Choosing between a mid-size or compact crossover can be confusing.
Many consumers aren’t aware of the differences between a brand’s different models, which are usually very similar in both size and price, making the car buying experience a daunting task for those who don’t know exactly what they want.
Both of these crossovers look similar and aren’t too far off each other in price, but they are two very different packages with two different customers in mind, so let’s see which one is right for you.
Honda CR-V: the Honda CR-V has a youthful and sporty exterior, like many other Hondas today. It has a rather busy front end with available LED headlights, while the rear features L-shaped taillights and an integrated hatch spoiler.
Honda HR-V: the HR-V looks a lot like the CR-V, but is a bit more upright in its proportions due to its smaller size. It also features Honda’s youthful front end but is easily recognizable as the HR-V thanks to the vertically mounted rear door handles. The rear features pointed taillights and a rear hatch spoiler.
Bottom Line: these two crossovers both have Honda’s signature sporty look and look quite similar. If you like the styling of one, you’ll probably like the styling of the other. The CR-V is a bit more mature-looking, though, and is probably more appropriate for older buyers.
ALSO SEE: Honda CR-V Pros and Cons
CR-V: the CR-V is a midsize crossover whereas the HR-V is a compact, so obviously the CR-V has more room for passengers and cargo. The CR-V has 39.2 cu-ft of cargo space with the rear seat up and 75.8 cu-ft with it down, along with a total passenger volume of 102.9 cu-ft. With seating for 5, it also has total front legroom of 41.3 inches and rear second-row legroom of 40.4 in.
HR-V: the HR-V is the smaller of these two, with 24.3 cu-ft of cargo space with the rear seat up and 58.8 cu-ft with it folded down. Total passenger volume measures in at 100.1 cu-ft, while front legroom is 41.2 in and rear legroom is 39.3 in. The HR-V has an interesting feature the CR-V doesn’t have: Magic Seats. This is a great feature that allows you to flip up the rear seat cushions so you can hold taller items, which gives some added practicality to the smaller HR-V.
Bottom Line: the measurements may seem similar, but the CR-V is a much roomier vehicle. If you frequently use the backseat or need to carry large objects often, the CR-V is probably your best bet. If you frequently drive with just you or one other person in the car, the HR-V may be better suited to your needs.
CR-V: the Honda CR-V has two available engines: a 2.4-liter four-cylinder base engine and an available 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder.
The 2.4-liter engine is rated at 184 hp and 180 lb-ft and is paired with a continuously variable transmission and available all-wheel drive (FWD is standard with both engines). The EPA rates the FWD 2.4-liter CR-V at 26 MPG city, 32 MPG highway and 28 MPG combined. The 2.4-liter CR-V with all-wheel drive is rated at 25 MPG city and 31 MPG highway for a combined rating of 27 MPG.
The optional 1.5-liter turbo four is rated at 190 hp and 179 lb-ft of torque. The engine is also paired with a CVT and available all-wheel drive.
Some CR-V owners have experienced problems with this engine, it should be noted, which we addressed in our article ‘Honda CR-V Turbo Problems? You’re Not Alone’. You can follow the link for further reading on the topic.
The EPA rates the FWD CR-V with the 1.5-liter turbo four and CVT automatic transmission at 28 MPG city and 34 MPG for a combined rating of 30 MPG. With all-wheel drive, the turbo motor is rated at 27 MPG city and 33 MPG highway for a combined rating of 29 MPG.
HR-V: the HR-V is only available with one engine: a 1.8-liter four-cylinder rated at 141 hp and 127 lb-ft of torque. There is a turbo engine available in Europe, and we suspect it will make it to North American eventually. There is now only one transmission choice: a CVT. There used to be and a six-speed manual, which was available on FWD models only, but Honda discontinued it in the U.S. and Canada due to slow sales.
The EPA rates the FWD HR-V with the CVT at 28 MPG city, 34 MPG highway and 31 MPG combined. The HR-V AWD is rated at 27 MPG city and 31 MPG highway for a combined total of 29 MPG.
Bottom Line: Both of these cars have good fuel economy for their respective vehicle segments. We’d steer clear of the CR-V’s 1.5-liter turbo for now and opt for the more reliable 2.4-liter engine with all-wheel drive. The HR-V doesn’t leave much room for choice, but it is still decently powerful and very efficient.
CR-V: Honda knows how to make a car handle, so the CR-V is pretty athletic, all things considered. When we reviewed the CR-V, our editor noted that it was “a little rigid and truck-like,” but that it also had a “tremendously smooth ride aided by its new suspension,” design. We also liked the slightly heavy steering, which was “very nimble and easy on the driver.”
HR-V: the same point about Honda’s chassis tuning know-how applies to the HR-V. Neither of these vehicles will be setting the lap timing screen alight, but they are fairly nimble for what they are. The HR-V isn’t perfect, with our editor finding the steering vague, but more importantly, they found the ride to be comfortable and they liked that it was easy to drive and park.
Bottom Line: the CR-V and the HR-V have similar driving dynamics. This isn’t such an important factor in this segment, but if you like sportiness and want a crossover, we’d opt for the CR-V with the 1.5-liter turbo. This engine is also easily tuned due to the large aftermarket community for the Honda Civic. Both handle average and have average steering feel.
ALSO SEE: CVT Transmission Pros and Cons
CR-V: The CR-V has available Honda Sensing, which is Honda’s suite of Active Safety Technologies. Included in Honda Sensing is a collision mitigation braking system, forward collision warning, lane keeping assist, road departure mitigation, and adaptive cruise control. It also has an available 7-inch display audio screen (5-inches is standard) with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, two fast-charging USB ports in the back, standard remote start and other common technologies.
HR-V: The smaller HR-V is not far behind the CR-V in terms of technology. The HR-V is now available with Honda Sensing for the 2019 model year, so driver assistance features like adaptive cruise control, road departure mitigation, collision mitigation braking, lane departure warning, and forward collision warning, and lane-keep assist are available but not standard. A small 5-inch display audio system is standard on the HR-V, which at least has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but a 7-inch system is available as an upgrade. Instead of blind spot monitoring, which we think is more useful, the HR-V is available with LaneWatch, which is a camera on the right side mirror that shows you the blind spot when your right turn signal is on.
Bottom Line: The HR-V is not that far behind the CR-V in terms of technology, making it a great value. The CR-V has a bit of an edge with a few extra features, but we’re impressed by what the HR-V offers.
CR-V: the CR-V starts at $24,350 before destination for the base LX model, making it quite a bit more expensive than the HR-V. The CVT and AWD add $1,400 to the price tag as well. The 1.5-liter engine is standard in EX models and up, which start at $27,250. The range-topping model, the CR-V Touring, starts at $32,750.
HR-V: the HR-V starts at $20,520 before destination for the base LX model. The CVT and AWD add $1,400 to the price. The range-topping HR-V, the HR-V EX-L, starts at $25,320.
Bottom Line: this is where the CR-V and HR-V truly show their differences. The CR-V is quite a bit more expensive than the HR-V even in base form, even though they’re pretty equally matched in terms of features and available options. A base or mid-level CR-V might be a better deal than a well-equipped HR-V, so be sure to consider price overlap when shopping between segments.
The Verdict: Honda CR-V vs Honda HR-V
Both the Honda CR-V and HR-V are relatively popular and for good reason. We wouldn’t hesitate to recommend either of these crossovers to our friends and family.
We’d steer clear of the 1.5-liter turbocharged CR-V until Honda addresses its potential reliability problems. There are limited options available with the 2.4-liter engine, but it will prove to be the best value and most reliable right now.
As for the HR-V, it has limited powertrain offerings, which is certainly a downside, but the tiny four-pot still makes decent power, returns good fuel economy and is reasonably refined. The most important thing is that the HR-V is now available with many of the same safety features as the CR-V, so the gap between them is very small now.
If you need more space and want something reliable to get you to and from work, the CR-V with the 2.4-liter engine will be well suited to you. If you don’t need the extra room, you can save quite a bit of money by opting for the much smaller HR-V without making too much of a compromise on tech and features.