Honda HR-V rules urban routes
Almost everyone wants to get into a crossover these days, from drivers to the companies that make them. You can’t blame them. Low oil prices and urban versatility make CUVs a wise choice.
With that in mind, Honda is taking aim at the entry level crossover market with its new HR-V.
The HR-V is small for a crossover, that’s for sure, but it doesn’t feel that way. Even though it’s based on the small Honda Fit, you’d be hard-pressed to say the HR-V is much smaller than its big brother, the CR-V. Beside a traffic light, the Fit-based crossover appears almost a foot shorter.
Starting at the back, the trunk is big enough to swallow enough groceries from a big supermarket run, or a stroller and an array of bags for a weekend jaunt.
The back isn’t cramped, and I fit my 5-foot-11 frame behind the driver’s seat with knee room to spare but with my head just shy of the roof. No space constraints up front.
Cabin quality is typically Honda-solid. There’s a no-nonsense aspect to the layout and everything is where you’d expect it to be.
The USB ports, stashed at the bottom of the centre console behind the shifter, aren’t the easiest to get to. In a way, you may be less likely to be distracted by your phone with this placement.
Speaking of connectivity, the infotainment system features a screen that’s well-placed and easy to read. Pre-set text message replies are handy, and overall phone integration works well. The voice recognition picks up commands with ease.
One complaint with the infotainment system, however, is that it is really all-encompassing. With its electrostatic screen, you’ll need to ditch your winter gloves to change simple things like the volume. Granted, the steering wheel-mounted audio controls provide another way to adjust your soundtrack.
Despite all the outdoorsy hype that comes with crossovers, the HR-V is most at home on city streets. It handles tight parking spots with the precision of an experienced cakemaker writing a birthday greeting.
Under the hood, however, is where things could use improvement.
The 1.8-litre four cylinder engine, the only available unit, is noisy and feels underpowered in the HR-V when coupled with the continuously variable transmission.
Pairing it with the CVT is perhaps not the best option, but it’s the only way to go if you want the HR-V with all-wheel drive.
If you can drive stick, get the manual transmission. Honda makes great shifters and it should work well in the HR-V.
Opting for the manual ‘box, the buzzing CVT gives way to a six-speed manual that the driver can thrash around, pulling a better response from the engine.
But back to the CVT. Putting the ‘ute into Sport mode improves throttle response. With the HR-V shifter set to “S,” the HR-V feels better on the road.
There’s also Econ mode, activated by pressing a green leaf button, to save you visits to the pumps.
Rock-solid Honda build quality is only available from, well, Honda, and that trait shines through after spending time with this CUV.
Drivers looking for a spacious, compact crossover might find their right vehicle in the HR-V.
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