I’m only 23 years old, so starting a family is way off my radar, but over the weekend I was (un)lucky enough to get a taste of parenthood when my girlfriend and I went to spend time with her younger siblings.

Having the keys to a Honda HR-V VTi-S for the week, it was the ideal time to see what this small SUV was capable of.

Saturday

In a previous article, I’ve made it clear that I’m not a fan of children, especially ankle biters, so I wasn’t thrilled to be spending time with my girlfriend’s five-year old sister.

She has another sister who is 13, plus a 15-year-old brother, but they aren’t needy and can entertain themselves.

They live out at Colebee (48km west of Sydney) and I didn’t have to see them until the afternoon, giving me enough time to get familiar with the HR-V.

This is the VTi-S model, which costs $27,990 (before on-road costs). It sits above the base VTi and below the recently added RS trim level.

For $3000 over the entry-grade you get extra kit such as 17-inch alloy wheels, proximity key, automatic LED headlines, and Honda’s very handy 'Lane Watch'.

Under the left-hand side mirror, there’s a camera that projects an image to the centre screen showing the driver how close they are to objects when indicating.

Under the left-hand side mirror, is Honda’s 'Lane Watch' camera. (image credit: Mitchell Tulk) Under the left-hand side mirror, is Honda’s 'Lane Watch' camera. (image credit: Mitchell Tulk)

This is great for drivers who aren’t super confident, especially when it comes to merging lanes, but sadly the picture is low quality, much like the reversing camera.

In fact, the 7.0-inch touchscreen is a significant weak point of the HR-V. It feels and looks like an ‘80s arcade game. The screen display is average, it’s slow to react to inputs, the sat nav regularly loses GPS signal, plus it lacks Apple Carplay and Android Auto.

The 7.0-inch touchscreen is a significant weak point of the HR-V. (image credit: Mitchell Tulk) The 7.0-inch touchscreen is a significant weak point of the HR-V. (image credit: Mitchell Tulk)

Most of the HR-V’s rivals have a better multimedia system, while the Hyundai Kona, Mitsubishi ASX and Suzuki Vitara have phone mirroring technology, which can be a major selling point for some people.

On the drive to Colebee, I noticed the interior has some nice touches such as a well-designed climate control panel, as well as a leather-trimmed steering wheel and gear knob.

The dash, armrests, and centre console are also covered in a leather-like upholstery, which helps give the cabin a quality feel.

The interior has some nice touches such as a well-designed climate control panel, as well as a leather-trimmed steering wheel and gear knob. (image credit: Mitchell Tulk) The interior has some nice touches such as a well-designed climate control panel, as well as a leather-trimmed steering wheel and gear knob. (image credit: Mitchell Tulk)

There aren't any hard plastics lining the top of the doors like so many other cars in this price bracket. Rather, the VTi-S featues more scratch and generally kid resistant soft padding (which will be handy with the terrible trio on-board).

Once we arrived at Colebee, I was greeted by an overly energetic five-year old, who wanted to play (countless) games.

After a couple of hours, we grabbed an opportunity to escape, heading for Woolies to grab supplies for dinner. But the game enthusiast decided to tag along, which meant installing a baby seat.

All HR-Vs feature three child restraint top tethers across the back seat with ISOFIX anchor points in the two outboard positions. But without the required baby operating experience, I didn't have the skills to use them.

However, after some expert tuition from my girlfriend and hands-on grappling with belts and buckles I finally fitted the baby seat for a drive just around the corner. Great…

On the bright side, the gamester had heaps of room back there. Two adults could sit in the back comfortably for extended periods as headroom and legroom is plentiful.

The HR-V, built on the same platform as the Jazz city car, is ideal for small families offering heaps of space for its size.

This small SUV is unrivaled for practicality thanks to Honda’s 'Magic Seats'. That is, the base of the rear bench can be folded up, leaving enough room for a quick game of handball.

Boot space is rated at 437 litres (VDA) with the rear seats in place and when folded flat the capacity grows to 1462 litres. 

These are impressive numbers and we weren’t even close to using all that space, but the most impressive thing was by the end of Saturday night I didn't lose my marbles while dealing with my girlfriend’s youngest sibling.

Sunday

To celebrate the fact that my sanity remained intact, I suggested to my girlfriend that we slip off to The Golden Arches and bring home breakfast for all. But when we returned, everyone was still asleep.

So, we quietly scoffed a few hash browns before sliding out the door and hitting the road back to Sydney.

On the return trip the HR-V's 1.8-litre four-cylinder powerplant proved a decent little unit for the size of the car.

Paired with a CVT auto, it produces 105kW/172Nm; enough to keep the HR-V hopping along nicely.

The 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine produces 105kW/172Nm. (image credit: Mitchell Tulk) The 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine produces 105kW/172Nm. (image credit: Mitchell Tulk)

However, with some added weight on board, I imagine it would quickly begin to feel like running a marathon with Homer Simpson on your back.

This is the only engine across the HR-V range and it wouldn’t hurt Honda to offer a turbocharged unit, even if it’s only available in the higher grades.

Hyundai offers one in its Kona, as does Suzuki’s Vitara, plus both brands offer all-wheel drive (AWD) versions.

In Australia the HR-V is front-wheel drive only, but AWD is available in other markets. Honda's local arm should make it an option. In fact, why not slip the Civic RS's 1.5-litre turbo under the hood?

The driving experience is what you would expect from a city-focused SUV, it's set up to deliver the most comfortable ride possible while the steering is light and accurate.

In Australia the HR-V is front-wheel drive only, but AWD is available in other markets. (image credit: Mitchell Tulk) In Australia the HR-V is front-wheel drive only, but AWD is available in other markets. (image credit: Mitchell Tulk)

That said, it’s hardly a brag-worthy, fun to steer enthusiast's special. But then again what compact SUV is?

Compared to last year's model, the refreshed HR-V picks up low-speed AEB, which is the step in the right direction in terms of safety.

For the price, I'd expect a full auto emergency braking, but that’s reserved for the $34,590 VTi-LX model. All HR-Vs miss out on adaptive cruise control and rear cross-traffic alert, as well.

The official (combined cycle) fuel figure is 6.9L/100km, and over the weekend the trip computer recorded 7.7L/100km, but according to the number calculated from the bowser, we actually averaged 8.3 litres. 

Hardly class leading and another reason why Honda should consider a smaller engine with forced induction.