Secret sauce: Driving the all-new Honda HR-V V Turbo Honda Sensing

Secret sauce: Driving the all-new Honda HR-V V Turbo Honda Sensing

The subcompact crossover SUV segment has, for the past few years, been dominated mainly by new players. With the runaway success of the likes of the Geely Coolray, MG ZS-T and even the Changan CS35 Plus as well as the Chery Tiggo squad, others brands might have found the  secret sauce to creating the ultimate small SUV: a small displacement turbocharged engine. And they are selling quite nicely.

2022 Honda HRV Side Profile

The Honda HR-V, during its past two generations, has been a mixed bag of sorts. It was first introduced in the '90s at a time when small SUVs were still an oddity and, some may say were quite ahead of their time. After a long hiatus, it was then reintroduced a few years back and although it sold much better than the first generation could ever dream of, lacked the horses and torque under the hood to keep its throne against newer competition. 

2022 Honda HRV Rear Low

After about a year of teasing, Honda Philippines has finally unveiled the all-new 2022 HR-V and this time around, its out to show who's the boss.


According to many accounts, the Honda HR-V was designed with the Honda "H" badge in mind. Its design structure and elements are supposed to resemble the ubiquitous logo and represent the brand proudly. Proof of this anecdote can be found in the original name of the HR-V. In Japan the subcompact crossover SUV is known as the Vezel, which is a stylized word for "bezel," the one that wraps around and across the Honda Badge. 

2022 Honda HRV Alloy Wheels

To be honest, any other small and tall SUV with the proportions of the 2022 Honda HR-V can resemble the "H" badge, but it's fun to know that the bean counters and marketing teams at Honda have a sense of humor. What I do know for sure is the the third-generation Honda HR-V is meant to tug at the heartstrings of both new and hardcore Honda fans.

2022 Honda HRV Light Bar Full

The overall design of the 2022 Honda HR-V is in line with the brand's current design language for their cars. It borrows the overall design and look of both the current Honda City and Civic which is a hint for us Honda fans for what to expect with the rest of the lineup once introduced. 

2022 Honda HRV On the Road Front leaves

The hidden rear door handles returns and is carried over from the previous HR-V, but unlike its bulbous and quite frankly turtle-like profile, the 2022 Honda HR-V features a sleeker, almost fastback-like design. A sharp character line connects the front LED lights to the glorious, full light bar in the rear. I remember a time when I wished car companies would stop teasing us with reflectorized panels that connect the tail-lamps and mimic the look of a light bar, but with the advancements in design technology, more and more cars are adapting this feature and I am all for it.

2022 Honda HRV Rear Spoiler

I'm glad that Honda didn't give the subcompact crossover SUV a busy looking wheel set. Underneath the 2022 Honda HR-V lie gun-metal finished, 17-inch alloy wheels shod in impressively chunky 215/50/R17 tires. Being a crossover SUV, it also has the prerequisite black plastic cladding, and completing the look are "real" dual exhaust pipes with finishers. I have to emphasize that part as there is a trend where companies simply emulate dual exhaust ports, but in actuality are just mere "provisions" for it. None of that for Honda. Take that, everybody else!

2022 Honda HRV Easter Egg

The proof in the pudding lies in the small Easter eggs strewn across the 2022 Honda HR-V itself. Below the large protruding and quite sporty upper grill lies a blacked-out lower section with a small kink on the grille's left side that resembles a heartbeat, which marketing folks call "amp up." It shows up seemingly out of nowhere and would symbolize all the fun and surprises that await whoever gets behind the wheel. Another MCU-like easter egg can be found in the rear windshield with the 2022 Honda HR-V's silhouette in the bezels of the window as well as another heartbeat logo. 


Honda has always been on top of its interior design game, greatly due to its "Man Maximum, Machine Minimum" mantra. Every Honda vehicle I've reviewed has always put the driver's and passenger's ergonomics in the forefront of design and the 2022 Honda HR-V is no exception. 

2022 Honda HRV Steering Wheel

The small-diameter steering wheel is nice and meaty, which is an obvious nod to this generation being familiar with those classic arcade games. Every button on the wheel is expertly placed in their most ideal position, at least in my book, with the media and call buttons on the left, keeping the cruise control clickers on the right. This allows drivers to adjust the volume with their left hand on the wheel while the right hand is free to control any other part of the vehicle such as the shifter, the drive mode selection, and touchscreen.

2022 Honda HRV TOuchScreen

Right behind the tiller lies a full seven-inch screen next to the analog speedometer. The screen is customizable to any vehicle information you need at any particular time such as a classic tachometer, trip information display, setting adjustments, media, and anything related to the vehicle.

2022 Honda HRV Cockpit

The design of the dashboard resembles one uninterrupted slab of plastic, albeit nicely molded and soft to touch. Gone are the days where we got multi-layered dashboards with plastic upon plastic just  seemingly molded on top of another. Simplicity and elegance, as well as minimalism, is the name of the game, and Honda is just winning. One neat trick of the AC vents is the ability to redirect the cold air being blasted out. If the driver or front passenger feels like their hands are gettin hypothermia, they can simply give the dials on the vents a click to either redirect the air towards their shoulders or simply turn it off.

2022 Honda HRV AC Vents

Speaking of clicks, the automatic climate control HVAC dials, now shod in a nice textured metallic material, clicks quite as well. There just are things in this world that can't be replaced by a capacitive touchscreen — and control dials are among them. 

2022 Honda HRV Gauges

One thing I didn't like about past Honda infotainment systems is the lag I always felt while selecting the menu items. In an age where we have fast tablets and smartphones with stratospheric refresh rates, that just would not do. Luckily, the new eight-inch touchscreen that can sync with your phone via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is one of the most responsive units I've ever had the pleasure of swiping. This makes the 2022 Honda HR-V easier to operate and much more intuitive. The system blasts out tunes through six speakers which are nicely tuned as all modern Hondas should be.

2022 Honda HRV USB Ports

The 2022 Honda HR-V also carries over the previous generation's ULTR seats. This system allows occupants to adjust the front and rear seating to the most number of configurations than in any other car, period. Carrying tall items are a breeze when you can simply fold the bench seats up while longer items such as surfboards or your weekly dose of Ikea hauls can easily fit the length of the car. 

2022 Honda HRV Climate Control

Being able to execute this fancy trick in the 2022 Honda HR-V is neat and all but if there is one downside to the interior amenities, it's the rear seats. It is understandably small and narrow, being able to fit two and a half fully grown adults but the overall space for the rear occupants can get you quite claustrophobic. The rear windows are smaller than I wished them to be and the headroom can use some work, but it certainly is a great place to be. No complaints about space at all, but the feel of that space, might leave room for improvement.

Performance and safety

Here comes the best part. Remember what I said about the secret sauce? Many popular subcompact SUVs have adopted a small displacement, turbocharged engine that can give owners the best of both worlds: Above-average fuel economy and exciting acceleration. If only Honda had such an engine in their inventory. Why, yes they do! The very same one found in the almighty 11th-generation Civic, in fact and it drives well.

2022 Honda HRV On the Road

With 177hp and 240Nm of torque it would be easy to think that it's a capable pocket rocket, but real life is actually more nuanced than what the papers suggest. Given that we were only given a few minutes to test it out and the engine hasn't been given enough time to really stretch its legs straight out of the factory, we found that the 2022 Honda HR-V didn't seem to like being pushed hard. There are 3 driving modes in the V variant that we tried out: Econ, Normal and Sport. Sport is my personal default drive setting and while it does actively change the dynamics of the car, it seemed to be held back by an invisible hand. That leads me to two culprits, the transmission and the suspension. Take this part of the review with a huge heaping serving of salt as again; the engine hasn't been given time to break itself in.

2022 Honda HRV Leaving Tire Marks

Powering the front wheels is Honda's Continuously Variable Transmission or CVT. Unlike regular torque converter transmissions or even dual clutch types, CVTs depend on a belt than actual gears. The system determines the best and most optimal engine speed for a given situation depending on its programming and setting. While this works wonders for fuel economy, as it ensures the engine is running at peak operating condition as much as possible, one draw-back this has is in performance. In my experience with the Honda Civic, with the same engine, it didn't seem to be the case, as well as the Honda City which leads me to believe that a little bit of more break-in time is necessary for the parameters of the system to normalize. Which then leads me to my other suspect: the transmission.

2022 Honda HRV Drive Selector

Unlike the Civic or the City, the 2022 Honda HR-V rides higher with 181mm of ground clearance. With MacPherson struts up front and a torsion bar rear suspension mated to a smaller wheelbase, the HR-V was definitely spritely around the bends but body roll is still an issue. This is quite understandable due to the ground clearance and the benefit is a more comfortable overall ride. The suspension is set to be softer, and doesn't match the power offered by the engine. 

2022 Honda HRV Rear PRofile Top

I couldn't test fuel economy figures as well, which leads to the conclusion that while the 2022 Honda HR-V has the potential to be quite the banger, further testing is needed in order to give a more conclusive opinion. It is quite fun, though.


While initial performance is a mixed bag, what isn't a doubt is the amount of safety the 2022 Honda HR-V brings to the table. Honda has decided to give the small crossover SUV Honda Sensing. It's the brand's suite of both active and passive safety features to provide a much safer drive for occupants.

2022 Honda HRV Backup Camera

Apart from the standard safety features that can most likely be found in other cars such as seatbelts, six airbags, ABS, hill start assist and hill descent control, stability control, and others, Honda Sensing brings this up a notch. Features like adaptive cruise control, low speed follow, collision mitigation braking system, lane keep assist, road and lane departure warning, automatic high beam and lead car departure notification allow the 2022 Honda HR-V to become one of the safest cars in the segment.

The best part about all this is that it comes standard in all variants of the 2022 Honda HR-V.

Pricing and conclusion

With all the technological advancements in both safety and performance, not to mention a more contemporary look, it's no surprise that the 2022 Honda HR-V gets a slight price bump from the previous model. The subcompact crossover SUV starts at P1,250,000 for the entry-level S variant that, while still comes with many of the features such as Honda Sensing, the infotainment system lacks the slick bodykit, multi-information display and, more importantly, has a different engine. The S variant has a 1.5-liter naturally aspirated engine that makes a modest 120hp and 148Nm of torque which is still quite impressive. That model might deserve another look in the future.

2022 Honda HRV Front PRofile Close

As tested, the higher end V Turbo CVT trim 2022 Honda HR-V starts at P1,598,000. Much like the heartbeat Easter eggs found around the car, purchasing the top HR-V becomes an emotional decision. Logic, and customers' bank accounts, dictate that the vanilla HR-V might be a more sensible choice but models like these come but once in a lifetime.

2022 Honda HRV With RS and V Variant

The 2022 Honda HR-V V Turbo with Honda Sensing deserves a another look. It won't become the volume seller the S variant will become, but that opens up the possibilities of it becoming what the Honda Civic SiR was in the '90s, the secret sauce that everybody now wants.

Photos by Kent Flores

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Honda Car Models

  • Honda BR-V
    Honda BR-V
  • Honda Brio
    Honda Brio
  • Honda HR-V
    Honda HR-V
  • Honda City
    Honda City
  • Honda Civic
    Honda Civic
  • Honda City Hatchback
    Honda City Hatchback
  • Honda CR-V
    Honda CR-V
  • Honda Civic Type-R
    Honda Civic Type-R
Honda Cars Price

Honda HR-V Promos, DP & Monthly Installment

  • V Turbo CVT Honda Sensing DP ₱90,000 MA ₱34,027 x 60 Months ₱1.649 Million SRP View Offers
  • S CVT Honda Sensing DP ₱95,000 MA ₱28,662 x 60 Months ₱1.389 Million SRP View Offers
  • RS DP ₱135,000 MA ₱35,884 x 60 Months ₱1.739 Million SRP View Offers
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