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2019 Honda HR-V Sport First Test: New Face, Same Heart

2019 Honda HR V Sport 022

The Honda HR-V is turning 4 years old, which means it’s time for a refresh. For 2019 Honda not only gave its subcompact crossover a face-lift but also added two new trims: Sport and Touring. Following the same naming convention as the refreshed Fit, the 2019 Honda HR-V Sport slots between the LX and EX trims, but there are no mechanical differences. With a unique look inside and outside, a youthful vibe, and better technology, the HR-V Sport is trying to get into the minds of more millennials.

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But sport is only in its name. As we found out during our First Test, the HR-V Sport still takes an eternity to get up to speed. Needing 9.6 seconds to reach 60 mph, the HR-V Sport AWD is one of the slowest in its segment, which includes the Jeep Renegade and Hyundai Kona. As in the 2016-2018 models, the 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine still produces 141 hp and 127 lb-ft of torque, and it’s mated to a CVT tranny. Although Honda offered a manual when the HR-V was first launched, all 2019 models will only be available with a CVT. The numbers at the track also reflect a sense of lethargy on the road. When you step on the gas, the engine grunts loudly—not in a good way—and it seems to work hard as it tries to gain speed. When merging on the freeway, it’s best to use the paddle shifters to downshift the transmission one or two gears to get more torque.

The Sport trim suspension is tuned a little differently from the rest of the lineup, with a stabilizer bar that’s wider in the front and narrower in the rear. Its steering is also a bit more responsive, and its all-season tires are wider than those in the rest of the HR-V lineup. If you’re thinking about getting the Sport, you’ll be pleased with the 18-inch alloy wheels, which are exclusive to this trim and provide a better profile look.

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I drove the HR-V from L.A. to San Diego and enjoyed most of the ride. Despite being slow, the HR-V is an easy commuter car. The seats are firm and comfortable, but after two and a half hours I was ready for a stretch. When the next generation arrives in about three years, I hope Honda will redesign the center console. The space where the cupholders go is shared with anything else you may put there—phone, key card, etc.—and the center armrest can’t slide forward if you have a bottle of water or soda in the cupholders. I’m also not a huge fan of the USB ports’ location under the shifter, where they’re difficult to access when you’re driving or when the car is parked.

For 2019, the HR-V got a redesigned grille, headlights, bumpers, and taillights, giving it an updated look. Inside, the Sport comes with a 7.0-inch touchscreen that’s compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and for the first time in any HR-V, there’s a volume knob. With the Sport trim, you’ll get a leather-wrapped steering wheel, sport pedals, contrast stitching, a black headliner, and gloss black trim. Honda says it has equipped all 2019 HR-Vs with better sound-deadening materials, but we didn’t notice a huge difference compared to past models.

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