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Honda HR V vs. Chevrolet Trax

Comparison between Honda HR-V and Chevrolet Trax

1. Introduction

It is worth noting that prior to the release of the HR-V, Honda had a previous model called HR-V, as mentioned before. This car was marketed at a time when SUVs started becoming popular in the 90s. The five-door car was built as a recreational car with off-road capabilities and was based on the Honda Logo. Despite being known as the HR-V in Europe, Hong Kong, Indonesia, and Taiwan, in the Americas and all other markets it was known as the Honda Passport. Keep in mind this comparison will not be based on the older HR-V or Chevrolet Trax models. But instead HR-V GH1 / GH2 and Chevrolet Trax (2013 – Present) and similar market models.

On the other hand, Chevrolet Trax is a subcompact SUV built since 2012. The Chevrolet Trax has been one of Chevrolet's worldwide best-selling lines, and today it has become a popular choice among Mini SUVs. It launched in the U.S in 2015 from its early year sales success and has also been engineered outside North America, including China, Europe, and Brazil.

The Honda HR-V is a five-door mini SUV which began being produced in 1999. It was discontinued worldwide between 2006 and 2013; the North American release was between 1999 and 2006. The first generation model was a four-door higher up from the Honda Logo. It was a sales success in its first years; however, the next generation model, which was released in 2013 and is currently still in production, is an entirely different vehicle now based on the Honda Fit.

There are two vehicles in the small SUV market that seem to be selling well. The Honda HR-V and Chevrolet Trax. They are both similarly sized and priced, although they differ in a multitude of ways. The aim of this essay is to compare the two in several different categories to help you find out which is the better buy.

1.1 Overview of Honda HR-V and Chevrolet Trax

Honda HR-V and Chevrolet Trax are the two newest vehicle classes introduced by the respective car companies. Honda introduces its very first vehicle of this class in the form of HR-V. Chevrolet introduces its Chevy Trax. Both are claiming the mini SUV car class, which has rising popularity as small SUVs can be used to travel on various types of roads in Malaysia. SUVs provide extra safety and are very practical as family vehicles. Both Chevrolet and Honda claim that their cars have huge potential due to the positive response of this vehicle class in Malaysia. This comparison will help decide which of them is the best. Both cars are quite compact and fall into a nice, convenient size for city driving and parking. The one word that comes to mind when seeing these cars is cute. Both cars are built on the same platform as their sedan versions. Honda HR-V is built on the Honda Jazz Platform and the same thing happens to the new Trax with its Chevrolet Sonic. Due to this, both cars inherit hatchback-like turning radius. The two cars have three variants for the car, and 1.8 for HR-V and 1.4 for Trax is the top of the line. This comparison will use the highest specification for both cars.

1.2 Purpose of the Comparison

The key purpose of this comparison is to utilize the available reviews and information about both cars, then evaluate their strengths and weaknesses against each other. To avoid making judgments based on personal opinion, it is important to find credible, third party information (that details facts about the vehicles) which can be compared directly. Ideally, the results of this comparison can be used as a decisive factor for potential buyers who are on the fence between these two vehicles, as they can simply evaluate the sections that are most important to them. Given that both vehicles are in the same class and price range, this evaluation can also be used to possibly influence the designs and revisions of the cars in the future. This comparison can certainly provide an interesting look at two of the more popular vehicles in subcompact SUV class. It makes sense to assume that potential car buyers regard the Honda HR-V as one of the top choices in the class given Honda's reputation for great reliability and quality. Because of this, HR-V's main rival the Trax often gets overlooked so the comparison can bring to light how well the Trax actually stacks up against the class leader. This comparison focuses on the 2016 model HR-V and 2017 Trax, and should be more useful for potential buyers of those models, but can still provide a good general idea for others. (Freitas et al.2024)

2. Exterior Features

Between the two, the HR-V seems to be the more stylish of the two with the use of body cladding, optional two-tone paint, and 17-inch alloy wheels. On appearance alone, Honda's advertising of the HR-V being a "sophisticated crossover" is pretty spot on. The Trax at best is a no-frills SUV that takes on more of a traditional look. Fans of the Chevrolet Equinox will certainly find themselves right at home with the Trax.

On the flip side, the HR-V takes on the look of a traditional SUV with an aerodynamic twist. The grille and headlights are positioned high with the grille extending downward to what appears to be a skid plate. The HR-V employs the use of body cladding on the doors and a rear hatch reminiscent of the Ford Flex. One of the design features of the HR-V is its hidden rear door handles which gives it the appearance of a 2-door hatchback. Like the Trax, the HR-V also has a low ground clearance so it's definitely not intended for off-road use.

When it comes to its outer appearance, both the Chevrolet Trax and the Honda HR-V have a strikingly different look from one another. The Trax adopts Chevrolet's signature aggressive look with a more angular body and deep set details. The front consists of narrow headlights and a split grille using the upper half as the start of the hood with the Chevrolet logo on top of it. The rear has tail lights with a striking resemblance to the newer Jeep Cherokee. Despite its rugged appearance, the Trax is still meant to be driven on city streets and doesn't have a high ground clearance. Let's be honest, it's really a glorified hatchback.

2.1 Design and Styling

For a small to mid-sized crossover SUV, the Honda HR-V has always had an edgy and sporty appearance that few of its rivals can hope to match. Honda recently refreshed the HR-V, updating the headlight and grille. However, it's the new Sport trim that really helps the HR-V stand out. It brings a black honeycomb pattern to the grille, an even larger gloss black liftgate spoiler, 18-inch wheels, and special badges on the front fenders and tailgate. This gives the HR-V a much sportier look over the other trim levels. With the Toyota C-HR taking the title of the weirdest looking crossover, the HR-V still may take the title as the sportiest looking. The Chevrolet Trax has also refreshed its look with new headlight designs and grille. The Trax, however, doesn't offer different trims. The appearance of the Trax in the base LS model is equally the same in the Premier trim. The Trax has always had a more utilitarian appearance, favoring function over form. With how small it is, the Trax can almost be mistaken as a compact hatchback. The lack of any sporty appearance options does put the Trax at a disadvantage compared to the HR-V, as many buyers of this kind of vehicle do, in fact, favor form over function. In terms of exterior dimensions and proportions, both are similar in length and width. This may be due to the fact that the Trax was actually originally developed off the HR-V's older brother, the first-gen Honda Fit. The HR-V does have a longer wheelbase, and the extra length can be seen with the extended rear overhang of the vehicle. This gives the HR-V a bit more of a traditional SUV look compared to the stubbier looking Trax. Overall, the HR-V does take the edge in terms of exterior appearance. This, of course, though, is mostly subjective. (Statistics, 2023)

2.2 Dimensions and Proportions

The Chevrolet Trax is the larger and heavier of the two vehicles. It is 39 cm longer and 9 inches wider than the Honda HR-V, and has a wheelbase that is 10 inches longer. That means that the Trax has more interior and cargo space than the HR-V, but it is also more cumbersome and less fuel efficient. These differences in exterior dimensions are likely the reason that the Trax has an EPA fuel economy rating that is 6-7 mpg lower than the HR-V's rating. The HR-V is the bigger of the two vehicles when it comes to ground clearance. The base LX model has 6.3 inches of clearance compared to the base Trax with 6.2 inches, and the AWD HR-V has 7.4 inches of clearance compared to the AWD Trax with 6.9 inches. This is significant because consumers typically buy crossovers because they have more ground clearance than cars and thus are in theory better in poor weather and rough road conditions. Finally, both vehicles have a 15.8-gallon gas tank. However, at the time of writing, the HR-V has a slightly better fuel economy and thus a longer driving range. This means that all other things equal, a vehicle with better fuel economy will require less frequent gas fill-ups. This could be a selling point for the HR-V to consumers who value their time and convenience.

2.3 Lighting and Grille

The Chevrolet Trax throughout all series only come with halogen reflector type headlights. This type of headlights are not as bright and consume more power compared to Halogen projector type. All HR-V Series come with headlight on/off timer which will be very useful to prevent draining battery when the headlight was accidentally switched on/needed. For example, when the car passes through a dark tunnel or parking in a dark area. This will not be found in any series of Chevrolet Trax. The HR-V is having a clear advantage over Trax in terms of lighting features. Unfortunately there is no backlight system for the automatic transmission shifter position indicator for both HR-V and Chevrolet Trax. Step towards taillights, Trax only comes with halogen composite taillights, this again is less efficient compared to HR-V who comes with LED taillights. Chevrolet Trax is lacking in taillights improvement in this era of automotive industry. LED set a standard for modern cars nowadays. On a positive note, Trax lower series is equipped with front and rear power windows that can be operated separately and express down for driver window.

Only the HR-V VTI-S comes with front fog lights. Fog lights are designed to disperse a special kind of short and wide beam light to provide visibility during rain, snow or dust. It is actually one of the good safety options for a car in many 4-seasons countries. Unfortunately there is no raining sensor for the wiper that provides automatic wiping when it detects rain. The top of range HR-V VTI-L comes with dusk sensing headlight which will switch on the headlight when it detects dark environment and it is also equipped with an automatic dimming rear view mirror. All these are actually very useful features that will somehow be overlooked by most of the users.

The Honda HR-V comes with halogen projector headlights with auto-off feature and LED brake lights as standard. This makes very little argument among car enthusiasts on choosing headlights as they are directly associated with safety. However, still Honda HR-V headlights are more elegant compared to Chevrolet Trax, but it is less aggressive compared to Mazda CX-3. Meanwhile, the LED brake lights are more responsive and consume less power.

3. Interior Features

The HR-V's relatively versatile "Magic Seat" arrangement adds to the impressive space on offer. It allows the rear seat backs to be lowered fully, providing a low and flat load floor to carry tall items, or the seat bases can be flipped up, offering a higher load height. With the rear seats folded, the HR-V can accommodate a mountain bike or a surfboard. The HR-V offers a very comfortable driving position and excellent visibility, although its steering wheel only adjusts for rake, not reach. Except for the base LX, all HR-Vs get a 7.0-inch touchscreen-based infotainment system, with its touch interface augmented by volume and tuning knobs plus a few conventional buttons. The screen is the nerve center for the optional navigation system, and EX and higher level models support smartphone app integration for streaming audio. It's one of the better systems in this class, but we've seen better graphics and we'll admit to a preference for the more straightforward interfaces in base systems, since the single-zone automatic climate control system splits off in higher models to a system that has its own set of buttons and isn't quite so intuitive.

3.1 Cabin Space and Comfort

Petite SUVs are not some of the most spacious cars on the road, yet the HR-V and Trax rise above their competitors to offer a sizeable cabin, comfy seating, and ample moments for storage. Sliding behind the back seats to measure legroom with our 184cm (6'1") editor, the HR-V was on the money with just under two inches of space, while the Trax allowed about a half inch of kneeroom against the front seat. The HR-V's Magic Seat allows several seating configurations for carrying cargo, while the Trax's rear seats recline and both feature a 60/40 split with fold down front passenger seat. Either way, both cars provide plenty of scope for carrying gear. With regards to comfort, both marques offer tilt and telescopic steering adjustment with the Trax wheel featuring standard audio controls. High and low series models of the HR-V and Trax come with tilt and reach, audio and cruise controls mounted on the steering wheel. Both have a reasonable turning circle for city driving. However in terms of VTi grades of the HR-V, and particularly with the LS Trax, audio and cabin comfort is limited with only a four speaker audio system and manual air-conditioning.

3.2 Infotainment System and Connectivity

Infotainment system has become a crucial factor in the vehicle design and it plays a very important role in ensuring customer satisfaction. It is now a leading purchase consideration so you shouldn't be fooled by the small shiny touch screen or high-tech looking interface when you first sit in a new car. Both the Honda HR-V and Chevy Trax have a 7-inch touchscreen with their infotainment system. While the screen size is the same, there are differences in the looks and functions. Honda uses a touch panel system with volume and menu buttons on the bottom leading to an overall cleaner look. The touch screen runs Honda's Display Audio software which looks snazzy and works quickly, however there are no physical knobs or buttons. Chevy's system uses Chevrolet MyLink software and has hard keys on each side of the screen including a volume knob. There is a lot of redundant controls and the button-heavy look appears much less clean compared to Honda. Both systems come with a 6 speaker audio system, but Honda offers Pandora internet radio compatibility in addition to Bluetooth streaming and an HDMI port. This lets users have greater access to audio entertainment on their mobile device compared to Trax which only has Bluetooth connectivity. Additionally, HR-V comes with a second source USB Audio Interface even on base models allowing for integrated control and charging of iPod, and other USB audio devices. This is an alternative to connecting through the standard USB port, and is a feature that few others in the subcompact SUV segment can match. HR-V has definitely got a more versatile audio entertainment system. Both vehicles offer steering wheel-mounted audio controls and aux jack. However the audio information display in the instrument panel is a color LCD screen in HR-V compared to a standard monochrome display in Chevy. Finally, the HR-V can come with HondaLink Next Generation which is an application based platform that connects customers to vehicle specific information. This is something that Chevy does not offer.

3.3 Seating and Cargo Capacity

Chevy Trax has a seating capacity of five with multi-flex sliding and 60/40 split folding rear seats which allow increased cargo space. They can be folded to create a flat rear load floor and provide a maximum cargo space of about 48.4 cubic feet. The front passenger seat can also fold flat increasing the cargo length and ability to carry longer items up to eight feet long. The front passenger seat can also fold flat increasing the cargo length and ability to carry longer items up to eight feet long. Trax also features a dual-position cargo shelf which can divide the rear cargo area, and allows the height of the cargo area to be changed. It also offers additional storage spaces in the dash, above the center stack, and below the armrest. Whereas Honda HR-V has a 2nd Row Magic Seat which has four different modes – Utility, Long, Tall, and Refresh. In Utility mode, the Magic Seat works like a standard rear seat with adjustable headrests up for all seating positions. The seat-back can be split 60/40 or 40/60 and fold down with the headrests still in place to the seat cushion, and with the front half of the seat bottoms raised into the lift-up rear seat mode the space behind the front seats becomes a protective surface for carrying items like a bike with the front wheel removed. The rear seat mode also provides a cargo area that has a completely flat floor from the back of the rear seats to the tailgate. Finally, in Tall and Refresh mode, this allows for the 2nd-row passenger to recline and relax, and provides head clearance for someone sitting in the 2nd row and an increased space to the ceiling, and further opens up the cargo area behind the 2nd-row seats. This mode is particularly unique among compact class vehicles and helps the HR-V to optimize its fuel efficiency with a small compact exterior size while providing a large and versatile interior space. Evidently, both vehicles offer versatile seating and cargo spaces. However, HR-V has more unique and innovative features with the Magic Seat and also offers more space in virtually every mode. This could be a significant selling point for consumers who have an active lifestyle, do-it-yourselfers, seniors, and small business owners.

3.4 Interior Quality and Materials

Different from Honda, Chevrolet Trax has been using a dual cockpit design with a low position. The position of the display and other controlling tools is designed really well aligned with the driver. Chevrolet Trax has implemented some premium features like LTZ AWD trim, which gives a better standard Bose Sound System. The steering wheel has also been wrapped with leather. In terms of cargo, Chevrolet Trax has 1,365 litres of cargo space. It is more spacious when compared to HR-V.

Over viewing the materials and the quality of Honda HR-V, Honda introduces a 7-inch touch screen display with a simple and comforting system. This is being regretted by some of the customers of the Honda HR-V because nowadays people are expecting a lot from the system and technology for their vehicle. The 7-inch touch screen is felt to be less compared to other competitors. Compared to other competitors, Honda HR-V is good in quality interior with black trim and the dashboard is covered from the front of the passenger, which is really suitable for a young driver who is seeking a simple interior. The best thing about the Honda HR-V is the spacious cargo. The rear seat system called Magic Seat can be adjusted or folded to get more space in the second row, and when it is folded, it can get almost a flat floor. The second row can be folded with one single magic motion, making it effortless to watch out for the seat.

4. Performance and Handling

The Honda HR-V and Chevrolet Trax are both front-wheel drive (FWD) based crossovers, and despite the similarity in layout and utility, the two are quite different when it comes to driving dynamics and handling. The HR-V will be powered by a 1.8L 4-cylinder engine which is rated at 138 horsepower and 127 lb-ft of torque. Buyers will have a choice of front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, the latter of which adds about 100 pounds to the weight of the vehicle. This engine can be paired with either a 6-speed manual on FWD models or a continuously variable transmission on all-wheel drive models. In the case of the Chevrolet Trax, there is only one engine offering. This is a 1.4L turbocharged 4-cylinder which is rated at 138 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque and can be had with either FWD or all-wheel drive. Both of these engines are hardly powerhouses and are more oriented towards fuel efficiency. In terms of how they feel, it is often subjective and is dependent on the vehicle's curb weight, throttle mapping, and transmission tuning. In this case, the Honda HR-V provides plenty of options, and the all-wheel drive variant provides a more direct comparison to the Chevrolet Trax. The HR-V's 1.8L engine turned out to be fairly slow in our 2015 Honda HR-V AWD Long Term Tester, however, still met the needs of a vehicle this size. We experienced the Trax at the 2014 launch event and noted some concerns with its powertrain, citing throttle hesitation and significant turbo lag. This translated into some disappointing 0-60MPH times of 9.4 seconds, landing it outside of segment standards. It will be interesting to see if the 2017 model has made any changes in this regard. While the horsepower and torque figures are virtually identical, it's important to consider curb weight and other factors which are discussed later in this article. This will give a general sense of how much power each vehicle actually has and how it is utilized.

4.1 Engine Options and Power

Packed with Honda's new Earth Dreams 1.8L 4-cylinder engine and mated to the sporty and fuel-efficient continuously variable transmission (CVT), the HR-V will be providing a sector-competitive 141 horsepower and 127 lb-ft torque. It's worth mentioning at this point in time that the torque converter 5-speed automatic transmission used in base model HR-V's in some areas, unfortunately does not provide a counterpart fuel efficiency gain over the CVT and results in a 2 MPG drop in fuel economy. Industry insiders might speculate that the HR-V could receive a similar mid-lifecycle powertrain upgrade to that of the 2015 Honda Fit. This would involve fitting the HR-V with the new 1.5L turbo 4-cylinder engine. This high output and highly efficient engine would likely do wonders for the HR-V's performance and fuel economy, but pose some risk in treading on the toes of its more up-market cousin the Acura RDX.

The Trax and HR-V both house a 1.8L 4-cylinder engine and both offer customers the choice between front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive on some trim levels. The Trax has 138 horsepower and 125 lb-ft torque. The HR-V also has 138 horsepower but 127 lb-ft of torque. Both of these vehicles offer customers around 30 combined MPG on front-wheel drive models, but the Trax takes the cake for highway fuel efficiency, offering 34 MPG. Even though Honda's 1.8L engine received critical acclaim for its smooth and efficient power delivery, the Honda HR-V has decided to forgo it in favor of a more modern and far superior powertrain.

4.2 Fuel Efficiency and MPG

The Honda HR-V can be regarded as considerably more fuel efficient in comparison to the Trax. The Honda HR-Vs that come with the CVT sign and front-wheel drive have a 28 mpg city rating in the EPA, and 34 mpg on the parkway. Adding all-wheel drive simply lowers the city amount to 27 mpg; the latter, on the other hand, adds just one mpg to the highway rating. Every CVT HRV is aiming to have the best fuel economy in the SUV class, with a full 30 mpg average in conjunction with AWD, surpassing the CR-V and the larger Pilot. Unfortunately, the Trax is not as efficient as its Honda competition. The FWD versions have an EPA rating of 26 mpg city/34 mpg highway. A switch to AWD with Trax results in lower efficiency. An unbeatable 24 mpg city/23 mpg highway. The 2 mpg difference in the highway rating between the HR-V and the Trax cannot be overlooked. Considering HR-V's recent calibration, one could argue that the Honda 2018 again has an even more fuel efficient AWD vehicle in this category. The fuel efficiency ratings favor Honda in this comparison, giving it one more point and a slight advantage of 1 mpg on the road and highway for the AWD versions. The fuel economy of compact SUVs is important to customers; Honda has an advantage over Chevrolet in this area and is often a selling point.

4.3 Driving Dynamics and Handling

The Trax comes with a single powertrain choice - a 1.4L turbo 4-cylinder producing 138 horsepower, mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission (AT). Front-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive as an option. The HR-V comes with a slightly larger 1.8L 4-cylinder good for 141 hp, mated to a CVT (continuously variable transmission) which can be paired to a front wheel drivetrain - this option has a choice between normal and sport mode - or to an all-wheel drive drivetrain. Both engines allow their respective crossovers to achieve similar fuel economy ratings, of 28 MPG combined for the Trax, and 29 MPG combined for the HR-V. The 6-speed automatic in the Trax tends to hunt for gears and can create a droning noise from the engine. Many testers have found it to be unrefined. The 1.4L turbo lacks power and while it gets the job done, it is uninspiring. Similarly the HR-V is not at all a performance vehicle, but the slightly higher horsepower, less intrusive CVT and 155 lb feet of torque gives it the edge in driving feel. The Honda carries the same fuel efficiency in AWD form as it does with the FWD CVT, and achieves superior fuel economy with the FWD CVT which is rated at 31 MPG combined. Although both crossovers have mediocre acceleration, the HR-V has superior driver engagement and will feel quicker than the Trax. This is largely due to the engine and transmission combination. The CVT draws mixed reception from consumers, who claim it creates loud engine noise, but for driving enthusiasts the available sport mode with the paddle shifters (EX and EX-L Navi trims only) allows the Honda to simulate a 7 speed automatic and provide a more fun to drive experience. This is underscoring the fact, that while neither of these vehicles are built to be sports cars, the HR-V is still targeting the needs and desires of a different demographic with its small build, practicality and Honda reputation.


Freitas, S. R., Grell, G. A., Chovert, A. D., Silva Dias, M. A. F., & de Lima Nascimento, E. (2024). A Parameterization for Cloud Organization and Propagation by Evaporation‐Driven Cold Pool Edges. Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems, 16(1), e2023MS003982. wiley.com

Statistics, N. I. (2023). Northern Ireland Transport Statistics. qub.ac.uk

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