The compact crossover and SUV segment is one of the most popular and fastest growing in the UK, with tons of choice and some very attractive contenders. In this context Honda’s new HR-V perhaps seems a little conservative compared with funkier rivals like the Nissan Juke or Ford Puma but its new hybrid system is effective and efficient and there’s tons of space in the back for kids and kit. Honda’s reliability is also very highly regarded. Perhaps not the most exciting product in its class, the HR-V is a sensible, practical choice and a great family car.
“Honda claims the improved efficiency of its system when compared with rivals like the Toyota C-HR will see your fuel go further and keep costs down”
Everyone wants a hybrid to bring their running costs down but making electrified cars viable and affordable at this price level is a huge challenge, given the technology is expensive to develop and integrate. Honda’s e:HEV system is technically complicated but, thankfully, faff-free and easy to use on the basis it doesn’t require plugging in to charge. True, that means you don’t score the full tax friendly CO2 and mpg figures of full plug-in alternatives like the Renault Captur that company drivers appreciate. But, for private owners, Honda claims the improved efficiency of its system when compared with rivals like the Toyota C-HR will see your fuel go further and keep costs down. It’s also been very careful in its pricing, and has pitched the HR-V a tad lower than the Toyota and other key rivals.
Expert rating: 3/5
Reliability of a Honda HR-V SUV
“While the HR-V itself is new the hybrid system is an evolution of that used in the Jazz and CR-V and is well proven”
Honda is proud of its reputation for reliability and owners report favourably on their cars’ dependability. While the HR-V itself is new the hybrid system is an evolution of that used in the Jazz and CR-V and is well proven so we’d have little doubt this new model will continue Honda’s tradition of building reliable cars.
Expert rating: 4/5
Safety for a Honda HR-V SUV
“All HR-Vs get forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, tweaks to the steering to keep you in lane and more”
The new HR-V is absolutely packed to the rafters with safety systems and driver assistance functions, to the point where the only thing missing from the base spec car are blind-spot warnings. This – and everything else – are standard on the biggest selling Advance trim level, though the increased range of the blind spot warning means it can be a little over-sensitive and bongs any time another car is within half a mile of you, or so it seems. Meanwhile all HR-Vs get forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, tweaks to the steering to keep you in lane and more besides.
Expert rating: 4/5
How comfortable is the Honda HR-V SUV
“We found the front seats lacked a little in lumbar support so if you do lots of long journeys you might want to bear this in mind”
We appreciated Honda’s efforts to improve visibility at junctions with slim pillars, while the tall seating position and little peaks on the bonnet mean it’s easy to position the car on the road and judge its width when threading through narrow gaps – a bonus on tightly packed residential streets and when parking. There’s plenty of adjustment in the driving position too, though we found the front seats lacked a little in lumbar support so if you do lots of long journeys you might want to bear this in mind. Those in the back are well catered for, though, and for a car of this class it feels very spacious, with tons of legroom for the outer two seats and a flat floor for anyone sitting in the middle to park their feet. A pity then that the centre perch is a rather narrow and uncomfortable. That space for occupants looks to come at some expense to boot space but the HR-V does at least get Honda’s trademark Magic Seats that can tip and fold in various ways to increase carrying space. The configuration means you can, in theory, carry two adult mountain bikes upright with the front wheels removed, putting the sports and utility into SUV there.
On the road the HR-V is tuned for easy-going comfort more than sportiness and, while care has been taken to make sure it handles responsively and predictably, if you prefer a sportier feel you’ll be better off with something like a Ford Puma.
Expert rating: 4/5
Features of the Honda HR-V SUV
“All HR-Vs get built-in navigation, DAB and Bluetooth as standard, controlled through a central touch-screen”
With one engine and three straightforward trim levels to choose from the HR-V range is at least easier to navigate than those of many rivals, which takes some stress out of the buying process. Given the monthly price premium of going from the base Elegance to better-equipped Advance version is pretty much negligible we’re not surprised Honda thinks this will be the big seller, especially given the extra kit you get. This includes dual-zone air-con, a powered tailgate, heated steering wheel, upgraded seat fabrics and other luxuries while the top model adds garnish like orange accents on the interior trim, subwoofer and wireless phone charging. All HR-Vs get built-in navigation, DAB and Bluetooth as standard, controlled through a central touch-screen. It’s a little small by the standards of some rivals but functional enough and you can always connect your phone and run your apps for navigation and the rest if you prefer. There’s even a neat little slot under the screen to stash your phone out of the way, rather than have it rattling in the cupholders.
Expert rating: 5/5
Power for a Honda HR-V SUV
“From the driver’s seat, you can simply appreciate the way it automatically switches between its full electric and engine assisted hybrid modes”
Honda has long experience in hybrid technology and takes huge pride in going its own way with distinctive engineering solutions. The e:HEV system in the HR-V pairs a 1.5-litre petrol engine with two electric motors and operates a little differently from other hybrids in the market. It has some technical intrigue for those bothered by such things but, from the driver’s seat, you can simply appreciate the way it automatically switches between its full electric and engine assisted hybrid modes, defaulting to its silent EV mode around town where possible. On the motorway the petrol engine hums quietly in the background but if you demand more on twisty or hilly roads it can get a bit thrashier, hunting around for gears and suddenly making quite a lot of noise. It’s a big enough contrast to the electrified modes to be intrusive when it happens but, frankly, the HR-V encourages a more relaxed and steady driving style anyway.
Expert rating: 3/5
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