After its 2015 debut, the Honda HR-V subcompact crossover SUV steadily gained to nearly 100,000 sales in 2017. For perspective, it was down 2% through the first six months of 2018 and still outsold the Ford Mustang.
Without question, SUVs are selling in every size and capacity to guzzle gas. With that in mind, it makes perfect sense for Honda to give this model a thorough overhaul (“refresh”) three years later.
That’s exactly what happened to the HR-V for the 2019 model year. Here are the biggest changes consumers on the market for a small crossover should know about.
1. Styling changes; powertrain stays the same.
While two new trims get the biggest style upgrades, every HR-V has new bumpers, different lights in front and back, and a revised grille. Compared to the current model, you might say the 2019 edition looks more comfortable in its own skin.
As for the powertrain, nothing changed. HR-V still rides exclusively with the 1.8-liter four cylinder engine that maxes out at 141 horsepower.
2. Range-topping Touring trim veers toward $30K.
For 2019, HR-V’s new trims include the top-of-the-line Touring edition. All-wheel drive comes standard, as do leather-trimmed seats, LED headlights, LED fog lights, and mirrors matching the body color.
The safety suite, available for the first time on HR-V, comes with every Touring model. As the highest of five trims, it starts at $29,535. Navigation systems are only available in this model.
3. Major safety and tech upgrades.
Honda Sensing, which includes driver-assist tech and other advanced safety features, becomes an option in HR-V for 2019. (Previous models could never be considered for Top Safety Pick awards without it.)
Automatic braking, road-departure alerts, adaptive cruise-control, and lane assist are included. This suite comes standard on all but the base (LX) and Sport model.
New Display Audio with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration enters the picture for 2019 as well.
4.The new Sport trim’s unique styling.
If you hope to stand out from the pack of dull — in some cases, ugly — subcompact crossovers, then the new HR-V Sport trim ($23,215 with front-wheel drive) may be worth a look. It features glossy black trim, 18-inch wheels, a honeycomb grille, and chrome exhaust.
Inside, an upgraded audio system, sport pedals, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter justify the jump in price ($24,615 with all-wheel drive). It doesn’t have navigation or the safety suite, but it looks better than the base model.
5. The manual transmission is gone.
Those who prize the manual transmission in the current HR-V will have to grapple with its demise in the refreshed model. Honda went for a more natural automatic feel with the continuously variable transmission (CVT), so drivers should test it out to see if you like the way it handles.
All-wheel drive is an option in the first four trims and comes standard in Touring.
6. It starts at $21,515.
Those upgrades come at a price. In this case, that price is $20,520 plus a $995 delivery charge. If you’re keeping score at home, that amounts to $850 more than the 2018 edition. Sound-deadening improvements the automaker touted in its press release may (or may not) make the price bump worth it.
Clearly, Honda is looking to run up the score with the number of trims and options now on tap in the HR-V. If safety and styling were keeping you out of earlier editions, the refreshed model is worth a look.