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Honda HR-V 2019 review: VTi-S

Nedahl Stelio
Family reviewer

20 Nov 2018 • 12 min read

The small SUV appeals to those who want something in the way of height for their car, but they don’t want a huge truck to drive around. They want more space than their hatchback perhaps, but not so much space they can’t fit into parking spots in the city.

The thing about this middle ground however, is that you sometimes lose on interior space or boot space in a small SUV, and in some cases would have been better off with your usual hatchback. Not so in the Honda HR-V, which gives the extra height and also has a good amount of interior space.

But will it fit a family of four? Do you really have to up-size again with a second child? I drove the VTi-S which is second from the bottom of the range. It competes with cars like the Mazda CX-3 and the Hyundai Kona for market share. I tested it for a week with my two children, to find out whether it works in everyday life.

How does it drive?

It drives pretty well, and feels nice and smooth. There’s no heaviness to the steering wheel but it’s not too light either, and it handled well for me this week.

All HR-Vs have a 1.8-litre engine which is enough to get up hills easily. It’s not a particularly fast car, you won’t win any races.

In fact - my mum owns an HR-V and the way it drives suits her perfectly. It’s not too fast, it’s solid and drives well, but it’s not a spectacular experience. Just the way my mum likes it. It was great to get me around suburbia this week doing the school run and various spots for work.

Parking was easy given the size of the car. Parking was easy given the size of the car.

If you’re often travelling along dirt or gravel roads, or you like going to the snow, the HR-V doesn’t come with all-wheel drive (AWD). The 2WD option is fine for around town but it won’t have that off-road traction, and if that’s on your list there are other small SUVs which do have AWD.

Parking was easy given the size of the car and the small turning circle, there’s a multi-view reverse parking camera and also a side parking camera when the left blinker goes on. This was great while parking but a bit distracting when it comes on while driving.

How does it look?

The new 2019 model’s exterior isn’t remarkably different to its predecessor, it’s still quite sporty and sleek with a fun design that also looks cool. It doesn’t have that typical boxy SUV shape, it’s more tapered up towards the back and you feel good driving it.

Inside is well designed for a model this far down the range in this price bracket. There’s a high gloss black finish around the centre console which adds a premium touch, and nothing looks too cheap or as though it's been built on a budget - the finishings on the dash and doors are usually the giveaways and both look good in the HR-V VTi-S.

  • The new 2019 model’s exterior isn’t remarkably different to its predecessor, it’s still quite sporty and sleek. The new 2019 model’s exterior isn’t remarkably different to its predecessor, it’s still quite sporty and sleek.
  • The updated HR-V keeps its fun design that also looks cool. The updated HR-V keeps its fun design that also looks cool.
  • Thankfully, it doesn’t have that typical boxy SUV shape; it’s more tapered up towards the back. Thankfully, it doesn’t have that typical boxy SUV shape; it’s more tapered up towards the back.

This model has fabric seats that look good and feel comfortable enough on bare legs, there’s a smooth, not scratchy finish. You’ll get a leather wrapped steering wheel and gearshift which also up the ante and take it to that next level in style. It also feels good while you’re driving to touch leather rather than a hard plastic.

How spacious is it?

We had a rather comfortable week in the HR-V because it feels more spacious than some of its competitors. I’ve been testing small SUVs for a few weeks and some are roomier than others - the HR-V falls into the roomy category. In the front I didn’t feel cramped at all and even my 185cm husband had enough leg and headroom.

My two children, aged five and seven, were easily able to fit in the back, even with my husband’s seat position in front they weren’t complaining about their leg space (something they’ve become quite vocal about!).

  •  The HR-V feels more spacious than some of its competitors. The HR-V feels more spacious than some of its competitors.
  • My two children, aged five and seven, were easily able to fit in the back, even with my husband’s front seat position in place. My two children, aged five and seven, were easily able to fit in the back, even with my husband’s front seat position in place.
  • The star of the show in the HR-V is the 437 litre boot. The star of the show in the HR-V is the 437 litre boot.
  •  I (161cm) also fit in the rear seats with a bunch of room to spare. Most adults and tall teenagers should be fine in the back. I (161cm) also fit in the rear seats with a bunch of room to spare. Most adults and tall teenagers should be fine in the back.

At 161cm I also fit in the rear seats with a bunch of room to spare and most adults and tall teenagers should be fine in the back.

The star of the show in the HR-V is the boot. At 437 litres it’s one of the biggest in the category, beating the CX-3, the Kona and the Toyota C-HR. It’s about on par with Nissan Qashqai. I could fit a pram in there with room for extra bags around it, which is rare for a small SUV.

You’ll also get Honda’s 'Magic Seats' in the rear, which can fold up in an instant if you have a tall plant or a bike to transport around, so the boot space really is good for a car this size.

How easy is it to use every day?

My children were easily able to climb in and out of the car themselves, which is a big bonus, and while the HR-V isn’t super high, it’s still a decent enough height to do up kids’ seatbelts. You’ll find two cupholders in the front which can be adjusted to go either deep or shallow, which is great, but no cupholders in the back for rear passengers. You will get a bottle holder in each door though. There’s a hidden spot below the gearshift to stash a phone and keys, and a small-ish centre storage bin.

In the front, you’ll find two cupholders which can be adjusted to go either deep or shallow, which is great. In the front, you’ll find two cupholders which can be adjusted to go either deep or shallow, which is great.

As is standard across the small SUV category, you won’t find air vents in the rear seats but I drove this car on a few hot days and there was enough air blowing from front to back to keep the children cool. The front passenger seat will get blasted with air however due to the long, horizontal air vent on the dash.

The rear seats fold either up or down very easily to create more usable boot space, contributing to the HR-V’s practicality on a daily basis.

How safe is it?

You’ll get airbags that cover driver and front passenger and side curtain airbags that extend to the back row. This 2019 model also comes with auto emergency braking (AEB) which works at low speeds, but it’s missing other new technology like blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert.

There is the addition of a 'Lane Watch' camera which shows what is happening on the left side of the car when you put the blinker on, plus you’ll get rear collision warning.

There are two ISOFIX points and three top tether points for children’s car seats. The HR-V gets a maximum five ANCAP stars based on a 2015 test.

What’s the tech like?

What does it cost to own?


The Wrap

As far as small SUVs go, the Honda HR-V CTi-S should be high on your look-list. It really does have more interior space than the exterior implies, and boot space is great for a car this size, in this category. It drives pretty nicely with not much to complain about and it looks great design-wise.

I gave it a family rating of 7.5 out of 10 because my family was quite comfortable all week. My children also gave it a 7.5, they love being able to climb into their seats on their own.

Likes

Interior space
Boot space
Exterior design

Dislikes

No Apple CarPlay or Android Auto

Scores

Nedahl:

3.8

The Kids:

3.8

$27,990

Based on new car retail price