2019 Honda HR-V Review

First introduced in 2015, the Honda HR-V is a subcompact SUV that shares the same platform as the third-generation Honda Fit. It has been a solid performer for Honda, and I have always been curious to see how it stacks up against competitions like the Mazda CX-3 and Hyundai Kona.

Thanks to Honda Canada, I was given the chance to test drive the 2019 Honda HR-V Sport for a week. Below is my unbiased review.

From the outside, the Honda HR-V looks like the younger, handsomer sibling of its bigger brother, the Honda CR-V. Our Sport trim tester comes with Orange Burst Metallic paint and black bumper lips. It is a gorgeous combo that makes the HR-V look like a hot-hatch.

A revised chrome bar grille and LED headlights both being similar to the new Honda Civic are added for 2019. There are now two headlight options as well; full LED headlights for the touring trim, or LED accented headlights for the other trims.

On its side, bold character lines and muscular wheel arches give the HR-V a youthful, peppy look. The rear door handle is located at the C pillar and blends in perfectly with the daylight opening. The Sport trim get the 17" 2-tone black aluminum alloy wheels that looks fantastic.

The rear of the car features revised taillights and updated bumper design. The raised bumper design makes the HR-V look more agile from the back, and the curved character line that runs across the lift-gate gives the rear profile of the HR-V an unique look.

Overall, I find the exterior of the 2019 HR-V quite attractive. While it is sporty and aggressive from some angles, the overall design language is mature enough to attract boarder audiences.

The interior of the HR-V a bit of a mixed bag for me.

Lets start with the things I like. Honda is very clever at finding interior space for such a small car. The center console is slim, so there is more lateral space for both front passengers. The front seats don't slide very far back, but just enough to provide adequate legroom for both front passengers. The front seatbacks recline almost completely flat. It is handy when you want to take a long nap or fit longer items into the car. The rear cabin is surprisingly spacious. Even with the driver seat all the way back, there is still plenty of legroom for the passenger directly behind, something very rare in this class. Both the front and back seats are quite comfortable. I do wish the Sport trim would come with leather seats, but you will have to go up to the Touring trim for it.

Now lets get to the things I don't like. I am not a fan of the asymmetric dashboard design. While you can argue it is driver focused, the linear air vents located in front of the front passenger seat just seem out of place. I also hate that there is so few physical buttons in the HR-V. Granted, there is finally a volume control knob instead of the touchscreen slider, but there is still no physical buttons for the climate control. Adjusting the climate in the car becomes almost impossible without taking your eyes off the road. Worse, it is very easy to accidentally bump into the touch screen and change the setting. I also have mixed feelings about the floating deck design. While it provides additional storage options, Honda also positions the USB ports in the lower deck, which is hard to reach.

Despite all the complaints I have about the interior of the HR-V, I find its flaws tolerable after some getting used to. The most important thing for most people would be the abundance of space the HR-V is able to provide.

The infotainment system of the HR-V is just okay. The system response is not particularly quick, and the graphics are not particularly sleek. However, for 2019, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available. And like I said before, a  physical volume knob replaces the touchscreen slider.

While I am not a fan of the touch screen climate control, it does has its own display unlike the one in the CR-V, which has to share its screen with the infotainment system.

The instrument cluster has two small information LCD displays on both sides of the speedometer. They are controlled by the array of buttons on the steering wheel.

The Sport and Touring trim comes with a 6-speaker, 180-watt audio system. They are not the best sounding speakers, but not the worse either.

Safety and Driver Assistance
For 2019, Honda includes many new safety features for all trims. They include:
  • Adaptive Cruise Control
  • Lane Keep Assist
  • Auto High Beam
Above LX trim, you also get the Honda LaneWatch Blind Spot Display which uses a camera to monitor the blind spot on the right hand side. It then shows the video in the center display when the right turn signal is triggered.

It earns 5 star safety rating from NHTSA and Top Safety Pick+ from IIHS.

Unlike its sporty exterior, the HR-V is powered by a meager 1.8-litre V4 that produces 141hp of horsepower and 127 lb.ft. of torque. There used to be a 6 speed manual available for the HR-V, but the 2019 models only come with the CVT.

While I do not expect a lot of power at this price range, I find the HR-V struggling to merge on the highway and going uphills. The drivetrain also doesn't sound particularly pleasant when pushed hard thanks to the CVT. Yes there is a Sport mode, but in reality it doesn't make that much of a difference.

On the other hand, the ride quality of the HR-V is surprisingly good. The car absorbs road bumps admirably. Wind and road noises are kept at bay thanks to the inclusion of Active Noise Cancelling. There are noticeable body rolls in corners, but the car remains under great control.

The fuel economy is not bad for an AWD. My mostly city test drive returns a 9.5L/100km fuel economy rating, close to the official figure.

With such a sporty exterior, I would really appreciate a higher output drivetrain for the HR-V. With its rivals, the Mazda CX-3 providing great handling, and the turbocharged Hyundai Kona possessing 175hp of power, the HR-V might want to up the game in this department.

Cargo Space & Storage
There is plenty of cargo space in the HR-V compare to some of its rivals. With the rear seats up, the FWD version of the HR-V has 24.3 cu.ft. of space, versus the minuscule 12.4 cu.ft of space you get in the Mazda CX-3. Fold the rear seats down, and the Honda still holds a considerable advantage, with 58.8 cu.ft. of space versus the 44.5 cu.ft of space in the CX-3. The 40/60 split seats fold completely flat for easy loading. The cargo cover can be collapsed like an aftermarket sun shade and be hidden under the cargo floor.

The rear seat-bottoms can be folded up to provide additional storage in the rear cabin. It is the same cleaver design Honda calls Magic Seats that we found in the Ridgeline.

In cabin storage options are pretty good for a car this size. While the door pockets and the center console storage are on the smaller side, they are pretty deep for taller items. The cup holder in the center console is unnecessarily complicated in my opinion, but it provides different configurations to accommodate various cup and item sizes.

The 2019 Honda HR-V with its mid-cycle refresh looks great from the outside. While the drivetrain can certainly use more power, and there are some annoyance from interior design standpoint of view, the HR-V excels at providing some of the most fundamental needs of a family. It provides great utility, safety, and reliability for a very reasonable price. It is a s solid contender for older, more practical buyers and a great first car for a college student.

Test Vehicle
2019 Honda HR-V Sport
$30,740 CAD including Feight & PDI
Orange Burst Metallic


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