Honda HR-V

A small SUV that's well-built and cheap to run

7.3
wowscore
This is the average score given by leading car publications from 6 reviews
  • Excellent fuel economy
  • Strong equipment levels
  • Comfort
  • Quite pricy
  • CVT gearbox
  • Juke is more eye-cathcing
 

£18,695 - £26,255 Price range

 

5 Seats

 

49 - 70 MPG

Review

The market for cool-looking small SUVs has grown significantly since the old Honda HR-V went out of sale in 2006. The company has been clever with this new model, sizing it to fit perfectly between rivals such as the Nissan Juke and Renault Kadjar, while giving it sharp modern looks to contrast the more traditional SUV styling of the Jeep Renegade.

Despite being the entry-level SUV in Honda’s range, the Japanese brand has given it a well-made and nicely appointed interior with several thoughtful touches, such as USB sockets in the space under the centre console.

There’s plenty of legroom for front and rear passengers, and although the HR-V is a smaller car on the outside than a Nissan Qashqai, it has a bigger boot. If you’re after a car with similar space for significantly less outlay, the cheaper-feeling Suzuki Vitara is also worth a look.

Unlike the Nissan Juke, the HR-V doesn’t hold any performance aspirations, although we think the manual gearbox is one of the nicest feeling ones on the market, with a short, smooth shift that wouldn’t be out of place in a sports car. The HR-V is offered with a pair of engines – a petrol and a diesel – that are very cheap to run, but not quick. Honda has given its baby SUV soft suspension, so it lacks the relative agility of the Juke, but does an excellent job of insulating its passengers from poor, bumpy road surfaces.

The HR-V’s far from the cheapest car in its class, but it does come with decent levels of standard equipment including climate control, auto lights and cruise control. Automatic emergency braking is also fitted as standard across the range, which not only makes the car very safe, but should make it cheaper to insure than rivals lacking the system.

Take a look at our comprehensive Honda HR-V dimensions guide to check out more of the HR-V in detail.

Cheapest to buy: 1.5-litre S petrol

Cheapest to run: 1.6-litre EX diesel

Fastest model: 1.6-litre EX diesel

Most popular: 1.5-litre EX petrol

Testers report the HR-V feels like a premium product. Its dashboard’s major controls focus on the driver and feel solid, although an inquisitive poke below the windscreen reveals there are some hard plastics to be found. Top-end models balance this by wrapping not only the seats, but also a large portion of the door cards in leather.

There are plenty of modern touches to be found, too. Most centre around the car’s seven-inch touchscreen, while the climate control (in SE models and above) is operated via a touch sensitive panel. It’s a shame, then, that Honda has chosen to fit the car with an aftermarket Garmin sat-nav system that doesn’t integrate very well with the rest of the dashboard. It’s standard fit on the SE Navi and top-of-the-range EX models and features a MirrorLink system that replicates the screen of your smartphone and is compatible with a number of apps.

Honda HR-V passenger space

Squeezing the HR-V between the Nissan Juke and Qashqai in terms of size means that Honda has eked out plenty of space from its SUV’s exterior dimensions. Up front there’s space for tall adults, but the same is true on the back seat, too, where there’s an impressive amount of legroom to be found, although headroom isn’t quite as good.

As would be expected from a Honda interior, there are also a number of clever touches including a large storage area between the two front seats that can be partitioned into cupholders. There’s also a lidded centre cubby complete with USB and HDMI plugs.

Honda HR-V bootspace

Dog owners, or anyone that needs a big boot, will be impressed by the HR-V’s load bay. At 453-litres in size, it’s 23 litres bigger than the larger Nissan Qashqai’s and nearly 100 litres bigger than the Juke’s. It means the HR-V can swallow a pushchair with lots of room to spare.

Maximum boot space, with the rear seats folded away, is less note worthy and the Honda falls behind all its key rivals in this respect. Nonetheless, loading should be easy thanks to the car’s huge boot opening and short load lip, which means it’s possible to slide heavy items straight into the car.

Honda’s Magic Seats also give a degree of flexibility not offered by the competition, allowing owners to fold the rear seat leg rests vertically for carrying tall items – a bicycle should fit without the need to remove its wheels.

The HR-V’s focus is very much on comfort, and the good news is that it smooths out most potholes on British roads, and this also makes it a good partner for tackling urban speed bumps – in fact it’s very well suited to city driving.

Light controls for the steering and gearbox make the Honda very easy to operate and its high driving position gives the driver a good view of the road ahead, while an automatic electric parking brake makes it easy to set off on a steep incline. All but the basic model also come with front and rear parking sensors, making it much easier to park in tight spaces.

SE models and above can be fitted with a CVT automatic gearbox. It tends to be noisy under acceleration – causing the engine to emit a constant drone until you reach your cruising speed. Aside from this, though, the HR-V is a quiet and relaxed companion on the motorway, and the manual gearbox is satisfying and easy to use. We found that the HR-V’s gearknob is less than a hand’s width away from the steering wheel, meaning you feel more in control as you accelerate through the gears.

There are two engines available in the HR-V range – an 128hp 1.5-litre petrol and a 1.6-litre diesel with 118hp.

Honda HR-V petrol engines

Combined with Honda’s six-speed manual gearbox the petrol-powered HR-V should be able to get from 0-62mph in 10.1 seconds. However it’s the less attractive choice, because the nature of the petrol engine’s power delivery means it has to be worked very hard to extract its best performance. That’s particularly true when it’s fitted with the CVT automatic gearbox.

Paired with it, Honda claims the petrol model can return 54mpg – better than the smaller Nissan Juke can manage – and its CO2 emissions of 120g/km mean that road tax stands at £30 a year. Fit the six-speed manual and economy drops a little to 50mpg and CO2 emissions rise to 130g/km for road tax of £110 annually.

Honda HR-V diesel engine

We tested the diesel version of the HR-V in 2015 and it’s a great match for city driving, with impressive acceleration from low speeds, and it certainly feels faster than the petrol version when you put your foot down in third gear. It runs out of puff a little at motorway speeds, but as long as you don’t get into an HR-V expecting lightning-fast motorway overtakes you’ll find it a perfectly decent engine. It’ll get from 0 to 62mph in 10.1 seconds, which is on par for a car in this class.

You’re just as likely to buy the diesel for its cheap running costs, though, and in this respect the HR-V delivers – posting fuel economy of 71mpg and CO2 emissions of 104g/km so that the SUV costs just £20 to tax. In the real world, we managed to see 52mpg on a fast motorway cruise, and we reckon you’d get 60mpg quite easily with a lighter right foot.

Honda HR-V hybrid

There’s no confirmation yet, but the Honda HR-V could also get a hybrid option, which is currently offered in Japan. In the firm’s home country it can return fuel economy of 85mpg, while CO2 emissions of less than 100g/km mean it would be free to tax in the UK.

Honda HR-V 4×4

Another potential addition to the HR-V’s line-up would be a four-wheel drive option, which would give the car added grip on wet or snow-covered roads, and would also make better for towing – although at the moment there are no plans to bring a four-wheel-drive HR-V to the UK.

With automatic braking coming as standard, the Honda HR-V scored the maximum five stars when it is crash tested by Euro NCAP in 2015.

All models also come fitted with the usual complement of airbags, stability control and traction control systems. SE trim levels and above boost safety still further with forward collision warning, traffic sign recognition, an intelligent speed limiter, a lane departure warning system and headlights that dip automatically.

Upgrade from basic S to mid-range SE trim and the HR-V’s standard kit list includes rain-sensing wipers, front and rear parking sensors, a six-speaker stereo as well as the Smart Touch panel control for the dual-zone climate control.

Dig deep in your wallet for the top-of-the-range EX and the equipment list grows even further to add a full leather interior, keyless entry and a rear-view camera. Your money also gets you a panoramic sunroof, which not only floods the interior with light, but also opens – making it the only car in this class that can do that. Most modern panoramic glass roofs don’t open.

Conclusion

With its premium feel, flexible cabin and big boot the new HR-V makes a convincing case for its self, particularly if you want most of the interior space you get in a Nissan Qashqai packaged in a smaller body. The diesel model’s the one to go for thanks to its stronger performance and excellent fuel economy, we would steer clear of the noisy CVT-equipped petrol.

Looking for great Honda HR-V offers?

On carwow you can easily compare the best new car offers from local and national dealers. Get a great Honda HR-V deal without any of the usual hassle!

Compare HR-V offers Save on average £2,000