GoAutoLogo
MENU

Car reviews - Honda - HR-V

Our Opinion

We like
Design, practicality, functionality, space, ease, reliability, economy, smoothness, five-year warranty, AEB now across the range
Room for improvement
Choppy low-speed ride on RS, no performance gain for RS, no Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, low-fi and fiddly multimedia system, no AWD availability, no escape from CVT, no adaptive cruise control

Extra kit makes the Honda HR-V better value but sportier RS deserves more muscle

Honda logo29 Aug 2018

Overview
 
IN EVERY sense the Honda HR-V makes a sound, if rather vanilla choice, among small SUVs. 
 
Handsome, roomy, practical and easy to drive, there are many positives and few negatives. The Series II is more of the same, but with a bit more extra safety and minor specification enhancements to make it better value. 
 
The new RS also brings more involving steering and improved high-speed handling, but, disappointingly, no extra performance.
 
And the competition is hotting up, so has the Thai-built HR-V Series II evolved enough to keep it at the pointy end of a very hungry pack?
 
Drive impressions
 
In many ways, the Honda HR-V has been the sensible choice among small SUVs. 
 
Handsome, dependable, easy to live with, sufficiently powerful, undemanding to drive and cheap to run – it’s the sort of set-and-forget vehicle you’d recommend to folk who don’t want to be challenged by what they commute in in any way.
 
Little wonder that this was the best-selling small SUV in the world between January 2015 and December last year.
 
However, while a top-five segment player in Australia, the HR-V seems to have been hamstrung by a strict regime of little or no choice, revolving around just the one powertrain – a dated 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol engine driving the front wheels via a continuously variable transmission. 
 
In contrast, arch-rival Mazda’s CX-3 dazzles buyers with a smorgasbord of diesel, or all-wheel drive, or manual options. Sixteen different flavours, in fact, compared to just four from Honda.
 
So, it was with some anticipation that we approached the model year 2019 HR-V facelift, mainly due to the arrival of a sporty new variant tantalisingly badged the RS.
 
Now, our experience with Honda of late means we weren’t expecting a turbo AWD rally weapon, especially as there is no performance upgrade whatsoever; but a faster (and now variable) steering system, recalibrated stability control software, revised springs, dampers and anti-roll bar, bigger wheels and lower-profile tyres, better front seats and additional sound insulation did promise something a bit spicier than the regular VTi/VTi-S/VTi-LX versions. It sure does look the part.
 
Plus, fettling with the CVT software across the HR-V range introduces artificial stepped ratios; combined with the new ‘drive’ and ‘sport’ modes, the aim is for a more natural feel under acceleration with reduced droning from the gearbox. What’s not to like?
 
A brief stint behind the wheel of the RS and VTi-LX did reveal a subtlety smoother and quieter car than we recalled from the earlier model, especially in the latter, which rides on 17-inch alloys. And we were reminded once again how inviting, roomy and airy the HR-V’s interior is. A real ‘back at home’ experience. Nice.
 
However, at lower speeds, the RS’ suspension is just too firm on some roads, hitting smaller-frequency bumps with a hardness that we weren’t prepared for. Is the sportier chassis tune to blame? The 18-inch rubber? Or a combo thereof? We have our suspicions.
 
At higher velocities, the racier HR-V’s steering, handling and road holding certainly do gel together better than anticipated, thanks to quicker turns requiring less effort, greater agility and control over a wide range of road surfaces and a generally more sure-footed feel. Small but worthwhile improvements.
 
We wonder whether the RS’ chassis on 17-inch wheels might make for a sweeter riding as well as driving machine? Perhaps reaching for the 18s was stretching it an inch too far for this Jazz-based crossover.
 
What is more frustrating about the RS, however, is that it can clearly use a stronger engine and better transmission than the still-quite-laggy CVT. 
 
Yes, there is ample performance for most buyers, but sometimes a chassis deserves better and this is one of those times. We have heard many times now that the Thai plant that supplies us with all HR-Vs doesn’t offer a manual gearbox option, or turbo, or AWD as per other facilities that make this model around the globe, but when the engineers create a more dynamic driving machine, surely, they should add a powertrain to match?
 
As for the rest of the HR-V range, well, Honda could not provide any lower-end variants as a boat hadn’t arrived in time for the launch, including the expected best-selling VTi and VTi-S, so we cannot tell you how the bread-and-butter versions drive or feel. 
 
We can say that in RS and VTi-LX, the central touchscreen looks especially cheap and aftermarket for two top-tier propositions, due mainly to ugly graphics and an unappealing interface; it also lacks Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone mirroring tech, which seems out of step. And no adaptive cruise in a mid-30K small SUV is also a specification anomaly nowadays. Every Toyota C-HR has got it.
 
So, the 2019 HR-V takes a small step forward for offering a visually more pleasing and dynamically more capable RS variant, but then takes another two backwards with hard suspension on 18-inch alloys, a couple of equipment shortfalls and a pedestrian powertrain. Or, in other words, as the newer gets stronger, the Honda is starting to feel its age and is falling behind.
 
Having not driven the sub-$32K HR-V, we cannot tell you whether the base variants still deserve to be on our shortlist of recommended small SUVs, but we can say that if the RS was a flavour, it would at least be vanilla bean. 
 
If your palette demands something with a bit more bite you may have to look elsewhere. For everybody else, it’s more of the same and so more of what you love from the Honda HR-V.

Click to share

Click below to follow us on
Facebook  Twitter  Instagram

Enquire on or Test Drive a New HR-V

Customer Terms and Conditions – New Car Lead enquires

Agreement

This is an agreement between GoAutoMedia Pty Limited ACN 094 732 457 of PO Box 18, Beach Road, Sandringham, VIC, 3191 (“we/us”), the owner and operator of the GoAuto.com.au website (“the website”) and the person wanting GoAuto.com.au to provide them with a lead for the purchase of a new car (“you”).

By completing a New Car Lead Enquiry, you agree to the terms and conditions and disclaimers and acknowledge the policies set out below.

Terms and Conditions

  • In order for us to effect a lead you must you must complete a New Car Lead Enquiry (“Enquiry”).
  • We will call you as soon as possible after you complete the Enquiry and certainly no later than the next business day. When we call, we will discuss with you your new car requirements.
  • You consent to our passing on the Enquiry and your requirements to an appropriate authorised motor car dealer as a lead.
  • We will contact you again in approximately eight days following your initial enquiry to check on the progress of the Enquiry.
  • While we will provide the dealer with the Enquiry and details of your new car requirements, we take no responsibility for what happens after passing on that material as a lead.
  • You acknowledge that we are a new car information service providing new car editorial information, pictures and prices to our customers as a guide only. Any new car prices published on the website are the manufacturers’ recommended retail prices and do not include delivery charges and on-road costs. Any authorized motor car dealer to which we pass on your Enquiry as a lead will provide you with full details of the price at which the vehicle will be sold to you.
  • You acknowledge that we do not sell motor vehicles. Any sale of a new car to you by a dealer after we have passed on your Enquiry to that dealer as a lead, is a sale by that dealer not by us.

Privacy Policy– New Car Lead Enquires

  • We take privacy very seriously. We understand that you will only complete an Enquiry if you can trust us to protect your personal information and use it appropriately. Our policy is to ensure that the personal information collected when you make an Enquiry is only used for the purposes of connecting you with an authorised motor car dealer.
  • We do not on-sell information collected from you or any other customer.
  • From time to time, we may email you with information or promotions that may be relevant for car buyers. You will continue to receive communications from us unless you tell us that you do not want to receive any advertising or promotional information in the future by unsubscribing from these communications.
close
* Denotes required field
** Australian inquiries only
*** Prices exclude on road costs and dealer delivery fees

HR-V pricing

Motor industry news

GoAutoNews is Australia’s number one automotive industry journal covering the latest news, future and new model releases, market trends, industry personnel movements, and international events.

Catch up on all of the latest industry news with this week's edition of GoAutoNews
Click here