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Honda HR-V VTi-L 2018 review

EXPERT RATING
7.5
Why is it that small SUVs these days all seem to have quirky styling that make them look like ninja throwing stars? Just because it’s a small doesn’t mean it needs to look like it’s your first car.

Why is it that small SUVs these days all seem to have quirky styling that make them look like ninja throwing stars? Heck just because it’s a small doesn’t mean it needs to look like it’s your first car, right? Well if you feel this way then the Honda HR-V may be your thing with its more grown up looks.

I can tell you now that while the HR-V has Clark Kent (or maybe that should be Bruce Wayne) looks, it has superpowers its rivals don’t.

This review is on the top-spec VTi-L, it’s the priciest HR-V in the range and comes with the most features – but for me that doesn’t make it the best. Read on to find out why.  

Honda HR-V 2018: LE
Safety rating
Engine Type1.8L
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency6.6L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$19,360

Is there anything interesting about its design?   7/10

Car makers seem to see small SUVs as a chance to go completely wacky with design. Take the Kona and C-HR, both of which have more geometric shapes to them than the 1980s - but Honda has kept the HR-V fairly conservative looking, a bit more grown up and serious.

The top-grade VTi-L does look a lot like the other two grades in the HR-V range, but you can spot one by its sunroof, dark tinted windows and chrome door handles. None of the other grades get those nor the 17-inch black and silver alloy wheels (the VTi-S has 17s, but they're a different design).

The VTi-L scores these 17-inch alloys, unlike the rest of the line-up. The VTi-L scores these 17-inch alloys, unlike the rest of the line-up.

Inside, the cabin has a premium feel with the VTi-L getting leather upholstery and a fancier climate control panel. It looks modern but from a functionality perspective touch controls aren’t as easy to use as a knob for the volume or dials for the climate.

The shiny piano black plastic console looks good too, but was a nightmare to keep clean. 

How practical is the space inside?   8/10

What the HR-V lacks in edgy-cool looks it makes up for in practicality. I’m talking Magic Seats – Honda’s words not mine, okay? We’ll get to those later. But first, legroom in the back is unbelievable. I’m 191cm tall and when I sit behind my driving position I have about 10cm of space between my knees and the seat back. I don’t know how that’s possible – I don’t have that amount of room in the back of the C-HR and I can’t even sit behind my driving position in the Kona.

Legroom in the back is great, but headroom not so much in the VTi-L. Legroom in the back is great, but headroom not so much in the VTi-L.

The so-called Magic Seats refers to Honda’s versatile seating. The second-row seat bases fold up theatre-style which sort of turns the HR-V into a mini-van, allowing you to carry tall objects such as plants. It’s truly useful. My sister asked me to play Batman at my nephew’s party and it involved changing into the costume in the HR-V. Being able to fold those seats up made it a lot easier to squeeze into the spandex – check out the video if you think your eyes can handle it.

The not so good news is headroom – but only in the top-spec VTi-L. See the panoramic sunroof and the housing of all its mechanical bits eats into the cabin and lowers the ceiling height. Somebody of my size can’t sit up straight in the back seats, so that’s another reason why going for the grade below (which doesn’t have a sunroof) may be a wiser choice.

The boot dimensions are also impressive. The boot dimensions are also impressive.

The HR-V’s boot is big and you’ll be able to fit more into I than any of its rivals. Cargo capacity is 437 litres, in comparison the C-HR’s is 377L, the ASX has 393L of luggage space, the CX-3’s is 264L and the Kona’s is 361L.

Storage throughout the cabin is great, too – the centre console has an elaborate cupholder system which allows you to holster two tall and small drinks, and there are bottle holders in all the doors as well. 

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   7/10

The top-spec VTi-L is the top-of-the-range HR-V and at $33,340 it’s a fairly big step up in price above the $27,990 VTi-S and the $24,990 VTi entry grades, but you’re being rewarded with leather upholstery, power adjustable driver’s seat, heated front seats, a panoramic sunroof, and front and rear parking sensors.

That’s on top of the features the rest of the grades come with such as a 7.0-inch multimedia touch screen, sat nav, reverse camera, six-speaker stereo, climate control, LED tail-lights, electric park brake, proximity key, LED headlights and DRLs, 17-inch alloys, leather steering wheel and advanced safety equipment such as city speed auto emergency braking (AEB).

A 7.0-inch touchscreen comes standard on all grades, but has no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. A 7.0-inch touchscreen comes standard on all grades, but has no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.

Also, only on this top-spec car can you option the $1000 Advanced Driver Assist System (ADAS) pack, too, which is really just extra safety equipment in the form of Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning and adaptive high beams.

Okay, I want you to stop for a second and think about if you really want the VTi-L, because with the optional ADAS it’s close to $35K. Did you know you can buy a Honda CR-V for $30,690? Geez, for $35,490 you can have a 2018 mid-spec CR-V VTI-S with all-wheel drive. That’s a lot more car for your buck than the top grade HR-V.

But maybe you don’t want a lot more car – especially if you’re living in the city, the CR-V is stacks bigger – 30cm longer actually, and that could be the difference between finding a space you fit into or not if you live on a street like mine where there’s some fierce competitive parking going on.

The VTi-L is a bit dearer than its two-wheel drive rivals in their top specifications – the C-HR is $33,290, the CX-3 Akari lists for $33,590, the Kona Highlander is $33,000 and the highest grade ASX is $32,000.  

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   7/10

All HR-Vs have the same engine – it’s a 1.8-ltre four-cylinder which makes 105kW and 172Nm. That’s fairly adequate.

All HR-Vs have the same 105kW/172Nm four-cylinder. All HR-Vs have the same 105kW/172Nm four-cylinder.

Forget a manual gearbox - a CVT automatic transmission shifts gears in all HR-Vs, and there is no all-wheel drive version available in Australia.

 

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

Honda says the VTi-L will use 6.9L/100km of regular unleaded after a combination of open and urban roads.

After testing the VTi-L in mainly city and suburban areas the trip computer was reporting 11.4L/100km.  

What's it like to drive?   7/10

You’re going to like how comfortable the VTi-L’s ride is, the steering is accurate, handling is good and the forward visibility is great, but you may think that the engine lacks oomph. To be honest it’s not the engine – there’s adequate power there, it’s more the CVT auto transmission, which are infamous for not being able to get the grunt to the wheels quickly enough. That’s really only an issue at cruising speeds, and acceleration from a standstill and low city speeds is fine for quickly darting about.

That transmission does pull the score down a bit, but don’t let it out you off the HR-V because the C-HR also has a CVT and so do many other small SUVs. Just to be clear the HR-V is still easy and enjoyable to drive.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

5 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   8/10

All HR-Vs have been given the maximum five-star ANCAP rating. The VTI-L comes with AEB and so does the grade below it, but only the VTi-L comes with the option to adding the Advanced Driver Assist System (ADAS) pack which brings features such as Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning and adaptive high beams. 

A reversing camera is offered on all models, and every HR-V has six airbags.

For baby seats you'll find three top tether anchor points and two ISOFIX mounts across the rear row.

A space-saver spare tyre is under the boot floor.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   9/10

Honda’s five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty covers the HR-V. Servicing is recommended every 12 months or 10,000km.

As a guide owners of the HR-V can expect to pay $284 for the first visit, $298 for the second and $298 all the way up to the 100,000km service.

Verdict

The HR-V is arguably the most practical and spacious small SUV on the planet, and it’s easy to drive. The thing is, if it was my money, I’d buy the mid-spec VTi-S. 

Sure it doesn’t have heated leather seats or tinted windows, but it’s more affordable, comes with AEB, plus because it doesn’t have a sunroof, headroom in the back seat is better. And don’t forget for the same price as the HR-V VTi-L you could get into a CR-V...

Pricing Guides

$29,800
Based on 297 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$23,888
Highest Price
$39,305

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
LE 1.8L, ULP, CVT AUTO $19,360 – 24,530 2018 HONDA HR-V 2018 LE Pricing and Specs
RS 1.8L, ULP, CVT AUTO $29,680 – 35,693 2018 HONDA HR-V 2018 RS Pricing and Specs
VTi 1.8L, ULP, CVT AUTO $23,888 – 27,888 2018 HONDA HR-V 2018 VTi Pricing and Specs
VTi-L 1.8L, ULP, CVT AUTO $29,888 – 34,990 2018 HONDA HR-V 2018 VTi-L Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.5
Design7
Practicality8
Price and features7
Engine & trans7
Fuel consumption7
Driving7
Safety8
Ownership9
Richard Berry
Senior Journalist

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Pricing Guide

$19,360

Lowest price, based on third party pricing data

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