On paper, Honda’s CR-V and HR-V are just five letters away. On the road, they’re two distinct cars positioned in separate segments and designed to meet the needs of different motorists. The bigger CR-V is now well into its fourth generation, and it has gotten so big since its 1997 introduction that Honda developed the CR-V to fill the space it previously occupied. Here’s how these two soft-roaders compare in terms of design, tech, and fuel economy.
Think of the HR-V as a Fit on stilts. Befitting of its entry-level status, it comes with a relatively basic level of equipment that includes a four-speaker stereo, Bluetooth connectivity, and a 5.0-inch color LCD screen. The Sport trim level adds a six-speaker sound system and a 7.0-inch touchscreen, while the range-topping Touring model benefits from navigation. You’ll need to step up to the Sport if you want to get Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, too.
It’s the same story if you’re looking at a CR-V. The base model comes with the same 5.0-inch LCD screen as the cheapest HR-V, and you need to explore the upper echelons of the trim hierarchy to get features like a six-speaker sound system, a 7.0-inch touchscreen, and navigation. The top three trim levels come standard with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility.
Performance and fuel economy
Honda only offers the HR-V with a 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine rated at 141 horsepower and 127 pound-feet of torque. Honda eliminated the six-speed manual transmission for the 2019 model year, meaning every HR-V regardless of trim level comes with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Front-wheel drive comes standard and all-wheel drive is available at an extra cost.
The entry-level, 2.4-liter four-cylinder disappeared for the 2020 model year, so every CR-V regardless of trim level comes with a turbocharged, 1.5-liter four shared with the Civic, among other models. It delivers 190 hp and 179 lb-ft. of torque. Honda no longer makes a stick available on the CR-V, so a CVT is the only option. Front-wheel drive comes standard, just like on the smaller model, and all-wheel drive is available at an extra cost.
The HR-V returns 28 miles per gallon in the city, 34 mpg on the highway, and 30 mpg combined when equipped with front-wheel drive. Adding all-wheel drive lowers those figures to 27, 31, and 29, respectively. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the CR-V’s turbo four at 28 mpg in the city, 34 mpg on the highway, and 30 combined. All-wheel drive models take a small hit: 27, 33, and 29, respectively.
Honda released the Hybrid CR-V in 2020. The drivetrain consists of a 2.0-liter four-cylinder and an electric motor that join forces to send 212 horsepower to the four wheels — all-wheel drive comes standard. It returns 40 mpg in the city, 35 mpg on the highway, and 38 mpg in a combined cycle, figures that make it the efficiency champ of the range.
Interior and exterior design
Honda introduced the HR-V in 2015 as a 2016 model. At the time, the model fell in line with the firm’s design language by adopting styling cues such as sharp headlights that flank a gloss-black insert accented by a strip of chrome trim. Character lines chiseled into the side panels reduce visual mass, which explains why the HR-V looks less like an awkwardly tall hatchback and more like crossover than some of its rivals. Inside, every button, switch, and knob is placed right where you expect it to be. The driver faces a three-spoke steering wheel and an analog instrument cluster. The center stack houses the infotainment system’s touchscreen and the climate control panel.
The current CR-V went on sale more recently, and it received a minor nip and tuck for the 2020 model year, so it wears a much more contemporary design. The front end looks more muscular than before, and it points to the direction Honda’s design department will take in the coming years. The SUV-like proportions clear up a generous amount of space in the cabin for both passenger and gear. Step inside and you’ll be able to tell right off the bat that it’s a more modern car. It wears a cleaner, more minimalist design than its smaller sibling. Some models even boast wood trim, a feature which shows the CR-V has moved upmarket since its inception.
The HR-V stretches 169 inches from bumper to bumper, 63.2-inches tall, and 69.8-inches wide. In comparison, the CR-V’s measurements check in at 180, 66.1, and 73, respectively. They offer 24.3 and 39.2 cubic feet of trunk space, respectively, with both rows of seats up or 58.8 and 75.8 with the rear seats folded.
Every HR-V, regardless of trim level, comes with front, side, and side curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems. The top two trim levels also benefit from a blind spot monitoring system. Driving aids like a road departure mitigation system, adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation braking, and lane departure warning come standard on EX models and up.
The CR-V also gets front, side, and side curtain airbags, plus traction and stability control systems. Honda Sensing, a suite of electronic driving aids, comes standard on every trim level. It includes collision mitigation (which brakes when it detects a crash is imminent), road departure mitigation (which emits visual and audible warnings if it senses the car is veering off the road), adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow, and lane-keeping assist.
As Honda’s entry-level soft-roader, the HR-V carries a base price of $20,820. At the other end of the spectrum, the range-topping Touring trim commands $28,890. The base CR-V starts at $25,050, while the top-spec Touring trim level kicks off at $33,250. Pricing for the Hybrid model starts at $27,750. None of the aforementioned figures include a mandatory $1,095 destination charge, which is like shipping and handling in the car world.
The HR-V landed in the cutthroat world of small crossovers. It competes on the same turf as the Chevrolet Trax, the Jeep Renegade (shown above), the Mazda CX-3, and the Fiat 500X, among others. The CR-V’s segment is even more competitive. Rivals include the Mazda CX-5, the Toyota RAV4, the Volkswagen Tiguan, and the Ford Escape.