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white honda hr-v driving on coastal road

Honda HR-V review

The Honda HR-V is the archetypal modern car because it’s an SUV that isn’t actually available with four-wheel drive. That’s not a bad thing these days, as it offers a high-up seating position, practicality and a driving experience designed to work at its best on the road. Can’t be bad.


The Honda HR-V has an inoffensive appearance, suited to those who like a chunkier look. It’s an SUV that looks entirely innocuous – sadly, Honda hasn’t channelled the manga-inspired looks of the Civic into the HR-V. 

Still, those mild looks are precisely what attract many buyers who don’t necessarily want to be stared at. Early cars have a black grille with the Honda badge front and centre and a chrome strip joining the headlights. When the car was facelifted in 2019, the front grille changed to become a completely black-chrome item and the headlights were tweaked. 

All HR-Vs have sculpted sides with a line that rises from the rear of the front wheel arch to the rear quarterlight window, giving the car a purposeful look. 

From the side, the car also looks like it has a sloping roof, but in fact, this is just the shape of the rear doors, and the actual roofline suggests decent cabin space.  

white honda hr-v on pier

The Honda HR-V has an inoffensive appearance, suited to those who like a chunkier look.

What’s it like to drive?

The 1.5-litre turbo petrol is a properly sweet option since it’s really strong when pulling away from a standstill. It’ll make your HR-V feel almost like a sportily warm hatch, and it feels at home everywhere. The diesel makes a wonderfully economical option, although it doesn’t have the punch of the turbo petrol.  

Each has a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, and it’s light and snicky when changing – it feels great. Honda has given the HR-V a sporty suspension set-up, so it feels eager and nimble, but you might feel the odd bump as the wheels pass over this. The Sport model is slightly firmer still. 

The steering is also light enough to make you look properly skilled in tight parking manoeuvres, and it’s also weighty enough on the motorway that the car doesn’t feel in any way flighty, especially on breezy days. 

silver honda hr-v rear

The steering is also light enough to make you look properly skilled in tight parking manoeuvres.


The Honda HR-V may be an urban SUV - in reality it feels more like a hatchback on platform soles. It has seats that are decently comfortable that offer plenty of adjustment in any direction, and the steering wheel is similar. Basically, you shouldn’t have any bother getting comfortable, even though there’s no adjustable lumbar support.  

The dashboard itself is like the exterior – inoffensive. The instrument binnacle houses a large central speedometer with a few supplementary dials around it, and it’s all very clear and easy to read. The steering wheel is a touch more complex, with several buttons that allow you to alter various car systems, plus the audio set-up and cruise control. 

honda hr-v interior

A medium-sized touchscreen sits in the middle of the dashboard and controls the sat-nav and audio functions. Below this resides the touch-sensitive climate control panel.  

The high-set gear lever sits on top of the centre console and is actually in a really comfortable position. As you’d expect from a Honda, everything feels great to the touch, and all the switches operate with a smoothness and efficiency long associated with Japanese manufacturers. It’s certainly up there with rivals such as the Nissan Qashqai and Volkswagen T-Roc. 

The plastics used in the interior also feel dense and plush. Even those lower down in the cabin, such as on the bottom of the dashboard, feel like they’d last a lifetime of family use. 


The Honda HR-V manages that clever trick of being small on the outside but pretty roomy on the inside. Two large adults will be perfectly at home in the front seats, and they won’t feel like they’re too close together either. 

Space is good in the back, too, and a couple of average-sized adults will feel at home. Three adults might feel accommodation is a touch intimate. 

Those back seats are cleverer than most, since the seat bases can be flipped up like a cinema seat, which makes the whole of the rear cabin area available for carrying tall items. 

The boot, however, is mahoosive for the class, and feels big enough to echo. Better still, there’s a false floor, and the space underneath is big enough for a couple of carry-on cases. Getting stuff into and out of the boot is easy, too, because the lip is low. 

honda hr-v boot

Running costs and reliability

Whichever model you choose, the Honda HR-V should be pretty cheap to run. The best petrol model is likely to achieve around the 50mpg mark, while the diesel will add roughly 20mpg to that. Basically, staff at your local fuel station should remain strangers, which is good. 

The Honda has a full five-star Euro NCAP crash test rating as well, which is one of the reason its insurance costs are quite low – it starts off in group 18, and only a couple of high-end models are up in group 28. 

What we love

The Honda HR-V is a subtly attractive-looking SUV that simply gets on with the job of being there when you need it to be, and dealing with everything you and your family can throw at it. It’s never going to show any histrionics and it has more than enough space to let you undertake holidays or trips to the tip without the slightest murmur. 

Climate and cruise controls appear on every model, as do automatic lights. Moving up the range brings leather trim, extra safety technology, LED headlights, keyless entry and go and a rear parking camera. 

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Perfect for

Town and country drivers




The Honda HR-V is the perfect choice if you want to be able to go out, fill your car with people and belongings, then get home and forget about it all until the next time – at which point it will likely perform exactly what you need it to, faultlessly again. It’ll be light and easy to use and pretty economical to boot.

This review was