Honda HR-V review
Its looks might not appeal to everyone but the Honda HR-V’s high-quality cabin and practical boot make it an appealing choice for small families looking for something a bit different
What's not so good
Honda HR-V: what would you like to read next?
The Honda HR-V is a small family SUV with a stylish interior and a big boot. It also comes with lots of handy features to help make your life that bit easier.
Neither the Suzuki Vitara nor the Peugeot 2008 feel quite as upmarket inside as the more-expensive Honda HR-V. Sure, there are a few cheap plastics way up on the HR-V’s dashboard but the surfaces you regularly touch feel soft and its neat touch-sensitive heating controls look great.
Unfortunately, the Honda HR-V’s lack of physical buttons for the temperature means you’ll spend plenty of time prodding the rather confusing seven-inch touchscreen when you should be concentrating on driving. If it’s an intuitive infotainment system you’re after, the Suzuki Vitara is a better bet.
Fortunately, the Honda HR-V’s seats are supportive and spacious and you get a great view out thanks to its large windows. Carrying three adults in the back isn’t quite as comfortable as in the boxy Suzuki Vitara but there’s just enough space for two six-footers to stretch out. Fitting a bulky child seat’s relatively easy, too.
Where the Honda HR-V really shines is when you need to carry loads of luggage – its boot is far bigger than the Peugeot’s and Suzuki’s and comes with a massive underfloor storage bin. Flip the rear seats down and it’s flat floor makes loading heavy items dead easy, too.
The HR-V is a jacked up, more practical alternative to a conventional small family car but its funky left-field styling might not appeal to everyone
You can get the Honda HR-V with either a petrol or a diesel engine. Pick the 1.5-litre petrol if you do lots of city driving or the 1.6-litre diesel if you cover many motorway miles. Whichever model you pick, you’ll want to avoid the noisy automatic gearbox – it’s more expensive than the standard manual, and blunts acceleration.
Even with a manual gearbox the Honda HR-V is more relaxing to drive than the Suzuki and Peugeot. Its suspension’s a little bumpy at slow speeds but it settles down at motorway speeds.
All HR-V’s get cruise control to help make long drives less stressful and all models come with automatic emergency braking – that’ll try to stop the car if it senses an obstacle ahead – as standard. The latter helped the HR-V earn a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating in 2015.
If safety’s high on your list of priorities then, the HR-V’s well worth considering. It’s a funky looking small SUV with lots of boot space but is let down by a rather frustrating infotainment system.
You can read more in-depth info on the Honda HR-V in the interior, practicality, driving and specifications sections of our review. Or, if you just want to see how much you can save, simply click through to our Honda HR-V deals page.
Wide doors make it easy to get in the Honda HR-V’s back seats but its cabin isn’t as roomy as alternatives so carrying three adults side-by-side can get pretty cosy
Forget making a rabbit disappear into a top hat – Honda’s magic folding rear seats help the HR-V swallow a huge flat-screen TV without breaking a sweat
The Honda HR-V’s infotainment system might fail to excite, but at least you’ll be comfortable while you’re fiddling with its controls. The Honda HR-V’s front seats are soft and supportive (especially in range-topping EX cars) and there’s plenty of adjustment to help you get comfortable – even if you’re very tall.
Unfortunately, only top-spec EX cars come with height adjustment for the passenger seat but there’s still more than enough head and leg room for your six-foot friends to stretch out in the front.
There’s slightly less headroom in the back but the wide rear door openings make it easy to climb in. You can even get the Honda HR-V with some protruding running boards under the back doors to help young kids climb in easily.
If you regularly carry three adult passengers side-by-side you might want to consider the Suzuki Vitara instead. Its boxier body means there’s more shoulder room in the back and its central seat is softer and lower than the Honda’s.
You can’t slide or recline the Honda HR-V’s back seats like you can in the Peugeot 2008 but its large back doors make it easier to lift in a bulky child seat. The hidden Isofix anchor points can make securing the seat base a bit of a stab in the dark, however.
The Honda HR-V is absolutely packed full of useful storage bins to keep its smart-looking interior tidy. All four door bins can hold a 1.5-litre bottle each and there’s enough space in the glovebox for a pair of one-litre bottles. Its reconfigurable cupholders in the centre console can securely hold anything from a minute espresso to a giant water bottle.
Under the centre console you’ll find a storage tray and two USB ports – ideal for keeping your phone charged up and out of the way – and there’s another slim storage bin under the folding central armrest.
There’s an extra cupholder between the front seats for your back-seat passengers to share but only mid-range SE models and above come with a folding rear armrest with two cupholders as standard.
The Honda HR-V’s 470-litre boot is easily bigger than those in either the 375-litre Vitara or 410-litre 2008. There’s more than enough space for a large baby stroller and some soft bags or even two large and two small suitcases under the parcel shelf – even with all five seats in place.
You also get a deep underfloor storage area that’s big enough to hold a small suitcase, and there are also a number of handy tie-down hooks and a 12V socket. Unfortunately, the underfloor cubby isn’t quite big enough to store the parcel shelf.
Flip the back seats down in a two-way (60:40) split and you can carry some long luggage and a rear-seat passenger at once. Fold both back seats down – using the levers beside the headrests – and you’ll have access to a roomy 1,533-litre loadbay. It’s big enough to carry a bike with both its wheels attached and it’s much bigger than the 1,160- and 1,400-litre boots in the Vitara and 2008.
There’s a slight lip you’ll have to lift heavy luggage over but the Honda HR-V’s boot opening is low and wide and the floor’s almost completely flat so it’s a breeze to slide heavy boxes right up behind the front seats.
The Honda HR-V’s party piece is its clever rear seats. Flip the rear seat bases upwards and they lock in place leaving you with a huge uninterrupted load space where your rear passengers would normally sit. It’s easily big enough for a bulky TV box or a small bike.
Driving the Honda HR-V feels just like sitting in a small family car that’s on stilts. It’s quite comfortable and a breeze to manoeuvre around town but it’s a tad noisy on the motorway
Avoid the optional CVT automatic gearbox – it’s more expensive than the manual, no more efficient and makes the engine wail like a dying cow if you so much as touch the accelerator
You can get the Honda HR-V with either a petrol or diesel engine and with either a manual or automatic gearbox.
The 1.5-litre petrol is perfect if you spend lots of time around town. It’s smoother and quieter than the diesel and it’s pokey enough for the occasional motorway journey. It’ll return approximately 40mpg compared to Honda’s claimed 50.4mpg.
If you do lots of miles a year, the 1.6-litre diesel will be worth considering. It doesn’t feel quite as eager as the petrol and it’s a little louder when you accelerate but it’s reasonably quiet at motorway speeds and returns a more economical 60mpg in normal driving conditions.
The optional CVT automatic gearbox is worth avoiding. It helps take some of the stress out of heavy stop-start traffic but it causes the engine to drone very loudly if you accelerate hard. It’ll set you back £1,210 across the HR-V range and is only available on petrol models.
Unlike the Suzuki Vitara, you can’t get the Honda HR-V with four-wheel drive, but with all-weather tyres it has more than enough grip to deal with the odd icy driveway or leaf-covered country lane.
The Honda HR-V’s raised suspension and large windows make it easy to see out of and a breeze to drive around town. The pillars between its windscreen and front doors don’t create any particularly awkward blind spots at junctions and it’s dead easy to check over your shoulder before changing lanes on the motorway.
The rear windscreen is a little small, however, but all models come with front and rear parking sensors as standard to help make squeezing into tight spaces pretty stress-free. Top-spec EX models even come with a reversing camera as standard to make parking even easier.
The Honda HR-V’s reasonably light steering makes performing a quick three-point turn a breeze but it struggles to stay composed over rutted road surfaces – especially at slow speeds. On faster roads it settles down into a fairly relaxed cruise but you’ll still hear quite a lot of noise from the tyres – most noticeably in models fitted with larger 17-inch alloy wheels.
Thankfully the Honda HR-V doesn’t lean too much in tight corners and although it isn’t quite as grin-inducing as the surprisingly sporty Suzuki Vitara, it feels much more confident on twisty country lanes than the Peugeot 2008.
Alongside cruise control, you also get automatic emergency braking as standard on all models. This system will apply the brakes if it detects an obstacle ahead to help prevent slow-speed collisions. This sort of advanced safety tech helped the Honda HR-V earn a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating in 2015.
The testing procedures have been made stricter since then, but for a little extra peace of mind pick an SE car – they come with traffic sign recognition, a speed limiter and collision warning features as standard.
The Honda HR-V’s eye-catching interior comes packed with plenty of sturdy materials but its touch-sensitive heating controls aren’t as easy to use as conventional knobs and dials