Tuesday, June 16, 2015

First Drive: Honda HR-V 1.8 E and 1.8 EL

Photos by Ulysses Ang
Remember the Honda HR-V? People of a certain age, including myself, remember it as Honda’s attempt to diversify from its core City, Civic, CR-V, and Accord models. Suffice to say, it didn’t fair too well and has been largely swept under the corporate rug as a “never again” model joining the likes of the Legend. However, in recent years, Honda’s corporate slogan has changed to “never say never” as they sought to diversify their lineup and gain market share. From just four models in the late 1990s, they now have 11; now make that 12 as the HR-V re-joins the lineup. And I’ve just driven it.

Let’s get one thing out of the way first: this isn’t an EcoSport competitor. While Ford has designed its Fiesta-on-stilts to be a developing market model, the HR-V was designed first to be sold in Japan, where it’s known as the Vezel over there. Of course, the Jazz-on-stilts is now one of Honda’s best-selling models there and that increased the clamor for an international release. And that’s what you see here.



The HR-V is more in the Mitsubishi ASX or Subaru XV mold. Some will rightfully point out the Honda’s non-independent rear suspension and smaller engine as reasons to lump it with the EcoSport, but these guys are just armchair critics. Let’s judge it by the seat of my pants on a long drive from Manila to Pangasinan and back.

It may be based off the Jazz, but you can’t tell that from the exterior. It wears Honda’s family look, but designed around its own unique character. It’s well-chiseled and muscular creating a youthful appearance. The front-end’s restrained use of chrome cements the sportier appeal while the rear end’s dramatically dropping roofline adds to the coupe-like stance. At the side, it has three character lines, two of which intersect creating a focal point to the hidden rear door handle; which by itself it quirky if a bit unpractical design cue, especially for kids. At each corner, it comes standard with road-going 215/55R17 tires, removing any off-roading pretentions.



The HR-V’s attention-grabbing exterior continues inside with the “floating” cylindrical gauges and aircraft-like stubby gearlever. There are almost no physical buttons on the center console, replaced instead by touch-sensitive ones. Overall, they’re easy to use, but may frustrate some first-time drivers. Like the City and Jazz, the HR-V comes with both USB and HDMI inputs for audio and video, however, if you still use a 3.5-mm aux jack, you’re out of luck. Also noticeable is the high center tunnel that creates a more intimate driving feel. On the flip side, this cool layout robs the HR-V of any usable storage.

While not a leader in space utilization, it does have one thing going for it: fit and finish. It makes everyone else’s interior feel like pre-school furniture thanks to all sorts of soft-touch points. The padded leather-like surface across the dash is cool, but the EL does one better with leather seats and chrome surrounds on the A/C vents. If there’s one rather chintzy thing, it’s the glowing front speaker surrounds. Still, I can’t deny that it’s a very individual choice.



Settling in the driver’ seat, the ergonomics are hard to fault. The sitting position, I found, isn’t as high as a traditional crossover, but closer to that of a City or Jazz. With that, you sit lower than you’d expect. You do lose some of the commanding driving position, but visibility is still excellent on all fronts, including the back. Space-wise, it’s exactly what you’d expect: roomy in front, cozy at the back. An interesting takeaway is that the rear seats do offer adjustable seating angles and come with three individual headrests. The lack of width though means a maximum of two in the rear seat for comfort.

In this particular drive, the HR-V was pushed to its limits. Though designed as an urban crossover, it still does well in long-distance touring. It’s not particularly fast, but it’s more than adequate. In slow traffic, there’s good low-end response enabling quick overtaking of provincial irritants: the tricycle. The Earth Dreams CVT, with its low-speed torque converter, is quick on its feet and will almost not require the use of the paddle shifters. That said, the CVT does keep engine revs high to build momentum, resulting in a drone-like sound when pushed. Still, the HR-V convoy did impressively illegal numbers: close to 200 km/h during a downhill portion on the SCTEX. And even at these crazy speeds, NVH isolation is certainly best in its class. One gripe though is the fuel tank. With just 50 liters, the convoy did have to stop for fuel en route to our final destination which is Bolinao, Pangasinan even if the consumption average was in the 11 km/L range.



Despite being fitted with EPS, the HR-V gets good feedback from its tiller. It’s a bit weighty in effort, but returns excellent stability. On twistier settings, it’ll need more turns to get this crossover to dance, but once it does, the body is stable and secure. It’s only in the most extreme cases where the torsion beam axle would rear its ugly head causing understeer and axle hop. In terms of riding comfort, it’s comfortable, but on the firm side. Small undulations, such as cracked concrete and road dips, travel into the cabin almost unfiltered, perhaps due to the limited suspension travel, but it can tackle larger obstacles with ease.

Honda’s not aiming to overthrow the EcoSport with the HR-V, they know this. What they’re doing instead is opening up a new market for themselves. The original HR-V failed because of its wayward positioning. Yes, it did look fashionable for that time, but the equipment level and corresponding pricing was just way off. This all-new model solves all that. With a sharper focus, Honda has successfully identified key selling points to make it a success: style, build quality, trim level, and so on. And like what they’ve shown with the Jazz and Mobilio, they’re not willing to do engineering shortcuts. All models of the HR-V come fitted with stuff like stability control and the like.In the end, they’ve successfully nailed in creating a fun-to-drive crossover with doses of individuality and impeccable engineering.


58 comments:

  1. Hi sir Uly,

    On the EL, are the door side panels covered in leather or fabric?

    Great review by the way

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    Replies
    1. On the EL, entire door trim is in leather.

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  2. My wifey is looking a replacement of our 8 yr.old SWIFT hence we test drove the HRV.
    We dont like---inside the cabin ---not premium with it's price though practical & modern.
    ---HRV does not offer an SUV-like seating command views of the road.
    ---Honda CVT is not the best of the new breed,,sluggish & lacking the 00mph
    ---Honda is bragging their new Earth Dream direct injected but this HRV has the old 1.8L SOHC, again not price-worthy.
    We like---Ride & handling, a stand-out in its class
    ---Steering has good weight & feel.
    ---like much the cleaver magic seats system which is spacious & the rear-versatile seat configurations.

    My wife want to drive this HRV but we are short of budget, sorry I told her to choose the ASX GSR irresistible offer-promo that fits the budget. Already has leather seats, moonroof a bigger 2.0L powerplant.

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  3. How much was left in the tank when you refueled on your way to Bolinao and what was the mileage traveled? I have an Civic FD 1.8 similar to the HRV engine and it can go from Molino (via SCTEX)-Sta. Cruz Zambales-Dagupan and back to Zambales on a single full tank and still have around 2 bars on the fuel gauge. Thats a total of 725kms at an average speed of 80km/hr.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, the remaining range we had was around 70 kilometers or so. We did about 300+ kilometers. So total range would be around 400 at the rate we were pushing.

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  4. How much was left in the tank when you refueled on your way to Bolinao and what was the mileage traveled? I have an Civic FD 1.8 similar to the HRV engine and it can go from Molino (via SCTEX)-Sta. Cruz Zambales-Dagupan and back to Zambales on a single full tank and still have around 2 bars on the fuel gauge. Thats a total of 725kms at an average speed of 80km/hr.

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  5. Honda needs to be able to communicate that their HR-V isn't stripped down like its competitors are. They need to highlight its more comprehensive array of safety features and cargo handling prowess for example. Otherwise they will end up funneling buyers to Mitsubishi's ASX with the "cheaper but more powerful engine" argument.

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  6. This is great.. Wonderful ideas.. Great post Thanks..

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  7. WALANG BIBILI NG HONDA HRV SA SOBRANG PANGET!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. eto na naman yung mga walang pambili

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    2. maybe its because of the ridiculously expensive but useless modulo kit Honda should stop applying this nonsense to their press cars it just ruins the car's muscular look

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  8. Annoying sm home pop-up ads covering the screen.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, I gotta make a living, right? LOL. You can click 'X' or reduce it.

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  9. ^and this 'I'm not a robot' thing is so difficult to click!

    PS. most Honda cars are ugly... Even the upcoming 2016 civic... I guess it's the front grille & bumper design...

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    Replies
    1. I agree. Grille, front bumper and taillights destroyed the look of this crossover.

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  10. It's strange that the top-of-the-line model doesn't come with a sunroof unlike in our neighboring countries.
    A sunroof makes a difference kapag maulan or kapag taglamig na when the daylight is shorter. It makes the cabin feel lees gloomy especially if the interior is mostly black.

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  11. Unlike that frankenstein Mobilio, this is a lot better looking. Years of ownership with this HRV won't make it look and feel old. This and the Mazda CX-3 will warm the hearts of the cute SUV lovers. Although, the CX-3 is a notch better in the looks category. Problem is, Mazda seems having a bottleneck in producing it.
    But sooner or later, the CX-3 should find its way here. It's up to Mazda to compete with Honda in pricing. Better looking and cheaper sounds like a winning formula.

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    Replies
    1. right you are the hrv with all of those impressive array of kit would put even a lexus to shame. at least it looks better than a crv

      Delete
  12. Sir Uly,

    Do you think shelling out the extra 110k for the EL (over the E variant) worth it?

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    Replies
    1. I think this question entirely depends on you. The E is already fully-loaded as it is, but there are some who simply want the most techie stuff that they can get and they'll go for the EL. The E is likely what Honda's projecting as their volume-seller.

      Another way to look at it is this: consider the airbags, the LED headlamps with DRLs, and leather seats will all likely amount to the price difference. However, for most they won't need these features. If I was used to say, a more luxurious car, like an Accord or look at the HR-V as a lifestyle choice, I'd go EL. But if you want a good-value crossover that'll likely sit along with your Montero Sport or Fortuner? I'd go for the E.

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  13. For cramped and traffic urban dwelling, 2016 honda hrv; for going home in the province ala sports car driving, 2014 crv top model (better performer than the 2015); for galibanting in the province with kids, honda pilot 2016 touring. Don't ask for my name, ok. I chose to remain hidden.

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  14. Sir, this or the XV?

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  15. I know this question is directed to sir Uly, but allow me to give my unsolicited opinion..

    We already have an XV base and I just placed an order for the E variant HRV.

    If I had to choose only one, I think I would ultimately choose the HRV over the XV, albeit it would be a very close decision.

    What I'm giving up would essentially be the AWD and the side airbags of the XV. We don't need the AWD and though it hurts to give up the side airbags (who doesn't want more airbags anyway), I live in Davao City where we spend 99% of our time around the city where the chances of a major vehicular accident (knock on wood) is very close to nil.

    What you do gain are more interior space and tech toys, something which imho are more useful in our everyday lives.

    But having said that, I still wouldn't mind having more airbags though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You could spring for the EL variant which has 6 airbags.

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    2. I could, but I'm not willing to shell out the extra 110k :)

      Delete
  16. Sir Uly, i'm planning to buy either XV base of HR-V E. 2015 XV now has push start stop button, 7inch touchscreen audio panel, and some minor changes. HR-V mid variant 1,230,000 while XV base is 1,278,000..which one is you pick?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For Inquiries about SUBARU Cars:

      LEO BEGONIA
      Sales Consultant
      Motor Image Pilipinas, Inc. (SUBARU)
      187 Edsa Greenhills, San Juan City
      Metro Manila 1503, Philippines
      Tel: 09276039220
      Email: leobegonia@motorimage.net

      Delete
    2. FINAL WARNING MR. LEO BEGONIA. NO MORE POST FLOODING.

      Delete
    3. I think he also posted on the Subaru outback review too

      Delete
    4. Hi Mr. Begonia, can you post directions on going to Subaru Greenhills?

      Delete
  17. ^If you want to look like an ugly tooth fairy (look at the logo on front grille) get the Honda... If you want to pay expensive but get a cheap ride, get the base Subaru...

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  18. ako lang ba? or hindi talaga eye-popping yung interiors niya? especially yun aircon sa front passengers..

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  19. kung high end (mugen) na yung mga nasa photo, gano pa kaya kapangit yung low end models? trying hard ang design ng mga Honda simula ng lumabas ang pinakapangit na version ng CRV.

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  20. Saw one in the metal. Hope its good looks (both and out) save it from its ugly price positioning. It's just too expensive when compared to the competition (Ecosport / Subaru XV). Even just a 100k price slash across the board would help out tremendously as it will undercut the XV by then as well as distance itself from the bigger Honda CR-V.

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  21. hindi ata pede un kasi kelangan mas mataas ang presyo ng anu mang produktong Honda dahil kailangan mapakita nila na ang mga ito ay mamahalin at mataas ang kalidad kahit na masama at pilit na pinapa-astig ang porma nito kahit hindi bagay

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  22. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  23. Hi Uly! How about a comparo with Hyundai i20 Cross? :)

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    Replies
    1. We can when the i20 Cross Sport comes out. It was just previewed with no indications on its sale or price (confirmed, at least).

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  24. Waited and not convinced with the pricing of hrv.. sorry but puro porma lang for the mugen variant... will stick for the mean time with my old buddy crv`2003...

    Now researching and hoping for Suzuki Vitara to land in PH, which just passed euro ncap with 5star rating and atleast this car have some new tech to offer :) looks is not that bad also :D

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  25. For the price of 1.3M I can get a mazda cx-5 maxx variant with i-stop tech that may help beat hrv on fuel economy + more space inside + multi link suspension (better ride feel).

    And honda hrv uses axle type suspension at the rear, not sure if that is back to the past hardware, while new cars now adays uses multi link suspension and then price it like what?? Sometimes looks are deceiving, like hrv..

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    Replies
    1. you also have to consider that some simple things are most effective if put to good use and properly tweaked. and you also have to consider the impressive kit standard on the hrv

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  26. + yojin 3 on mazda (free PMS for 3 years or 60Kms).

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  27. Sir Ulysses, would you buy this over Mazda CX5 Pro?

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    Replies
    1. Haven't driven both the 2016 CX-5 and the HR-V indepth. I'll reserve judgement until after.

      But having said that, you can't deny the CX-5 looks to be very good value. I've said before that the CX-5 Pro is my favorite in the CX-5 range because it's well-balanced in terms of features and performance.

      See the review here:

      http://www.carguide.ph/2014/02/review-2014-mazda-cx-5-pro.html

      Delete
  28. How about CRETA VS HR-V VS ECOSPORT?

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  29. Sir Uly, Are Hyundai Creta and Honda BRV be in Philippine Market? If yes, when? Salamat!

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  30. Sir Uly, what would u choose, HRV E or ASX GSR? based on your experience and feel of both cars? I am looking at both cars, love the pricing of the ASX with 50k discount and the pano sunroof but then again it is an outgoing model (5yr model already) while the HRV is new but a bit expensive. Thanks in advance.

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    Replies
    1. same dilema im having... ayaw ng mga bros ko ung ASX (pango daw) pero gusto ko yun kse sa 2.0L engine plus sunroof and bright available colors... then itong HRV trip ko ung "look" na 2-door lng sya and interior, plus 1.8L na engine (tipid sa gas)... any suggestions?

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    2. The asx looks, drives and feels more like a compact suv than the hrv. The hrv looks and drives more of a coupe as it is designed that way by the engineers. So it depends on what kind of car you prefer. The asx has a higher driving position while the hrv sits lower. I agree the interior of the hrv looks better but the front cockpit is a bit cramped due to the large center console while the asx feels airy. The asx for me has more useable space upfront compared to the hrv. As for overall interior i would say asx due to the pano roof and leather seats plus comes with navi and a dvd player. As for fuel consumption i think both are equal as the power to weight ratio is about the same. The only thing going for hrv is because it is a honda, more prestigious and better fit and finish maybe. But then again the asx is built in japan so maybe it has better fit and finish. Let me know what you decided as i am still very much confused.

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    3. Same problem here, big honda fan and user since 1996. Sanay nako sa honda. Just sold my 2008 civic for the hrv but biglang napaisip sa pricing ng hrv plus the dealers are not giving any freebies except for floor mats. Then i did some research and came across the asx and cannot believe the pricing of the gsr (w/ 60k discount) plus the freebies and comes with leather seats, pano roof, navi and dvd entertainment. All of a sudden the hrv does not makes sense. But it has a higher emotional appeal to me since it is a honda and a new model compared to asx, medyo laos na itsura ng asx pero maganda pa din naman. My wife prefers the asx while natatakot ako mag mitsu since honda user na nga ako since 96. Somehow the pricing is leaning me towards the asx but may kasabihan na you get what you paid for. Baka mamaya kalampagin pala.

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  31. maganda sa fortuner ay matibay garantisado yan..pero magbaon ka palagi ng bonamine or any medicine na anti-hilo lalo na kung long distance ang biahe mo dahil kung mahina ang sikmura mo ay garantisadong mapapasuka ka dahil sa tagtag..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. sorry dapat sa fortuner column ito..naligaw lang

      Delete
  32. Hi, new driver here. Looking at the hrv vs asx vs xv vs ecosport. Obviously very confused plus now the i20 cross sport has come out. Leaning towards hrv because of the rear parking sensors. Seems like a priority to me but please tell me if that should be negligible?

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  33. why is the hrv overpriced/ in US the jazz TOTL cost around $21k and the base HRV is $19k/ so here in the Ph if the jazz TOTL cost 958k then so the base HRV should cost if not lower than 958k at least the same price// and we dont get the lane watch and sunroof here/ and they have those features starting from their mid level w/c they call EX and TOTL EX-L (L means leather)//

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  34. Hi. We just bought a Honda H-RV 1.8El last month. It's a money well spent.

    Things we like about the Car are its Safety features(front,side and curtain airbags) that's a premium on safety,Fuel economy with activated ECON our drive from ilocos to manila at 85km/h on hi way consumes 14.2km/l.The drive itself is comfortable and ok which is far better than our aunt's 2009 fortuner as my mom said.

    Interior is quite commendable specially the leather paddings and all, leather seats are also comfortable specially at the front. Back seats are also great with a good knee space and headroom though the article is right that you only need 2 person for comfort at the back.

    ULT seats are Nice & Cargo carrying capacity is good enough.

    The 3 vent aircon up front is nice its able to cool the front and back for just a minute. Touchscreen and climate control are great. The Reverse cam and parking sensors are a big help.

    Exterior wise the design is perfect with the drl always on and coupe like feature some of our friends mistook it for a sports car.

    We know that it maybe ain't the fastest nor strongest car out there but practicality,style,fit and finish wise. We Love it.

    We're just disappointed though that the EL doesnt have the glowing front speakers. Dealer said its only exclusive on the mugen variant.

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  35. which is more durable and reliable HRV or XV?

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