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2017 Honda HR-V: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader May 2017

The 2017 Honda HR-V is one of the many little SUVs introduced within the past year or two, providing a lower-priced choice for those seeking a taller view out and extra versatility. And if versatility is what you're looking for, the HR-V is without question your best choice in this segment rife with unimpressive cargo space. This little Honda gets the most out of its compact exterior dimensions thanks to its "Magic Seat" in the back that flips up or folds flat into the floor. As a result, it has the cargo volume of a bigger SUV.

Beyond that, it's an attractive little runabout with a quality cabin, ample features list and superior fuel economy. Of course, all-wheel drive (AWD) is an option and you can even get a manual transmission. Unfortunately, with any transmission, the HR-V is doggedly slow and you don't need a lead foot to notice. Virtually every competitor is better in this regard. Other downsides to consider are frustrating touchscreen controls and front seat legroom (even those of average height may struggle to get comfortable).

However, if you're looking to get the most useful little SUV for the money, we think the 2017 Honda HR-V is definitely worth a look.

 What's New for 2017?

The HR-V was all-new last year and receives no changes for 2017.

 What We Like

Clever rear Magic Seat yields superior cargo space and versatility; spacious back seat for its segment; excellent fuel economy; available manual transmission; abundant standard features

 What We Don't

Very slow; front-seat legroom is lacking for taller drivers; frustrating touchscreen controls; mediocre safety ratings

 How Much?

$19,500-$26,300

 Fuel Economy

The 2017 Honda HR-V is powered by a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine good for 141 horsepower and 127 lb-ft of torque. Front-wheel-drive models come standard with a 6-speed manual transmission and earn an Environmental Protection Agency estimate of 25 miles per gallon in the city, 33 mpg on the highway and 28 mpg in combined driving. Adding the continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) brings those figures up to 28 mpg city/34 mg hwy/31 mpg combined. Toss in AWD, and the HR-V returns a still-impressive 27 mpg city/31 mpg hwy/29 mpg combined. All of these are among the best in the HR-V's segment.

 Standard Features & Options

The HR-V is offered in three trim levels: LX, EX and EX-L with Navigation. AWD is available on all trims, while a 6-speed manual transmission is offered on the front-drive LX and EX trims. The CVT is optional on those and standard on the EX-L and with all-wheel drive.

The HR-V LX ($19,500) features 17-in alloy wheels, a rearview camera, full power accessories, keyless entry, cruise control, a height-adjustable driver seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Honda's 60/40-split rear "Magic Seat," Bluetooth and a 4-speaker sound system with a CD player, a USB port and a media player interface. An available CVT automatic adds $800 to the base price.

The HR-V EX ($21,500) adds a sunroof, automatic headlights, foglights, rear privacy glass, keyless entry with push-button start, heated mirrors, automatic climate control, heated front seats, Honda's LaneWatch blind-spot camera, a 6-speaker sound system, an extra USB port, HondaLink smartphone apps and a 7-inch touchscreen interface.

The HR-V EX-L with Navigation ($25,000) adds roof rails, leather seats, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and shift knob, a navigation system integrated into the touchscreen, satellite and HD radios and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

As is typical with Honda, there are only a few dealer-installed options for each trim.

 Safety

The HR-V comes with a nice complement of safety equipment, including standard anti-lock brakes, electronic traction and stability control and a full set of airbags (front, side and full-length side-curtain). Although Honda's LaneWatch blind-spot camera is available, there are no accident avoidance tech features like lane-departure warning and frontal collision automatic braking available.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the HR-V 5-star ratings for overall and side crash safety, along with a 4-star rating for frontal crash safety. The non-profit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave it surprisingly disappointing results for a recently introduced car. Though it got Good marks in the moderate overlap front and roof strength tests, it only got the second-best rating of Acceptable in the side and small-overlap front crash tests. Its headlights were also deemed poor.

 Behind the Wheel

Quite simply, the Honda HR-V needs more power. Its 141 hp is not only an insufficient amount, but most of it only shows up high in the rev range, meaning it feels even slower than advertised. The CVT automatic does its best to keep it in that rev range, but doing so causes a lot of racket -- especially when merging onto the highway and/or when you're loaded up with people and cargo. Opting for the manual transmission fixes this a bit, but we acknowledge few will actually do so. On the upside, the HR-V can be surprisingly fun behind the wheel. It corners well, turns on a dime, and once up to speed, road and wind noise are reasonably hushed.

The HR-V's interior is a bit of a mixed bag. As we mentioned above, its Magic Seat lives up to its name in regards to cargo space and versatility. Nothing in the segment comes close to it. Back seat room is also quite good, with the HR-V being one of the only vehicles in the segment with enough space to hold a rear-facing child seat without moving the front seats forward to an uncomfortable degree. Unfortunately, the driver seat doesn't slide far enough back and is mounted at an uncomfortable angle -- even those of average height have complained that they didn't fit right.

Interior quality is excellent and the design is far more attractive than what we've come to expect from uber-practical Honda. Then again, the center console also isn't as useful as the Honda norm and the available touchscreen interface frustrates with its menu structure, response times and lack of a volume knob and physical menu buttons.

 Other Cars to Consider

2017 Subaru Crosstrek -- The Crosstrek is really just a compact hatchback with lots of ground clearance, but that's not a bad thing. Its range of virtues is comparable to the HR-V.

2017 Jeep Renegade -- The Renegade offers more power and features, as well as real off-road ability. But the Jeep costs quite a bit more than the HR-V, and Jeep's repair and reliability record can't hold a candle to Honda.

2017 Mazda CX-3 -- The CX-3 manages to match the HR-V's excellent fuel economy, but it does so while delivering best-in-segment acceleration. It's also great to look at and drive. Unfortunately, its interior is tiny.

Used Kia Soul -- A 2012-2015 Kia Soul offers more cargo and rear-seat room, and even sold as a certified pre-owned car, it offers the same 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty as a new HR-V. The Soul doesn't offer AWD, however, and its fuel economy is not as good.

 Autotrader's Advice

Our choice would be the front-drive HR-V EX. For less than $23,000, you'll get all the features you really need and then some. We know there'll be few takers for the manual-transmission models, but it really is the most enjoyable configuration -- so long as your daily drive doesn't involve hours and hours of traffic. An extra $800 will get you the CVT automatic, which also nets better fuel economy.

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RELATED INVENTORY
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Used 2017 Honda HR-V FWD EX-L
Used 2017 Honda HR-V
$24,000
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Used 2017 Honda HR-V AWD EX
Used 2017 Honda HR-V
$20,494
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Used 2017 Honda HR-V AWD EX-L w/Navigation
Used 2017 Honda HR-V
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New 2017 Honda HR-V AWD EX
New 2017 Honda HR-V
MSRP $23,615
This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2017 Honda HR-V: New Car Review - Autotrader