Tiny crossover SUVs are making a significant statement, delivering utility for a small cost. The Honda HR-V is one of a growing breed of subcompact models, prized for its cabin that offers a unique seat management system.

Best Value

Honda offers the HR-V in three trims with standard front-wheel drive and available all-wheel drive. We chose the mid-grade HR-V EX with front-wheel drive that starts at $23,395 (including the $975 destination charge and $800 for the continuously variable transmission) as our “best value” model. Consider all-wheel drive if you live where wintry conditions prevail, otherwise hold back from making the $1,300 upgrade.

Besides the EX trim, you’ll find LX and EX-L Navi trims. The base model comes with such features as 17-inch alloy wheels, a multi-angle rearview camera, and a 60/40 split fold-down rear seat, part of its Magic Seat management system. Magic Seat employs a unique system where either or both of the rear seatbacks can fold flat and flush with cargo floor or the seat cushions folded upright to make room for a pair of mountain bikes or tall plants. The top trim brings in such features as roof rails, leather-trimmed seats, navigation, and satellite and HD Radio.

As for the EX, it splits the difference with keyless entry and push-button start, automatic climate control, heated front seats and mirrors, and the Honda LaneWatch side mirror camera system.

  • Model: 2018 Honda HR-V EX
  • Engine: 1.8-liter I4r
  • Output: 141 hp/127 lb.-ft.
  • Transmission: Continuously variable automatic
  • Drivetrain: Front-wheel drive
  • MPG: 28 city/34 highway
  • Options: None. Besides a $1,300 alloy wheel upgrade, which we aren’t recommending.
  • Base Price: $23,395 (including $975 destination charge)
  • Best Value Price: $23,245

Performance

Honda HR-V

The 2018 Honda HR-V generates 141 horsepower and 127 pound-feet of torque from its 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine. Honda pairs this engine with a six-speed manual transmission or a continuously variable automatic transmission.

With just the driver present, we found the engine sufficient, but with additional passengers on board, it labors. It wasn't enough even with the CVT operating in manual mode and working with prearranged “gears.”

The HR-V supplies a surprisingly smooth ride despite its size. Handling isn't its strong suit, but its 31 miles per gallon rating is quite good – upgrade from your Fit without a tinge of SUV guilt.

Interior and Exterior

Style-wise, the HR-V offers a tidy, if not quirky, package. We like some of the individual parts, such as the grille and profile, but put it all together and the exterior seems busy, even disjointed. That said, give Honda big marks for standard alloy wheels and the tucked-in rear door handles. We’re not sure what Honda had in mind when tying various and discordant design elements together.

Where the exterior delivers a controversial design, the interior is comparatively tame. Happily, the two-screen arrangement still found in some Honda models is absent. Even so, the base 5.0-inch screen seems too small, even for this model. Touchscreen controls dominate, meaning if you fiddle with the audio volume, your hands are on the screen and that may cause a distraction.

Kudos to Honda for its Magic Seat management system. It isn’t like any other seating arrangement in this segment, making it possible to bring along gear that doesn’t seem as if it should fit. Standard cargo volume measures 24.3 cubic feet or 58.8 cubic feet with the rear seat folded.

The Best and Worst Things

The standard equipment list is strong and, of course, the storage possibilities are numerous. On the other hand, we’re disappointed the HR-V doesn’t offer the latest safety technologies.

Right For...

Honda HR-V

Anyone who's dipping their feet into the SUV market for the first time, but especially for the customer moving up from a small car. The utility features alone make this Honda a keeper.

Wrong For...

Individuals who demand a little kick. Performance is fine for the lone driver, but add in more people or gear and you’ll be wanting for more.

The Bottom Line

The Honda HR-V shares its platform with the Fit and that’s a great place to start. If you’re crossing over from a small car to an SUV, the HR-V offers a logical place to begin.