Honda FR-V review (2004-2009) – MSN Cars UK

12 Jul 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Honda FR-V review (2004-2009) – MSN Cars UK
Honda FR-V

Honda FR-V

review (2004-2009)

Car buyers are migrating from traditional family cars in ever increasing numbers, and it’s cars like the new Honda FR-V that are picking up the sales. Compact MPVs have mushroomed in popularity since Renault introduced the Scenic, their growth hardly surprising, as these cars make such sense.

However, the Japanese can’t seem to resist coming up with a naff phrase for a new car, and Family Happiness is Honda’s for the FR-V. With three-abreast seating front and rear, that’s perhaps the case for the child sat harmoniously between their parents up front, enjoying the view, but those in the rear might feel left out as a result. Family happiness?

A slightly radical start for this new contender, then, though it is far from unique.

Most rivals have five seats and in these the rear three seats usually lift out to create a small van. The Zafira started the seven seat trend, which used to be confined to full-sized monsters like the Galaxy and Espace. Fiat beat Honda at this game by several years with its two-row, six-seat Multipla.

The interior is particularly versatile. Three abreast in any car usually means rubbing shoulders, so Honda makes the middle seats, front and rear, slide back so that shoulders are out of line. As a result all seats are very comfortable, undoubtedly aided by what is probably the best ride in any family Honda.

A car like this needs party tricks, and the FR-V doesn’t disappoint. Not using the third front seat? Flip up the front section of the cushion to reveal a useful stowage area and small table.

Or just flip the complete backrest forward to make an armrest.

The rear seats don’t come out as they do in some rivals, but it always a difficult call as to whether, in real life, this is of benefit to many. Instead the Honda’s three rear seats, oh-so-easily, flip forward and down into the footwell to reveal a massive cargo area. Seats up the luggage space is fair, though if you are carry six and their holiday luggage, you’ll need something much bigger than this Honda to cope.

Does it even matter how these things drive? Perhaps not for many buyers, but the FR-V is up there with the best. The two-litre petrol unit is impressively smooth and remarkably quiet at high speed – you get real limousine levels of refinement on a long journey.

It pulls well too, something which can’t be said of the cheaper 1.7-litre engine which needs working hard to perform.

The diesel arrives six months later; the acclaimed 2.2-litre unit from the Accord is likely to be a desirable though expensive option. What you can’t get is an automatic transmission, not now nor in the foreseeable future.

Honda FR-V

Is it for you?

The FR-V is Honda’s first foray into a popular market segment, and it’s an interesting approach. The thing about compact MPVs is their broad appeal – great for families because of the space, and also great as a lifestyle vehicle as they are so versatile if you need to carry bikes, climbing gear and ski stuff.

The issue with the Honda FR-V is it shouts FAMILY, even HAPPY FAMILY. That may turn off a group of buyers who can do without the connotations that confers. There are also issues of visibility, with the driver needing to look out of the side window as much as the windscreen twisting roads, with much head bobbing needed to see around the windscreen pillar.

The three seat configuration has also resulted in almost all the dashboard controls being out of easy reach – just the gearlever and electric mirror controls fall easily to hand. Even the front middle seat is contentious, for you need to pay particular attention to keeping the seat pushed well back if you carry children.

But it’s likely to make financial sense. Though the starting price seems high, equipment levels are comprehensive and this Honda is likely to hold its value well. There are also a coupe of packages you’d be foolish to ignore. £330 buys a 5-year service package, £1,300 3-years insurance.

Opt into these and for at least three years all you will have to do is pay for fuel.

The FR-V, as good as it is in most respects, has some compromises that prevent it getting full marks. If six seats isn’t for you, there are other compact MPVs that are, well, more compact. But it’s undoubtedly a quality product, one that makes far more sense on a school run than any 4×4 and for that reason alone it deserves to do well.

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