Space Is Its Ace
Another day, another crossover review. This time around, we’re taking a look at the Honda HR-V, which received a refresh for 2019. There’s already a lot of small crossovers out there, which comes in different shapes, colors, and styles. In a saturated market full of great offerings, does the refreshed HR-V stand out, or is it just another crossover that’ll fade into the background?
The subcompact SUV segment is where car manufacturers try to attract the younger demographic. Case in point, this 2019 HR-V’s styling. The HR-V has this coupe-like profile for a while now, and it’s been spiced up for 2019 with revised front and rear fascias, standard LED head and tail lights, as well as a trendy set of two-tone 17-inch alloy wheels. The entire package works quite well and avoids the slab-sided look of many small SUVs in its segment. This RS variant adds a dose of gloss black trims, as well as a sportier alloy wheel design.
Likewise, the interior features a lot of trendy design cues such as the high center console and a dashboard angled towards the driver. If you’re complaining about the summer heat, then you’ll appreciate the row of aircon vents for the front passenger. Elsewhere, the interior is relatively plush and premium, especially this RS variant that features a vast amount of leather on the doors.
Unfortunately, the premium ambiance is ruined by a microphone that sticks out like a sore thumb. This is because of the aftermarket infotainment system from Kenwood, which I think is a step down from the Honda OEM infotainment system. I’ll be honest in saying that the interface is awful to use so it’s a good thing that there’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Ugly microphone aside, the HR-V’s strength continues to be its practicality. The high center console gives it excellent versatility. There’s even a storage bin under the center console obscured from outside view. The cup holders also feature a complex multi-level mechanism, while the center armrest is adjustable in multiple ways.
The back seats are still one of the HR-V’s strong assets, thanks to its Magic Seats. The seats have the ability to flip up the bases as well as lie completely flat to give the HR-V the most spacious trunk in its class. It also offers one of the most spacious rear seat spaces, and this is all thanks to the Jazz’s platform underpinning the HR-V.
Keeping all occupants safe is a comprehensive list of safety features, ranging from electronic stability control, four airbags, hill start assist, and emergency stop signal.
Powering all HR-Vs is a 1.8-liter inline-4 i-VTEC petrol engine, which generates 142 hp @ 6,500 rpm and 172 Nm of torque @ 4,300 rpm. This powertrain is married to a CVT, and in case you’re wondering, it only powers the front wheels. There’s no AWD option available.
Out in the open road, the HR-V provides a nice balance between sportiness and daily usability, and that’s a trend you’ll be seeing throughout the review. Whereas a Mazda CX-3 is outright sporty to drive, the HR-V hits a balance between comfort and sport. The steering is light, but weights up progressively as you speed up for more stability. There’s not a lot in terms of feel, but it’s responsive enough that you know where to point the vehicle when going through corners.
It’s the same case with the suspension. It does a good job counteracting body roll, but it also soaks up the bumps really well, even better than its predecessor. Sound insulation seems to be improved, too. There are less road and wind noise creeping into the cabin, even at high speeds.
Upon first driving the HR-V, one might think that the engine is weak based on it revving so much, but it’s all because of the CVT overcompensating under hard acceleration. There’s actually decent pull from the engine from the mid to higher rev range, typical of Honda’s rev-happy engines. The powertrain combination provides reasonable amounts of thrust whatever the situation, though it never feels as spritely as the Mazda CX-3’s. Nevertheless, its fuel economy is good at 10.1 km/l over a week’s worth of using.
The Honda HR-V might not stand out on paper, but in reality, it stands out in delivering one of the most practical and flexible interiors at a price that’s smack in the middle of Honda’s range. Most buyers will still gravitate towards the affordable but utilitarian BR-V. The HR-V meanwhile, is a more emotional and lifestyle oriented choice.
Pricing and Rating
Exterior Design: ★★★★☆
Interior Design: ★★★★★
Space and Practicality: ★★★★★
Fuel Efficiency: ★★★★★
Value For Money: ★★★★☆
Overall: 4.3 out of 5