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2020 Honda HR-V Touring easy on fuel, great in snow

The 2020 Honda HR-V Touring. (Justin Pritchard)
The 2020 Honda HR-V Touring. - Justin Pritchard

The HR-V is the smallest AWD that Honda makes and it’s a small utility model that’s similar in many ways to its slew of competitors.

Like each of these, HR-V provides four doors, room for five, a tailgate and AWD. On-road feel? Imagine being in a small car, but higher up, with more headroom, with more ground clearance, and with more cargo space.

I call these machines small crossovers. You may call them something else.

There are a few great reasons to consider the HR-V, and a few reasons not to.

It’s great in the snow, the LED headlights are bright and vivid, the rear seating and cargo provisions are basically genius, and for some shoppers, HR-V’s brand reputation and use of a long-proven engine under the hood are big draws.

Those rear seats? Adults over about 5’11 need not apply (rear headroom is tight), but they’re fine for the kids. Those rear seats fold down, full-flat, to create a low, tall and wide cargo hold. Or, flip the seat bottoms up instead, and you’ve got floor-to-ceiling cargo room directly behind you that’s perfect for a stack of camping coolers, or the family pooch.

Still, you may have better choices if you’re after a flashy interior, maximum ride quality, turbocharged power, or full feature content bang for your (roughly) 33,000 bucks. That’s the ask on my tester — a loaded-as-she-goes HR-V Touring.

The 2020 Honda HR-V Touring. - Justin Pritchard
The 2020 Honda HR-V Touring. - Justin Pritchard

Goodies include camera-assisted lane-change, heated leather, automatic climate control and full smartphone integration, though some will be left longing for remote start, wireless Smartphone charging, or cooled seats.

Some similarly-priced competitors offer plenty more horsepower, and others (Crosstrek, Kona, CH-R) have a smoother ride on really rough roads.

I figure the HR-V’s most valuable asset is the way it feels in the snow with a good set of boots. Blizzaks on, my tester’s AWD system and ABS both felt like as though they were capitalizing in full on the extra winter bite.

Full-throttle launching in deep snow hardly slips a wheel. A full-jam emergency stop as ice and pavement pass randomly underfoot typically results in a satisfying return to stationary, in quick order, and usually in a dead-straight line with minimal fuss.

Equipped thusly, you’ve got winter driving that’s as point-and-shoot as it gets.

The 2020 Honda HR-V Touring. - Justin Pritchard
The 2020 Honda HR-V Touring. - Justin Pritchard

It’s also a good bit of fun for those drivers who enjoy a spirited spin down a favourite powdery backroad from time to time.

Not for the power, mind you. The four-cylinder loves to work (bless its soul) but it’s just not the gutsiest, even if it is plenty-snappy at around-town speeds. With 141 horsepower, it’s a good match for the economy-first driver.

Nope. The fun part is the handling, steering, and overall feel of the thing. Drive moderately and carefully, and it’s on lock-down, working with your smooth inputs toward a good solid feel and plenty of bite in the snow.

Or, dial up the speed and have a little fun. The steering is quick and snappy, and though the sporty suspension can turn in a noisy and harsh ride on very rough surfaces, it keeps the HR-V nice and lively at the tips of the driver’s fingers.

There’s a good sense of attention to the finer details of how the vehicle responds to your inputs that some drivers appreciate, and some drivers learn to.

The specs

Model: 2020 Honda HR-V Touring

Engine: 1.8L inline four, 141 horsepower

Drivetrain: AWD

Transmission: continually variable transmission (CVT)

Features: LED headlights, LaneWatch Camera, full smartphone integration, automatic lights, automatic wipers, HondaSensing safety system, touch-screen with navigation, heated leather, automatic climate control, push-button ignition

What’s hot: Easy to drive, fun to drive, easy on fuel, great in the snow, super-handy rear seating and cargo area

What’s not: not the gutsiest, rear-seat headroom is tight, rougher roads turn in a noisy ride

Price as tested: $32,800 (approx.)


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