2020 Honda HR-V
2020 Honda HR-V
The Honda HR-V, unchanged for 2020, is a small crossover with available all-wheel drive and a useful rear seat that flips and folds. It’s not as fuel-efficient as the Honda CR-V, and unlike the CR-V, active safety equipment doesn’t come in every model. However it stuffs a lot of personality into its 102.8-inch wheelbase. Its exterior is edgy and its interior rugged.
There is one engine, a hard-working 1.8-liter inline-4 that makes 141 horsepower. It’s mated to a continuously variable transmission, with front- or all-wheel drive. It gets an EPA-rated 28 mpg city, 34 highway, 30 combined with front-wheel drive; with all-wheel drive it gets about 2 less mpg.
The HR-V gets five stars overall for safety from the NHTSA, while the IIHS gives it a Top Safety Pick award, but only in Touring trim with LED headlights. Automatic emergency braking with active lane control and adaptive cruise control comes on the EX, EX-L, and Touring trims, but not on the LX and Sport.
At more than $21,000, the HR-V LX comes with power features, 18-inch wheels, air conditioning, cruise control, and a 5.0-inch touchscreen without Apple CarPlay or Android Auto compatibility.
For more than $23,000, the HR-V Sport gets a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Above $25,000, the HR-V EX adds keyless ignition, heated front seats, a sunroof, and automatic emergency braking. For $1,600 extra you get the leather-trimmed EX-L.
All-wheel drive is available on these models for $1,400.
For about $30,000, the HR-V Touring has standard all-wheel drive, as well as a power driver seat, LED headlights, and navigation.
The HR-V has a handsome hatchback-like shape, with crossover and coupe cues swirling together in sweeping strakes that run from the nose to the rear roof pillars. It’s a nifty swoop that rises from the doors and shoves the shape forward, as the rear handles sprout from a high point on the doors. Sport models have more black trim and tone down the gloss.
The HR-V cabin has simple and even elegant lines. A wing-like instrument panel offsets the driver-canted gauges and controls. A panel of soft vinyl dresses up the dash nicely, as does the 7.0-inch touchscreen on all but the base LX model. A high center console could be smaller, and slim passenger-side air vents could be larger.
The lines might be elegant, but the trim is inexpensive in vinyl and plastic. The materials don’t look bad, but on the $30,000 Touring it’s fair to expect more.
The front seats would be more comfortable with longer seat cushions. Leg room is fine but the wide console nudges the knees, while the sunroof steals some head room.
The rear seat has good leg room for two. Honda calls it a Magic Seat, as the bottom cushions flip up and allow the rear backrests to fold down to turn 25 cubic feet of cargo room behind the seat to 58.8 cubic feet after the Magic–that’s with front-wheel drive. That’s just about as much as is possible in a vehicle with a short 102.8-inch wheelbase and a 170-inch overall length. Even without the seat backs folded down, the flip-up seat creates a taller cargo space behind the front passengers.
Rear outward vision is fine despite thick roof pillars.
The 1.8-liter inline-4 is reasonably smooth, but its 141 hp and 127 lb-ft of torque isn’t enough to bring any excitement to this 2,900-pound crossover. Acceleration leisurely in the best of conditions, and strained on uphill grades when there is more than a passenger aboard. The HR-V does better in the city.
The HR-V rides very well, given its short wheelbase and too-big 18-inch wheels on some models. Front- or all-wheel-drive cars have different rear suspensions, mostly to create more cargo space in front-wheel drive; but both suspensions, torsion-beam or DeDion rear axle, deliver a ride that absorbs city potholes without jarring passengers too much.
The compliant ride is complemented by responsive and quick steering. The HR-V can handle twisty roads with confidence.
The 2020 Honda HR-V vies for fans of the bigger CR-V who want something a little less expensive and a little smaller. Not all versions have the latest safety features, but all have the Honda virtues of user-friendly controls and a flexible, clever interior.
—by Sam Moses with driving impressions by The Car Connection