This Japanese brand has launched its new small hybrid SUV that will save you a ton of dollars on your annual fuel bill, but there’s a catch.
We generally think of Toyota as the pioneer of hybrid technology in Australia, and the 2001 Prius can rightfully take credit for launching hybrid technology as a viable and affordable alternative to pure petrol and diesel.
However it was Honda that actually introduced hybrids to Australia with the Insight, a weird sci-fi-style three-door hatch that beat the Prius to market by about six months.
I remember driving it with a colleague along the Hume from Melbourne to Sydney, marveling at this wonderful new technology that perfectly and efficiently combined battery and petrol power, allowing fuel consumption values up to 50% lower than conventional configurations.
Honda has only sold a few insights. It was too much out there for the time, especially with a price tag of $ 49,159. You could buy a Toyota Corolla for $ 19,750 in 2001.
Honda’s second-generation HRV 2022 uses the same technology, albeit with two decades of refinement and research that make a big difference. The Insight was, in truth, pretty awful – campaign slow, loud and uncomfortable – and when we finally got to Sydney we were happy to park it.
HRV’s e: HEV system features a 1.5-liter petrol engine and two electric motors – one for driving, the other for generating electricity to keep the small-capacity lithium-ion battery charged. There is no need to plug in the plug-in to reload. A CVT transmission spins the front wheels.
HRV is a true series / parallel hybrid in that the battery alone can provide power – enough to get you out of your driveway, at least, or throw you a few feet from the lights with a slight acceleration – before the gasoline engine starts and runs most of the lifting afterwards.
A surge of tension adds extra oomph when you put your foot down.
The car’s software decides from where and how much driving force is needed. It is not possible to select the EV mode, as it would be useless. The battery lacks the ability to be the sole power source for driving.
Honda claims combined, unleaded normal fuel consumption of 4.3 l / 100km according to the outdated and optimistic Australian standard. In Europe, where the more realistic WLTP standard now applies, the demand is 5.4 l / 100 km. You should be able to reach 5-6 liters / 100km.
The HRV e: HEV L (which is the code for the hybrid, in case you were wondering) costs $ 45,000 to drive, which is expensive for a small SUV, but hey, it’s also cheaper than the 21’s Insight Years ago. A non-hybrid Vi X model, with a 1.5-liter gasoline engine, costs $ 36,700 in the car.
Standard nine-inch touchscreen infotainment with navigation and wireless Apple CarPlay, four USBs (two in the rear), 18-inch alloy wheels and rotating LED headlights.
This second generation HRV is new from the wheels up and underneath its massive Volvo-style sheet metal is a spacious, practical and very comfortable wagon.
It is not fast. Traveling from 0 to 100km / h takes a claimed 10.6 seconds, but performance is obviously not the goal here and is adequate for everyday driving. The Honda is also serenely calm in the city and while underway.
The suspension is designed for comfort rather than sporty handling, always in line with the overall design. The front can loosen on choppy surfaces at speed and leans hard on the outer front wheel in tight corners, but dynamics are generally confident and predictable, and the ride is considerably more luxurious than most small SUVs.
A simple analog-era dashboard layout, full driver assistance safety technology (including “Intelligent Speed Limiter,” which reads speed limit signs and adjusts speed accordingly), comfortable seats and supportive (for four people) and plenty of legroom are complemented by a mid-sized trunk with a hands-free electric tailgate that closes automatically when you leave the car.
The Honda’s cleverly split rear seats fold flat for a large cavernous cargo area or upright so you can carry tall items.
The HRV is expensive but marks a return to the high-quality made-in-Japan benchmarks that earned Honda brand premium status in the 1980s and 1990s.
Honda’s problem is that rivals like Mazda, Hyundai, Kia, Toyota and Subaru now meet those standards, often at lower prices.
VERDICT 3.5 / 5
A good thing, but hybrid technology doesn’t have to be that expensive.
HONDA HRV and: HEV L
PRICE $ 45,000 in the car
WARRANTY Five years / unlimited km; $ 625 over 5 years
SAFETY Six airbags, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, lane keeping assistance, speed signal recognition
MOTOR 1.5 liter petrol / electric hybrid, 96kW and 253Nm
THIRST 4.3 l / 100 km
BOAT 304 liters
Originally published as Honda HR-V Hybrid 2022 review