In-depth reviews

Honda HR-V review

There’s plenty to like about the Honda HR-V, but it’s expensive to buy and is eclipsed by the very best in class

The Honda HR-V is a reasonably practical option for buyers wanting a compact SUV that delivers great fuel economy and useful interior space. Its family car credentials are boosted further by excellent safety kit and decent on-board tech, while the HR-V isn’t too bad to look at, either.

The catch is that the HR-V is more expensive to buy compared with its close rivals and, while it performs the basics well, it ultimately doesn’t do enough to outshine the class leaders. Buyers looking for a little more flexibility may also be put off by the new HR-V’s smaller boot space, its lack of a manual gearbox option and only having a single engine choice - albeit Honda’s frugal e-HEV hybrid unit.

About the Honda HR-V

The latest Honda HR-V is now in its third generation, although you might struggle to remember the previous crossover model. Yes, it was smart enough, with useful practicality and generous standard kit, but it suffered from a level of anonymity that never really allowed it to become a big hit with buyers.

It was arguably an opportunity missed by Honda, after the quirky first-gen HR-V (launched in 1998) had shown the way for blending 4x4 looks with hatchback style and lower running costs.

Fast forward some twenty-plus years, and competition in the compact SUV sector is pretty fierce, with an array of stylish, practical models offering a range of power options - from regular petrol and diesel engines, to the latest hybrid and plug-in electric units.

Talented rivals such as the Ford Puma, Peugeot 2008 and Renault Captur are firm favourites with family buyers, while the Volkswagen Group trio of the SEAT Arona, Skoda Kamiq and VW T-Cross possess great all-round ability. 

The Citroen C3 Aircross is a capable contender - benefiting from a mid-life refresh in 2021, while those with slightly deeper pockets may be tempted by the style and extra space of the MINI Countryman. In this company, two to avoid would be the Ford Ecosport and Nissan Juke - we’re not big fans of either model and would find them difficult to recommend.

Honda has got the basics right with its latest HR-V: the exterior looks subtly stylish, while a peek inside highlights a simple and well-executed cabin design, with good build quality and a pleasing material fit and finish.

Elegance, Advance and Advance Style make up the available trim levels, with the entry specification including 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, digital dials, heated front seats, and a nine-inch touchscreen with a reversing camera. 

Honda expects the Advance trim to account for 60 per cent of HR-V sales - attracting buyers with extra standard kit such as an automatic tailgate, dual-zone climate control and a heated steering wheel. At the top of the range, Advance Style models add a contrast roof colour, LED active cornering lights, an upgraded audio system and a wireless smartphone charging function.

Buyers won’t have to spend any time wrangling over what power option to go for - the HR-V is offered solely with a 129bhp 1.5 i-MMD (Intelligent Multi-Mode Drive) full hybrid set-up, while all models are front-wheel-drive. We’d advise customers to haggle on the price, though, as the HR-V range starts from around £29,000, which makes it quite a bit more expensive to buy than its close rivals.

For an alternative review of the Honda HR-V, visit our sister site carbuyer.co.uk...

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Which Is Best

Cheapest

  • Name
    1.5 eHEV Elegance 5dr CVT
  • Gearbox type
    Auto
  • Price
    £27,025

Most Economical

  • Name
    1.5 eHEV Advance 5dr CVT
  • Gearbox type
    Auto
  • Price
    £29,275

Fastest

  • Name
    1.5 eHEV Elegance 5dr CVT
  • Gearbox type
    Auto
  • Price
    £27,025

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