2019 Honda HR-V Touring AWD
2019 Honda HR-V Touring AWD Review By Auto Critic Steve Hammes
Though the CR-V is Honda‘s crossover darling, the subcompact HR-V’s attractive price point and just-right sizing makes it a winner in its own right. And starting with the 2019 model year the HR-V expands its appeal with the addition of new Sport and Touring trims, refreshed styling, new technology and the goal of a more refined driving experience.
Honda now sells 4 SUVs and this is where they start…the HR-V. Priced from about $22,000 Honda offers their subcompact utility in either front-wheel drive or, for $1,400 more, all-wheel drive. This baby ‘ute segment really started to percolate in 2015 and continues to grab market share as these little guys gradually replace subcompact cars for entry-level buyers who prefer the higher seating position and greater versatility.
And so Honda takes this opportunity to refresh its entry with a new Touring model – the highest rank bestowed to most Honda vehicles. That means you get LED headlights and fog lights, unique 17” wheels with gray inserts, lower body trim similar to the new Sport model though painted body color rather than gloss black, perforated leather seats, an 8-way power driver’s seat and embedded navigation. The price premium over the EX-L trim is $3,220.
It’s been 4 1/2 years since the HR-V debuted and I haven’t driven one since then. That one was a 2-wheel drive EX trim with the stick shift. This here is a higher equipped Touring model with AWD and the CVT. Quite the different experience to say the least.
The manual is an unfortunate casualty of the 2019 model year changes. It was really good and this CVT really isn’t. It’s rare that one negatively impacts the driving experience to the point where I’d walk away but this is one of those instances.
Honda makes a great manual transmission so it’s sad to see it go. This 1.8-liter engine and its 141 horsepower need some help from feeling overmatched and this CVT isn’t helping despite the numerous upgrades it’s received.
When the Fit arrived on the scene it proved that small cars could have big versatility and Honda continues that smart packaging here with spacious interior dimensions and cargo configurability.
The Magic Seat is the HR-V’s special feature and allows for convenient configuration options in combination with the large cargo area.
Spaciousness abounds for passengers and stuff alike with a nearly flat floor for rear seat passengers and the front passenger seat reclines nearly flat for an excellent lunch time napping position.
The desirability of the HR-V starts with its flexibility and ends with its drivability. What was special in 2015 feels out of step in 2019 – this CVT has to go. Too much noise and weird characteristics here to deliver anything that’s worth buying.
And its mixed driving mileage of 29mpg isn’t strong enough to compensate for the transmission’s shortcomings, though the Sport mode does alleviate a good deal of the sluggishness. The HR-V is most pleasing in city driving situations where its reduced cabin noise, brake hold feature, small footprint and comfortable seats de-stress the commute. Honda also says the AWD system has been improved for better performance in the snow. But it’s high time for Honda to pivot from the once innovative lane watch system to a true blind spot detection system that works on both sides of the car.
The audio system gains a real volume knob for easier operation but the speakers are weak. Infotainment is otherwise strong…I just wish the USB port for using CarPlay and Android Auto wasn’t tucked away down here. Wireless device charging would also be a nice addition on the Touring.
EX trims and higher all get Honda Sensing as standard which includes adaptive cruise control, lane keeping, automatic collision braking and more.
With an MSRP of $29,735 Honda’s asking too much for the Touring while delivering too little.