2017 Honda HR-V Review

2017 Honda HR-V Review

Priced From $24,990Information

Overall Rating

0

4.5 out of 5 stars

Rating breakdown
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Safety, value & features

5 out of 5 stars

Comfort & space

5 out of 5 stars

Engine & gearbox

4 out of 5 stars

Ride & handling

4 out of 5 stars

Technology

4 out of 5 stars

Pros & Cons

  1. ProVersatile cabin; equipment; styling; easy to drive.

  2. ConShort on steering feedback; flat front seat bases.

  3. The Pick: 2017 Honda HR-V VTi-S 4D Wagon

What stands out?

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The Honda HR-V is an athletic-looking small SUV with lots of standard equipment. Its excellent interior has more passenger and cargo space than most alternatives, thanks in large part to the versatility of its ‘Magic’ rear seats. It feels smooth and easy to drive, and offers auto-braking and other advanced safety tech.

What might bug me?

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That you can’t play Compact Discs. Honda deleted the CD player from HR-Vs about May 2017.

Driving under 80km/h on the space-saver spare until you can fix your full-sized flat tyre.

The parcel ‘shelf’ over the rear cargo area – it’s a flimsy mesh/cloth item that seems like a design afterthought.

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.

What body styles are there?

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Five-door wagon only.

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?

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Cruise control, a reversing camera with normal, wide and top-down view modes, and climate control air-conditioning (which can maintain a set temperature).

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.

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. 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 three-year, 100,000 kilometre warranty.

Which engine uses least fuel, and why wouldn't I choose it?

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There is only one engine in the HR-V, a 1.8-litre petrol four-cylinder. It uses the least fuel in the least expensive model, the HR-V VTi, because that is slightly lighter than the more lavishly equipped VTi-S and VTi-L. The VTi uses 6.6 litres/100km on the official test (city and country combined), and the others use about 5 per cent more.

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?

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Spending more to step up from the HR-V VTi to the VTi-S brings auto emergency braking in the form of a City-Brake feature. It prevents or mitigates low-speed crashes, by monitoring cars in front and applying the brakes if there is a risk of collision. Keyless entry and a start button allow you to unlock and start the car with your key kept safely in a pocket or bag. Windscreen wipers operate automatically when it rains, and bright, very long-lasting LED headlamps turn on automatically when it’s getting dark.

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 most expensive HR-V, the VTi-L, builds on the equipment of the VTi-S with a nicer interior that features leather trim, heated front seats, power-adjustment for the driver’s seat, a sunroof, and anti-slip aluminium alloy control pedals. Dual-zone air-conditioning lets you set different temperatures for each side of the cabin. Paddles allow you to control the gearbox from the steering wheel.

Front and rear parking sensors improve parking safety, and power-operated folding door mirrors are convenient when parking in narrow spaces or streets. (Rear parking sensors are available as an option at extra cost on other HR-Vs.)

An option only on the VTi-L model is an Advanced Driver Assist System pack. For about $1000 this adds a forward collision warning that works at highway speeds, a lane-departure warning, and automatic dipping of the headlamps for oncoming cars.

Does any upgrade have a down side?

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Metallic and pearlescent colours come at an extra cost of about $600. Of seven colours available, Taffeta White is the only non-metallic colour and therefore the only no-cost standard colour.

How comfortable is the Honda HR-V?

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The Honda HR-V rides nicely over bumpy roads – perhaps not quite as well as the Mazda CX-3 and Renault Captur, but still very well.

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?

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Six airbags, a multi-view reversing camera, a tyre pressure monitoring system, seatbelt reminders, and bright, fast-illuminating LED taillights are high points in an impressive safety package that is standard even on the HR-V VTi.

The more expensive HR-V VTi-S and VTi-L add city-speed automatic emergency braking (which will help you avoid rear-ending a car in front when distracted).

The ADAS pack version of the HR-V VTi-L 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?

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The overall dynamic standard among small SUVs is surprisingly high, which means that while the Honda HR-V is about average for performance in corners, it is still an enjoyable car.

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?

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The HR-V has a longer wheelbase than other small SUVs – there is more distance between the front and rear axles. This with its terrific interior packaging results in plentiful rear leg room.

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?

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A fuel tank located in the middle of the car, beneath the floor, helps give the Honda HR-V a boot that, at 437 litres, is one of the biggest in a small SUV. It is large enough to make the HR-V an alternative to a bigger car for some buyers.

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?

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The Honda HR-V is manufactured in Thailand.

What might I miss that similar cars have?

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All-wheel-drive, which is available on the Mazda CX-3 and Suzuki Vitara, for example. That would help the car feel more secure if you were driving on gravel roads or other slippery surfaces.

Better fuel efficiency from a diesel engine, which is an option available to Mazda CX-3 buyers.

More power, from a turbocharged engine. The Vitara, Fiat 500X and Jeep Renegade 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 and the Holden Trax offer this.

A CD player. This is an increasingly scarce device on small SUVs, but the Toyota C-HR has one.

The Renault Captur has a more generous warranty period than the HR-V, at five years and unlimited kilometres. It also offers similar cargo space.

Among other cars you might consider are the Subaru XV, and Mitsubishi ASX.

I like this car, but I can't choose which version. Can you help?

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It is difficult to arrive at just one sweet spot in the HR-V range, because all the versions have appeal. The VTi is attractively priced and temptingly equipped. And yet the VTi-L is loaded with equipment and seems expensive only for its size, and not for what it offers as a package.

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?

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The HR-V arrived about February 2015, and power adjustment for the driver’s seat was added to the HR-V VTi-L about March 2016.

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.)

Expect a minor update for the HR-V about 2018. It remains possible that Honda will add a 1.6-litre turbo-diesel engine option for the HR-V.