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Modern Living

A drive back to the future

MISS TECH - Kathy Moran - The Philippine Star
A drive back to the future
The Christmas gift: Author Kathy Moran + the Honda HR-V = happiness. (Right) Feels like home: The warm and comfortable interiors of the Honda HR
STAR/ File

As I get older, I realize that there are not too many things I look forward to during the holidays. Last year, with the pandemic seeming to give us a break, the traffic was “back to normal” as the Christmas season rolled around; i.e. it was horrendous.

But, as the break came around, I was given a treat in a test drive. A drive, no matter the road conditions, is always a welcome gift for me. The chance to drive around in the metro and close by the provinces to breathe fresh air is cherished.

My Christmas gift came as a drive in a Honda HR-V.

Blast from the past

When Honda last introduced the HR-V in 2018, it was described as a vehicle that was  “modern and sporty with advanced technology features and a capable crossover with flexible utility and convenience elements.”

So, as I took the HR-V for a spin, I put myself back two years — not a bad thing since I would like to reclaim the two years that this pandemic has taken away from me.

At the front, features such as a newly designed front bumper, front grille and full LED headlights with Integrated Day Time Running Lights give the HR-V a signature yet familiar Honda front fascia.

At the back, new LED Guide Type Tail Lamps lend a more futuristic styling, which not only gives it an up-to-date look but also makes it more visible on the road. Complementing this design is the new 17-inch Sport Black Alloy Wheels, which give the vehicle a more aggressive stance and presence on the road.

It was fun taking a step back and looking at the features that were new before COVID-19 changed our lives forever.

As I stepped into the HR-V, keeping 2018 in mind, I liked that this new model has a high center console, which gives the driver and passenger that sports car-like feel. The HR-V comes with a 7-inch Touch Screen System, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for a more intuitive smartphone — infotainment connectivity.

It is also equipped with ULT (Utility, Long, Tall) seats that have three different adjustment modes, allowing customers to have flexible seat configurations that can be adjusted depending on the customer’s needs.

Drive on

The way an SUV looks always makes me happy because it has the aura of a vehicle that can be driven anywhere. But the engine and how it performs are essential. It is equipped with a 1.8 Liter SOHC i-VTEC engine mated to a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) developed based on Honda’s Earth Dreams Technology. The engine and transmission provide responsive performance, acceleration and improved fuel efficiency. Honda’s Eco Assist System, which consists of the ECON mode and Eco-Coaching Ambient Light, helps encourage fuel-efficient driving.

Metro traffic conditions notwithstanding, I had fun driving the HR-V through the streets of the metro during the holidays. Happiness is a choice and every time I enter a vehicle, I choose happiness.

I was a happy camper when I got into the HR-V to drive to nearby Laguna and back to Manila.

As I drove towards the SLEX I was relaxed and though I could see the traffic building up in the Taguig area, my coolness did not waver. It is always an experience for me to be behind the wheel of a comfortable HR-V.

I have always liked the way the HR-V looks and handles since I was able to drive it in the past. This third generation of Honda’s HR-V SUV started out back in 1998 as a super-cool, three-door soft-roader for the fun crowd. It went quiet for a few years then came back as a slightly more conventional crossover.

This third version comes with a look that aims for clean, simple lines and a silhouette of a coupe (the trend in 2018 for small SUVs).

What’s immediately surprising as you approach the new HR-V is that it doesn’t look as big and SUV-ish.  

As I drive I feel the hominess of the interiors. I like that there are nice little touches in the cabin, like the L-shaped “diffuser” air vents that avoid blowing air right into your face by creating instead a “gentle breeze” along the side windows. The power tailgate (midrange upwards) is also useful, opening up to a wide, accessible boot.

The HR-V provides a lot of driving comfort. The steering wheel falls right into your hands, and the seats (at least the front ones) cradle the back and bum in all the right ways. The gauges present all the pertinent information clearly and concisely. Perhaps the only two exceptions to the ergonomic soundness are the touch-panel climate control and the Kenwood infotainment system.

The drive to Laguna down the SLEX was smooth and easy, as I left the traffic of the city streets behind. On the SLEX it was all green and go.

The HR-V is so reliable, like driving with the most reliable employee on your staff — if I had a staff, that is.

But that is what a drive in the HR-V feels like — like I could relax behind the wheel because I was sure all else was taken care of by the smooth 1.8 L engine and I could just think about life.

There is nothing more comfortable than being behind the wheel of a vehicle that you can trust to take on any road, for that is the purpose of the drive: never the destination, but the ride.

To ensure the highest level of safety and confidence, the HR-V was equipped with advanced and class-leading safety features, namely the Electronic Parking Brake (EPB) with Auto Brake Hold, Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and Driver and Front Passenger SRS Airbags, Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) and Hill Start Assist (HSA).

The 1.8 RS Navi CVT variant will have additional Side Airbags for added protection for the passengers. 

What’s the verdict?

Honda’s new HR-V is a great all-around package with some thoughtful touches.

The HR-V was a mature and sensible addition to the crossover landscape. Honda has added some thoughtful touches to the car without “extra” gimmicks.

I like that the Honda HR-V remains a reliable drive. As I look back to 2018 in the cockpit of the HR-V, I remember the many happy moments of a free-from-lockdown life — and that is how the drive in the Honda HR-V was.

HONDA SLEX
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