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What Car? says

3 out of 5 stars

For Fun to drive, excellent reliability, smooth performance from 1.6 engine

Against Limited off-road ability, three-door bodyshell short of practicality, dull interior

Verdict It's definitely a funky family hatch, but it's no mud-plugger

Go for… 2000 1.6 VTEC

Avoid… Early cars

Honda HR-V Crossover
  • 1. Full-time 4x4 system can cope with a little light mud, but nothing more
  • 2. Automatic transmission can get a bit rough if the fluid change schedule isn't kept to
  • 3. Seek out examples with desirable options such as metallic paint and satellite-navigation
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Honda HR-V Crossover full review with expert trade views

The styling says off-roader, but the HR-V is much more at home on Tarmac. The full-time 4x4 system on most versions can cope with a little light mud, but nothing more.

Instead, the HR-V is more of a jacked-up family hatchback, and quite a good one at that. Its steering is sharp, angling the car keenly into corners, and the car takes bends with confidence. The ride is good, too, although a touch firm at slower speeds, and the HR-V performs well, as you’d expect from Honda, with both versions of the 1.6-litre engine pulling smoothly to the top of the rev range.

Sadly, the funky exterior isn’t reflected in the cabin. It’s functional rather than fun, but it is well screwed together and most people can get comfy behind the wheel, despite the lack of seat height adjustment. The three-door version is a bit of a squeeze to get into, but there’s a decent-sized boot.

Trade view

John Owen

Avoid two-wheel drive; VTEC 4x4 copes well with puddles

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

The first cars in the UK were sold on an S plate and had a 103bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine. If you can afford a post-January 2000 model, the unit was upgraded to 122bhp and received Honda’s famed VTEC variable valve timing technology.

With only one engine, the manufacturer didn’t bother with different trims. All HR-Vs got alloys, electric windows and door mirrors, air-con, central locking, anti-lock brakes and an immobiliser. 2002 model-year upgrades, on sale from August 2001, feature smarter bumpers and alloys, plus a revised dashboard.

Not all HR-Vs are 4x4; a front-wheel drive version was introduced in March 1999, so be sure you know which transmission you’re getting.

Optional extras on the HR-V when it was new included metallic paint and satellite-navigation, and both are desirable options when you come to sell it on again, so it’s worth seeking out examples that have them fitted.

The last shipment of HR-Vs arrived in 2005, but Honda showrooms were still stocking new ones in mid-2006. That means it’s worth haggling hard for a bargain on a used car at a main dealer. Alternatively, Honda’s excellent reliability record means private sales are worth considering.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Oddity but needs five doors to sell easily, also face-lift ’01 cars preferred

James Ruppert
Used car guru

Hondas traditionally hold their value well once they’re off the dealer's forecourt because of their reputation for being well built and reliable. The HR-V is no exception to this rule, and with a trendy image and a decent standard specification, sellers aren't going to give them away. So, they're not cheap.

However, the running costs look much more reasonable. Official fuel consumption figures stand at 33mpg for the 103bhp car and 34mpg for the 122bhp version, which is about average among vehicles of this size and type. The equivalent Toyota RAV4, for example, does about the same mpg.

New parts will be readily available for repairs and replacements, and Honda bits generally don’t cost the earth, either. That, coupled with the 1.6-litre engine, means the car is only in group 8 or 9 for insurance, depending on which power output you go for.

Trade view

John Owen

Avoid two-wheel drive; VTEC 4x4 copes well with puddles

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

In terms of problems, there’s really not much to moan about. Like most Hondas, the HR-V is well built, and unreliability issues are few and far between.

A five-speed manual gearbox was fitted as standard, but an optional automatic transmission was also available. It can get a bit rough through the ratios if the fluid-change schedule isn’t kept to, so look out for notes on that in the vehicle's service history.

If the suspension sounds a bit clunky over uneven surfaces, then the bushes need looking at. Other than that, it’s a Honda, so it should be okay. The Japanese firm always performs well in the JD Power customer satisfaction survey, so you can be safe in the knowledge that problems are few and far between.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Oddity but needs five doors to sell easily, also face-lift ’01 cars preferred

James Ruppert
Used car guru
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