When Honda Cars Philippines, Inc. (HCPI) launched the second-generation HR-V, it quickly became one of the brand’s most popular offerings in our market. More than 5,000 units have been sold since then. While that’s a pretty good amount of HR-Vs sold through its lifetime, that’s a number that was quickly reached by its slew of Chinese competitors that debuted over the years since then. Enter the 2022 Honda HR-V 1.5 S, and at least among the mainstream brands, it’s the best value among subcompact SUVs.
That begins with the amount of kit you get as standard with this 2022 Honda HR-V 1.5 S. Sure, this may be the entry-level model, but from the outside, its minimalist styling is almost unchanged compared to the top trim 1.5 V Turbo. The two cars also share roughly the same design, though the 1.5 S comes with 17-inch two-tone alloy wheels and a horizontal grille pattern as opposed to the 1.5 V Turbo’s mesh grille and grey wheels. Other standard features include full LED headlights, a full-width LED taillight design, smart entry with push-button start, and also remote engine start.
As you move towards its interior, the differences between the entry-level 1.5 S and 1.5 V Turbo are more pronounced. The 1.5 S comes with analog gauges and fabric seats, but it still gets an 8-inch touch screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, rear aircon vents, and of course, those highly-practical ULT seats that can flip up and fold down depending on your cargo needs. As for the rest of the interior, Honda’s ergonomics are on point as of late. The knurled, clicky knobs are very satisfying to use. Plus the interior feels well-built. However, we do think that the previous HR-V had a higher amount of soft-touch plastics compared to the new model. Still, it’s a very nice place to be in on long journeys, with comfortable seats and a steering wheel that offers plenty of adjustment.
Of course, you’re most likely curious about how the 2022 Honda HR-V 1.5 S performs now that its engine is the City’s DOHC 1.5-liter i-VTEC motor and not the bigger, more powerful 1.8-liter from the outgoing 10th-generation Civic. This engine produces 121 hp and 145 Nm of torque, which is around 20 hp and nearly 30 Nm less than the previous engine. This, of course, is mated to a CVT, driving the front wheels.
When I drove it at Honda’s test track, the HR-V with the City’s engine performed adequately, but that was when I was alone. Now that we’ve loaded up the HR-V with cargo and people, let’s just say it isn’t purely a bliss to drive anymore. Don’t get me wrong, the HR-V 1.5 S accelerates well on straight, leveled roads, but when on inclines, the 121-hp 1.5-liter engine needs to be revved hard in order to get some decent pace. If it’s any consolation, a less powerful version of this engine is what powers the BR-V and Mobilio, and if that engine is able to shuttle seven people on inclines, then it should be no problem for the HR-V. Just don’t expect it to perform as fast as the turbo version.
As a result of all these, the HR-V 1.5 S is actually the thirstier one compared to the faster, more powerful turbo HR-V. Our drive to Batangas was mostly done on clear roads, so expect high fuel economy numbers. The 1.5 S averaged at 13-18 km/l, while the 1.5 V Turbo performed better at 14-19 km/l. This is mainly due to those steep inclines we encountered. While we were wringing the heck out of the non-turbo HR-V’s engine, the turbo version was more effortless, therefore revving it to its limits wasn’t needed, and this paid dividends to the turbo model’s fuel economy.
As for the rest of the driving experience, the 2022 Honda HR-V 1.5 S offers good handling when driving through twisties. The steering ratio feels quick and precise. I even think this HR-V is more fun-to-drive compared to its predecessor. Body roll is also well controlled whilst still offering an excellent ride. Refinement is also improved compared to the previous model, though there’s still a fair amount of road noise.
The most impressive aspect about this HR-V, however, is the fact that the Honda Sensing suite of advanced driver-assistance tech is offered as standard even in this base 1.5 S. This means that you get a well-calibrated automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, full-speed adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, and a lane keeping assist that works so well, you can almost drive hands-free. Of course, we’re just trying to raise a point, but the system is that good at keeping the car in the center of the lane, even when going through bends.
And thanks to the standard Honda Sensing, the HR-V 1.5 S is the variant that we’d recommend to most people. You pretty much get a subcompact SUV that comes with all the safety, multimedia, and modern amenities you expect in a vehicle nowadays, but at a price tag that at P1,250,000, makes a Corolla Cross 1.8 G seem expensive and bare bones.
In short, the 2022 Honda HR-V 1.5 S is the best value subcompact SUV that money can currently buy, at least if your choices are limited to just the mainstream competition. Sure, the Chinese brands such as Geely still offer much more for your money, but in terms of mechanical polish, a vehicle wearing the Honda badge is still a safer bet. Literally.