Honda HR-V (2015-2022) Review
Spacious, reliable and finished to a high standard, Honda's small SUV is roomy and drives well, but it's expensive and lacks panache
Strengths & weaknesses
- Boot is large and easily accessible
- Folding rear seats increase load room
- Ride is comfortable but fun
- Entertainment system feels dated and is fiddly to use
- Expensive compared to rivals
- Automatic gearbox is noisy
The first generation HR-V from 1999 now seems a bit before its time, but the landscape has drastically changed since then.
Honda now competes in a segment that includes the long-running Nissan Juke, the Renault Captur, Mazda CX-3, Seat Arona and funky French offerings in the form of the Peugeot 2008 and Citroen C3 Aircross.
Vauxhall and Ford have something that sits in the segment, as do the historically cheaper models from Korean marques Kia and Hyundai.
Refreshed for 2018, the face-lifted Honda HR-V received LED daytime running lights at the front, a new grille, fresh alloy wheels, additional chrome accents and a new selection of paints over the outgoing model.
As a result, the HR-V is one of the sharpest high-up small SUVs on the market, with neat exterior styling and an interior that is a cut above the rest in terms of fit and finish, but it's still not exactly the most dazzling thing to behold.
Engineers have also seen fit to add further sound insulation to the 2018/19 model, making it quieter than ever before, while higher trim levels also receive Active Noise Cancellation technology.
Space is also its major unique selling point and the clever interior packaging means rear passengers get a good amount of head and legroom, while the 470-litre boot is larger than that found in the altogether larger Nissan Qashqai.
However, the HR-V has clever seats, which means owners can easily fold the rear pews flat or flip them cinema-style and free up an impressive 1,533-litres, which is a good deal greater than the Nissan Juke and Mazda CX-3.
Honda is also a brand that is known for delivering an engaging drive and although the HR-V isn't quite as focussed as the latest Civic, it still delivers a much firmer and more planted ride than some of its closest rivals.
This isn't at the expense of comfort though, and the model makes a very convincing long distance cruiser when mated to the refined and frugal 1.6 litre i-DTEC diesel engine, which returns around 70mpg according to official tests which are somewhat optimistic.
Those with regular 'short hop' journeys should look towards the excellent and recently refreshed 1.5-litre i-VTEC petrol engine, which revs freely and gives the HR-V a uniquely zippy character, especially when paired with the smooth six-speed manual.
It's also slightly more fuel efficient than the petrol offerings in older models, while it emits fewer harmful emissions from the tailpipe.
Unfortunately, the automatic gearbox is a bit noisy under hard acceleration, seemingly holding on to gears for too long.
On top of this, Honda's touchscreen media system feels dated compared to rivals, with the menus and screens often fiddly to navigate. The Garmin sat-nav also features out of date graphics and a confusing layout.
But Honda is an engineering company at heart, meaning the general fit and finish of the interior is exceptional, while painstaking hours have been invested in making the gear shift as slick and effortless as possible, reduce noise in the cabin and generally ensuring this is a reliable and practical as possible.
|Warranty||3 years / 90,000-miles|
|Boot space||470-litres/1,533 litres|
|Tax||From £145 to £205 in the first year, £140 thereafter|
Best Honda HR-V for...
Best for Economy – Honda HR-V 1.6 litre i-DTEC S Manual
The S trim isn't exactly packed with creature comforts but it keeps costs to a minimum and the official fuel economy of 70.6mpg is achievable thanks to the smaller 16-inch wheels.
Best for Families – Honda HR-V 1.5 litre i-VTEC EX Manual
This top spec trim level is the one to opt for if using the vehicle everyday, as it packs some generous creature comforts, and the petrol engine perfectly suits those shorter school run routes.
Best for Families – Honda HR-V 1.5 i-VTEC EX CVT
Not only is this top spec model expensive compared to rivals, it also boast the CVT gearbox, which just isn't as smooth or comfortable as other automatics on the market.
- 1999: This futuristic lightweight crossover featured true four-wheel-drive system that was activated when the front wheels lost traction. Small and featherweight, it also boasted low emissions levels and great fuel economy.
- 2015: A second generation arrived some 16 years later but lost its all-wheel-drive capabilities to compete with the new crop of crossovers.
- 2018: A facelifted variant goes on sale with refreshed exterior styling to bring it in line with the new Civic and improved interior technology.
Understanding Honda HR-V names
Just three time levels on offer here, with each ascending level offering more kit as standard but commanding a greater price.
Engine 1.5-litre i-VTEC
Two engines are on offer, a 1.5-litre petrol and a 1.6-litre diesel.
Gearbox 6 speed manual
6-speed shows that the car has six gears and this is the standard 'box across the range. Customers can specify a CVT automatic on the 1.5-litre petrol models at an additional cost.
Honda HR-V Engines
1.5-litre i-VTEC and 1.6-litre i-DTEC
Unfortunately, those wanting their HR-Vs to venture off-road will be slightly disappointed, as there is no four-wheel-drive system offered on UK vehicles. Honda will likely push you towards the larger CR-V if that's a deal-breaker.
But on-road manners are very good and this is partly due to the quiet and perfectly powerful petrol and diesel engines that are offered across the range.
Despite the current trend towards diesel taxation, the 120hp 1.6-litre i-DTEC remains a popular choice thanks to the excellent fuel economy it manages at motorway speeds. Expect to hit a miles per gallon figure in the high 60s if you have a particularly feathery touch on the throttle.
That said, the addition of a more powerful 1.5-litre i-VTEC unit for 2018/19 proved to be the peppier and more entertaining engine of the bunch, with its free-revving nature perfectly suiting the slick gear change via the stubby little lever.
Fuel economy figures won't be quite as high, nor is there as much torque for towing or low-down lazy acceleration, but it is quiet, refined and borders on the entertaining when mated to the manual gearbox.
It's a shame, then, that the Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) is the automatic of choice for the HR-V. Despite Honda's attempts to simulate gears, it remains harsh, noisy and nowhere near as sharp under heavy load as a dual-clutch transmission or DSG found in the Seat Arona, for example.
0 - 62mph
Honda HR-V Trims
S, SE and EX
At £19,795 for the most basic 1.5 i-VTEC models, the Honda HR-V is expensive compared to rivals, especially if you look at the Kona and Stonic offered by Hyundai and Kia respectively.
But it does come well equipped across the range, with this entry level cars receiving LED daytime running lights, halogen headlights and 16-inch alloy wheels on the outside, as well as climate control, fabric seats and an electronic parking brake.
On top of this, Honda has elevated the levels of luxury on its top spec SE and EX models with the addition of the previously mentioned LED daytime running lights, additional chrome accents and new alloy wheel designs.
However, Honda’s ‘Magic Seats’ (seats that flip and fold) are present as standard from S models and above, as is an impressive suite of safety features that includes: brake assist, hill start assist and a dual stage inflation airbag for the driver for improved occupant protection.
Unfortunately, Honda has scrimped on the entertainment and these models receive a basic radio tuner unit that features CD input and a USB point for plugging in an iPod or other music device.
However, it's worth noting that even these basic models feel very well put together, with smooth touch plastics used throughout the cabin and switchgear that manages to be both functional and stylish.
Step up to SE level and Honda throws in plenty of additional niceties, including 17-inch alloy wheels, parking sensors at the front and rear, auto wipers, a leather steering wheel and gear knob, rear parking camera and a lane departure warning system.
This level also sees the introduction of a 7-inch touchscreen media display that boasts digital radio and runs a number of online apps when tethered to a smartphone or SIM card. It's a far nice system than the one found in S models but it's certainly not class leading in terms of its looks and intuitiveness.
Finally, EX sits at the very top of the specification tree and as a result, comes complete with a multitude of executive toys.
Keyless entry and push-button start, a panoramic glass roof, leather upholstery, LED headlights and heated seats up front lend it a more premium feel inside, although it doesn't feel like a massive step up from the SE models, despite the hefty price increase.
Honda HR-V Reliability and warranty
Honda holds a long and well-established reputation for creating products that last a lifetime and there's no reason why the latest HR-V would be any different. The 3-year/90,000 mileage warranty might not be as long as those offered by Hyundai or Kia but it is still above standard.
The CR-V (the HR-V's older brother) placed particularly well in the 2018 Auto Express Driver Power customer satisfaction, ranking 6th overall in the 'Most Reliable Cars to Buy' category, with the magazine admitting that "finding an owner who has had issues with their Honda CR-V was no easy task,"
The HR-V might be slightly smaller, but it is based largely on the Jazz, which came in 17th in that very same list.