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Honda HR-V

Toyota C-HR


Honda HR-V

Honda Australia has gone through a bit of a transformation in recent years, shedding its top-10 sales ambitions for a new approach that focuses on slimming down the range with high-spec grades.

The first new-gen model to launch with that approach was last year’s Civic, but it’s the latest launch, the HR-V, which might make or break Honda’s new strategy.

And that’s because the HR-V is a small SUV – playing a space dominated by Toyota, Mazda and Kia – that also offers up a so-hot-right-now hybrid powertrain for the first time in Australia.

No doubt, the HR-V will prove more popular than the Civic in sales as the market shifts preferences, but is it any good?

This is all you need to know about the 2022 Honda HR-V.

Safety rating
Engine Type1.5L
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency4.3L/100km
Seating4 seats

Toyota C-HR

You can almost trace Toyota's renaissance back to a single day – the day the C-HR was revealed to the world as a production car. The company could have gotten away with jacking up a Yaris and calling it a compact SUV, but instead they went all out with a bolt-from-the-blue looker with some really interesting styling ideas inside and out.

I mean, yes, they have now jacked-up a Yaris and called it an SUV, but the C-HR was first and it's cooler, even despite the name meaning Coupe – High Rider. Absolute cringe-fest that, but one of the very few missteps in this changing of the guard for the Japanese giant.

Rolling on Toyota's excellent TNGA platform, the C-HR has settled nicely into its role as one of the bravest Toyotas in years (sold here in Australia, anyway). But with the arrival of the Yaris and Yaris Cross, it was time for a little tweak to the range.

Safety rating
Engine Type1.2L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency6.4L/100km
Seating5 seats


Honda HR-V8.1/10

You could look at the 2022 HR-V and think that Honda has taken a step back.

After all, there’s less space in the boot, there’s one less seat and the prices have – at first glance – gone up.

In reality though, the HR-V, especially in this e:HEV L form, offers up a genuine rival to Toyotas, Mazdas and Kias that dominate the small SUV space.

The 2022 HR-V is a properly handsome car, the hybrid powertrain is miserly on fuel, and the handling characteristics are honestly pretty fantastic.

Toyota C-HR7.6/10

The two-tier C-HR range doesn't have a duffer in it and the great thing about it is that the base model is so good the temptation to spend up on the Koba is limited to cosmetic things (with one exception...). The GXL has lots of good safety gear and the only tangible missing thing is the Koba's reverse AEB and hybrid option. The hybrid uses half the petrol, so is worth considering as well as for the extra punch.

I find myself suggesting the C-HR without reservation to people I would never have recommended a Toyota to in the past – it's good value, beautifully-built and designed, great to drive and remarkably cheap to own and run.


Honda HR-V9/10

If you close your eyes for a second and think of the best-looking Hondas of all time, I bet the likes of the first-generation NSX, S2000 and two-door Integra come to mind.

And while this new HR-V design doesn’t quite match the heights of Honda in the 90s, it’s certainly a significant step in the right direction compared to the car it replaces.

Gone is the slightly derivative styling and pudgy proportions, replaced with a much more taut, muscular and confident body.

The new grille design is of particular note, as it melds the intakes with the bumper and, when combined with the sleek headlights, makes the HR-V look like it could be from the future.

From the side, the new HR-V retains the hidden door handles of its predecessor, which pays homage to the three-door SUV shape available in the first-generation car.

The long bonnet, short overhangs and sloping window line also give this Honda a particularly athletic appearance, while the 18-inch wheels are also just about big enough to fill the arches, and feature an interesting enough design.

The rear end is dominated by the latest automotive design trend of connected tail-lights, but the relatively flat bootlid and clean aesthetic give the HR-V a really modern look.

The bootlid spoiler is also a nice touch, while this car’s contrasting kick plate adds to the illusion of its off-road credentials.

Inside, the HR-V also adopts a cleaner aesthetic – much like its Civic sibling – centred on a large 9.0-inch central touchscreen multimedia system, which thankfully features a physical volume control knob.

There are some cool design touches here too, like air vent switches with settings for open, close and diffusion, and touch-operated roof lights.

The best part of the interior, however, is fit, finish and feel. All the touch points are soft and there’s just a solid weight to everything. It’s probably no coincidence that all new Australian HR-Vs are now sourced from Japan.

To us, the new HR-V is a stunner. The styling is more mature and confident than before, and between this and the new-gen Civic, Honda’s design department seems to have rediscovered its mojo.

Toyota C-HR

The C-HR still looks box-fresh three years after its launch. I still have to remind people that it's a Toyota, it's so much more interesting than anything the brand has built for a long time. Show them a Supra and they have to be helped back to their feet. The big bluff front end with the huge headlights still cuts through the visual noise on the road. I still don't like the weird, clunky doorhandles on the rear doors which are ungainly and impractical, sited quite high for small children. The rear view is as polarising as ever, but I fall on the "yes, well done," side of the ledger.

The cabin is also virtually unchanged, which is the right thing to do because it really is very cool. It's a tad colourless like so many cabins these days, but with a consistent, coherent design philosophy, right down to the neat imprint in the headlining of the ovoid shape that dominates the interior design theme. The C-HR was one of the first cars to go without those big clunky rocker switches so beloved of Toyota for so long and it all feels really good.


Honda HR-V6/10

From the outside, aside from the styling, the 2022 Honda HR-V doesn’t seem like its changed all that much – it’s still a practical five-door small SUV, right?

And from the front seat, the new HR-V paints a very familiar picture.

There is plenty of room for the driver and front passenger, the seats have plenty of adjustability, and there’s storage for your water bottle, wallet and phone.

There’s even an underarm storage cubby that’s deep enough for you to lose some spare change or throw a charging cable or two into.

However, from the second row, the story really starts to change – especially compared with the outgoing model.

Whereas the old HR-V was classed as a five-seater, the 2022 version has seating for only four.

This is due to the middle ‘seat’ fouling Australia’s unique design rules for what can be classified as a seat, and does not have a seat belt.

How much would you’d actually use the middle seat if there was a seat belt there? That’s for you to decide, but it’s certainly a deal-breaker for some families.

Regardless, the two outboard seats offer heaps of leg- and shoulder-room, and our head can just about squeeze in comfortably without hitting the roof.

It’s certainly comfortable enough, and there’s a bottle holder in the door and air vents here to keep you comfortable, while the lack of centre seat means second-row passengers can have a full-time armrest with extra cupholders.

There’s also USB ports and backseat map pockets with a handy phone sling, so you don’t have to go reaching all the way down to get your mobile.

One saving grace for the rear seats, however, is the inclusion of Honda’s versatile ‘Magic Seats’, which allows you to fold the base of the rear seats up to accommodate taller objects like house plants.

The rear seats can also fold flat, creating a 1274 litre boot space, which measures just 304L with the rear seats upright.

This makes the 2022 HR-V’s boot smaller than the outgoing model, which could accommodate about 100-130 litres more, and even smaller than rivals like the Toyota C-HR and Mazda CX-30.

In fact, so small is the new HR-V’s boot, it’s even smaller than the Jazz light hatchback that was discontinued in 2020 – so don’t expect to see this small HR-V hauling timber from Bunnings or flat-packed furniture from Ikea.

Toyota C-HR

Up front, a long, narrow bin is a good place for your bits and pieces while the two separate cupholders and bottle holders in the doors will free up your hands and knees from holding the beverages. The rear cupholders are in the doors because there isn't an armrest but also means there are no bottle holders.

The C-HR is surprisingly roomy in the back but it's also gloomy as the glass sweeps up to meet the roof. Legroom is not bad for me at 180cm when seated behind where I drive and the seat itself is comfortable. The front seats are excellent and look good even in the base model.

You can store 377 litres in the boot with the seats up and 1112 litres with them down, which is competitive if not outstanding in the segment.

You also have three top-tether anchors and two ISOFIX points for the very young folk.

Price and features

Honda HR-V8/10

You might be shocked to see the new-generation HR-V kicks off with the Vi X grade for $36,700 driveaway, while this top-spec e:HEV L is positioned at $45,000.

With the previous-generation car kicking off from $31,300 and topping out at $41,000, it would seem like the new HR-V has jumped up quite substantially in price, right?

Well, Honda Australia’s new strategy is to slim down the range, and offer a few, highly-specified grades that it knows are more popular than others, hence the number of options for the HR-V going from five to just two.

Also keep in mind that these are driveaway, no-more-to-pay prices, whereas its rivals, like the Toyota C-HR, Mazda CX-30 and Kia Niro that all start at around $30,000, are quoted before on-road costs.

Once you do the math, you’ll find the cost of all these small SUVs to be surprisingly close.

Honda Australia has tried to offset the increased pricing with a boat load of equipment though, with standard features that include automatic headlights, 18-inch alloy wheels, fabric interior, LED daytime running lights, rear privacy glass, push-button start and a 7.0-inch drive display.

Handling multimedia duties is a 9.0-inch touchscreen that allows for wireless Apple CarPlay. Unfortunately, for Android users, you’ll need a cable to make use of Android Auto.

The multimedia set-up in the base car also features satellite navigation, but there are only four speakers throughout the cabin.

Stepping up to the more expensive e:HEV L nets buyers a powered tailgate, heated steering wheel, leather-accented cabin, automatic wipers, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, active cornering lights and an extra two speakers to better pump the tunes.

Of course, it’s the hybrid powertrain that makes the top-spec HR-V jump up so much in price, but we’ll go into more detail about this in the powertrain section of this review.

While the equipment list is long and extensive for the Vi X, there are some notable omissions on the top-spec e:HEV L that make its $45,000 pricetag a bit harder to swallow.

Namely, where are the cooled seats, wireless smartphone charger, head-up display, sunroof and electronic seat adjustment?

Browsing the optional extras, at least one of these things can be added in, but the wireless phone-charger kit will add another $640 to the pricetag. Come on, Honda!

Toyota C-HR

For some reason, Toyota thought the model designation "GXL" would fit the C-HR despite being far more at home on a Land Cruiser, which is a car with a very 1980s vibe versus the C-HR's 21st century zeitgeist feel. The main changes for the 2021 model year are added to the safety column, but GXL buyers pick up keyless entry and start.

Apart from that, things are more or less as they were before – you can still choose from 2WD ($30,915 plus on-roads) or AWD ($32,915). Remembering, of course, that this is the entry-level machine that used to be known as plain old C-HR and is now about $750 more than the MY20. The manual version is long gone, if you're wondering.

You get 17-inch alloys, a six-speaker stereo, dual-zone climate control, reversing camera, active cruise control, sat nav, auto LED headlights, auto wipers, front and rear parking sensors, auto high beam, folding heated electric mirrors, power windows and a space-saver spare.

Toyota hasn't taken the opportunity to again improve the touchscreen, which went up to 8.0-inches last year along with a big improvement in the media system software. It still looks washed-out and stretched but does have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The hardware really needs to be higher-resolution and the system itself really doesn't reflect Toyota's might in the industry. Better than it used to be, though and, with smartphone integration, less of a problem.

Engine & trans

Honda HR-V7/10

Under the bonnet of the HR-V e:HEV L you’ll find a 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, but Honda has also thrown in two electric motors to make this car a hybrid.

In total, there is 96kW of power and 253Nm of torque available, making it competitive against its rivals for potency, but the bigger benefit of this hybrid set-up is in its lower fuel consumption figure.

Meanwhile, the Vi X forgoes the electric motors and is powered exclusively by a 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine.

The entry-level HR-V manages to muster up 89kW of power and 145Nm of torque – and if that sounds a little underpowered, it’s because it is.

Compared to rivals like the Toyota C-HR and Mazda CX-30, the cheapest HR-V is well down on power and torque as all its competitors make use of larger engines or a turbocharger for a bit more grunt.

Whichever HR-V engine you end up with, both are paired to a continuously variable transmission that sends drive to the front wheels.

Toyota C-HR

The GXL is powered by the a 1.2-litre turbo four-cylinder petrol engine with just 85kW and 185Nm available to drag the 1440kg 2WD GXL around (heavier if it's AWD). Power goes through either the front or all four wheels via continuously variable transmission (CVT).

Fuel consumption

Honda HR-V10/10

Officially this HR-V e:HEV L will return a fuel consumption figure of just 4.3 litres per 100km, helped by its petrol-electric hybrid powertrain.

This figure not only beats out the petrol-only Mazda CX-30 line-up, but also matches the Toyota C-HR Hybrid for frugality.

In our time with the HR-V e:HEV L, we actually managed to match the 4.3L/100km claim with a healthy mix of inner-city and freeway driving.

Very rarely do fuel consumption claims translate to a real-world setting, so it's heartening to see that the Honda HR-V living up to what’s promised on the box.

The petrol-only Vi X meanwhile, wears an official fuel consumption figure of 5.8L/100km, but having not yet driven that car, we cannot comment on the accuracy of that claim.

Toyota C-HR

Toyota claims a 5.7L/100km official combined cycle figure of 6.6L/100km and requires premium unleaded to run at its best. In my week with the car which was mostly suburban running with a little freeway dalliance returned an indicated 8.3L/100km. That's not a terrible distance away from the combined cycle and given I work C-HRs hard when I have them, that's not bad.


Honda HR-V9/10

How do you think a small SUV should drive on the road? To us, I want something that is easy to use with great visibility and a minimal number of rattles and squeaks.

And this Honda HR-V absolutely delivers.

Let’s start with the powertrain. On paper this HR-V e:HEV L’s outputs are nothing to write home about, but out in the real world, there is plenty of gusto to come off the line briskly.

Don’t get us wrong, it’s not going to blow away hot hatches or even most turbocharged cars, but accelerating up to 60km/h isn’t an exercise in testing your patience.

The powertrain is also a smart one, able to switch EV, hybrid and engine mode depending on what is required in any given situation.

The switchover from EV to petrol power is also smooth and seamless, there’s no jerkiness or clunkiness here, it all just works exactly how, and when, you want it to.

In fact, if you had your music pumping at head-bobbing levels, we’d wager you wouldn’t even know whether the petrol engine or electric motors were at work, save for the ‘EV’ indicator light on the instrumentation.

The CVT in this HR-V also does a fairly decent job, and for the most part fades into background of the driving experience – which is a good thing.

When flat-footing it, the HR-V does get a bit revvy and harsh, but for the most part, and especially during inner-city journeys, this car is a delight.

The steering is also very nicely weighted, and there’s a connection between the wheel and what’s happening underneath that’s rare to see in this class of car.

It means the HR-V is genuinely fun to pilot, whether ducking into an on-street park or navigating a series of S bends on a country road. What a pleasant surprise!

Toyota C-HR

The only real complaint I have about the C-HR is the drivetrain. There's not anything wrong with it – far from it – it's just that everything else in the class has more power and torque and which helps haul their weight along – the C-HR's is considerable at more than 1400kg. My long-term loan Suzuki Vitara Turbo weighs 300kg less and has a stack more power and torque for about the same money. 

Added to that, the C-HR's economy-focussed continuously variable transmission (my second least favourite transmission after "community") means progress is fairly leisurely and can get a bit loud when you put your foot down.

Which I do a fair bit. While the 1.2-litre engine is a really nice piece of technology and still unusual for a Toyota – it just doesn't have the horses and twist to pull the C-HR along as quickly as even Hyundai's 2.0-litre naturally-aspirated engine in the Kona, or the CVT-equipped Seltos. But that's okay – it's not a criticism, it's not like it's dangerously slow, it's just slower than most of its rivals and feels it. The Hybrid, which can only be specced with front-wheel drive and the Koba spec, is a little more peppy and the electric motor covers up some of the CVT's lax approach to acceleration.

It's also mildly frustrating because, hot damn, the chassis under the C-HR is really good. I'm going to mention TNGA again because it's such a good platform and I haven't driven a TNGA-based car that I didn't like. It's more than that, obviously – Toyota's engineers have built a driving experience around it that encourages yobbos like me to enjoy the way it corners while your passenger will enjoy the ride, which is excellent on all but the worst surfaces.

The C-HR is also pretty keen when it comes to cornering, with a nice progressive steering feel and weight. It's not particularly chatty, but again, it's a lot of fun and more fun than a few of its rivals. The roundabout raceway is a good laugh in this car.

The lack of go does come back to you on single carriageways when you want to overtake. While the C-HR cruises quietly and comfortably, a floored throttle for an overtake produces rather more bark than bite, so you'll find yourself settling comfortably behind whatever is slowing you down until you've got a long line of sight. Given the C-HR's likely citybound life, this is probably not going to be a big problem. If it is, again, the hybrid has a bit more go.


Honda HR-V7/10

Each third-generation HR-V comes fitted as standard with Honda’s Sensing suite of driver-assist technologies.

This means advanced driver assist technologies like autonomous emergency braking, forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, a reversing camera, traffic sign recognition and lane departure warning are included.

However, buyers will need to step up to the e:HEV L grade for rear cross-traffic alert and blind-spot monitoring – two features that should really be included across the range, especially because some rivals, like the Mazda CX-30 and Toyota CH-R include them as standard.

At the time of filming, Honda’s new HR-V is yet to be tested by ANCAP, but Euro NCAP has handed it a four-star crash-test rating.

While scoring a respectable 82 per cent in the adult occupant protection test, the HR-V scored less in the child occupant, vulnerable road user and safety assist categories.

While a four-star rating certainly doesn’t make the new HR-V unsafe for you and your family, it lags behind the five-star safety of rivals, such as the Mazda CX-30 and Toyota C-HR.

Toyota C-HR

The extra $700 or so over the MY19 C-HR has mostly gone into safety.

On board the GXL are seven airbags (including a driver's knee airbag), ABS, stability and traction controls, blind spot monitoring, high- and low-speed AEB with pedestrian detection (day and night) and cyclists (day only), forward collision warning, trailer sway control, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, lane trace assist (this keeps the car in the centre of the lane with gentle steering help), speed sign recognition (which can also change the cruise control speed if you want it to) and reverse cross traffic alert.

Added to that impressive lot is the intersection assist function, which warns you something is coming from the left or right at an intersection that you may not otherwise have clocked. That might seems a bit silly for the C-HR's stubby bonnet, but when your street is parked out and you can't see either way, it's extremely useful.


Honda HR-V9/10

Like all new Hondas sold in Australia in 2022, the HR-V comes with a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty.

Scheduled service intervals are every 12 months or 10,000km, whichever occurs first, which is a bit less mileage than the industry standard of 12 months/15,000km.

However, all of Honda’s vehicles now fall under its ‘5 Low Price Services’ scheme, which means each service for the first five years will only cost $125.

This means that the first five years of ownership should only set buyers back $625 – and this price applies to the hybrid and non-hybrid engine of the HR-V.

What’s even better, however, is that this makes the 2022 HR-V cheaper to maintain than the CX-30, C-HR and Niro.

Toyota C-HR

Toyota offers a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty along with a further two years on the drivetrain if you service with Toyota.

Servicing with Toyota seems eminently sensible because for the first four years or four services (intervals are set at 12 months/15,000km) you won't pay more than $200 per service, which is a dead-set bargain.