As the Japanese automaker officially discontinued its Fit model in many countries, including Canada, the 2021 Honda HR-V takes center stage as the brand’s smallest subcompact crossover. While we’ll have to wait until 2022 before the SUV receives a major overhaul, this year’s model still offers the reliability, safety features, and advanced technology that Honda regularly produces.
What is the Honda HR-V?
The manufacturer packs a lot of character into the HR-V’s minute 102.8-inch wheelbase by taking advantage of elegant angles for the exterior design and even more impressive innovations inside. Fortunately, the fan-favourite Magic Seat makes a return for this model year, providing exceptional cargo space for extra gear without disrupting the comfort of front-seat passengers.
The HR-V Sport trim did receive minor upgrades from its 2020 predecessor. The new model features blacked-out rims, rear-window tint and is tied together with eye-catching roof rails. The rest of the lineup will remain the same until the expected redesign.
While the price tag ($27,000– $36,000 depending on trim levels) is in line with other subcompacts on the markets, the HR-V lacks innovation compared to vehicles like the Hyundai Kona. It will be interesting to see how Honda steps up its game to compete in the small SUV market with next model year’s substantial update. But for now, all eyes are on the 2021 Honda HR-V.
Check out more about the drivetrain, interior, and available technology included in the subcompact SUV.
What’s Under The Honda HR-V’s Hood?
When it comes to the HR-V’s drivetrain, buyers won’t have to choose between numerous engines during their build. The standard 1.8-litre i-VTech 4-cylinder is included in all trim levels —LX-2WD, LX-AWD, Sport, and Touring.
While the motor isn’t exactly impressive, it does produce 141hp, which is efficient enough for the subcompact SUV, just not as peppy as some turbocharged options on the market. Also, across all trims is a chain-driven continuously variable transmission (CVT). The drivetrain duo provides seamless shifting and a smooth driving experience.
In terms of fuel economy, buyers can expect different ratings depending on the trim level and wheel configuration. The base LX-2WD offers 8.4 /7.0 /7.8 L/KM for city, highway, and combined. Here is how the vehicles stack up if you choose a higher-end model with Honda’s Real Time AWD system.
- LX-AWD: 8.8 / 7.5 / 8.2
- Sport and Touring: 9.1 / 7.7 / 8.5
The Sport and Touring models also include active steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters for drivers who want more control during their commute.
How’s The Honda HR-V’s Interior?
The HR-V’s interior may not blow the socks off of high-tech enthusiasts. Instead of flashy, futuristic, and sometimes confusing gadgets or buttons, the cabin pulls off a basic and contemporary design. The crossover comfortably fits five passengers and includes heated front seats as standard for all models. If you’re interested in premium leather accents, the Touring model showcases a wrapped shift knob, an elegant steering wheel, and leather-trimmed seating surfaces.
The main event inside the HR-V is the Magic Seat in the second row. When activated, the rear seats fold flush with the floor to increase the cargo area. There is an impressive 1631L of cargo space in the LX models and 1583L in both the HR-V Sport and Touring trims with the seats folded down. Users are also offered a generous low-load floor to make packing and removing bags or containers easier. Another practical feature is you can flip the bottom cushions to access a deeper well, making it easier to fit tall items. The entire cargo area is designed for an all-around user-friendly experience.
How’s The Honda HR-V’s Tech?
While the technology in the HR-V isn’t groundbreaking, it does include some quality driver assistance features. The Honda exclusive LaneWatch amenity is an excellent aide that gives the operator a greater awareness of what’s happening along the passenger side of their vehicle. Once the turn signal is activated, a strategically mounted camera displays real-time footage. It’s a beneficial feature that helps blind-spot perspective and even shows reference lines to show your distance from other drivers. The innovative system is only available in the Touring and HR-V Sport trims.
The 2021 HR-V lineup receives the Honda Sensing safety suite. Some of its key capabilities include:
- Adaptive cruise control.
- Traffic sign recognition.
- Auto high-beam headlights.
- Lane-keeping assist system.
- Forward collision warning.
When purchasing the high-end Touring model, additional features include an auto-dimming rearview mirror and rain-sensing windshield wipers.
Each trim level includes Honda’s ECO Assist features. It provides driver’s feedback regarding how they can drive more efficiently and increase fuel economy. An ambient meter changes colours to alert an operator of their driving behaviour and will sometimes limit or inhibit some energy-consuming operations.
As subcompact SUVs receive more prominent and dazzling infotainment centers, the HR-V remains basic and practical. Front and center is an average size 7.0-inch display with Apple Carplay and Android Auto connectivity. On the Touring model, drivers gain access to an onboard navigation system.
Our Take on The Honda HR-V
Overall, the HR-V offers drivers reliable performance and plenty of advanced safety assistance features to hold its place in the subcompact SUV market. While you can score the crossover at a great price point in 2021, we recommend waiting to see what Honda comes up with for the big update coming next model year. We’ll expect the changes to be significant as the automaker faces serious competition from vehicles like the Hyundai Kona.
If you can’t wait until 2022 to make a purchase, the Honda HR-V does perform to the needs of families or for those interested in a vehicle with a small footprint. While the engine is underwhelming and the design is basic, the large cargo area in the cabin is a massive benefit for those who travel and bring along a lot of gear.