The 2017 Honda HR-V is reminiscent of the early Civics in its simplicity, and maybe its meant to fill a niche in the affordable, small SUV market. Built on a third-generation Honda Fit chassis, it offers available AWD and is meant to fill the niche just beneath Honda’s other small SUV, the CR-V, in both proportion and price point.
The HR-V looks pretty good. I like the snub nose and the elliptical styling of the side windows. The way the rear door handles are integrated into the overall design is a nice touch. Everything is accounted for and nothing looks out of place or ungainly. The design is not striving to convince us it belongs out in the woods, ascending a muddy, rutted trail through the rain. No, it’s tidy and self-contained, and its form matches its function perfectly.
The interior is comfortable but unremarkable. The dash is laid out logically and looks up to date. The materials feel inexpensive, but for a car in its class it toes the line admirably. The 7″ display is good, and the car features a backup camera as standard equipment. The infotainment system doesn’t have features some customers may want, i.e. apple car play. Collision avoidance is not available on the HR-V either. One thing it does have is the hateful, touch-sensitive volume slider. Yes, there are volume controls on the wheel for the driver, but what’s wrong with the tried and trusty volumes/power knob?
The heated seats are a nice touch, as are wheel-mounted controls for audio, cruise, and phone. The interior wins points for being configurable. The 60/40 split rear seats can be laid flat for conveying large cargo. I especially liked the handy little cubby/ storage area under the gear selector.
The window sticker says the 1.8 liter four-cylinder engine is good for 141 horsepower. However, from the driver’s seat these ponies feel a little asthmatic. The car will drag its yawning passengers to 60 in just under 10 seconds. Steering is heavily assisted which makes the wheel feel oddly light in the hands. The press car was equipped with the CVT automatic, but if you want to save $800 you can opt for the manual shift, an unusual option for cars in this class.
Honda offers the HR-V in three different trim levels starting at just under $20,000, the dolled up version goes for seven grand more. If your heart is set on a small SUV, other cars in the class might offer more experience for the money. However, if you’re a die-hard Honda nut, you need all-wheel-drive, and it needs to be wrapped up in a cross-over platform the HR-V is your ride.