The compact SUV market has grown rapidly over the last few years and with popularity for these practical vehicles rising, it’s important to look at what every manufacture has to offer to make sure you get the right car for you. While there are some very dominant options in this segment, the Honda HRV range offers surprising value and performance.
The Honda HRV is powered by a 1.8L four-cylinder petrol engine that produces 105kW of power @ 6,500rpm and 172Nm of torque @ 4,300rpm. While this may not seem impressive on paper, it translates into an efficient, responsive and smooth drive, especially since it’s married to a rather capable CVT. To be quiet honest however, driving around town it can be a little touchy at speeds under 60km/h. While it’s not the best on the market I have certainly driven worse! The automatic transmission comes as standard, a feature that differentiates the HRV from its competitors but also contributes to the higher entry price tag. Fuel consumption sits around the respectable low 7ishL/100km (a little higher for the VTi-L).
The Honda HRV range has three variants and recently we had the opportunity to test drive the entry level VTi and the top of the range VTi-L. There are a few little differences style and technology wise between the bottom and top range variants with the VTi-L benefiting from chrome door handles, electronic mirrors, rain-sensing wipers front fog lights and automatic levelling LED headlights. While the VTi does get keyless entry, the VTi-L is the one with push button start, panoramic sunroof, privacy glass and silver roof rails.
Interior wise, the HRV has an attractive, functional layout which is more surprising than one would assume (apparently this combination is hard for some manufactures to achieve!). The drivers display dash conveys information such as outside temperature, instant and average fuel economy, distance to empty, average speed etc. clearly and with ease of control from the steering wheel. However what really puts the Honda HRV ahead of its class in terms of practicality is what they dub the ‘Magic Seats’; which are the contortionist rear seats which can be flipped and folded every-which-way to accommodate tall and odd-sized objects.
Standard technology is plentiful with EcoAssist display, electric parking brakes, one-touch turn signals and an impressive multi-media display whose myriad of functions I didn’t get to fully explore. The 7” colour touchscreen boasts all the usual Bluetooth and MP3 connectivity, radio, CD and USB ports. It also has the next generation of expectations including HDMI port, customisable wallpaper and MP4 video file capabilities. However, above and beyond that is the Siri Eyes Free technology – which allows your iPhone to merge with the car system – really cool! The lack of in-built satellite navigation is a little puzzling however. Again, there are a few notable differences to discuss – with the VTi-L receiving additional power outlets in the rear and cargo area, not just the front; dual-zone climate control, chrome accents and alloy sports pedals and my personal favourite – leather appointed heated seats!
Safety and security of course are the most important features of a vehicle and the Honda HRV sure packs every safety feature they can think of into the vehicle. All the essentials are there including front, side and full-length curtain airbags, ABS, Vehicle Stability Assist with Traction Control, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Emergency Brake Assist, reverse camera and more. Now usually this is where most cars stop – and where I think most cars should stop. However, as more technology is developed, more of it is installed in our cars for better or for worse. The Honda HRV VTi-L has forward collision warning – which I will concede is good when you zone-out (come on, we all do), however it does go off when I am completely aware of my surroundings (even if the technology doesn’t agree with my judgement), giving me a small heart-attack. The one piece of ‘safety’ technology I do not like and in fact I think is actually completely counter-productive is the camera that monitors the left side of the vehicle, turning on when the left indicator is activated and displaying itself on the large infotainment monitor. Now I don’t know about anyone else, but flashing, changing screens in my peripheral vision distracts me. I also believe that when driving you should be looking out the windscreen at the road, not at a camera image. While I am sure each person will differ in their preference to this technology – it goes down as a big no-no for me.
The Honda HRV range is a strong competitor in the compact SUV market with the VTi priced at $26,990* and VTi-L at $36,813*. While these prices may be slightly above its competitors – you need to consider just how much is included as standard and also, how much you are willing to pay for the elusive combination of looks and practicality!
*drive away prices for postcode 2000 and subject to change