The Honda HR-V first debuted last year, slotting below the compact CR-V and bringing Honda to the forefront of the rapidly expanding subcompact SUV segment. But while many Americans were excited to have their worlds enriched by another Honda crossover choice, the rest of the world already knew the HR-V. That’s because the first Honda HR-V came out nearly 20 years ago.
Indeed, while the U.S. market has only ever had one small Honda crossover — the CR-V — foreign buyers had the opportunity to choose between the HR-V and the CR-V for nearly a decade, beginning in 1998. And while the original HR-V occupied roughly the same market segment as today’s model, it included some rather significant differences. See the Honda HR-V models for sale near you
The biggest of these differences is the styling. The first HR-V, which was available in places like Asia, Australia and Europe, was a boxy small crossover with a pointy front end and a very abrupt, near-90-degree angle in back. An even bigger difference between old and new HR-Vs is that the original was offered in 2- or 4-door body styles — unlike today’s model, which only comes as a 4-door. And for further proof that the original HR-V hailed from a different time period: Most drivers chose the 2-door!
Under the hood of the original HR-V, Honda offered two engine options: a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder with roughly 100 horsepower and a 1.6-liter "VTEC" 4-cylinder with 120 horsepower. Transmission choices were a 5-speed manual or an early CVT automatic, while drivers could opt for front- or all-wheel drive.
At the time, buyers weren’t as interested in ultra-small SUVs as they are now — so the HR-V lasted nearly a decade without a full redesign before being canceled outright in 2006. But when Honda saw the subcompact crossover market heating back up, development began on a new HR-V — using the same tried-and-true name from before. Find a Honda HR-V for sale