2019 Honda HR-V RS is given a thorough once-over
Honda HR-V RS is an impressive little SUV, that drives almost like a hatch.
It sits second from the top of the HR-V 4 model lineup. It has sporting aspirations, but to call HR-V sporty might be a stretch too far.
Let me explain: HR-V, like most SUVs, is a lifestyle vehicle. It allows its owner the freedom to throw his stuff in the back without having to be too precious about what that stuff is doing to his prized possession.
HR-V has the added advantage of having flexible seating making the cargo hold even more useful.
Although the market segment is positively lousy with offerings, Honda’s SUVs sells very well and is number 2 in the segment. What’s their secret?
We took HR-V to the drive-in last time we drove it.
HR-V was launched in 2015.
In august 2018, HR-V got loads of tasty goodies that add both convenience and safety.
Lighting is LED all round, with tail lights having a “guide-style” effect. Lights come on automatically when they’re needed too.
18” wheels feature a complex 5-hole design which look vaguely like propellers.
The smart concealed rear door handles sit vertically behind the window line keeping the rear door handle-free. It looks good and ads to a look and feel of a high-set coupe.
A shark fin aerial cover looks good, and from the side, gives the profile a nifty little feature on an otherwise featureless roof. There are inbuilt roof rails too.
An integrated spoiler protrudes out over the rear hatch to help keep some of the sun off your hopping.
Black highlights include dark chrome on the grille and door handles, and a rather daring piano black body kit. Along with the darkened rear windows, RS tries to look menacing, but only manages to look slightly naughty.
Seats are “leather-appointed” which means leathers were sourced from a cow, and from a laboratory. Apart from the cabin tech, clever seats are the best feature, but could easily go unnoticed.
Unlike most cars, HR-V seating is so flexible, there are “modes”, believe it or not. Rear seats folded down gives you a generous 1,462L Utility Mode. That’s what most people will use for sporting gear and New Year’s Shopping.
Manipulating the rear seats again will give you either a Tall Mode allowing full floor to ceiling use of space, or Long Mode which does what it says on the box.
By far, the most mind-bogglingly useful mode, is Refresh Mode. By taking the headrests out and pushing the back seats back, the front seats recline all the way. A really tired driver might manage a quick power nap. You’d have to pack wisely for a road trip but it certainly could be done on a long-distance frolic.
Honda claims their clever little HR-V will take 2 mountain bikes with rear seats in Tall Mode, as long as the front wheels are thrown in the boot. The bikes sit on the floor behind the front seats. I asked if there was an accessory to stop the bikes banging together in transit, but it looks like it is a doona and blanket job. What a shame. They’ve thought of everything else.
I like this a lot.
Moving back into the front, we see a multi-level console beneath the centre stack. Behind and below the front level hides a place for USB and power outlets. It is a little fiddly to use but it keeps your nooks and crannies neat and tidy. Phone cords are out of the way.
When I first used this, I disliked it for how difficult it made the USBs to access. The only way is to feel about blindly behind the top section in order to find the outlet in the bottom rear part. It is far easier to get down on your knees with the door open and do it from outside the car.
You can leave your USB lead plugged in permanently so you can quickly insert your cable for Apple CarPlay.
In fact, the dash and console look like a modern piece of high-end sporting gear.
Infotainment is a 7” LCD touch screen mounted front and centre. It has fixed controls for major functions, ubiquitous steering wheel controls for auxiliary control.
Although they are not touch buttons like Civic, they are easy to use. I like the easy layout keep oft-used controls front and centre on the arms of the steering wheel. Separation of individual buttons will mean you don’t try and answer your phone unless you actually want to. It is so easy to touch close-set controls by mistake. Other controls sit lower on the wheel on large flat paddles.
Cabin ambience is both spacious and relaxed, yet efficient and comfortable.
Magic seats are by far the most useful thing about HR-V. Here are a few other things I like.
- Reverse tilt mirror
- USB behind console
- Bluetooth easy to use
- 7” screen
- AM/FM (no DAB)
- Auto wipers/lights
- Smart entry/start
- Video playback via HDMI
Drive and Engine
Power from the 105kw/172Nm 4 cylinder engine is modest but more than adequate. It is delivered to the front wheels though an updated Earth Dreams CVT.
Old CVTs had your poor engine screaming for mercy during frisky acceleration.
Honda’s CVT senses the need for speed and moves through a series of preset ratios like a regular automatic. Otherwise the occupants are unaware of what the engine is doing. Revs rise and fall, all the while the computer is making sure as little juice is sipped as possible. Apparently that is part of the “Earth Dreams” mantra.
When cruising, revs barely hover above idle. That makes for very quiet touring. HR-V will lower revs to idle whenever power isn’t required.
Honda made HR-V quieter. It was already pretty good in the noise department and I didn’t notice the difference. Car companies call this “NVH”, or, Noise, Vibration, and Handling. In this case additions to damping of vibration and wind noise give HR-V a regal feel.
We set HR-V some simple tasks: A few airports runs, some shopping, and a quick trip to the beach saw us tackle fairly ordinary road surfaces. I like the way HR-V corners. For a tall-ish car, it sits reasonably flat.
Macpherson struts give a tactile sense of road feel up front, but I’ve been somewhat less satisfied with torsion bar rear ends. They can skip in rutted corners. Despite the torsion bar, HR-V stays relatively planted even when pushed.
The real strength of an HR-V sized SUV is the convenience of cargo space without being so huge that you can’t park it. Reversing cameras are now an accepted standard feature, but Honda doubles down on that with Lane Watch. Indicating left activates a nifty camera mounted in the lefthand door mirror. A clear image of the view allows a driver to see right long the passenger’s side of the car. Not only can you see bikes and cars, but also the footpath.
Steering is very light. Remember, all electric steering merely simulates the road feel we used to love with hydraulic power steering. Electric steering is better for so many reasons, not the least being that it doesn’t run off a belt. It only uses power when the wheels change direction. More importantly it allows for fancy active lane keeping and nifty automated parking.
After a week doing what an owner might do, I loved HR-V for the quiet, smooth ride. It feels remarkably like Honda hatches to drive, and I like that. Many SUVs, even small ones, feel more like trucks.
- 2 isofix points, 1 top, and 2back tethers
- AEB (between 5 and 32kph)
- Hill start assist
- Lane Watch
- Traction control
As I already mentioned, Lane watch is Honda’s answer to blind spot monitor. A camera mounted in the left-hand rear-view mirror keeps an eye on the lane beside you. It operates with the left indicator, or by button on the end of the indicator stalk.
Just like the reversing camera, a large image comes up on the entre dash. It is handy but since it only does the curb-side lane so could still use a monitor for the driver’s side. As good as it is, nothing replaces a warning of approaching vehicles on both sides
I’d like to see the electric parking brake come on automatically when the car is switched off. This feature is invaluable. Incidents where people have been run down in their own driveways when opening gates show a moment’s carelessness can be dangerous.
- Looks cute
- Spacious interior with magic seats
- Well equipped
Not So Good Bits
- Some plastics too hard
- Would like a turbo
- No manual option
HR-V is nippy and neat.
There are plenty of cubby holes to match the equally clever seats. RS is the sportier trim level, but still manages a premium feel far in excess of the price. Space is ample, and the drive feels light and easy.
The Honda is well suited to drivers of all sizes. Even larger passengers feel comfortable. Flexible seating allows objects and passengers to be carried happily at the same time, and unlike many small vehicles, is very happy in the highway.
Even with the much-maligned CVT delivering the power to the front wheels, HR-V is happy at all speeds.
Honda spokesperson, Naomi Rebeschini, says HR-V is the most complete small SUV on the market. It has the right style, right price, and a 5 yr warranty.
Takata – One last word:
Honda is at 93% completion for Takata airbag replacement. One was even fixed in Croatia such is the commitment. Honda believes safety to be their number one priority.
Australian government and vehicle manufacturer websites list the vehicles affected. No matter how old your car, every Australian should check and recheck to make absolutely sure they have a safe airbag inflator, regardless of the vehicles age.
These cars have ALPHA airbags and should be replaced IMMEDIATELY. THEY COULD KILL YOU.
Facts and Figures: 2019 Honda HR-V RS
- Engine: 1.8L four-cylinder petrol producing 105kW/172Nm
- Transmission: CVT
- Warranty: 5 years/ unlimited km
- Safety: Five stars tested 2015
- Origin: Thailand
- Price: from $31,990
Author: Alan Zurvas