The HR-V is a nameplate we first encountered way back in the late ’90s as the shoe of Voltes V. Today’s HR-V is a slick piece of work, and arguably the best-looking Honda of the lot.
The Japanese carmaker knows how to humanize its cars, and this model is one of the most charismatic products it has rolled out since the first Jazz came out. Sharing its platform with the Jazz, the HR-V has much of the practicality of that little econobox, but it amps up the style factor. The raffish curves, the sweeping roofline, the futuristic cockpit—it’s hard not to like this crossover. Especially when you remember how chunky and nerdy its predecessor was. You don’t remember it? Good. It really was a sad sack compared to the CR-V.
This time around, the HR-V boasts heaps of style to go with the trademark driving fun that Honda is known for. While it’s only available with front-wheel drive, this won’t hinder drivers too much as the only off-road this will ever likely encounter might be grassy parking areas.
The 1.8-liter SOHC doesn’t have the verve of the XV’s flat-four given that it’s down by 9hp vs. the Subaru powerplant, so you won’t really want to go racing in this Honda even if it has paddle shifters and sharp handling chops. The Eco mode encourages thrifty driving, and netted us 8-8.5km/L in urban madness.
The engine is whisper-quiet and silky-smooth, paired with a CVT that minimizes the oozing sensation during hard runs. The steering is laser-precise, and the suspension is up to the task of frisky driving if you’re so inclined. The seats here are firmer than the Subaru’s, though, and while both are comfortable for long drives, it will come down to what your buttocks prefer: hard or cushy. The HR-V cedes some utility to the XV in the cargo department as the roofline curves toward the back, reducing usable space if you retain the rear seat bottoms.
That said, the HR-V has the famous ULT seats we first fell in love with in the Jazz. Fold the seat bottoms forward and fold the seatbacks down—and voila, now you have a big box behind the front seats. Total rated cargo volume thus configured is 1,665L.
Other little touches conspire to make you fall in love with the HR-V, like the touchscreen displays for the multimedia and climate controls; the over/under design of the center console that raises the height of the shifter so your hand is perfectly placed on it when your arm is on the armrest; the seeming bazillion of A/C vents up front; and even those little mood lights around the instrument bezels and front speakers. You don’t really need them for the everyday commute, but if your daily drive tends to suck the life out of you, well, a little entertainment and whimsy is much appreciated.
SPECS: HONDA HR-V 1.8 EL
Engine: 1.8-liter SOHC I4
Transmission: 5-speed automatic
Power: 139hp @ 6,500rpm
Torque: 172Nm @ 4,300rpm
UP NEXT: Subaru XV