Honda launched the HR-V compact crossover in 2015, effectively creating a new entry-point to the brand’s utility vehicle lineup.
The HR-V took up the space beneath the larger CR-V, and larger-still Pilot. Designed to compete with models like the Nissan Juke, Mazda CX-3, Mitsubishi RVR and Buick Encore, this little crossover packed available all-wheel drive (AWD), plenty of safety equipment, and over 1,660 litres of available cargo space.
Flexibility is delivered in abundance: rear seating can fold up or down to accommodate a wide range of cargo and gear, and in typical Honda fashion, the interior serves up more storage provisions and room than the overall size of the HR-V leads on.
Expect good fuel mileage, courtesy of a standard 1.8-litre VTEC four-cylinder engine with 141 horsepower. A manual transmission was available in front-drive models, all units with AWD got a fuel-saving CVT automatic transmission instead.
Look for heated seats, a backup camera, Bluetooth, navigation, automatic climate control, rain-sensing wipers, and more.
How’s The Clutch?
Opting for a manual-equipped HR-V? Be sure the clutch isn’t about to need replacing, by checking it first. Remember that the clutch can last the life of the vehicle in the hands of a good driver, though a bad driver can ruin a clutch in quick order.
Find the steepest hill possible, ideally on a length of highway. Where appropriate, apply full throttle from a low speed, and in a high gear — perhaps in fourth gear at 70 km/h. Basically, you’re trying to work the engine as hard as possible, from low revs. This test will tend to coax unwanted slippage out of a badly-worn clutch. If you notice any, you’ll likely need to replace the HR-V’s clutch sooner than later.
The HR-V has a tailgate, cargo hold, and folding seating system that designed to make it more flexible, which makes your life easier — and now’s the time to confirm that everything is in working order.
Start with the tailgate: can it be released from the remote, the tailgate-mounted release button, and the tailgate release button inside the vehicle? Once open, apply moderate downwards force on the tailgate, confirming that the struts hold it firmly in place. If that’s not the case, you’ll want to replace them, before anyone takes any sheetmetal to the dome.
Try the rear seating, next. Flip and fold each seat segment through its entire range of motion, several times, to confirm proper operation, and to confirm that all latches and levers and springs inside the seating system are intact and operational.
Use a Rough Road
Before your test drive, consult your favourite map or scope out the area to find the roughest possible road nearby. Use this road on your test drive to coax telltale sounds out of the HR-V’s suspension. If healthy, the suspension in the HR-V you’re considering will tackle the rough road with minimal harshness or unwanted noise. If you detect any banging, popping, snapping or crashing sounds or sensations instead, you’ll want to have the suspension assessed by a professional before your purchase, as repairs may be required.
Note that some owners have reported premature shock absorber failure, possibly evidenced by a fluid leak visible on the shock absorber itself, or on the ground beneath the vehicle.
The Air Conditioner
Use some test drive time to confirm that the air conditioner is in proper working order, and that it’s able to quickly pump cold air into the cabin when requested. A clogged cabin air filter may reduce system performance, or even knock the air conditioner offline. This part is easily replaced if needed. Still, some owners have cited problems with bad AC compressors, or an improper refrigerant fill from t he factory. Now is the time to protect yourself from potential repair bills, by ensuring the AC is healthy and strong.
Several forum discussions see HR-V owners complaining of premature failure of the factory-supplied battery — sometimes after just a year or two. More widely, it seems like automakers just don’t make batteries like they used to.
As a weak battery in a modern vehicle can cause a slew of sporadic and annoying problems, shoppers are advised to have the HR-V’s battery and charging system inspected and tested professionally before their purchase.
Signs of a weak battery include an engine that’s slow or difficult to start, simultaneous illumination of one or more warning lights, random non-functionality of the audio system or power windows, and more. Replace the battery at the first sign of trouble.
The information presented above is gathered from online owner discussion groups and collaboration with a network of automotive repair professionals. The above information is not a comprehensive list of all possible issues with the vehicle in question and is instead intended to draw shopper attention to possible trouble spots they may wish to investigate before they buy. In most cases, problems listed above are reported with relative rarity in comparison to total sales volume. Shoppers are advised to have a dealer- performed pre-purchase inspection on the vehicle they’re considering for maximum peace of mind.