Back in the 1970s and 80s, there was a perfect car for young people starting out on their own---the compact hatchback. Everybody made 'em. Everybody bought 'em. And with good reason---they were Corollas and Civics and whatever Datsun/Nissan was calling its small car that year, but instead of a trunk, the whole back end opened up, the rear seats folded flat and you could carry stuff without driving a station wagon.
Somewhere along the line, the word "hatchback" became as uncool as the term "station wagon"---but they're actually back. They're now the smallest of the small crossover sport-utility vehicles---the Nissan Kicks, the Toyota C-HR and the Honda HR-V.
The 2019 Honda HR-V really is today's version of a Civic hatchback. Small car, low price, good gas mileage and room for five people and some things or two people and a lot of things.
You can buy the base HR-V for $20,620, but the one I drove for a week is the top-of-the-line AWD (all-wheel-drive) Touring model. The base price there is $28,540, but it comes with a lot of equipment standard---Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a 180-watt audio system, paddle shifters, 17-inch alloy wheels, Honda Sensing, a safety suite of electronic aids to avoid accidents, heated front seats, a power moonroof, keyless entry, leather-trimmed seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, an automatic-dimming rearview mirror, an eight-way power adjustable driver's seat, LED headlights with automatic on/off, HomeLink remote and navigation. All standard. In fact, there are no options.
All HR-Vs come with the same engine under the hood, a 141-horsepower, 1.8-liter VTEC four-cylinder engine. It's not fast. In fact, by contemporary standards, its 9.5 seconds from a standing start to 60 miles per hour is pretty slow, but it's quick enough to be at 65 at the top of a freeway on-ramp, it's comfortable cruising at 70 miles an hour and the fuel economy is a strong point---an EPA-estimated 26 city/31 highway.
In the back, the split-folding rear seat means you can adjust your cargo-carrying to the number of people you need to carry at the same time.
Even with the back seats upright, there's 24.3 cubic feet of space, which is about twice what you'd find in the trunk of a compact sedan. Fold both parts of the rear seat down and there's 58.8 feet. Both of those are among the best cargo capacities in this class of car.
I mentioned the leather seating surfaces and leather-wrapped steering wheel earlier---the inside of the Honda HR-V AWD Touring is a nice place to be. Even if you go for a lower trim level, the controls and gauges are clear and legible, and, as is typical in Honda products, everything is where you expect it to be and falls easily to hand, meaning you're not taking your eyes off the road.
With $1,045 destination and handling charges, the bottom line on the 2019 Honda HR-V AWD Touring was $29,585. Given that the average price of a new car this year is $36,843, the HR-V is a bargain and brings a lot of value in a small package. This is a great first new car for someone.