2017 Honda HRV Review


The unveiling of the CRV's mini me, Honda HRV to North America created much buzz as this vehicle has been around in Asia-Pacific markets since 1999. The 2016 model was released in the US in 2015. The HRV is a more compact version of it's larger cousin. It looks hip, has a generous amount of smart features, and spacious for a compact SUV in this price range. 

Disclosure: Honda Canada provided me with the 2017 HR-V EXL for a week to test drive, and photograph.

Acceleration: 6.8/10

  •  Shares the engine with the Honda Civic. 141 HP @ 6500 | 127 lb-ft @ 4300
  • Unfortunately the car doesn't accelerate fast. In fact, it feels like one of the slowest cars I have ever driven. I pulled over on the highway and floored it from 0-100 km/hr to merge back into fast traffic

Braking: 8.5/10

  • Braking time was impressive. The light weight body really improved the braking performance. 

Handling: 9/10

  • Steering feels sporty. Every adjustment to the steering is immediately translated to the front wheels

Ride: 8.5/10

  • Once up to speed it's really satisfying to drive
  • Suspension is firmer than a CRV so you're going to feel more bumps but personally this makes it so much more fun and responsive to drive

Economy: 8.5/10

  • Fuel economy is excellent because of the CVT engine. 
  • Speedometer ring turns green when you're driving efficiently. It turns white when burning too much gas.

Cabin Noise: 7.5/10

  • Decent control on wind and road noise to the point where you can still experience the speed
  • Noise mostly comes from the under powered engine

Exterior: 8.5/10

Exterior is attractive to me. The concealed rear door handles give it a sleek & modern look. One thing to note is the front head beams are halogen lights for North America but Europe gets LED. The back lights are LED and wrap around the sides. It's about 9 inches longer than a Honda Fit and 9 inches shorter than a Honda CRV. Although the car has a very Honda look. I do feel it is taking outdated design cues. The rear lights look like 2008 Civic Coupe, and the front kinda looks like a cross from the "space ship" looking Civic and Fit. I still find the exterior style looks very hip and doesn't feel over styled.

Interior For Driver: 7/10

  • Front seats are comfortable for my body shape & height. The seats are manually adjusted with 3 axis of movement
  • Arm rest is adjustable to slide back and forward and cup holders can transform to fit extra large cups
  • Great visibility for checking blind spots! Cameras are installed to the passenger mirror but I don't feel it is necessary at all
  • USB & HDMI ports are awkwardly located under the middle stick. 
  • Fresh & modern interface with the touch screen however incredibly annoying to make adjustments without physical buttons or knobs to feel your way around. My passenger had to change the settings as I drive. The good news is Honda is listening to customers and changed this in the CRV. Unfortunately the HRV has yet to see a refresh but I wouldn't be surprised it's coming. There is rumours of a refresh happening in 2018! If it wasn't for this design flaw the score would be 9/10

Interior for Passengers: 8/10

  • Interior uses tons of soft touch plastic which looks luxurious and feels comfortable
  • Front seats have seat warmers! Great for the winters if you live in the East Coast of Canada. Luckily it does not get crazy cold in Vancouver
  • Rear seats are accommodating for an adult. The weekend was extremely hot and not having AC output directly onto passengers in the back made the rear feel hotter than the front. If they added extra vents in the rear the score would be improved to 9.5/10

Interior Storage: 10/10

  • Rear seats flip up like the Fit so you can store tall items in the middle of the car.
  • Rear seats also flip down to be flush with the trunk to maximize cargo space.
  • Front passenger seat can completely re-cline the seat flat and Honda claims you can fit a surf board in this mode.
  • Massive cargo area for a car this small.

Infotainment System: 6/10

  • Looks like the current infotainment system in the Civic but it's using the older generation. It does not support Android Auto or Apple Car play. It has built in navigation system in our model but it doesn't work anywhere as well as google maps. It doesn't read out the street names. As an example of what it will say to the driver, "600 m turn right" I often found myself having to look at the screen to see the street name. 

Tech Aids: 7.75/10

  • Has parking aid with rear cameras when reversing
  • Blind spot camera on the passenger side mirror. It activates when signalling right. There is no camera installed on the driver side when signalling left.
  • Interesting this vehicle has paddles to shift the gear!
  • "Brake Hold" button is pretty awesome in stop and go traffic. Pressure is maintained on the brake once the vehicle is stopped allowing you to rest your foot. The brake pressure is released when the gas pedal is initiated

Overall Impression of the 2017 Honda HRV:

Honda HRV may not be the fastest vehicle in it's category but it makes up for that with the modern interior design, excellent fuel economy, sporty handling, driver experience, generous storage space, handsome exterior and aggressive pricing. It is a good choice for those looking for a family oriented vehicle with the feel good factor. Personally I am not ready for the dad van look.

The HRV's compact size and surprisingly roomy interior makes it a great choice for those who drive in tight city conditions often or looking for a small and efficient crossover. It's a practical vehicle for normal driving. It's compact body doesn't make it annoying to drive and park in tight spaces. If acceleration isn't a deal breaker and you like a firmer suspension plus responsive steering like me than the HRV could be good bang for buck starting at $21,150.

I love almost every detail about a vehicle in this price range but the main thing holding me back from buying right now is the button and knob less dashboard interface. It makes it dangerous to change the volume, climate, etc while driving. I would like to see next years model include the dashboard changes they did to the CRV to re-incorporate the knobs and buttons to the dash.

The second thing on the wish list from Honda is to have an option to beef up the engine to with another 25-30 HP. I would be willing to sacrifice some fuel efficiency to get a bit more of a boost. Regardless of the cons the HRV is high on my list as a potential future car when our home is ready.

I will be testing out the Honda CRV next which has 49 HP more than the HRV. Will the beefier engine in the CRV win me over? Or will the larger size vehicle be so painful to park and drive downtown that I make a compromise with a slower acceleration and go with the HRV? Wait till next week to find out!