Read about the Honda HR-V, the compact crossover combining the practicality and reliability of a Jazz with the trendier looks and style to compete with more fashionable rivals
The Auto Trader expert verdict:
Available new from £20,795
Competition in the small SUV and crossover sector is intense and Honda’s HR-V has a longer history than most with a clear understanding of what buyers want. Style will be a strong motivation for buyers of these cars and remains a personal choice but, objectively, the HR-V is competent, refined, reliable and blessed with a few neat touches of its own, though the infotainment system isn’t the sharpest in the class.
Compared with more mainstream rivals like the Seat Arona or Renault Captur the HR-V is quite expensive to buy while being better value than more premium alternatives like the Audi Q2. In terms of running costs the two petrol engines are pretty comparable in terms of CO2 and fuel consumption, meaning no penalty on these scores in going for the more powerful turbocharged version. Automatic versions are generally a little better still than their manual equivalents, which will offer further tax savings for company drivers. In the usual style diesels are the best on fuel and CO2 but higher purchase prices mean little advantage on the bottom line.
Expert rating: 3/5
Reliability of a Honda HR-V
Honda has proved time and again that its cars are mechanically robust, and as long as they are maintained properly, they’ll run and run for years without issue or complaint. This well-deserved reputation is backed up by the brand’s strong position in the Warranty Direct Reliability Index. And while the HR-V itself doesn’t appear at a model level the Jazz with which it shares many of its parts is one of the most reliable vehicles Warrant Direct has tested so it’s safe to assume you can buy with confidence. The HR-V comes with a standard three-year warranty, but coverage does last until you hit the 90,000-mile mark, and there is a five-year fixed price service plan available.
Expert rating: 5/5
Safety for a Honda HR-V
The HR-V scored the maximum five stars when tested by safety organisation Euro NCAP – which is perhaps no surprise given the amount of standard kit on board. Every model in the range comes with six airbags, hill start assist, Isofix points on the outer rear seats, LED headlights, and active city braking, so the car will intervene and brake for you if it anticipates a sudden impact. On all but the most basic trim level you also get forward collision warning, traffic sign recognition with ‘intelligent’ speed limiter and lane departure warning.
Expert rating: 5/5
How comfortable is the Honda HR-V
The looks may have an SUV influence but Honda has – correctly - prioritised comfort and ease of driving on the road rather than pretending it’s a mud-plugging 4x4. The controls are light, with accurate steering and soft suspension that makes the HR-V a comfortable cruiser on the motorway but a little wallowy on twisty roads. It feels a little unsettled on bumps too, a feeling made worse if you opt for bigger wheels. The Sport model more performance-oriented suspension and feels a little more composed, the trade-off being a slightly firmer edge to the ride.
Honda improved the front seats in the HR-V’s mid-life update and there’s plenty of movement and an adjustable steering wheel to help you find a comfortable driving position. Over the shoulder visibility isn’t great due to thick pillars and it doesn’t feel quite as high up as other crossovers so there’s not quite the commanding view many drivers like. It feels impressively nimble, though, and there is a ton of space in the back with additional practicality from the Magic Seat folding system it takes from the Jazz. So it’s versatile, the main disappointment being how cheap some of the materials feel.
Expert rating: 3/5
Features of the Honda HR-V
Equipment on even the most basic trim is decent, including an ‘ECON’ driving mode for improved fuel consumption, Bluetooth connectivity and steering wheel controls and cruise control. You need to go a level up for parking sensors, leather on the steering wheel and shifter, a rear view camera and the Garmin-driven touchscreen navigation system. Further up the range you get luxuries like a panoramic roof, leather, fancier external trim and roof rails while various trim and options packages present further opportunity for individualising the look of your HR-V.
Expert rating: 4/5
Power for a Honda HR-V
In the lower trim levels your choice is between a single petrol or diesel engine, all front-wheel drive and available with a manual gearbox or an transmission. The 120 horsepower diesel feels more suited to the car and picks up briskly, though it is quite noisy and you feel its vibrations through the pedals and gearstick. The petrol isn’t much more refined and, in both cases, the automatic suffers further due to the way the revs rise without a corresponding increase in acceleration. It’s a characteristic of the ‘CVT’ style automatics Honda prefers but knocks the edge off response as well as being noisy.
If you want a bit more pep there’s a turbocharged petrol exclusively available on Sport models and it’s usefully quicker without penalising you too hard on running costs. Again, we’d recommend sticking with the manual over the automatic.