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2019 Honda HR-V review: Staying on a successful course

The US’ subcompact crossover style is exploding, however Honda was one of many first to enter this area with the HR-V. Just because it began feeling a little outdated, the automaker got here via and gave the 2019 HR-V a variety of updates that add peace of thoughts and, should you decide the brand new Sport trim, an aesthetic sprint of sportiness.

The HR-V has all the time been on the high of my advice checklist, and these new updates solely reinforce its place on that checklist.

Sport in identify solely, nevertheless it’s a good look

In addition to a few creature-comfort upgrades throughout its numerous trims, Honda additionally added a new Sport mannequin that is positioned simply above the bottom LX. It’s a Sport trim in identify solely, relegated to aesthetics alone — a alternative from Honda that I discover more durable to defend with every iteration — however I like the ultimate outcome. The gloss black decrease physique trim and wheels stand out in opposition to my tester’s orange paint in a method that confers simply the correct amount of aggression for a automobile of its measurement.

The inside would not change all that a lot, and it is nonetheless a nice place to hang around. The Sport trim provides a black headliner and contrasting stitching on the comfortable material seats, and I like the best way each additions combine with the HR-V’s inside design. The rear seats are expectedly small for a car on this class, however my six-foot-tall body had little challenge getting in and staying snug.

The actual magic within the second row comes from Honda’s split-folding rear seats. While my tester’s non-obligatory all-wheel drive does eat into cargo capability by a small bit, it nonetheless has 57.6 cubic ft of area with the second row folded flat, placing it on the high of its section.

Honda added some further sound-deadening materials to the physique, and it really works. The trip is barely quieter than it was, if solely by a bit. If something, the most important profit it confers is that the doorways not really feel like I am wielding items of corrugated tin.

The inside can really feel a little cavernous when it is clad in all black, particularly on my tester, which lacks a sunroof.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

Powertrain displaying its age

The 2019 HR-V may function new creature comforts and trims, however one space the place the HR-V isn’t any totally different than when it debuted is the powertrain. It nonetheless rocks the identical 1.Eight-liter, naturally aspirated four-cylinder that it is all the time had.

141 horsepower is not all that a lot, and 127 pound-feet of torque positively is not, granting the HR-V ahead movement that might be described as barely higher than sluggish on a good day, thanks partly to the additional weight of the non-obligatory all-wheel-drive system. Combined with a constantly variable transmission (the six-speed handbook choice is useless and gone), the entire shebang is not actually worthy of a Sport badge.

Honda’s 1.5-liter turbo I4 could be a significantly better choice for this automobile, particularly within the wake of recent competitors just like the Hyundai Kona, which has an non-obligatory turbocharged engine good for 175 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque.

Speaking of the Kona with its hopped-up non-obligatory engine, each it and my 2019 HR-V tester share the identical EPA-estimated gas financial system within the metropolis (26 miles per gallon), with the HR-V besting the Kona on the freeway (31 mpg vs. 29, respectively). Considering I used to be in a position to get higher figures out of the Kona throughout my time with it, I feel Honda’s getting older 1.Eight-liter is about able to be put out to pasture.

Yet, the HR-V remains to be a blast to drive as soon as I am on top of things. It feels flat sufficient throughout spirited driving, providing confidence because the factor will get thrown into nook after nook. The steering is very pleasant, providing responsiveness at any pace.

But on the subject of extra family-friendly driving, the HR-V would not precisely disappoint. The wheels is perhaps large, however the suspension nonetheless does a good job of absorbing unhealthy roads like each different trim on supply. Would I prefer it extra if the Sport badge meant some stiffer springs? Possibly, however the HR-V is a lot effective in that division as-is.

Tech is sweet, nevertheless it might be higher

While Honda nonetheless suits a dinky little display within the base HR-V, larger trim ranges obtain a revised 7-inch Display Audio infotainment system with each Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It feels extra responsive than it has up to now, nevertheless it’s nonetheless the outdated model of Honda’s system, not working the flashy new software program I’ve skilled in different up to date fashions, just like the Accord, Insight and Odyssey.

Now that backup cameras are normal, I’ve grow to be a stickler for high quality ones, and the HR-V disappoints in that space. While the sphere of view is appropriately extensive, the decision is so low that it is laborious to select particulars at even a reasonable distance. I perceive the HR-V is a low-cost automobile, however this drawback is not restricted to Honda’s lower-cost choices. It may do higher.

One large enchancment for the 2019 mannequin 12 months is the democratization of Honda Sensing, the automaker’s suite of energetic and passive security techniques. Standard gear now consists of adaptive cruise management, computerized braking and lane-keep help, nevertheless it’s solely obtainable on the EX trim and up. The base LX and my Sport-trim tester are left to do with out, a unhappy casualty of Honda’s penny-pinching.

Honda’s trim packaging lets me down in different methods, too. The Sport trim lacks a variety of fundamentals which might be obtainable at this value level on different automobiles. I haven’t got heated seats, nor do I’ve computerized headlights, and satellite tv for pc radio is nowhere to be discovered. Heck, I nonetheless must put a pocket-puncturing key into the steering column to start out the rattling factor. Given the ubiquity of those options throughout different elements of Honda’s lineup and the business at massive, I feel decrease trims of the HR-V are a little feature-poor.

How I would spec it

Honda’s trim ranges hardly ever carry non-obligatory packages, so what you see is what you get (and what you pay). I’ll skip the Sport trim and transfer as much as the EX, which provides Honda Sensing, heated seats and keyless entry. I will stick to front-wheel drive to avoid wasting $1,400, and since there aren’t any packages obtainable, meaning I am sitting fairly with a $23,720 HR-V. For comparability, my all-wheel-drive Sport tester is simply $100 under this at $23,620. Sure, you lose a bit within the appears division, however the EX is best geared up.

Down to brass tacks

The HR-V has a lot of competitors. The Hyundai Kona affords a zippy turbo engine with out fuel-economy penalties, the Kia Soul is about as sensible as a car can get and the Mazda CX-3 options among the section’s finest driving dynamics. Some of its challengers are nowhere close to as totally baked, just like the Fiat 500X and Chevy Trax. If you need some semblance of off-road readiness, the Jeep Renegade exists, however that is the one motive to think about it for my part.

Back when the section was small, the HR-V stood out with a strong mix of sensibility, capaciousness and enjoyable. It nonetheless possesses all these qualities, however because the section has grown, the HR-V is slowly getting misplaced within the noise. I nonetheless advocate it for each motive I’ve acknowledged above, I simply hope Honda has some extra tips up its sleeve within the close to future to maintain this automobile close to the highest of the section the place it belongs.

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