The US’ subcompact crossover style is exploding, however Honda was one of many first to enter this area with the HR-V. Simply because it began feeling a little bit previous, the automaker got here by means of and gave the 2019 HR-V quite a few updates that add peace of thoughts and, should you decide the brand new Sport trim, an aesthetic sprint of sportiness.

The HR-V has all the time been on the prime of my advice record, and these new updates solely reinforce its place on that record.

Sport in identify solely, nevertheless it’s a superb look

Along with just a few creature-comfort upgrades throughout its numerous trims, Honda additionally added a brand new Sport mannequin that is positioned simply above the bottom LX. It is a Sport trim in identify solely, relegated to aesthetics alone — a alternative from Honda that I discover more durable to defend with every iteration — however I like the ultimate consequence. The gloss black decrease physique trim and wheels stand out in opposition to my tester’s orange paint in a approach that confers simply the correct amount of aggression for a automobile of its dimension.

The inside does not change all that a lot, and it is nonetheless a pleasing place to hang around. The Sport trim provides a black headliner and contrasting stitching on the comfortable material seats, and I like the best way each additions combine with the HR-V’s inside design. The rear seats are expectedly small for a car on this class, however my six-foot-tall body had little challenge getting in and staying snug.

The true magic within the second row comes from Honda’s split-folding rear seats. Whereas my tester’s non-obligatory all-wheel drive does eat into cargo capability by a small bit, it nonetheless has 57.6 cubic toes of area with the second row folded flat, placing it on the prime of its phase.

Honda added some further sound-deadening materials to the physique, and it really works. The journey is barely quieter than it was, if solely by a bit. If something, the largest profit it confers is that the doorways now not really feel like I am wielding items of corrugated tin.

The inside can really feel a little bit cavernous when it is clad in all black, particularly on my tester, which lacks a sunroof.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

Powertrain exhibiting its age

The 2019 HR-V would possibly characteristic new creature comforts and trims, however one space the place the HR-V is not any completely different than when it debuted is the powertrain. It nonetheless rocks the identical 1.Eight-liter, naturally aspirated four-cylinder that it is all the time had.

141 horsepower is not all that a lot, and 127 pound-feet of torque undoubtedly is not, granting the HR-V ahead movement that might be described as barely higher than sluggish on a superb day, thanks partly to the additional weight of the non-obligatory all-wheel-drive system. Mixed with a repeatedly variable transmission (the six-speed guide possibility is lifeless and gone), the entire shebang is not actually worthy of a Sport badge.

Honda’s 1.5-liter turbo I4 could be a significantly better possibility for this automobile, particularly within the wake of recent competitors just like the Hyundai Kona, which has an non-obligatory turbocharged engine good for 175 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque.

Talking of the Kona with its hopped-up non-obligatory engine, each it and my 2019 HR-V tester share the identical EPA-estimated gasoline economic system within the metropolis (26 miles per gallon), with the HR-V besting the Kona on the freeway (31 mpg vs. 29, respectively). Contemplating I used to be in a position to get higher figures out of the Kona throughout my time with it, I believe Honda’s getting old 1.Eight-liter is about able to be put out to pasture.

But, the HR-V continues to be a blast to drive as soon as I am on top of things. It feels flat sufficient throughout spirited driving, providing confidence because the factor will get thrown into nook after nook. The steering is particularly pleasant, providing responsiveness at any velocity.

However with regards to extra family-friendly driving, the HR-V does not precisely disappoint. The wheels is likely to be large, however the suspension nonetheless does a superb job of absorbing unhealthy roads like each different trim on provide. Would I prefer it extra if the Sport badge meant some stiffer springs? Presumably, however the HR-V is lots advantageous in that division as-is.

Tech is sweet, nevertheless it might be higher

Whereas Honda nonetheless suits a dinky little display screen within the base HR-V, greater trim ranges obtain a revised 7-inch Show Audio infotainment system with each Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It feels extra responsive than it has prior to now, nevertheless it’s nonetheless the previous model of Honda’s system, not operating the flashy new software program I’ve skilled in different up to date fashions, just like the Accord, Perception and Odyssey.

Now that backup cameras are normal, I’ve turn into a stickler for high quality ones, and the HR-V disappoints in that space. Whereas the sector of view is appropriately broad, the decision is so low that it is laborious to pick particulars at even a reasonable distance. I perceive the HR-V is an inexpensive automobile, however this drawback is not restricted to Honda’s lower-cost choices. It may do higher.

One large enchancment for the 2019 mannequin 12 months is the democratization of Honda Sensing, the automaker’s suite of energetic and passive security techniques. Customary gear now contains adaptive cruise management, automated braking and lane-keep help, nevertheless it’s solely obtainable on the EX trim and up. The bottom LX and my Sport-trim tester are left to do with out, a tragic casualty of Honda’s penny-pinching.

Honda’s trim packaging lets me down in different methods, too. The Sport trim lacks quite a few fundamentals which are obtainable at this value level on different autos. I haven’t got heated seats, nor do I’ve automated headlights, and satellite tv for pc radio is nowhere to be discovered. Heck, I nonetheless need to put a pocket-puncturing key into the steering column to start out the rattling factor. Given the ubiquity of those options throughout different components of Honda’s lineup and the trade at giant, I believe decrease trims of the HR-V are a little bit feature-poor.

How I might spec it

Honda’s trim ranges hardly ever carry non-obligatory packages, so what you see is what you get (and what you pay). I’ll skip the Sport trim and transfer as much as the EX, which provides Honda Sensing, heated seats and keyless entry. I am going to keep on with front-wheel drive to save lots of $1,400, and since there are not any packages obtainable, meaning I am sitting fairly with a $23,720 HR-V. For comparability, my all-wheel-drive Sport tester is simply $100 beneath this at $23,620. Positive, you lose a bit within the seems division, however the EX is best geared up.

All the way down to brass tacks

The HR-V has a number of competitors. The Hyundai Kona presents a zippy turbo engine with out fuel-economy penalties, the Kia Soul is about as sensible as a car can get and the Mazda CX-Three options among the phase’s greatest driving dynamics. A few of its challengers are nowhere close to as absolutely baked, just like the Fiat 500X and Chevy Trax. In order for you some semblance of off-road readiness, the Jeep Renegade exists, however that is the one motive to think about it for my part.

Again when the phase was small, the HR-V stood out with a stable mix of sensibility, capaciousness and enjoyable. It nonetheless possesses all these qualities, however because the phase has grown, the HR-V is slowly getting misplaced within the noise. I nonetheless advocate it for each motive I’ve said above, I simply hope Honda has some extra methods up its sleeve within the close to future to maintain this automobile close to the highest of the phase the place it belongs.

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