Honda’s SUV twins difficult to separate

Riley Riley

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What is it?

They’re separated by price and size, but deciding between Honda’s HR-V and CR-V twins is a lot tougher than you might think.

The chunky HR-V is Honda’s small offering and bears no relationship to the car sold here quite a few years ago under the same name.

CR-V is larger and Honda’s mainstream, bread and butter model, with a seven-seat version available — but not across all grades.

Although HR-V is smaller, accommodation is still more than comfortable for four adults, with plenty of rear legroom — but ultimately has a smaller boot.

The more we drive HR-V, however, the more we have come to appreciate and respect it.

If there’s just the two of you, then it’s a no brainer — spend your savings on the one with all the fruit.

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What’s it cost?

Prices for HR-V start from $24,990, topping out at $34,590 plus on-roads for the VTi-LX — subject of our test.

CR-V kicks off $30,690 with the top of the range, all-wheel drive model going for $42,290 plus on-roads.

Our mid-grade VTi-S is priced at $33,290 or $35,490 with all-wheel drive thrown in (you probably won’t notice the difference).

The HR-V comes with 17-inch alloys, twin climate air, heated leather seats, LED headlights, panoramic sunroof, rear view camera, lane watch camera for passenger side, front and rear parking sensors plus a power adjust driver’s seat.

It’s also fitted with Honda’s Advanced Driver Assist System with forward collision warning, high-beam support system and lane departure warning — as well as auto emergency braking.

CR-V is similarly equipped, with larger 18-inch wheels, an electric tailgate and the addition of of adaptive cruise control.

Both cars feature a 7.0-inch touchscreen with satellite navigation, but CR-V adds DAB+, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

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What’s it go like?

HR-V is powered by a 1.8-litre naturally aspirated four cylinder petrol engine that develops 105kW of power and 172Nm of torque, the latter from 4300 revs.

It’s paired with a CVT continuously variable style auto with seven steps or gears that in top spec form comes with gear change paddles which give a little more control when needed.

Fuel consumption is rated at 6.9L/100km (we got 8.1).

CR-V’s 1.5-litre turbo produces 140kW and 240Nm, the latter between 2000 and 5000 revs — this extra torque makes a world of difference.

It too is paired with a CVT.

Fuel consumption is rated at 7.3L/100km (we got 7.7)

Although the HR-V is remarkably smooth, comfortable and compliant in a city environment, it’s let down by an awful CVT transmission that exhibits all of the worst aspects of CVTs — it’s zoomy, generally breathless, and not much fun to drive when pressed.

But most of the time, it stays hidden and does produce excellent fuel economy.

The CR-V’s 1.5-litre turbo in contrast packs a punch and is a breeze to drive. If anything it lacks character, which could be a good thing depending on your viewpoint.

It’s also hooked up to a CVT but it couldn’t be different in execution, mainly because the engine doesn’t have to work as hard.

The steering is very light in both, while the CR-V has a more sophisticated multi-link rear suspension.

Overall, CR-V feels newer and more advanced in design.

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What we like?

  • Style, although HR-V’s tail lights are overly large (notice similarity to the latest Yaris)
  • CR-V’s superior performance
  • Smooth ride quality in both
  • Excellent fuel economy in both
  • Interior space and comfort in both
  • Large digital speedo in CR-V
  • Rear air vents for CR-V
  • Capacious boot in CR-V
  • Beefed up 5-year warranty


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What we don’t like?

  • HR-V’s awful CVT
  • CR-V high-mount shift location (wife reckons it gets in the way)
  • CR-V’s reluctance to reverse up steep driveway
  • Did I mention the HRV’s awful CVT?

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The bottom line?

Give me the HR-V with the CR-V’s turbocharged engine and I’d been a happy camper.


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Honda HR-V and CR-V, priced from $24,990 and $30,690
  • Looks - 7.0 (HR-V) 7.5 (CR-V)/10
  • Performance - 7.0 (HR-V) 7.5 (CR-V)/10
  • Safety - 8.0 (HR-V) 8.0 (CR-V)/10
  • Thirst - 8.0 (HR-V) 8.0 (CR-V)/10
  • Practicality - 7.5 (CR-V) 8.0 (CR-V)/10
  • Comfort - 7.5 (HR-V) 7.5 (CR-V)/10
  • Tech - 7.5 (HR-V) 8.0 (CR-V)/10
  • Value - 8.0 (HR-V) 7.5 (CR-V)/10

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