2022 Honda HR-V review: prices, specs and release date

The new Honda HR-V offers sleek looks and hybrid power. We've driven it to see if it has what it takes to stand out in the super-competitive family SUV class...

Honda HR-V 2021 front left tracking

On sale Late 2021 | Price from £26,960

The Honda HR-V is no stranger to a complete change of image.

In its original guise it had a boxy, rugged look, but then for its second generation it morphed into a sportier, more stylish vehicle. And now we have the sleek, hybrid-only third-generation model, which is radically different again, and bang on trend.

Then again, it needed to be, because there are a lot of tempting alternatives already available, including the brilliant Skoda Karoq, the big-selling Nissan Qashqai and the hybrid Toyota C-HR.

What's more, because the new HR-V slots in at the smaller end of the family SUV class, it also faces competition from the likes of the Ford Puma and Volkswagen T-Roc.

So, does it manage to stand out from the crowd? We've tested it to find out.

Honda HR-V 2021 rear tracking

What's it like to drive?

While it features a similar hybrid setup to the Honda Jazz hatchback, the front-wheel-drive-only HR-V gets a bit more power from its 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and two electric motors: a total of 129bhp.

As with other hybrids, when you start the car and move off, things are very hushed. However, this calm is shattered if you put your foot down, because the revs are sent soaring to the stratosphere and are hold there until you back off, much like you get with a CVT gearbox.

All hybrids equipped with this kind of gearbox, including the C-HR, suffer from the same issue, but it's particularly noticeable in the HR-V. The engine note is coarse and boomy, and you feel vibration through the pedals and steering wheel under the sort of hard acceleration you'll need to get up to motorway speeds in a hurry.

There is, though, a significant up side to this hybrid setup – an impressive official fuel economy figure of 52.3mpg. And judging by what we saw on our test drive, real-world economy in the mid-40s seems entirely achievable.

Honda HR-V 2021 left tracking

Because it's a ‘regular’ hybrid, you don’t need to plug the HR-V in to charge up its battery in the way that you would a plug-in hybrid. But that also means it won’t travel far at all on electric power alone. Instead, the car switches between the engine and the electric motors as it sees fit, with it tending to do more pure electric motoring in towns and cities, and use a combination of both power sources on faster roads.

The HR-V has quite soft suspension and wafts along pleasantly most of the time. Yet it's also able to pass over undulations and speed bumps without feeling overly floaty.

You do hear some thwacks from the suspension at times, though, and are aware of the car constantly swaying around as if it's trying to get comfortable. The Karoq is more settled.

As for the handling, the HR-V is safe and predictable, helped by steering that's accurate and feels naturally weighted, but the combination of a relatively tall body and that soft suspension mean it's not especially agile. If you're looking for something that is then the Seat Ateca remains the family SUV to choose.

Honda HR-V 2021 interior dashboard

What's it like inside?

You’re granted a fine driving position in the new HR-V. The relationship between the steering wheel and the pedals is spot on; there’s plenty of adjustment in the wheel and seating position; and you sit high up, which makes you feel like you’re in a proper SUV and not just a jacked-up hatchback.

Visibility is very good, too, in part thanks to big door mirrors. And there are well-placed physical dials and buttons to operate the heating and ventilation; thankfully, the touch-sensitive controls from the outgoing HR-V have been binned.

Perceived quality is another strength of the car, with plenty of plush, soft-touch finishes used in our top-spec, leather-clad Advance Style model. What's more, it feels just as well screwed together as the Karoq, and has a more stimulating design, although the materials aren't as brilliantly consistent as they are in the Mazda CX-30.

Every HR-V features a 7.0in digital driver display behind the steering wheel and a 9.0in touchscreen for the infotainment. The latter is borrowed from the Jazz and so could be more user-friendly and responsive, but you do get wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto as standard.

2021 Honda HR-V rear seats

Rear leg room is very generous indeed. Even particularly long-legged passengers will fit in with plenty of space to spare. The only potential problem in the back is head room; if you're six-feet tall and sit up straight, your hair will probably be brushing the roof lining.

The middle rear seat is quite a bit higher than the outer two, and has a firm seat cushion, so anyone approaching six feet will have a very crooked neck after a long journey there. The Karoq, Ateca and Hyundai Tucson are all more accommodating overall for rear seat passengers.

It's the boot that's the main negative of the HR-V, though. Most versions offer 319 litres of space, but the range-topping Advance Style model gets just 304 litres, because its upgraded sound system takes up one of the side storage compartments. By comparison, the Karoq has a 521-litre boot, while even a small hatchback like the Vauxhall Corsa offers 309 litres of luggage space.

On the plus side – and it's a big plus – the HR-V gets Honda’s ‘magic seats’, which not only fold flat, but have bases that flip up like cinema seats. True, you can't remove the seats entirely like you can in some versions of the Karoq, but then that is far from easy due to their bulk, whereas transforming the HR-V is a doddle.