The Car Connection Honda HR-V Overview
The Honda HR-V compact crossover offers high versatility for a low price.
With the HR-V, Honda starts its crossover walk, below the mid-size CR-V and the big three-row Pilot—all new since the 2016 model year.
MORE: Read our 2021 Honda HR-V review
The HR-V is based on the mechanicals of the handy Honda Fit hatchback, and Honda builds it along with the Fit in Mexico. The HR-V competes with several other new crossover SUVs, including the Mazda CX-3, Chevy Trax, Fiat 500X, and Jeep Renegade.
The HR-V joined the Honda lineup in the 2016 model year, and it hasn't changed much in the years since. One important update brought standard automatic emergency braking to most versions. It was carried over unchanged for the 2020 and 2021 model years.
The new Honda HR-V
All-wheel drive is optional in the HR-V, which is standard equipment for even the smallest crossovers these days—even though most won't need it. The HR-V name has been used by Honda before, but this is the first time it's been used in the U.S.
Although based on Honda's space-age-looking Fit hatchback, the HR-V doesn't share that car's styling ethos. Instead, the HR-V is a more rounded interpretation of the current CR-V, with some very obvious Mazda-inspired design elements thrown in. Honda calls the lines coupe-like, which can be seen somewhat in the profile, and the designers have hidden the rear door handles to suggest further two-door styling. The high beltline, strong wheel arches, and wide stance give it a squat appearance. The interior is neatly organized and skips the dual-monitor clutter seen on larger Honda models; upper trim levels will get a central touchscreen for infotainment.
The HR-V has great fuel economy and good performance for the segment. The HR-V's 1.8-liter 4-cylinder is larger than the Fit's and develops 141 horsepower and 127 pound-feet of torque, with both peaks occurring fairly high on the powerband. With a choice of a continuously variable transmission or a 6-speed manual (the latter only on front-drive models) the HR-V mirrors the Fit's transmission offerings. Where it expands on the Fit formula is in offering all-wheel drive.
The HR-V measures 169.1 inches long overall and rides on a 102.8-inch wheelbase, making it longer than the Fit in both respects. With more than 100 cubic feet of interior space on the base LX trim (96.1 cu ft on EX and EX-L), the HR-V should be one of the roomiest vehicles in its niche—Honda points out that it's roomier than some mid-size offerings. Just like the Fit, the HR-V also features the Honda "Magic Seat," which allows the second-row seat to fold and flip, opening up more configuration possibilities and lots of storage space. Behind the front seats, Honda says the HR-V has 58.8 cubic feet of storage space with the rear seats folded, and there's 24.3 cubic feet available behind the second-row seat. The front passenger seat can also fold, opening up space for 8-foot objects—Honda suggests a kayak.
The HR-V comes standard with a rearview camera and tire-pressure monitors, along with the usual traction systems and airbags. The NHTSA gives the HR-V a five-star overall result, although it received a four-star rating in frontal impact, for both positions and crash-test dummy sizes. The IIHS has given the HR-V some "Good" scores, but it's rated as just "Acceptable" in side-impact and small-overlap crash tests.
Standard features on the HR-V include power windows, locks, and mirrors; the aforementioned rearview camera; a tilt/telescope steering column; steering-wheel audio controls; and Bluetooth with audio streaming. Options will include a touchscreen interface; Honda's LaneWatch camera; keyless ignition; paddle shifters; satellite radio; navigation; leather; a sunroof; and heated front seats.
Fuel economy won't be quite as good as in the Fit, of course, as that model weighs less and uses a smaller engine. The most efficient HR-V returns ratings of 28 mpg city, 34 highway.