two cup holders in total but there are bottle holders in all the doors.
How many seats does it have? All HR-Vs are five seaters.
Engine & trans
Now the engine specs. All HR-Vs have a 105kW/172Nm 1.8-litre four cylinder engine with a CVT automatic transmission. It’s not the world’s most powerful engine by any means and the CVTs are known for their lack of responsiveness and personality. While the performance is not worth bragging about, it’s more than adequate for city and highway driving.
Oh and if you want a manual transmission, sorry – the CVT is all there is.
And there is sure to be somebody out there who wants to know if the HR-V has a timing chain or a belt – the answer is timing chain.
A towbar kit is also available and if you were wondering the braked towing capacity is 800kg.
All grades have the same engine and transmission but they use different amounts of fuel because of their varied weight and different wheel/tyre packages. Honda says the base grade VTi will use 6.6L/100km and both the VTi-S and VTi-L (both on 17-inch alloys, and both 30kg heavier than the base model) will get a 6.9L/100km mileage after a combination of open and urban roads. For those playing along in other countries, that makes for between 14.5 and 15.1 fuel consumption km/L.
Sounds like great consumption but after testing the VTi-L in mainly city and suburban areas the trip computer was reporting 11.4L/100km.
All HR-Vs are petrol – you won’t find a diesel here – and none have a turbo motor, or LPG, either.
The fuel tank capacity is 50 litres. With that fuel tank size, your theoretical fuel mileage is pretty good based on the model’s claimed open road fuel economy, especially in econ mode.
Really, my only gripe is with that CVT auto transmission. I’ll bet you when drive the car for the first time and you put your foot down on the highway you’ll wonder where the horsepower has gone. The engine has more than enough grunt, it’s the transmission that’s not letting it get through to the wheels effectively and quickly leading to a feeling of poor acceleration.
I test drove the top grade VTi-L which has the same engine and transmission as all HR-Vs. Visibility is great, the ride is comfortable, the steering is light and accurate, and the handling is good. This, combined with excellent seats and an elevated driving position, made for a super easy car to pilot – automatic gearbox problems aside.
Rear suspension is a torsion bar, while MacPherson struts are in the front.
All HR-Vs have been given the maximum five-star ANCAP rating, but advanced safety equipment is only standard on the VTi-S and VTi-L. The VTi-S comes standard with AEB, while only on the VTi-L can you option the Advanced Driver Assist System (ADAS) pack which adds Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning and adaptive high beams. Lane keeping assistance (or lane assist) isn’t available on any model.
You’ll find two ISOFIX points and three top-tether points across the rear row for baby seats. It has six airbags. Plenty of competitors offer a blind spot monitor system, but Honda doesn’t.
The HR-V is covered by Honda’s five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. Servicing is recommended every 12 months or 10,000km.
A capped-price servicing program means owners of the HR-V can expect to pay $284 for the first visit, $298 for the second and $298 all the way up to the 100,000km service.
As for any problems – I didn’t come across any, but we only had the HR-V for a week. You can check out our HR-V problems page to see if there;s any complaints, issues, defects or common faults that they may give you concern.
The HR-V may not look as edgy and cool as some of its rivals but it feels more grown up and clever, and that’s reflected in its ratings. The versatile seats and big boot make this arguable the most practical car in the class, while being easy to drive.
The sweet spot in the HR-V range is definitely the VTi-S, sure you miss out on leather heated seats, but you’re proximity unlocking, 17-inch alloys, plus important stuff like AEB.
Pictures: The cars that got totally forgotten