HR-V vs CR-V Honda: The Info You Need To Make The Right Choice
The Honda HR-V and CR-V may just be one character apart, but when it comes to the driving experience, they’re fundamentally different vehicles.
First, you’ve got the CR-V. This is one of the first SUVs released by Honda for the US market. It’s an old soul that’s only matured with age, and is now in its fifth generation. It bleeds mass-market appeal, and is among the most successful products in the company’s lineup.
Then there’s the HR-V. Although it emerged at the same time as the CR-V, the HR-V is a relative newcomer to the US market. Still, it’s an impressive ride, with strong environmental and urban driving credentials.
This article will take a look at what makes the Honda CR-V and HR-V tick. You’ll learn about their strengths and flaws, with the aim of helping you make an informed choice when you start the search for your next vehicle.
The Honda CR-V
Honda introduced the CR-V to the Japanese market in 1995, with its US arrival occurring two years later, in 1997.
Its timing couldn’t have been any better. During the 1990s, the US SUV market was booming at an exponential rate, bolstered by low oil prices and a healthy economy. By 1999, SUVs and light trucks would surpass conventional passenger cars in sales. At that point, Honda’s bread-and-butter were vehicles like the Accord and Civic. It needed to change.
At that point, Honda had already dipped a toe into the SUV market, introducing the mid-size Honda Passport in 1993. The CR-V was its second vehicle in the category, and the first to be created from a clean sheet design, rather than a simple white-labelling of an existing vehicle (as was the case with the Passport, which was merely a rebadged Isuzu Rodeo).
With the CR-V, Honda aimed to create something that would be appealing to those upgrading from an ordinary passenger car, and thus kept things on the compact size. This isn’t much of a surprise, considering the acronym stands for “Comfortable Runabout Vehicle.”
Length-wise, it wasn’t far removed from the equivalent Honda Accord of the era , measuring 177.6-inches compared to 185.6-inches with the 1997 Honda Accord sedan body type.
In this vein, Honda refrained from making the CR-V too overpowered. With the inaugural generation, just one engine was offered — a modest 2L four-cylinder affair. Honda did, however, give customers the choice between FWD and real-time AWD options.
Honda hasn’t changed the CR-V much in the years since, and the fifth generation of vehicles (introduced in 2016) feel like a logical evolution from the first tentative efforts, rather than something radically new.
It’s still not a powerhouse. The base engine is a 2.4L four-cylinder engine. For the eco-conscious, hybrid and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) options are available, as well as a gas-sipping 1.5L four-cylinder engine. By default, it comes with a FWD model, although AWD upgrades are available for those liable to wander down challenging roads.
And it’s still a compact SUV. Its length measures either 180.5 inches or 182.0 inches, depending on whether it was made before or after the 2020 mid-generation facelift. In practice, this makes it convenient for urban driving, where larger vehicles may struggle. At least there’s plenty of room, especially on the rear seats, where legroom hits 40.4-inches and headroom measures 39.2 inches.
Cargo space is similarly solid. You get 39.2 cubic feet of space, or 75.8 cubic feet with the rear row of seats laid down.
With its mass-market orientation, the CR-V is affordable, at least for the cheaper trims. The base 2021 LX trim has an MSRP of $23,350, and comes with a bevy of safety features (including lane-keeping assist and collision detection). At the high end, there’s the Touring trim, which costs $33,650. This comes with an abundance of luxury touches, from a heated steering wheel, a hands-free tailgate, and wireless phone charging.
The Honda HR-V
Honda introduced the subcompact HR-V SUV to the Japanese market in 1998. It competed with the CR-V in many extents, but had one key advantage. As its width measured just 1,695mm (66.7-inches) compared to 1,780mm (70.1 inches) on the CR-V, owners would pay lower annual road taxes.
Thanks to its small frame, the HR-V (which stands for “Hi-rider Revolutionary Vehicle”) was well-suited to tight European roads, and it saw a release in the UK and certain continental markets in the years following. Production continued until 2006 when the car was discontinued.
That wouldn’t be the end of the story, and Honda revived the HR-V in 2013. This time around, it would see a US release, with sales commencing in 2015 for the 2016 model year. Again, the value proposition remained fairly constant, with Honda touting the fuel-efficient nature (the base FWD 2016 trim enjoyed a combined EPA rating of 31MPG, although this dropped with later year models) and urban agility of the HRV.
The second-generation HR-V ended with the 2021 model year. This touted a 1.8L four-cylinder engine in the base configuration, delivering fairly modest levels of horsepower and torque (141HP and 127 lbs respectively).
As you’d expect from a subcompact SUV, the Honda HR-V measures just 170.4-inches in length, making it suited for light urban roads and challenging parking situations. Rear leg-and-head room is tighter than in the CR-V, although not by much, measuring 39.3-inches and 38.3-inches respectively.
Cargo space measures 24.3 cubic feet, or 58.3 cubic feet with the rear seats lowered. This drops to 23.2 cubic feet and 57.6 cubic feet in those configured with an AWD drivetrain. These are fairly competitive, by the standards of subcompact SUVs.
Although the HR-V enjoys a decent selection of high-tech safety features by default, you’ll have to opt for a pricier trim if you want things like Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, or a larger seven-inch infotainment screen. Bought new, the Honda HR-V’s MSRP ranges from $21,220 to $29,340.
We note that Honda introduced the third generation in 2021 for the 2022 model year. This touts a hybrid powertrain across almost all models, and a sleeker chassis. Deliveries have already started in Japan and Europe, although not in North America, where the company plans to launch a completely different design and specification.
To date, it has not revealed any concrete information about specs or availability.
The Honda HR-V vs Honda CR-V
What is the difference between the Honda CR-V and Honda HR-V? Well, there are a few. The CR-V is larger, faster, and overall more performant. It offers more cargo space and personal space. The base trims are comparatively more sophisticated. But it’s also much more expensive.
By contrast, the HR-V is a lighter, nimbler alternative. Fuel efficiency is solid. It’s smaller, making it a tempting choice for city dwellers. And it’s also cheaper, with a far lower barrier to entry. But it’s unlikely to offer the fastest, most thrilling drive.
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August 30, 2021
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