Seattle — The sub-compact crossover market is more competitive than ever and that’s a great thing for consumers as there’s a bounty of available choices. With its 2019 HR-V, Honda looks to drop its hat in the ring with a well-loaded vehicle that is very competitively priced. It’s a handsome package that offers Honda’s legendary reliability and enough creature comforts to make it a compelling offering.
Honda has revamped this HR-V and has churned out a rather sharp-looking vehicle. Updated front and rear fascias help give the vehicle a modern, bold look that is among one of the better-looking compact crossovers available.
The main Achilles heel of the HR-V is its powertrain. There’s nothing abnormal about the power generated by its 1.8-liter 4 cylinder engine – which comes in at 141 horsepower with 127 lb-ft of torque. It’s rather standard for vehicles in its class and price range. The main issue is the CVT (continuously variable) transmission. If you haven’t driven a car with a CVT, imagine piloting a motor boat. You engage the throttle and the engine stays at near maximum RPM while your speed increases. While I admit that most drivers won’t care about this, it creates a vacuum of feedback and engagement for people who like the mechanics of driving. Honda does try and mitigate a bit of this by simulating hard shift points, but it’s still leaves me feeling rather numb.
The EPA gives the HR-V a rating of 31 miles per gallon on the highway and 26 around town for a combined average of 28. While that’s not terrible, one would think that with such a lower-powered engine and a CVT transmission with overdrive would fare better, however, it’s rather standard for this class.
Interior features and tech:
It’s on the inside, where the HR-V really shines. From the modern, classy look of its design cues to the use of upscale-to-the-feel surface materials. Even the plastics don’t feel too cheap. One questionable design is where the USB ports are located. They’re underneath the main center console in a forward cubby location. This layout certainly makes plugging in USB cords or devices, a bit too cumbersome, however, can present a more tidy look inside.
The infotainment center sports a 7-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple’s CarPlay, standard. You’ll find the touchscreen is really responsive and rather intuitive to use. Audio quality is very much mediocre on our Sport test model and falls rather short from what other competitive models offer from other automakers.
Drive aids, include adaptive steering, lane keeping assist, blind spot and parking indicators. It’s been great to see technologies like adaptive cruise make their way into vehicles well below the $30k mark.
If you want a brilliantly designed seating and cargo arrangement, than the HR-V is hard to beat. Its rear seats have two modes — one where the seat bottom folds up to allow you to place items behind the front seats that are too tall to fit otherwise. And there’s also a fully deployed position that creates a nearly flat cargo surface. You’ll find that with the second row laid down, there’s a very spacious 55.9 cubic feet of usable cargo area.
On the road, the HR-V provides excellent visibility for the driver. The large front windshield and small pillars up-front, with large side windows all help in that area. There’s not terribly excessive body-roll and the electronically assisted steering feels light on its feet.
While the overall driving experience is rather homogenized by the low power output and CVT, it seems to be standard by many compact crossovers. But where the HR-V really shines and should be considered when shopping for a new compact crossover, is its cargo space, passenger comfort and available all-wheel-drive — a feature not available in all compact crossovers.
If you’re looking for Honda’s strong history of reliable cars, excellent resell value and a vehicle in this class that delivers excellent cargo space with ample driver-assist technologies, than you should give the 2019 HR-V a test drive.
Price as tested: $29,585 (including $1045 destination and handling fee).
For more information, visit: https://automobiles.honda.com