2019 Honda Pilot Off Road Review: Did Well In Spite Of Me

Because it is based on the award-winning Honda Fit, you’d think the 2019 Honda HR-V would automatically advance to best-in-class status. But that’s not the case.

Honda faces much stiffer competition in the small SUV segment than the Fit does in the small car segment. People who buy SUVs also have different expectations of such a vehicle, including at least some ability to go off-road. Plus, because the Fit is a small car that delivers the interior space of a bigger car and the utility of a crossover SUV all at a cheap price, it automatically vaults to recommended status. The HR-V is unable to distinguish itself to the same degree.

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Compared to a Fit with its optional continuously variable transmission, the 2019 Honda HR-V commands a premium of $3,530 over the Fit. When you don’t have a ton of money to spend on a new car in the first place, that’s a substantial price premium to pay in order to drive an “SUV” that gets six fewer miles per gallon in combined driving while providing almost three extra inches of ground clearance.

Perhaps realizing that its smallest crossover SUV needed sprucing up, Honda makes numerous changes to the 2019 HR-V. New Sport and Touring trim levels debut, along with freshened styling, updated infotainment systems, and availability of Honda Sensing driver assistance and collision avoidance technologies. Honda also tweaks the HR-V’s transmission and driving dynamics, but doesn’t add any power, which is what it really needs.

My test vehicle came with Sport trim, all-wheel-drive, and a new Orangeburst Metallic paint color. The price tag was $24,615, including the destination charge of $995.

Design: 8.3 rating

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This is the Honda HR-V's best angle, which accentuates its most compelling design cues.

(Speedy Daddy Media, Inc.)

Cute in the same way that a Pug is, the Honda HR-V lacks traditionally rugged SUV design cues. The primary hint that this is a crossover and not a car is the gloss black lower body and wheel well trim.

Artful detailing, like the arc that rises from the front fenders through the doors to meet the kink in the greenhouse where the rear door handles are deftly hidden, adds character. My Sport model’s big 18-inch aluminum wheels with machined-finish surfaces are appealing even if they resemble whimsical pinwheels. Overall, though, the HR-V has a light and almost delicate appearance, which isn’t what people typically want in an SUV.

Inside, the cabin reflects Honda’s typical no-nonsense approach to design. Complementary tones and textures, rendered in high-quality materials, are the rule. I especially liked the fabric covering the door panels, which matched the seat cloth. The unusual row of vents in front of the passenger’s seat, and the bridge center console design, add flair to the otherwise simple interior.

Comfort: 7.0 rating

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These front seats are comfortable, but they don’t slide back far enough to accommodate taller drivers.

(Speedy Daddy Media, Inc.)

I’m not a small person, and the Honda HR-V is clearly made for people who are shorter than me. Stopping just short of torture, the driver’s seat lacks seat track travel. There’s nothing wrong with the seat itself. Rather, I didn’t have any room to move around once I’d gotten behind the steering wheel.

The front passenger’s seat isn’t much better. Plus, it lacks the manual height adjustment provided for the driver, effectively putting occupants too close to the floor.

Remarkably, the most comfortable seats in the house are in the back. The bottom cushion sits high off the ground and provides good leg support, there is plenty of legroom and foot space, and it’s really easy to get into and out of the rear seating area.

Where Honda fumbles is with regard to ventilation: rear air conditioning vents are unavailable. Also, unlike most other compact crossover SUVs, the HR-V doesn’t have dark tinted rear window glass.

Controls: 8.0 rating

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As is true of the exterior, the Honda HR-V’s interior is conventional but with interesting details like the row of air vents in front of the passenger.

(Speedy Daddy Media, Inc.)

My HR-V Sport test vehicle had an actual key instead of a remote key fob, and it had manual rather than climate controls. Believe it or not, this proved refreshing for its simplicity.

Honda’s approach to instrumentation prioritizes clarity and legibility, and that’s the case in the HR-V. A ring around the speedometer glows green when you’re driving economically.

Inexpensive vehicles are usually easy to figure out, and that’s the case for the HR-V. The new Display Audio infotainment system is standard on all but the base LX trim level, and it comes with a volume knob this year, making it easier to use.

Utility: 8.5 rating

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The main reason to buy a Honda HR-V is for its impressive utility. Fold the seats down and it holds 58.8 cu.-ft. of cargo.

(Speedy Daddy Media, Inc.)

Utility is one of the Honda HR-V’s clear strengths, though the fancy bridge-style center console compromises practical interior storage space. Aside from the large glove box and decent door panel bins, there isn’t anywhere to stash things unless you want to reach down and under the console to access a tray near the floor. You can, however, repurpose the cupholders for phone storage when you haven’t brought a beverage aboard.

No other vehicle in the HR-V segment can match it for cargo carrying capability. Roomy and configurable in a multitude of ways, this Honda’s ‘Magic Seat’ is a main reason to get an HR-V.

Open the rear hatch, and the trunk holds 24.3 cu.-ft. of luggage (23.2 cubes with all-wheel drive). Fold the rear ‘Magic Seat’ down flat, and the HR-V swallows a remarkable 58.8 cu.-ft. of cargo (57.6 cu.-ft. with AWD). Now recline the front passenger’s seat, and you can slide something 8 feet long into the HR-V, like a surfboard, and still close the hatch.

Now, with the rear ‘Magic Seat’ returned to its normal position, open a rear door. Look under the cushion, and you’ll find some extra storage room for duffle bags or backpacks. Flip the bottom cushion up, and the HR-V accommodates items almost 4 feet high.

This cargo flexibility is, more than any other, the best reason to choose a Honda HR-V over its competition.

Technology: 7.0 rating

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A new infotainment system with a 7-inch screen, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto debuts for 2019, and it even has a volume knob. 

(Speedy Daddy Media, Inc.)

For 2019, Honda offers an updated infotainment system in the HR-V. Standard on Sport trim, it includes a 7-inch touchscreen display, Bluetooth connectivity, a USB connection, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. Sound flows through six speakers.

Given that younger people might be drawn to the affordable Sport trim level, audio quality needs to be better. Otherwise, thanks to smartphone integration, the HR-V Sport supplies all the connectivity you really need.

Upgrades with more expensive versions of the HR-V include HD Radio, satellite radio, Honda Link services, a navigation system, and a 180-watt sound system.

Believe it or not, a volume knob is new for 2019. Before, you could use the steering wheel controls or a touch-sensing sliding bar. Now all the radio needs is a matching tuning knob.

A multi-angle reversing camera shows three different viewpoints on the infotainment screen. Get the EX, EX-L, or Touring, and the HR-V features a keyless entry with push-button engine starting system, enhanced with sophisticated walk-away automatic locking.

Safety: 6.0 rating

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The Honda HR-V’s rear seat is roomy for this class of vehicle. Safety is improved for 2019, but it could still be better.

(Speedy Daddy Media, Inc.)

Another big upgrade for the 2019 HR-V is the addition of Honda Sensing to EX, EX-L, and Touring trim levels. Honda Sensing equips the SUV with adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and road departure mitigation. While this is a positive development, Honda ought to make this available as an option on lower trims, too.

Additionally, these three trim levels have Lane Watch, a camera-based system that shows the driver what’s in the right-side blind spot. It does not include the left side of the HR-V, and does not include rear cross-traffic alert. Therefore, it is inferior to a proper radar-based blind spot warning system.

My Sport test vehicle had none of these features, and I didn’t mind. With impressive forward visibility, large side mirrors, and the multi-angle reversing camera, I didn’t need any of it. Furthermore, it was refreshing to drive such an ‘analog’ vehicle.

The federal government gives the HR-V a 5-star overall crash-test rating, but frontal impact ratings for the driver and passenger amount to 4 stars. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) had not rated the HR-V for the 2019 model year, but previously this SUV got an “Acceptable” rating instead of “Good” in the small overlap frontal impact test.

Also, the headlights rated “Poor.” Based on the performance of the lights on my HR-V Sport test vehicle, they’re still lousy.

Power and Performance: 6.3 rating

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One of the least appealing things about the Honda HR-V is its engine and transmission. Get the all-wheel-drive system and you lose more than half an inch of ground clearance.

(Speedy Daddy Media, Inc.)

A 141-horsepower, 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine powers the HR-V. Maximum horsepower is made at 6,500 rpm, just short of the 6,700-rpm engine redline, which means you’ll rarely be able to access it. Torque is available at 4,300 rpm, but it measures just 127 lb.-ft.

For 2019, Honda drops the previously available 6-speed manual gearbox in favor of a standard CVT. Honda says the transmission is refined for 2019, and drivers can select between Sport, Normal, and Econ driving modes. With all-wheel drive, the HR-V is supposed to get 28 mpg in combined driving, and I averaged 27.4 mpg.

In urban driving situations, the HR-V powertrain works well. I spent lots of time sitting in traffic and negotiating downtown Los Angeles streets, Apple CarPlay effortlessly assisting in reaching various destinations.

On freeways that are actually flowing, the HR-V has no trouble maintaining extra-legal speeds. Encounter a hill or mountain grade, though, and if the HR-V is in Normal driving mode the CVT is unresponsive unless you dig deep into the gas pedal in order to keep a steady speed.

Acceleration is sluggish when you’re trying to enter fast traffic or pass slower vehicles. The paddle shifters aren’t particularly useful, either, and sometimes in suburban settings the drivetrain would actually respond with greater power than expected, displaying the ‘rubber-band effect’ common to CVTs.

At this point, I must share that my test vehicle was a pre-production unit, so it is possible that what you buy will behave differently.

Ride and Handling: 7.5 rating

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Sized and powered for use in cities, the Honda HR-V is most gratifying to drive in urban areas.

(Speedy Daddy Media, Inc.)

When you specify AWD for a 2019 Honda HR-V, the vehicle actually loses more than half an inch of ground clearance, dropping from 7.3 inches to 6.7 inches. That’s the opposite of what people expect, and gives the HR-V two fewer inches of clearance than segment leaders like the Jeep Renegade Trailhawk and Subaru Crosstrek.

Versions with AWD do swap the standard torsion-beam rear suspension for a slightly more sophisticated DeDion tube rear suspension. Still, the ride quality is often choppy and bouncy, which is to be expected in a basic vehicle like the HR-V.

Road, wind, and engine noise are significant, too. The 4-wheel-disc brakes work well but can feel a little grabby, not unlike a front-disc/rear-drum setup. The electric steering mostly evades notice, perhaps in part because the HR-V Sport gets a variable ratio.

Overall, the HR-V is nimble and spry in the city, which is this Honda’s natural habitat. On twisty roads, in spite of the sizable 18-inch wheels, the tires tend to squeal and squish, perhaps reflective of the nose-heavy weight distribution.

Our Recommendation

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Traditionally, Honda builds some of the best vehicles in whatever segment it chooses to compete. The Honda HR-V, however, places mid-pack among small SUVs.

(Speedy Daddy Media, Inc.)

The Honda HR-V is best used in cities and densely packed suburbs. It is not fast. It is not particularly fun. And it can’t venture very far off the beaten path.

At the same time, the HR-V is especially useful for carrying passengers and cargo, it credibly delivers on its EPA fuel economy ratings, it offers AWD for duking it out with Mother Nature, and it’s likely to last a long time.

Unlike many Hondas, the HR-V does not sit atop its segment as the best in the class. Unless you require the maximum utility provided by the HR-V’s ‘Magic Seat’ design, there are better choices available to you.

Total Vehicle Score: 147/200 points

Overall Vehicle Rating: 7.4

For More Honda HR-V Information:

NEWS: 2019 HONDA HR-V CHANGES

PHOTOS: 2019 HONDA HR-V GALLERY

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auto reviews
2019
honda
hr-v
honda hr-v
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Source : https://www.nydailynews.com/autos/latest-reviews/2019-honda-hrv-ratings-review-article-1.4045041

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