The 2018 Honda HR-V is a master of versatility and a strong contender in the subcompact SUV segment. Despite its small size, it'll accommodate adults just fine up front or in back, and there's plenty of flexible cargo space options.
Just like the Honda Fit, the HR-V employs one of Honda's clever innovations called the Magic Seat. You can lift and flip up the rear-seat bottoms to create a cargo area from the floor to ceiling, which is perfect for transporting taller items like a flat-screen TV or a bicycle. With all the seats in place, the space is surprisingly suitable for average-size adults, too.
Another advantage to the HR-V's diminutive engine is its fuel efficiency. It can be paired with a six-speed manual transmission, but the continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) is more efficient overall, and it's required if you want all-wheel drive.
On the downside, the HR-V's efficient engine delivers lackluster acceleration, and the touchscreen infotainment system demands more of your attention to use compared to some competitors. The HR-V also feels somewhat unrefined because of the amount of cabin noise present, which is a little unusual for Honda. Shortcomings aside, though, the HR-V is still one of the better picks for a subcompact vehicle, and it offers decent value overall.
Notably, we picked the 2018 Honda HR-V as one of Edmunds' Best Small SUVs for this year.
The Honda HR-V receives no significant changes for 2018.
We think you'll like the HR-V's EX trim level. It's a small price jump up from the base LX to the EX and with it you gain a host of modern conveniences, including keyless entry and ignition, heated seats and dynamic rearview camera guidelines. The range-topping EX-L Navi is a little more of a stretch, though still reasonably priced, and adds amenities such as leather upholstery, navigation and satellite radio. But for this class of car, the midlevel EX makes the most sense and carries an attractive price, so it's the one we'd recommend.
The 2018 HR-V is the least expensive crossover in Honda's stable, but thanks to the number of features offered, it doesn't have to feel like an econobox special. There are three trim levels available: LX, EX and EX-L Navi. All three models are powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine (141 horsepower, 127 pound-feet of torque) and either paired with a six-speed manual (with front-wheel drive only) or a CVT automatic (front- or all-wheel drive).
Standard feature highlights for the LX include 17-inch wheels, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a height-adjustable driver seat, a 60/40-split folding rear seat with Honda's Magic Seat feature, a 5-inch central display screen, a rearview camera, Bluetooth, and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player and a USB port.
The EX trim adds a sunroof, rear privacy glass, automatic headlights, foglights, heated mirrors, keyless entry and ignition, heated front seats, automatic climate control, dynamic guidelines for the rearview camera, a passenger-side blind-spot camera (Honda's LaneWatch), a 7-inch touchscreen display, a six-speaker sound system (with an additional USB port), and HondaLink smartphone apps and integration.
Lastly, the range-topping EX-L Navi comes with roof rails, leather upholstery, a navigation system with voice recognition, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and satellite and HD radio.
Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2016 Honda HR-V EX-L w/Navigation (1.8L inline-4 | CVT automatic | AWD).
Note: Since this test was conducted, the HR-V has not received any significant revisions. Our findings remain applicable to this year's model.
The 141 horsepower generated by its 1.8-liter four-cylinder is fairly meager by segment standards. On the bright side, the HR-V's handling is sporty enough to create some fun when going around turns.
The HR-V is one of the slowest subcompact SUVs we've tested. It went from zero to 60 mph in an unhurried 9.7 seconds. After lurching off the line abruptly, the HR-V feels weak, even in regular driving. When driving up hills, the CVT automatic is constantly adjusting engine rpm, which can get tiresome.
The brakes are barely adequate powerwise, but the pedal has a decent feel, making it easy to modulate when coming to a stop. In our emergency braking test, the HR-V needed a slightly longer-than-average distance to stop from 60 mph.
The steering has a pleasant and natural feel to it. It relays enough information about what the front tires are doing to give you confidence as you drive around turns. It's also an easy car with which to navigate a tight parking lot.
This is a fun vehicle to drive thanks to its quick turn-in and suspension well tuned for compliance and stability. The electronic stability control system rarely intervenes on public roads, which is an indicator of fundamentally good dynamics.
Full-throttle acceleration brings vibrations through the steering wheel and gas pedal, especially above 5,000 rpm. The gas pedal responsiveness isn't linear either, making the HR-V seem jumpy and hard to drive smoothly. These drawbacks might be forgiven if it made more power.
The HR-V comes standard with front-wheel drive, but all three trim levels are available with all-wheel drive, as on our test vehicle. As is typical for this class, an all-wheel-drive HR-V is meant for improved traction during inclement driving rather than any true off-road exploring.
The 2018 HR-V has one of the best ride qualities in its class. Seat comfort is mediocre, however, resulting in average scores overall.
The front seats are narrow and firmly cushioned. Lumbar support is not adjustable. Taller folks might take issue with the lack of adjustability and poor legroom. The door and center armrests have good padding, though, and the rear seats are firm but comfy.
No vehicle in the subcompact crossover class is cushy. But the Honda HR-V does better than most, with a completely livable ride quality. Only when you drive over big bumps does the HR-V seem a bit choppy or still-riding.
Noise & vibration5.5
At full throttle or high rpm, the engine sends a considerable amount of racket into the cabin. Even at idle at a stoplight, there's noticeable engine vibration. The tires are noisier than expected over most surfaces, but wind noise is impressively muted.
The 2018 HR-V's interior is more useful than any other vehicle interior in the class, with a nifty rear seat that can fold or swing up and out of the way. Rear-seat occupants will be pleased with the amount of room.
Ease of use7.0
All of the HR-V's central controls are easily within the driver's reach, and the steering wheel controls feel substantial and high-quality. The lack of physical infotainment and climate control buttons and knobs is a huge minus, however.
Getting in/getting out7.5
The front seat is at a near-perfect height for slipping in and out, and the roofline is high. Doors are large for a vehicle this size, and they open quite wide. It's more difficult to get into the rear because of the sloping roofline, small door openings and high-mounted seats.
Space for rear passengers is excellent. Average-size adults can actually fit back there, which can't be said for a lot of subcompact crossovers. But the front seats lack legroom and adjustment range for tall folks.
Most of the vertical roof pillars are slim, particularly up front, giving you a great view out. The rear pillars are thick, but the side windows are long, making for easier lane changes. A rearview camera is standard; the LaneWatch blind-spot camera is standard on EX and EX-L Navi models.
Although the interior looks nice, some of the trim pieces and the functionality of a few controls aren't up to Honda's usual high standards.
Cargo capacity is excellent at 24.3 cubic feet behind the rear seats or 58.8 cubic feet with the rear seats folded (FWD figures; with AWD, cargo space is slightly less). It has unbeatable versatility thanks to the flat-folding rear seat and flip-up cushions. Small-item storage is subpar, though.
The touchscreen user interface looks nice even with its low-rent nav graphics. It's frustrating to use, though, because of the imprecise virtual buttons and a confounding menu structure. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto would help some, but alas, the HR-V is not one of the Hondas with this technology.
Edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.