Bigger is better, right?
Well not if you are carmakers these days, especially in Canada.
The trend toward smaller vehicles, especially crossovers, is evident by just looking around as you drive anywhere these days.
And the newest part of that trend is the subcompact SUV segment, which seems to gain new entries every year.
Last year it was the Honda HR-V that entered the market and it is one of the brand’s best-selling vehicles in 2017.
The HR-V is based on Honda’s Fit and, like that model, the HR-V proves to be surprisingly roomy and spacious.
A large part of the HR-V’s popularity is likely tied to its combinations of roominess and affordability, with a starting price of $21,150 for an LX. However, our EX-L Navi tester, the top trim of the model lineup, rings the bell at $32,290.
For what it is and what it will usually be used for, the HR-V offers a decent powertrain setup – just be sure to temper your expectations.
The 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine delivers 141 horsepower and 127 lb-ft of torque. It is paired with a continuously variable transmission which, for a rare occasion, didn’t drive me insane.
Combined fuel economy rating for the HR-V, with AWD in the EX-L Navi, is rated at 8.2 litres per 100 kilometres, and I came pretty close to matching that with an average of 8.6 L/100 km during my week with it.
From the outside, the small package of the HR-V is pleasing to the eye and was complimented by my significant other, something that is not always easy to do. It has a good combination of angles and curves that give it a somewhat sporty look – even if the powertrain might not live up to that aspiration.
The two-tone front grille, fog lights and a pair of accent lines in the sheet metal of the doors make the HR-V’s exterior look longer and taller than it really is.
The entire HR-V lineup gets 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels which, even though not the most stylish, are a nice touch.
If you are looking for the handle to open the rear passenger doors, Honda decided to move it away from its traditional position and place it where you might normally find a smaller window in the doorframe.
That was a major disappointment to my son, who is just tall enough to enjoy the simple pleasure of opening the car door for himself. For one week, he got the white glove treatment – minus the gloves – again as he needed his papa to open the door for him.
The inside of the HR-V is functional and practical all at once.
While from the outside, the vehicle does not appear huge, the cabin is nowhere near as tight as you might think.
Front and rear passengers have good space, with a surprising amount of rear legroom.
The fold flat rear seats also open up a lot of cargo space (up to 59 cubic feet), which is a lot for such a small vehicle.
The infotainment is where Honda has missed the mark a little bit in my opinion. The (over)use of touchscreen buttons rather than traditional buttons and knobs makes the system far from intuitive to operate, especially when not familiar with it and trying to find a radio station while on the move.
The 7-inch screen on the EX-L Navi is a nice size for the dimensions of the dash, it’s just too bad it can be so frustrating to use. It also lacks Android Auto and Apple CarPlay interfaces.
Honda, bring back the knobs!
As mentioned earlier, the HR-V won’t be winning any speed competitions. It can be somewhat sluggish at times, but again, for what it will mainly be used for – i.e. city driving – I don’t think that will put off too many potential buyers.
And the all-wheel drive system on the HR-V could counteract any negativity from the lackluster performance.
The cabin can get a bit on the noisy side when pushing the HR-V hard and on the highways. And the ride gets a little rough sometimes, which was a very different experiences from that of the CR-V I tested the week before.
However, some of the safety features that are offered on other Honda models, such as blind-spot monitoring, is not even offered on the HR-V.
Despite those shortcomings, the HR-V does offer an attractive overall package in terms of styling, and offers lots of cargo capacity and a roomy cabin.
For someone who is looking for a roomy compact crossover, there’s a lot to like about the HR-V – starting with its attractive entry-level pricing.
2017 Honda HR-V EX-L Navi
Price as tested: $32,290.00
Configuration: front engine/all-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: 1.8-litre four cylinder / continuously variable transmission
Power/torque: 141 horsepower/ 127 ft-lb of torque
Fuel (capacity): Regular (50 L)
Combined fuel economy ratings (L/100 km): 8.2 L/100 km
Observed fuel economy (L/100 km): 8.6 L/100 km
Warranties: 5-years/100,000 km (basic)
Competitors: Mazda CX-3, Toyota C-HR, Kia Soul, Buick Encore, Jeep Renegade, Nissan Juke
Motor Trend Canada