The Honda HR-V was a mini SUV produced by the Japanese automaker Honda from 1999 until 2006, when it was discontinued. The abbreviation HR-V, according to Honda's HR-V history website, officially stands for Hi-rider Revolutionary Vehicle. The HR-V was introduced to cater for the demand for vehicles with the benefits of SUVs (in particular its bigger brother the Honda CR-V) such as increased cargo room, higher visibility, along with the maneuverability, performance and fuel economy of a smaller car. It was built on the supermini platform used by the Honda Logo, while the larger CR-V was built on the Civic platform. Known as one of the earliest low emissions vehicles (in terms of nitrogen oxides) and unique character, the HR-V is now considered one of the first original crossover SUVs.
Originally designed as the "Wild and Joyfull J-WJ" concept vehicle and exhibited at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1997, the HR-V emerged as a futuristic and lightweight cross-country vehicle in 1998. The Honda HR-V was soon put into production due to its popularity, and marketed toward a younger demographic as the "Joy Machine" in 1999. The HR-V was shipped to Europe with either a Honda D16W1 type 1.6L SOHC or a four-wheel drive SOHC VTEC Honda D16W5 type engine. An automatic continuously variable transmission gearbox was also an engine option, however, the main criticism of the HR-V was the lack of a diesel engine option. The three door versions were discontinued in 2003 and five door versions in 2006.
The Real Time 4WD system comes from the Honda CR-V and uses utilizes a Dual hydraulic Pump Rear Differential where the 4WD system is hydraulically activated when the front wheels lose traction. The HR-V also uses enhanced drive shafts and suspension. Variations were produced for Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, the Pacific Rim and for its home market of Japan. The HR-V was revised in 2002 with some exterior styling changes and a new interior. Ahead of its time in terms of design for pedestrian safety, the HR-V seats four people and includes modern safety features such as ABS brakes with EBD (electronic brakeforce distribution), dual SRS (supplemental restraint system) airbags, as well as other features such as electric mirrors, electric windows, folding rear seats, power steering, heat absorbing windows, air conditioning, front fog lights and a rear spoiler housing an LED brake light array.