Crossover & Midsize

The 2021 Honda HR-V Has Barebones Standard Safety

Nowadays, shoppers don’t buy cars based solely on looks or horsepower: they’re also invested in advanced safety features. Useful features like mandated backup cameras and blind-spot monitors can make even the most cautious driver feel more secure. Honda makes a variety of reliable cars, some of the most popular being SUVs. The Honda CR-V, the automaker’s best-selling model, offers family-friendly accommodations and a plethora of safety features. Its smaller sibling, the Honda HR-V, doesn’t measure up as well.

The Honda HR-V’s safety offerings

The base trim of the Honda HR-V doesn’t offer any standard features besides the required rearview camera. You can add parking sensors for an extra $500. The two highest trims, the EX and EX-L, both come with the same long list of safety features.

These include automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning, and the Honda LaneWatch camera to help eliminate blind spots. Lane-keeping assistance functions are also included, as well as road departure alert. The higher trims also predictably have nicer interiors and more supportive leather upholstery.

It’s falling behind the competition

RELATED: The 2021 Honda HR-V Got a Confusing Review From Consumer Reports

Several other vehicles in the Honda HR-V’s class are better-equipped in regard to safety. The Nissan Kicks comes with almost all the same features, plus extras for its higher trims. Despite have more standard tech, it’s still a few thousand dollars cheaper than the Honda HR-V.

The Nissan Kicks is a bit of an outlier since most subcompacts only come with a handful of standard driver’s aids. For example, the base Hyundai Kona comes with a rear-seat reminder, lane-keeping assist, and forward-collision warning. Still, all three of these features are useful for mitigating accidents.

To be fair, price plays a big role in the availability of safety features in these cars. Automakers spend more money manufacturing bigger cars, which is why they have more standard features. However, the Honda HR-V is pricey even by its class standards, so it really doesn’t have an excuse for less value.

Is the Honda HR-V worth a look?

According to U.S. News, the Honda HR-V also consistently disappoints critics with its underpowered engine. It’s a puny 1.8-liter four-cylinder motor capable of only 147 hp, paired with a CVT. Critics are split about the CVT’s quality, but pretty much everyone agrees that the Honda HR-V is too noisy. 

Critical opinion about acceleration ranges from mediocre to downright sluggish. Despite this, most critics were pleased with the Honda HR-V’s performance around town. The suspension doesn’t hold up over rough pavement, but it provides a pleasant driving experience otherwise. The motor is also very efficient, rated for up to 30 mpg combined city/highway.

Interior space for the Honda HR-V is actually above-average by subcompact SUV standards. Even taller riders should have plenty of legroom, but the sloping roofline hampers headroom in the second row. Cargo space is also plentiful, with a maximum of 59 cubic feet available.

Another major flaw of the Honda HR-V is its lack of standard technology features. It comes with a tiny 5-inch display without touch capability, Bluetooth, and a singular USB port. The higher trims come standard with more tech, but critics say that it’s a frustrating interface. Audio and climate buttons are switched out for touch controls, which could distract the driver.

In general, the Honda HR-V is both safe and reliable, with top-notch crash-test scores in almost every category. However, most drivers want a little more bang for their buck when it comes to safety features. You can find plenty of other subcompact SUVs with more standard technology at a potentially lower price.