You won’t be able to pick the 2021 Honda HR-V from a 2020 or 2019 model from the outside. Nope, it still looks identical to the facelifted model launched late in 2018.

But there has been an important change to Honda’s small SUV. It’s on the inside. And it involves the touch screen. We’ll get to it soon, but first we need to consider the market in which the HR-V competes.

It’s up against rivals like the VW T-Cross – you can see how it fared in our comparison here – and it also competes with the all-new Nissan Juke, still-very-new Kia Seltos and the just-updated Skoda Karoq. All of those cars are either new-generation models, or within a few years of their local launches.

The Honda HR-V? Well, it first debuted here way back in 2014. So it’s old. Like, really old for a small SUV. The only cars older than it in its segment are the Nissan Qashqai and Mitsubishi ASX.

That means it is starting to feel its age. Has this latest update – which adds a little bit of youthful tech to the package – given it the Botox it needs right now?

Prices are up across the HR-V range for 2021 – every model is at least $500 more expensive than the 2020 model it replaces.

There are still four variants to choose from: VTi ($25,490 MSRP – up $500); VTi-S ($29,140 MSRP – up $1150); RS ($32,490 MSRP – up $500); VTi-LX ($35,740 MSRP – up $1150).

You can read our earlier coverage if you want a detailed list of standard equipment across the Honda HR-V line-up, but the RS is the variant this review is focusing on, so let’s look at what you get for your money.

The RS has a unique styling pack with 18-inch alloy wheels (more on that below), plus it has standard LED headlights with LED daytime running lights, LED fog lights, LED tail-lights, keyless entry with push-button start, rear privacy glass, RS badges, auto rain sensing wipers and auto headlights.

The interior scores leather seat trim with manually adjustable front seats, front seat heating, single-zone climate control, leather steering wheel with paddle shifters, black headlining, sports pedals and – only in the RS – variable gear ratio steering. More on that in the driving section.

The big change in the 2021 HR-V is the 7.0-inch touchscreen media system, which is the same size as before, but not offers owners smartphone mirroring tech. That means you get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, though the existing sat nav has been dumped. And in the VTi-S, RS and VTi-LX you still get Honda’s LaneWatch blind spot camera system. Read more about the safety inclusions and shortfalls in the section below.

Do colours (or colors) matter to you? Sadly we don’t get the nice green, purple and brown options that other markets have. And the good news about paint choices is that no colour will cost you any extra money.

There are quite a few to choose, including: Passion Red Pearlescent, Brilliant Sporty Blue Metallic, Taffeta White (only on VTi), Platinum White Pearlescent, Lunar Silver Metallic (as seen here), Modern Steel Metallic grey, and Crystal Black Metallic (not available on VTi). Buying the RS model? You can choose Phoenix Orange Pearlescent, but that hue isn’t available on any other grade.

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