From tech companies to makers of home goods, there are plenty of businesses out there working hard to keep their finger on the pulse of America’s younger generations. Of course, automakers are no exception and are also looking to appeal to the younger demographic. Getting in good with first-time car buyers is a great way to foster brand loyalty that will last for a long time. So, Honda must have been pleased to see that the 2022 Strategic Vision New Vehicle Experience Study found that the HR-V was the most popular SUV for first-time buyers and Gen Z buyers.
Why is Honda’s subcompact SUV so appealing to younger drivers? There are plenty of factors that could answer this question. The 2024 Honda HR-V has several features that are sure to be on the wishlist for many younger drivers and first-time car buyers. Let’s dig in and look at five reasons why Gen Z drivers are deciding to get behind the wheel of the HR-V.
1. The Price is Right
You don’t have to follow the news constantly to know that young people these days are having a harder time with their finances than previous generations. While many outlets blame this on personal failings like a lack of work ethic, it’s easy to see how factors beyond the control of young people affect this situation. For example, higher education has become more expensive, saddling students with massive debt, but it is also necessary to get even an entry-level position in many workplaces.
Whatever the reasons, it’s clear that young people are looking to save money where they can. A vehicle is a big purchase that often requires financing, so it makes sense that young people are looking for a good deal when heading to the dealership. While full-size pickup trucks are the best-selling vehicles in America overall, the starting price of the popular Ford F-150 is $33,835 as of the 2023 model year. The popular compact crossover segment is more affordable, but you’ll still be looking at something around $30k. For instance, the 2024 Honda CR-V has a starting MSRP of $29,500.
If you want to save money but still want the benefits of an SUV/crossover, then the subcompact size is the way to go. Looking around the segment, you’ll find the 2023 Volkswagen Taos, with a starting MSRP of $24,155, and the 2024 Kia Seltos at $24,390. With a starting MSRP of $24,100, the 2024 HR-V fits neatly into the landscape of this affordable vehicle body style.
2. Size in the Goldilocks Zone
The HR-V’s subcompact style does more than just make it affordable to young buyers. It also represents a good balance between cargo area and maneuverability. Getting an SUV instead of a sedan gives a driver an open cargo area that can be used to store more items and bigger and bulkier cargo. Sticking with the theme of saving money, this allows you to stock up on bulk groceries or transport furniture back home without paying for delivery. And since young people tend to be more active, they can also appreciate having space to pack plenty of gear for outdoor recreation or to bring their dog to the nearest park or hiking trail.
But if a vehicle gets too big, it can be unwieldy to maneuver. All kinds of drivers can appreciate this when navigating a crowded parking lot during a busy time, but there are a few reasons why Gen Z drivers, in particular, may value a more nimble vehicle. Older Americans are more likely to be homeowners with spacious driveways to store their vehicles. Young people often share that driveway with multiple roommates or live in an apartment complex where they either have to navigate the narrow confines of a parking garage or scour the nearby streets for parallel parking spots.
The HR-V offers 24.4 cu.ft. of cargo volume with all the seats in place and up to 55.1 cu.ft. with the back row folded down. That’s plenty for everything from grocery runs to weekend getaways. But the exterior is still reasonably compact, with a length of just under fifteen feet. That’s a few inches less than the Honda Civic and definitely makes for easier street parking than mid- or full-size SUVs.
3. Convenient Tech Features
It’s so well-known that it may verge on cliché to say that young people are interested in tech features. Gen Z drivers have grown up with smartphone technology and enjoy being able to stay connected across devices. The HR-V features wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, so instead of having to switch to an onboard system for music or navigation, they can use the apps they already know and use on their smartphones. There’s also an available wireless phone charger, which comes standard on the EX-L trim, which is convenient since cables are easy to damage and even easier to lose altogether. Plus, couples or roommates who share a car can easily switch back and forth, even if one is a Mac and the other is a PC.
4. Available Luxury
While the base-level HR-V LX trim comes standard with features like automatic climate control, Honda Sensing driver assistance technology, and push-button start, there are more features to be had on higher trim levels. The HR-V Sport offers exclusive styling features like a chrome exhaust finisher and an all-black interior with orange contrast stitching, as well as luxuries like heated front seats. Up at the top, the HR-V EX-L has heated front seats as well as leather-trimmed seats, a power moonroof, two extra speakers, dual-zone climate control, a larger touchscreen, and a wireless phone charger. On top of that, there are more standard driver assistance features, like front and rear parking sensors and low-speed braking control.
While many young people are looking to cut costs, Gen Z is not a monolith, and there are plenty of drivers among them who are willing to pay extra to have a more comfortable interior. And even those buying the LX for their entry-level vehicle might look at the features on higher trim levels, hoping that when it comes time to trade their HR-V in, they’ll be able to upgrade. It’s easy to get used to a vehicle when you spend a few years driving it, so knowing that you can get luxury features in the future without switching to a whole new model is a solid selling point.
5. Brand Reputation
Gen Z drivers may have grown up in a world where “planned obsolescence” has become the norm, but that doesn’t mean they’re happy about it. Of course, young people resent wasting their money frequently re-buying appliances and clothes. But many are also climate conscious and have an even bigger issue with how flimsy products waste valuable natural resources.
As a brand, Honda has a long-standing reputation for reliability. So young people looking for a vehicle built to last are more likely to turn to Honda than other automakers. Not only does a reliable vehicle last longer so you can go a few years longer before you return to the dealership, but it’s also less likely to require costly repairs or to break down at inconvenient times. Among Honda’s lineup, the HR-V stands out as a well-priced subcompact SUV with a wide array of tech features and the ability to upgrade to a higher trim level for more comfort and convenience.