2021 Honda HR-V

2021 Honda HR-V Review: Family Crossover King

by Gerhard Horn

Could there be a single subcompact crossover as versatile as the Honda HR-V? Honda redefined compact car practicality with its Magic Seats, first launched on the Fit nearly two decades ago. The seating arrangement in the first-generation Fit set a new standard for space and practicality in a small car, so it's no wonder the Japanese giant would fit the same Magic Seat arrangement in as many models as possible. Enter the HR-V, first launched for the 2016 MY as Honda's competitor in the hotly contested compact crossover segment. It took the class-leading practicality of the Fit and mixed it with the aggressive, chunky styling of a crossover. With crossovers quickly becoming the default car for most families, it made a lot of sense. Honda certainly delivered on the practicality front; both passenger and cargo space are highly impressive in the HR-V for a car of its size. The driving experience isn't up to par, however. The 2021 HR-V is powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, which produces 141 horsepower. The CVT gearbox Honda chose to mate to this engine takes almost all of the joy out of the driving experience.

The question is, does it even matter? Does the practicality and usefulness of the HR-V SUV outweigh the underwhelming driving experience?

2021 Honda HR-V Changes: 🚙What’s the difference vs 2020 HR-V?

The Honda HR-V received a mid-life facelift in 2019, and it remained unchanged in 2020. For 2021, Honda added new wheel designs on Sport, EX, and EX-L models. The Sport trim now also features privacy glass as a standard feature, while the Touring trim has been dropped from the lineup entirely.

Pros and Cons

  • Great fuel economy
  • Impressive cargo space
  • Durable Honda build quality
  • Comfortable, compliant ride quality
  • Practicality afforded by Magic Seats
  • Engine and gearbox don't work well together
  • Engine is noisy
  • The infotainment system is tricky to figure out

Best Deals on HR-V

2021 Honda HR-V Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
LX
1.8L Inline-4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$21,220
Sport
1.8L Inline-4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$23,170
EX
1.8L Inline-4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$24,420
EX-L
1.8L Inline-4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$26,020
Touring
1.8L Inline-4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
All-Wheel Drive
$29,340

HR-V Exterior

The HR-V doesn't stand out, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. It features the general proportions and ride height of a vehicle in this class, with some signature Honda design elements thrown in for good measure. The newly designed alloy wheels on certain models are handsome, while the privacy glass adds a touch of style to the Sport model. The 2021 Honda HR-V Sport is also the only model to be fitted with 18-inch matte black alloy wheels, making it the stand-out model in the range. All other models are fitted with 17-inch silver-painted alloys.

All models in the range are equipped with halogen projector headlights, while the brake lights are full LEDs.

2021 Honda HR-V Front View Honda
2021 Honda HR-V Rear View Honda
2021 Honda HR-V Rear Angle View Honda
See All 2021 Honda HR-V Exterior Photos

Dimensions

Given the amount of interior and cargo space available, you might be surprised to learn that the HR-V's compact dimensions include a wheelbase of just 102.8 inches. LX, EX, and EX-L models have a body length of 170.4 inches, while the Sport is slightly longer at 170.9 inches. Mostl models stand 63.2 inches tall, and 69.8 inches wide, with the Sport once again bucking the trend being slightly wider at 70.5 inches. Normally all-wheel-drive models would be higher off the ground than their front-wheel-drive siblings, but in this case, it's the other way around. Front-wheel-drive HR-V's have a ground clearance of 7.3 inches (7.4 for the Sport), while all-wheel-drive models have 6.7 inches of ground clearance (6.9 for the Sport). The curb weight ranges from 2,906 pounds for the entry-level LX front-wheel-drive, to 3,142 lbs for the all-wheel-drive EX-L.

  • Length 170.4 in
  • Wheelbase 102.8 in
  • Height 63.2 in
  • Max Width 69.8 in
  • Front Width 60.4 in
  • Rear Width 60.6 in
  • Curb Weight 2,906.0 lbs

Exterior Colors

The 2021 Honda HR-V's exterior color palette has been cut down slightly. A total of seven colors are available, with certain colors reserved for certain trim levels. Crystal Black, Lunar Silver, Modern Steel, and Platinum White Pearl are available across the range, with the latter costing $395 extra. The Sport trim is available in two additional colors called Aegean Blue, and Milano Red. The top-of-the-line EX-L model can also be ordered In Midnight Amethyst Metallic, which costs $395 extra. Last year's model-specific Orangeburst has now been dropped as an option.

  • Platinum White Pearl
  • Midnight Amethyst Metallic
  • Lunar Silver Metallic
  • Modern Steel Metallic
  • Crystal Black Pearl
  • Aegean Blue Metallic
  • Milano Red

HR-V Performance

This particular segment isn't known for delivering sporty performance, with most subcompact crossovers geared for green efficiency rather than speed, despite not having a hybrid powertrain option. The 1.8-liter four-cylinder's 141 hp and 127 lb-ft are adequate specs for a naturally-aspirated engine, but the CVT transmission fails to make the best of those figures. The result is a rather disappointing 0-60 mph time of 8.6 seconds for front-wheel-drive models, and 9.5 seconds for all-wheel-drive models in real-world testing. One could argue that these figures don't matter considering the segment, but the Hyundai Kona is a direct competitor and its modern powertrain allows for impressive efficiency, as well as a six-second sprint from 0-60 mph in real-world testing. While some in the segment are capable of towing, Honda publishes no towing capacity for the HR-V.

2021 Honda HR-V Front View Driving Honda
2021 Honda HR-V Rear View Driving Honda
2021 Honda HR-V Wheel Honda

Engine and Transmission

Only one powertrain is available in the HR-V range. It's a 1.8-liter naturally-aspirated four-cylinder that develops 141 hp and 127 lb-ft of torque. This power is fed via a CVT transmission to either the front axle or all four wheels depending on the model.

The CVT is effective enough within the confines of the city, and equally so on the highway, once it's up to speed. It's getting up to speed that's a bit of a problem, especially compared to a manual transmission. The CVT doesn't like bursts of acceleration. When you need to merge onto the highway or overtake slower moving vehicles, the CVT can be annoying. You mash the throttle into the carpet, the engine revolutions increase, and the noise levels go up. Everything that needs to happen happens, except for the actual increase in speed. The process of getting the speed of the car to match the noise and revolutions can be a tedious task. Having said that, it's a problem that also haunts many other vehicles equipped with CVT transmissions.

It's also worth mentioning that the naturally-aspirated engine feels rough and strained when compared to the more modern powertrains out there. Most manufacturers have moved on to smaller capacity turbocharged engines, with only a few manufacturers, like Honda, choosing to stick with a naturally aspirated engine in this instance.

  • Engine
    1.8L Inline-4 Gas
  • Transmission
    Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
  • Drivetrains
    AWD, FWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

The HR-V rides on the same platform as the Honda Fit. The Fit provides a decent, and entertaining driving experience for what it is.

The sharp steering has been carried over, but the rest of the car doesn't behave as well as a Fit does. The added weight of the crossover body, combined with the higher center of gravity has resulted in a driving experience that's not as polished as the car it's based on. On smooth roads, it does an amicable job, but broken tarmac is its undoing. The higher center of gravity means it leans a lot more in the corners, while the dampers can't cope quickly enough with bad surfaces. It doesn't feel dangerous, but it also never feels 100% settled either. The all-wheel-drive model has an upgraded rear suspension, but even that doesn't do much to improve the ride quality. It's a pity because the HR-V could have been very close to class-leading if all the underpinnings worked together in harmony as they do in the Fit.

HR-V Gas Mileage

Improved gas mileage is the main reason CVT transmissions exist. As annoying as they can be, you can see the benefits when it comes to consumption figures. According to the EPA estimates, the front-wheel-drive models deliver figures of 28/34/30 mpg city/highway/combined. The addition of an all-wheel-drive system does have an impact, but not as much as you might think. Its EPA ratings of 27/31/29 mpg compare favorably to rivals like the Hyundai Kona and Toyota C-HR that are only available in front-wheel-drive. Suddenly, the CVT transmission doesn't seem like such a bad trade-off. The HR-V has a 13.2-gallon tank, which allows for 396 miles of mixed driving conditions.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    13.2 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 28/34 mpg
* 2021 Honda HR-V LX 2WD CVT

2021 Honda HR-V Interior

Like its engine, the interior of the HR-V is also very much old-school. It's nowhere near as funky on the inside as a Kia Soul or a Hyundai Kona, but the layout is logical, and it feels well put together. The major touchpoints are made of high-quality, soft-touch materials. The rest of the interior is made up of various shades of gray, durable plastic. It may not look fantastic, but it feels as if it will last for decades, even when subjected to destructive toddlers.

Base trim models aren't as lavishly equipped, but Honda's Magic Seat design is standard across the range. As it's one of the HR-V's main selling points, if not the main selling point, that's extremely good news.

2021 Honda HR-V Dashboard Honda
2021 Honda HR-V Driver Seat Honda
2021 Honda HR-V Driver Seat 1 Honda
See All 2021 Honda HR-V Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

While it may look compact on the outside, it's anything but on the inside. The HR-V is a five-seater, and it can seat full-size adults in the second row. Front passengers have 41.2 inches of legroom and 39.5 inches of headroom. Second-row passengers have 39.3 inches of legroom, and 38.3 inches of headroom. To put that in perspective, the Hyundai Kona's rear passengers only have 34.6 inches of legroom at their disposal. So while the Kona might drive circles around the HR-V when it comes to ride and handling, it simply can't match the Honda when it comes to passenger space.

All five seats offer decent support in all the right places. The visibility from the driver's seat is also good thanks to the large windows, while the tall doors and elevated ride height make it easy to get in and out of the HR-V.

  • Seating capacity
    5-seater
  • Front Leg Room 41.2 in
  • Front Head Room 39.5 in
  • Rear Leg Room 39.3 in
  • Rear Head Room 38.3 in

Interior Colors and Materials

As mentioned before, the interior may look a bit drab, but the quality is good. LX and EX models come with a choice of black or gray cloth seats. It's worth keeping in mind that if you do decide to go for gray cloth, the upper door panels, center console, and dash insert will also be changed to match. The Sport model is only available with black cloth seats to match the black leather trim on the steering wheel and shifter. Leather seats, available in gray or black, are only available on models carrying the additional "L" in the trim nomenclature, like EX-L, and EX-L AWD.

Honda HR-V Trunk and Cargo Space

This is another HR-V party piece. With all seats in place, the front-wheel-drive HR-V has 24.3 cubic feet of space in the trunk. The all-wheel-drive system does have an impact on trunk capacity, but the remaining 23.2 cubic feet is still impressive. Honda's Magic Seats allow you to fold the second row to a nearly flat position, resulting in 57.6 cubic feet of cargo space in the all-wheel-drive model, and 58.8 cubic feet in the front-wheel-drive model.

But it's not just the cargo space that's impressive. The various storage compartments are the result of a properly thought out interior design. The rear seat cushions fold up, revealing a large, secure storage space behind the front seats. It also has a large glovebox, center console bin, door pockets, and a large selection of cupholders.

2021 Honda HR-V Trunk Space Honda
2021 Honda HR-V Trunk Space 1 Honda
2021 Honda HR-V Trunk Space 2 Honda

HR-V Infotainment and Features

Features

The Honda HR-V is generously equipped throughout the model range, though the advanced safety features are only available on high-end models. The base LX model is equipped with manual air-conditioning, a reverse camera, cruise control, manual seat adjustment, and tilt and telescopic adjustment for the steering wheel. The Sport trim adds paddle shifters, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, sports pedals, and two USB ports.

Moving up to 2021 Honda HR-V EX trim unlocks heated front seats, automatic climate control, a moonroof, smart entry with push-button start, and Honda Sensing. The latter is a seriously impressive bit of kit, as it includes a full suite of advanced safety features like forward collision warning, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, automatic emergency braking, and adaptive cruise control. In addition to adding leather-trimmed seats, the EX-L trim also includes an automatic dimming rearview mirror and speakers surrounded by chrome speaker rings.

Infotainment

The base LX trim is equipped with a basic five-inch screen without touch functionality. It uses physical buttons and a four-speaker sound system. It does offer AM/FM and Bluetooth connectivity, however. From Sport derivatives upwards, the HR-V is equipped with a seven-inch touchscreen with full smartphone integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. SiriusXM and HD radio are available from EX trim. The Sport model has a 180-watt fours-speaker sound system, while the EX and EX-L are equipped with 180-watt six-speaker systems. When not working via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, the interface can be tricky to understand and use. It does have all the features one could expect, but navigating through the various menus isn't as easy as it is in the Hyundai Kona, for example.

HR-V Problems and Reliability

Honda has a stellar reputation for reliability, and the HR-V is another shining example of what the brand is capable of. Complaints are few and far between, but there have been a few recalls issued over the years. In 2016 the Honda HR-V was recalled for a coating on the rear brake caliper resulting in compromised braking performance, as well as models missing tire placards. In 2018 it was also recalled twice. Once for the same caliper coating issue, and once for fuel pump failure. This recall continued into 2019. The HR-V is sold with a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a five-year/60,000 powertrain warranty.

Warranty

  • Basic:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    5 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles

HR-V Safety

The NHTSA awarded the HR-V five stars for safety in its review, while the IIHS review of the HR-V gives it a good rating across all the major segments. The major concern on the Honda's result sheet is the poor rating the IIHS gave to the entry-level LX's headlamps.

US NHTSA crash test result

  • Overall Rating
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
  • Side Crash Rating
  • Rollover Rating

Key Safety Features

The best safety features are only equipped on the more expensive EX and EX-L models. The Honda Sensing suite includes automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, and a blind spot monitoring system called Honda LaneWatch. The LX and Sport models don't get these impressive active safety features, but all of the important safety must-haves are present and accounted for. This includes ABS, EBD, stability control, six airbags, and LATCH anchors for the rear seats.

Verdict: 🏁Is the 2021 Honda HR-V a good SUV?

This depends entirely on what your main priorities are: if you're in the market for a reliable, frugal, practical, and spacious subcompact crossover, the answer is yes. A new Honda HR-V ticks all the right boxes when it comes to practical motoring for a family of five. There's loads of room, the seats are comfortable, there's storage space aplenty, and comes with a high safety rating if you buy the right model.

The main problem the HR-V has is its lackluster performance and substandard ride quality. Competitors like the Hyundai Kona and Kia Soul do a much better job in this department.

Most of these subcompact crossovers also rely on a decent helping of style and quirkiness to help them get noticed, and the HR-V just doesn't have that. When you look at its main rivals, you'll see all sorts of unique design features, as well as a few shock-and-awe interior gimmicks. These are the kinds of things some people aspire to, and if you're one of them, the Honda simply won't do.

But if you're in the market for an honest, reliable crossover with space for five people, the HR-V is it.

🚘What's the Price of the 2021 Honda HR-V?

The cheapest HR-V is the base LX in front-wheel-drive configuration. With an MSRP of $21,220, it's only $400 more expensive than the 2020 model. The Sport model, with all of its unique touches, retails for $23,170. The EX model, with Honda Sensing, which adds all of the advanced safety features, retails for $24,420. The EX-L, with full leather trim starts at $26,020. The all-wheel-drive system is available on all models and costs an additional $1,500 above the sticker price of the HR-V. Honda's destination charge is $1,175.

2021 Honda HR-V Models

The 2020 HR-V model line-up included a model above the current top model, called the Touring. It was only available in all-wheel-drive. This model has now been dropped from the range, most likely due to a lack of interest, leaving just four HR-V models: LX, Sport, EX, and EX-L.

All come as standard with the 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, mated to a CVT transmission. The standard setup is front-wheel-drive, but all-wheel-drive is a $1,500 option available on all models.

The 2021 Honda HR-V LX comes as standard with 17-inch wheels, cloth upholstery, manual air conditioning, a rearview camera, cruise control, and Honda Magic Seats. Its infotainment system is a five-inch screen with hard buttons and four speakers. It doesn't have Apple CarPlay or Android Auto functionality, but you can mate your phone via Bluetooth.

The HR-V Sport offers all of the above and includes 18-inch alloys, gloss black underbody spoilers, roof rails, and fog lights to give it that sporty appearance. On the inside it comes with black cloth trim, as well matching leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift lever. To further enhance the sporty ambiance, the Sport also features sport pedals and steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. The infotainment system in this model is a seven-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto integration.

The EX model has everything included in the LX trim but adds keyless entry with push-button start, climate control, a moonroof, heated front seats, SiriusXM, HD Radio, and an extra pair of speakers. The most important addition is Honda Sensing, which elevates the safety level to an award-winning standard. This safety suite features several active safety systems and blind-spot monitoring.

The EX-L adds full leather upholstery and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

See All 2021 Honda HR-V Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

There's not much you can add to the HR-V. The line-up of models and the standard features each one comes with has been thought out thoroughly. Having said that, there are several optional extras you can add to make the HR-V crossover better. Examples include a frame mount bike attachment, a roof box, and wheel locks. There's also an engine block heater ($84) for those who live in colder states. Honda does offer a Fashion Package, which makes the car look a bit funkier. It costs $646 and includes a chrome front bumper garnish, chrome rear bumper garnish, illuminated door sill trim with the HR-V nomenclature, and a cargo organizer. This package is not available on the Sport model.

Customers who regularly use back roads can also add one of three All-Season Protection Packages. These packages are meant to protect the car against dirt and mud, in case you plan on taking the HR-V off-road. The most basic Protection Package retails for $289, with the most expensive and comprehensive protection offering costing $407.

On the EX and EX-L, you can add three additional packages. There's the Black Accent Package ($1,217), consisting of crossbars on the roof, a tailgate spoiler, bodyside molding, and door sill illumination. The $1,606 Premium Rugged Package includes rugged front lower trim, side lower trim, rear lower trim, crossbars, metal rear bumper protection, and rear seatback protection.

Finally, there's the standard Rugged Package, which features all of the above, except the seatback protection and the metal rear bumper protection. It retails for $1,345.

🚗What Honda HR-V Model Should I Buy?

As the new HR-V is aimed at families, we'd ignore both the LX and Sport models, and opt for the EX spec. It might be a mid-spec car, but it features Honda Sensing and the full suite of active safety features that come with it. It also comes with a larger touchscreen interface that integrates Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, HD Radio, and SiriusXM. The heated seats will also be useful in colder states. The EX also represents a $1,600 saving when compared to the EX-L, which makes it exceptional value for money. We'd gladly forego the leather seats and auto-dimming rearview mirror.

The optional all-wheel-drive system only really makes sense in cold-weather states. As it sits lower to the ground than the front-wheel-drive model, it's not meant for any serious off-roading. If you don't live in a cold-weather state, it's worth keeping the HR-V's standard front-wheel-drive setup, if only for the better gas mileage.

2021 Honda HR-V Comparisons

Honda CR-V CarBuzz
Mazda CX-5 Mazda
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Honda HR-V141 hp28/34 mpg$21,220
Honda CR-V 190 hp28/34 mpg$25,350
Mazda CX-5 187 hp25/31 mpg$25,370

2021 Honda HR-V vs Honda CR-V

Since buyers interested in the HR-V likely have space as one of the main considerations, it's worth comparing it to base-spec models from the compact crossover segment.

The first rival comes from within Honda's stable. Pricing for the 2021 Honda CR-V starts at $25,350, which is slightly less than the HR-V EX-L. With the CR-V you get even more room, a larger trunk, and a 190-hp turbocharged 1.5-liter engine. Crucially, Honda Sensing is standard across the CR-V range, so you're not making any sacrifices when it comes to safety. You do lose out on the larger touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration on the base model, and leather seats. The ultimate choice depends entirely on what your needs are. The HR-V is already an affordable spacious car, but looking at the CR-V line-up it appears to be even more of a value proposition.

See Honda CR-V Review

2021 Honda HR-V vs Mazda CX-5

The Mazda CX-5, which is also a size up from the Honda HR-V crossover, is also an interesting alternative. The CX-5 is bigger than the HR-V, and the interior is a huge step up. All models in the CX-5 range come as standard with a 10.25-inch touchscreen interface with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality. You do lose out on some of the safety features offered by Honda Sensing, but all CX-5s are equipped with radar-guided cruise control with stop and go functionality, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert.

The CX-5's trump card is its engine and gearbox line-up. On entry-level cars the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine is naturally-aspirated, but it does deliver 187 hp. This punchy engine is mated to a traditional six-speed automatic transmission with a manual override and a sport mode. If you can stretch the budget by another $4,000, you'll be able to get into a turbocharged 2.5-liter, which offers 250 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque. Out of the three, this car offers the most rewarding driving experience. It has a stunning chassis and is an absolute pleasure on all surfaces. If you can't stretch the budget that far, the HR-V remains a decent alternative.

See Mazda CX-5 Review

Honda HR-V Popular Comparisons

The most popular competitors of 2021 Honda HR-V:

51
Photos
$21,220 - $29,340
Price Range (MSRP)
Honda HR-V
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