The 2018 Honda HR-V offers compact-crossover flexibility

The 2018 Honda HR-V. —Honda

The Honda HR-V is a compact crossover that’s a relatively new model. It was first introduced in 2016 as a smaller alternative to the Honda CR-V. It combines a crossover’s flexibility to handle people and cargo in a smaller package that makes it ideal for city dwellers.

There are three available trim levels starting with the base LX priced at $19,670. The mid-range EX is priced from $21,270, and the top EX-L model starts at $25,140, making it affordable in every trim. There’s a choice of front-wheel or all-wheel drive across the lineup, too. A six-speed manual is available on the LX and EX with an optional continuously variable automatic transmission that’s the only choice on the EX-L.

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Power for the HR-V comes from a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine with 141 horsepower and 127 pound-feet of torque. This is a small car, so it doesn’t need a lot of horsepower, but it could use a bit more than this engine offers. It feels underpowered, especially under hard acceleration or when you need extra speed for passing on the highway. Once it gets going, it does just fine, but getting up to speed is a challenge.

The upside to that smaller engine is good fuel economy. Numbers vary slightly depending on your transmission choice and whether you go with front-wheel or all-wheel drive, but they’re good across the board. The HR-V achieves EPA-estimated fuel economy of up to 28 miles per gallon in the city, 34 on the highway, and 31 combined. Those looking for a good commuter car will find the HR-V a solid choice.

The exterior features attractive styling that’s modern and appealing. The most noticeable design element is the positioning of the rear door handles. Rather than the usual placement under the rear windows, they’re up higher along the side edge of the windows. It gives the HR-V character but can make it tricky for kids to reach up and open the doors on their own.

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Inside, the HR-V is surprisingly spacious with wide, supportive front seats. Our test model was the EX-L with comfortable, heated leather seats. There’s no option for power seats, but they still have good adjustability and it’s easy to find a comfortable driving position.

Rear seats are also roomy, particularly when it comes to legroom. Push the front seats back and there’s still plenty of space for those in back without squishing anyone’s knees. The rear seats hold three, which is a little tight for adults, but kids will be just fine.

The ride for passengers is smooth, even over rough roads, and handling is good. Its compact size makes the HR-V a fun little car to sling through the corners on twisting back roads. Steering is tight and responsive, so you feel in control and never have to work too hard to keep the HR-V in line.

One of the big reasons to buy a compact crossover is its flexibility for handling cargo. This one comes with up to 24.3 cubic feet for cargo behind the 60/40 split-folding rear seats, or you can fold them flat and expand cargo capacity up to 58.8 cubic feet. Second row seat cushions that fold up add another layer of versatility. This expands second-row floor space to give a wider area for storing cargo that needs to be upright, like a houseplant. It’s a unique feature that gives the HR-V an edge over competitors.

Standard safety includes a multi-angle rearview camera that lets you choose normal, top-down, or wide-angle views. This is particularly helpful in narrow spots where it’s hard to see how close you are to other cars or when you want to be sure the kids didn’t leave a toy on the ground. Standard on all but the base model is Honda LaneWatch, which uses a camera in the passenger side mirror to show what’s in that lane any time you use the right turn signal and avoid collisions.

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The 2018 Honda HR-V is a solid compact crossover. It offers a combination of pricing, fuel economy, and cargo flexibility that makes it an appealing choice.