He said/She said 2015 Honda HR-V Review
Lacey Elliot, from Driving Television and Dan Heyman, our Automotive Journalist battle it out over the 2015 Honda HR-V.
Dan Heyman: Well, what, exactly, can you say about the styling of yet another new small crossover? Actually, in the case of the 2015 Honda HR-V, there’s a little more than you may think. The headlight lenses don’t follow the mold set by other new Hondas; there are no LED DRLs but the angular, low profile items we do get manage to actually led an air of toughness to this particular cute ‘ute. The aggressive side creases are a little tough to see on the black car you see here, but they do well to lower the stance of the HR-V, which has a fairly tall roofline. Which that crease meets, just after the sharp point of the rear side window. It’s actually a really sporty profile that I rather like. Oh, and while it may not look like it, there are rear door handles; they’re molded into the rear door pillars, giving a couple-like impression. Especially with the black paint.
Lacey Elliott: The HR-V from Honda has a solid and attractive looking stance. Nothing is flashy or over done on this new small crossover vehicle. Its angled lines don’t attract too much attention but it does cause people to take a second look. Its wide stance and tall roofline make it appear larger than the other vehicles in its class. The HR-V is based on the same platform as the Fit; but it has a longer wheel base. And for comparison, it’s about 10inches shorter than CR-V. The back door handles blend into the rear door pillars to give it a sleek looking profile. They are a bit awkward to open but are my favorite styling cue on the outside of this car.
Dan Heyman: I was a fan of the front seating position of the Mazda’s entrant into the segment—the CX-3 we tested at the outset of the series–the back seats were more than just a little cramped; I knew that I wouldn’t be able to spend time back there even for medium-length drives. The HR-V, however, has a more livable second row, which is good. I did find myself sitting a little high behind the wheel, though, no matter how much I tried to drop the seat.
What I really liked about the HR-V’s interior is a feature that it shares with the Fit, and that’s the “Magic Seat”. More than just being able to fold the rear seatback flat—which you can do, though they don’t sit completely flat—the bottom cushions can also easily flip upward, leaving room for tall items like bikes, furniture and so forth. It really helps open up the interior of what is, essentially, a compact car.
Lacey Elliott: The interior looks modern, simple, and clean. The large LCD touch screen is definitely the way manufactures are moving but I am not a fan of this one. The flat face shows even the smallest amount of dust and the touch screen can’t be used when you have gloves on. A complaint from my boyfriend sitting in the passenger seat is that the screen is angled towards the driver. It’s not conducive for the passenger to have any say in music type or volume.
Compared to the Mazda CX-3, the back seat of the HR-V feels much more useable. Both leg and head room would easily accommodate taller passengers. A young family with kids would find the space would work well. The seats split and fold and the cargo space is squared off so the entire area is useful. The cargo cover is flimsy, but it does a great job of hiding any possible valuables in the trunk. If you want to put anything on top though, I don’t think it would hold anything heavier than a Kleenex box for the kids.
Two small details that put a huge smile on my face. There is a little open compartment under the center console by my feet. It has a charging station with USB and is the perfect place to stash my purse and charge my phone. The cup holders in the center are adjustable to hold a small coffee or if you’re like me; a large water bottle.
ON THE ROAD
Dan Heyman: Power from the 1.8-litre inline-4 comes in at 141 horsepower and 127 lb.-ft. of torque; those aren’t massive figures—they’re at the bottom of the spectrum when put up against stuff like the CX-3 or Jeep Renegade—but at least the power is accessible. It’s channeled either to all four wheels or the front two through a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) in my tester, which came with the top-spec EX-L Navi trim package; the base two trims get a six-speed manual. The CVT, for its part, does a good job of smoothly metering out the power once the throttle is dipped.
Anybody who’s spent any time behind the wheel of a Honda will know that if there’s one thing the Japanese manufacturer does well, it’s steering and handling. The HR-V is no different; direction changes occur with little delay, and while the ride is a little bouncy, it won’t bother many for too long. Plus, my bet is they’ll gladly make the sacrifice if it makes the car easier to thread through busy city streets and alleys, which it does do. While I do take issue with the high seating, it does make the HR-V easier to see out of, and thusly easier to live with on the day-to-day. It makes busy rush hour commutes that much easier, I can tell you that
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Lacey Elliott: As Dan mentioned already, Honda is well known for its steering and handling. This HR-V is no exception. The steering gives great feedback to the driver and there is very little body roll in corners. It is confident exploring the busy city streets of Vancouver and responds quickly when needed. Thanks to the steering and suspension; it feels more like I was driving a car vs an SUV.
Dan also filled you in on all the numbers for this little guy. What I want to touch on is that 141hp in this little vehicle feels just perfect. It’s quick to move from a red light and passes other vehicles without hesitation.
The CVT is smooth and well mannered. As with most other continuously variable transmissions the engine has a low droning sound to it. The interior in this Honda is quiet enough and after a short while I didn’t really notice.
Dan Heyman: Both front- and all-wheel drive is available at all but one trim (LX-2WD, EX-2WD, LX, EX; the top-spec EX-L Navi is AWD-only), but If you’re hoping for a manual transmission, know that you can’t get one with AWD. If you opt for the top spec ($31,841) EX-L Navi trim that I had, you get all the bells and whistles, like LaneWatch blind spot monitoring (the infotainment screen becomes a blind spot camera), rear seat centre armrest, HD and sat radio; and the only way to get navigation is with the EX-L navi, meaning of you want FWD, you can’t have navigation.
As far as infotainment goes, how you feel about the tech on with the HR-V pretty much comes down with how you feel about a touch interface. Now, chances are, most buyers in the segment are of youthful persuasion and have made themselves familiar with a smart device or two (or three, or four, or…), so the Honda Display Audio system should suit them just fine. It had better, because almost everything is controlled via a TFT screen or touch surface. The fan speed, the temperature (my EX-L came with dual-zone automatic climate control), the volume—pretty much everything. It’s fine in that it’s a responsive, nicely laid-out screen with nice graphics; I’m just saying that a knob here and a button there would’ve been nice. Why? Because, even after a week with the car, I was having a little trouble knowing which command I was inputting without having to look down. Eventually, you’ll get it, but the learning curve would be a little tamer with a knob or two.
Having said all that, once you do get a grip on things, you do start to appreciate the slickness of the interface and uncluttered dash.
Lacey Elliott: The base LX-2WD starts at close to $20,000 and comes with a manual transmission, heated front seats, remote entry, multi-angle rear view camera and dual stage front airbags. Only the 2WD versions come with manual transmission; the AWD trims come standard with the CVT. I think I would opt for the LX-AWD. It’s the base AWD and it comes with everything I need for around $25,000. If technology, safety and comfort is important to you, the top of the line EX-L Navi for just over $30,000 is the way to go. It adds leather detailing, moon roof, steering wheel mounted paddle shifters, lane departure warning and forward collision warning.
Back to the infotainment system; this is one area I agree with Dan 100% – a knob here and there would have been greatly appreciated. I had the system figured out quite quickly, but it is faster to turn a dial than to hold down the touch screen. When pulling into the drive through at Starbucks and turning the volume down, those 2-3 seconds were noticed by the barista waiting to take my order.
Dan Heyman: When I first heard about the HR-V and subsequently first saw it at the North American International Auto Show all those years ago, I was immediately intrigued. Honda released the concept just as the compact b-segment crossover movement was starting to gain some steam, and I was happy about that having visited Europe and seen just how practical—and fun—these types of vehicles could be. In that light, the HR-V doesn’t disappoint. It’s roomy enough, it’s clever, it’s fun to drive (which is very high on my buying punch list) and it looks pretty good. As soon as people realize they don’t need a full-size—or even mid-size—CUV to get what they need from their vehicle, Honda will do well with this one.
Lacey Elliott: This is a great vehicle for urban families. It’s a small yet useable sized vehicle. It accommodates a new family and has room for some extra stuff in the back. With great safety features, available AWD and Hondas reliability; this handsome little SUV is worth taking for a test drive.
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