2018 Honda HR-V Range Review
By James Whitbourn, with WhichCar staff
Priced From $24,990Information
What stands out?Expand Section
What might bug me?Expand Section
Keeping comfy on long drives: the front seat bases feel flat. Subtle sculpting of the cushion, which is the norm, would have improved thigh support.
Driving under 80km/h on the space-saver spare until you can fix your full-sized flat tyre.
What body styles are there?Expand Section
The Honda HR-V drives its front wheels, and it is classed as a small SUV, lower priced.
What features does every Honda HR-V have?Expand Section
A sound system with an AM/FM radio, HDMI and iPod compatible USB input sockets, Apple and Android compatible Bluetooth connectivity for phone and audio, and six speakers.
Multi-angle reversing camera and satellite navigation, displayed on a 7.0-inch central touchscreen (from which you can control the audio system and other cabin amenities).
Height and reach adjustment for the steering wheel, which carries buttons for operating the cruise control, audio and Bluetooth.
A multi-information display, which presents distance, speed, fuel consumption and outside temperature data, and offers two user-programmable speed alarms.
Brake hold and hill-start assist functions integrated with the electric park brake. Remote keyless entry, and power windows that can be opened from the key fob.
A tyre deflation warning system, indicator lights in the side mirrors, LED daytime running lights, and LED taillights.
Brake hold and hill-start assist functions integrated with the electric park brake. Power windows that can be opened from the key fob.
A tyre deflation warning system, indicator lights in the side mirrors, daytime running lights, and LED taillights.
Aluminium alloy wheels, which are usually lighter and better looking than steel wheels, and a space-saver spare wheel.
Six airbags: two directly in front of the driver and front passenger; one alongside each front occupant to protect the upper body; and a curtain airbag on each side to protect the heads of front and rear occupants.
Electronic stability control, which can help the driver to control a skidding car. All new cars must have this feature.
Every Honda HR-V carries a five-year warranty, with no limit on the distance travelled.
Which engine uses least fuel, and why wouldn't I choose it?Expand Section
In a real-world comparison of five small SUVs conducted for the May 2015 issue of Wheels magazine, an HR-V VTi-L consumed 9.9 litres/100km on average – about five per cent more than an accompanying Mazda CX-3 sTouring petrol.
A continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) is the only gearbox available.
What key features do I get if I spend more?Expand Section
There is a leather wrapped steering wheel and gear lever handle, front foglights, and roof rails – which provide mounting points for roof racks.
The wheel size rises from 16 inches to 17-inches, which makes the VTi-S smarter looking than the VTi. The left side exterior mirror tilts automatically when you are reversing so that you can see the gutter and avoid scratching your wheels.
The VTi-S also gains Honda’s LaneWatch system, that providing the driver with an 80-degree view of the passenger side.
The HR-V RS replaced the VTi-L in August 2018 and has sportier exterior trim, with bigger 18-inch alloy sports wheels, black chrome front sports grille, black mirror caps, dark chrome door handles, honeycomb front lower grille and fog garnish, a piano black body kit, privacy glass on the rear doors and the RS badge.
Performance is the same as the other HR-Vs, but handling is sharper thanks to a new variable gear ratio steering within the electric power steering.
The interior gains leather-appointed seat trim across driver and all passenger seats, heated front seats, smooth sports leather steering wheel and leather gear knob and gear-shift pedals.
The most expensive HR-V, the VTi-LX, provides a more sophisticated alternative to the RS and adds chrome door handles and a panoramic sunroof. It’s equipped with front and rear parking sensors, power window with automatic one touch functionality, LED Interior light and LED Map light, auto dimming rear view mirror and an eight-way power adjustable driver’s seat.
The VTi-LX also comes standard with additional advanced driver assist features including forward collision warning, high-beam support system and lane departure warning.
Does any upgrade have a down side?Expand Section
How comfortable is the Honda HR-V?Expand Section
The fittings inside are also very good, with the exception of the front seat cushions. These are short and flat, which compromises comfort on long trips. We recommend test-driving an HR-V and making up your own mind, because the level of front seat support may vary for people of different sizes and statures.
The bigger wheels and tyres worn by the VTi-S and VTi-L don’t detract much from comfort.
Under way the HR-V interior is very quiet, and free from excessive wind, suspension and tyre noise. Perhaps because it is so well insulated most of the time, you do notice a rise in tyre noise on the coarse-chip surfaces found in many regional areas.
The quality of the plastics, textiles and carpets in the cabin is high, and the presentation of the instruments and controls is attractive. The leather wrapped steering wheel contributes to the sense of luxury in the more expensive versions, but even the VTi (which has a plastic steering wheel finish) feels nice inside.
What about safety in an HR-V?Expand Section
City-speed automatic emergency braking (which will help you avoid rear-ending a car in front when distracted) was rolled out to all HR-Vs, with the updated model, in August 2018.
The HR-V VTi-LX builds on this with a forward-collision warning (which will warn you, even at highway speeds, if you are in danger of colliding with a car in front), and a lane-departure warning (which will prod you if you have begun to drift distractedly out of your lane).
The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) awarded the Honda HR-V five stars for safety, its maximum, in December 2015.
I like driving - will I enjoy this car?Expand Section
The HR-V is not quite as capable during enthusiastic driving as the Mazda CX-3 and Holden Trax. However, the Honda’s user-friendliness in urban driving brings a different kind of pleasure.
The HR-V’s steering is short on road feel, and the car turns into corners with less enthusiasm than the two alternatives mentioned above. Nevertheless, once the driver is used to the steering, the HR-V is easy and entertaining to drive along a twisty road.
The engine is smooth and capable for most normal driving duties, even if it is not responsive enough to feel exciting. The Mazda CX-3, for example, has a bit more power and weighs about 10 per cent less than the Honda, and it performs with noticeably more oomph.
For enthusiastic driving, the CVT transmission is not as much fun as a good conventional automatic, or a manual gearbox. The relationship between how far you press the accelerator and how hard the car goes feels less direct. The CVT is better in the VTi-L, which gets manual gear shift paddles and artificial gear ratio steps that make it behave more like a normal automatic.
How is life in the rear seats?Expand Section
The swoopy, two-door-like look is a visual play, because the HR-V’s roofline doesn’t taper downwards excessively at the back. Head room in the rear seats is very good, as are foot and shoulder room. Unusually, though, only the top-level VTi-L has a centre rear armrest.
The rear seat cushion and backrest feel very comfortable and the seat is sited high, which affords back-seaters superb forward vision.
How is it for carrying stuff?Expand Section
The HR-V also offers more versatility in the cargo area than any other small SUV, thanks to the Honda brand’s clever ‘Magic’ rear seats. When the seatbacks are folded, the seat base also folds forward and down, to lie flat on the floor. The result is a taller load area than would be possible with a conventional folding backrest design.
Usefully, the seatbacks can alternatively be left upright and the seat bases folded upwards, to liberate space for tall items in the rear seat area.
Where does Honda make the HR-V?Expand Section
What might I miss that similar cars have?Expand Section
Better fuel efficiency from a diesel engine, which is an option available to Mazda CX-3 buyers.
More power, from a turbocharged engine. The Kona, Vitara, Fiat 500X and Jeep Renegade and Toyota C-HR offer this, for example.
The ability to display apps from your smartphone on the car’s touchscreen, and control them from there, via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. The Vitara, Subaru XV, and Holden Trax offer this.
Among other cars you might consider are the Ford EcoSport, Renault Captur, Nissan Qashqai and Mitsubishi ASX.
I like this car, but I can't choose which version. Can you help?Expand Section
If you’re considering the VTi-L, it would be difficult not to choose the ADAS pack, because it brings some very desirable safety equipment for $1000.
Perhaps the VTi-S offers the smartest balance of price and equipment. It looks better than the VTi, with its bigger wheels and foglights, and it feels a bit nicer inside.
Are there plans to update the HR-V soon?Expand Section
Satellite navigation was added to all HR-Vs in the second half of May 2017, and the CD player was dropped. The LaneWatch left-side blind-spot monitor on the VTi-S and VTi-L was also dropped. (LaneWatch was incompatible with the sat-nav; Honda said it would be reinstated on HR-Vs built after it had engineered a remedy.)
A HR-V update arrives in August 2018, which will includes a mild facelift, autonomous emergency braking as standard in all HR-Vs, and the sporty RS version.
The Cars Covered section, below the main picture, will soon be updated to reflect the new HR-V range.
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