A mix of practicality and affordability, the Toyota C-HR and Honda HR-V are a competitive match-up in a red-hot subcompact crossover segment.
The subcompact crossover segment has exploded over the past five years, with nearly every major automotive manufacturer offering some version of these micro-sized SUVs, typically in place of the more traditional compact car. The Toyota C-HR and Honda HR-V fill that role for their respective companies’ lineups. Neither move the kinds of numbers that say the Honda Accord or Toyota RAV4 do, but then, they really weren’t expected to. In many ways, the C-HR and HR-V are exercises in customer retention for their brands. Buyers at the lower end of the market can still find a vehicle with the higher seating position and hatchback-like utility without having to jump ship for a Kia.
And in that role, the Honda HR-V and Toyota C-HR do a decent job. So, if reliability and low depreciation are high on your list when shopping a subcompact crossover, either of these two will serve you well. Despite their similarities, however, the C-HR and HR-V do contrast in specific areas. Below we’ll highlight these differences and help you make an informed choice between the Toyota C-HR and Honda HR-V.
The Honda HR-V features a 1.8L four-cylinder making 141 horsepower and 127 lb.-ft. of torque. This comes paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) and comes standard in front-wheel drive, with all -wheel drive optional. The HR-V gets 28 city and 34 highway mpg. That figure drops slightly for the AWD model, which gets 28/31 mpg.
The Toyota C-HR is similarly equipped. It runs a 2.0L four-cylinder putting up 144 horsepower and 139 lb.-ft. of torque. It too comes with a CVT but skips the AWD option. Fuel economy for the C-HR comes in at 27 city and 31 highway mpg.
The Honda HR-V, like much of the subcompact crossover segment, is primarily a point A to point B vehicle. In that role, the HR-V is perfectly adequate. The 1.8L engine is its weakest link, making the HR-V feel decidedly underpowered in highway passing situations. Thankfully, the handling is better, with nicely weighted and accurate steering. The suspension is fine on pavement but tends to jostle on rougher road surfaces and body-roll is more pronounced than in the C-HR.
The Toyota C-HR is also a sedate accelerator, with a zero to 60 run of roughly 10 seconds. Handling is superior to that of the HR-V, if only incrementally. The C-HR’s steering is responsive, and body-roll is muted in cornering. The ride is fairly smooth, thought eh C-HR can be upset by larger bumps and potholes. The C-HR foregoing all-wheel drive is a little disappointment, but there’s a question whether buyers would even be cross shopping the C-HR against segment leaders like the Jeep Renegade and Subaru Crosstrek. Which feature significantly different (and more expensive) approaches to the subcompact crossover.
In all, the Toyota C-HR ends up the slight favorite when it comes to driving experience thanks to its more settled personality.
Interior is where these two subcompacts really start to differentiate themselves. The Honda HR-V’s cabin is fairly high quality with a smart and ergonomic design that thankfully still incorporates buttons and dials for the HVAC and other controls. There are some sizable swathes of hard plastic, but such cost savings are to be expected at this price point. A 60/40 splitting rear seat adds to the practicality and comes complete with Honda’s Magic Seat functionality that allows you to fold up the seat bottoms for extra vertical space.
The Toyota C-HR’s rather radical exterior looks are complimented by a stylish and functional interior. Here too materials tend to be of decent quality, albeit with hard plastic dominating the door cards, upper dash, and transmission tunnel. Like the HR-V, the C-HR’s seats aren’t better than okay, with other brands like Subaru and Hyundai providing better cushioning for long drives.
Compared to the Toyota C-HR, the Honda HR-V offers a much more spacious interior for both passengers and cargo. Rear legroom measures a generous 39.3 inches in the Honda while the Toyota lags far behind at just 31.7 inches. The story is the same when it comes to cargo capacity, with the HR-V ranks among the best in the segment boasting 23.2-24.3-cu. in. behind the rear seats and 55.9-58.8-cu. in. with the rear seats folded down. The C-HR comes in as one of the segment’s most cramped and measures just 19.1-cu. in. behind the rear seats and 37-cu. in. with them folded down.
Both vehicles look and feel good inside, but when it comes to practical space, the Toyota is a bit embarrassing.
The Honda HR-V skimps on features in its base LX trim, including on the standard safety features.
LX ($21,420) – Bluetooth, USB port, 5-inch dash display, 60/40 splitting rear seat, and rearview backup camera.
Sport ($23,370) – 7-inch touchscreen display, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, Pandora, fog lights, and leather wrapped steering wheel.
EX ($24,640) – Satellite and HD radio, push-button start, moonroof, heated front seats, and a 6-speaker stereo. It’s here that Honda offers most of the typical safety features like land departure warning, lane keep assist, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and adaptive cruise control. Oddly, Honda drops the leather steering wheel from this trim.
EX-L ($26,220) – Adds back that leather steering wheel along with leather upholstery.
The Toyota C-HR is much more generous with its standard features, both in entertainment and safety technology.
LE ($21,445) – 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Amazon Alexa, Bluetooth, USB port, Wi-Fi hotspot, dual-zone climate control, and LED headlights. Standard safety equipment includes lane departure warning, rearview camera, automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, and forward collision warning.
XLE ($23,580) – proximity keyless entry, push-button start, leather steering wheel, and both blind spot detection and rear cross-traffic alerts.
Nightshade Edition ($24,345) – Adds black exterior accenting.
Limited ($26,600) – 8-way power adjustable driver’s seat, heated front seats, and leather upholstery.
The Honda HR-V and Toyota C-HR match up quite closely. The C-HR probably looks the most stylish of the two, while the HR-V wins when it comes to usable space. But perhaps the most important factor when comparing them comes down to price.
If you’re serious about sticking to the base model, the Toyota C-HR offers a lot more standard features, including better entertainment tech and more of those highly desirable safety features. However, if you’re price ceiling is closer to that $25,000 mark, then the Honda becomes the favored vehicle thanks to the more spacious and practical cabin. Overall, the Honda HR-V wins this comparison, but not my much.
In truth, neither the HR-V nor the C-HR end up having much over the comparably priced compact cars from their respective makers. The Honda Accord and Toyota Corolla deliver better rides, better interiors, and overall better quality in comparison to their subcompact counterparts. Unless the unique loading options of a crossover or their higher driving positions are a huge deal to you, make sure to consider the sedans in your search as well.