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- Perky body
- Clever Magic Seat offers great flexibility
- High level of standard features
- Manual transmission offered
- Absorbent, composed ride
- Won't win a drag race
- So-so safety scores
- Lacks some safety tech
- Not as fun to drive as Hondas used to be
Think of the 2017 Honda HR-V as a Fit with all-wheel drive and a little more headroom. It's not as fun as it could be, but it makes a lot of sense.
The 2017 Honda HR-V is a relatively new entry into the small SUV category, but it cemented its standing as the segment's practicality-oriented choice early on thanks to Honda's almost religious devotion to interior packaging.
But although the HR-V has more interior flexibility than its rivals, it lacks some key safety tech. We've given it a score of 6.8 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
For 2017, the HR-V returns essentially unchanged from last year and continues to be available in LX, EX, and EX-L trim levels with a choice of front- or all-wheel drive and, depending on configuration, either a 6-speed manual transmission or a CVT.
The HR-V marked a new entry into the subcompact segment for Honda, where it sits below the automaker's hugely popular CR-V in order to take on the Mazda CX-3, Chevrolet Trax, and Jeep Renegade. At its core, the HR-V is a Honda Fit with a taller body, but there are some distinct differences. The HR-V offers all-wheel drive and has an interior outfitted with nicer materials and more features.
Honda HR-V styling and performance
The HR-V stands out from its rivals starting at the nose, where the stubby HR-V wears a lookalike grille and headlamps akin to those on the current CR-V. Elsewhere, it's a more playful, jazzy shape—the roofline is arched high for head room, the front fenders are quite pronounced, and there's a swell of sheet metal at the shoulder line that extends down the side of the HR-V, past its hidden rear door handles.
All HR-Vs ride on attractive 17-inch alloy wheels, albeit with relatively low profile tires.
Inside, the HR-V is simply a nicer place to be than the Fit, thanks to added noise insulation, better materials, and finer details. The dual-screen clutter of bigger Hondas is absent in the HR-V, but we're fine with just one infotainment screen.
The HR-V's exuberant styling is offset by moderate performance and offers little of the fun-to-drive nature we've come accustomed to with Hondas. With a drivetrain related to the one used in the Fit, the HR-V earns stellar fuel economy numbers, carefully balanced against merely adequate acceleration. The HR-V's 1.8-liter inline-4 is rated at 141 horsepower, and paired with either a continuously variable transmission (CVT) or a 6-speed manual—the latter only on front-drive LX and EX models. With either setup, even with optional all-wheel drive, it feels strong enough for safe highway merges and dignity-preserving stoplight launches.
Ride quality takes priority over flat cornering, but the HR-V is nonetheless sufficiently confident and balanced—just how most users will probably want it.
The HR-V's steering is relaxed, the body motions are well-controlled and it doesn't feel a bit brittle, even on terrible roads. Leave the track tuning and off-roading to others: this tall hatchback is intended for everyday driving.
Honda HR-V comfort, quality, and features
It's also the comfort and utility king among subcompact crossovers, which is crucial for a "lifestyle" vehicle. With more than 100 cubic feet of interior space on the base LX trim (96.1 cubes on EX and EX-L), the HR-V is the roomiest vehicle of its kind. Front-seat comfort is great, but it really shines in the back seat, where adults have excellent head and leg room for such a little 'ute.
The HR-V also sports Honda's signature "Magic Seat," which folds and flips the second-row seat like a lawn chair if need be, to free up multiple storage and seating configurations. Behind the front seats, Honda pegs the HR-V at 58.8 cubic feet of storage space, or 24.3 cubic feet behind the second-row seat—but with the Magic Seat, it's far more flexible than any of its rivals.
On the safety front, the HR-V earned a five-star overall rating from the federal government, but the IIHS recorded mixed results. The HR-V comes standard with a rearview camera and tire pressure monitors, along with the usual traction systems and airbags, and has available nifties like Honda's sideview LaneWatch camera, though features like blind-spot monitors, automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control are not offered here as they are on rivals.
Still, all HR-Vs are nicely equipped. The EX adds a decent infotainment system, heated seats, and Honda's unique LaneWatch system that displays the vehicle's blind spot on its center screen when the right turn signal is activated. The EX-L adds leather and navigation, but its price tag comes perilously close to a lower-spec CR-V.
With the continuously variable transmission, the HR-V soars to the top of its class for fuel economy. Gas mileage on front-drive, CVT-equipped HR-Vs is rated at 28/35/31 mpg; with all-wheel drive, it's a few digits lower, at 27/32/29 mpg.