The Honda HR-V competes in the increasingly competitive small SUV segment, but Honda is hoping that the revamped 2023 HR-V will continue to win over buyers. For starters it is a lot bigger than the last generation, with a larger interior and a more powerful powertrain under the hood. Will it be able to rival, its crosstown rival, the Toyota Corolla Cross? The easy answer is yes and in many ways it’s actually the better option to choose.
The 2023 HR-V is almost 10 inches longer and 3 inches wider than the last generation. If you’re wondering how bit it looks in person, it’s length is about the same as the Civic hatchback. Speaking of the Civic, the HR-V is now based on the same platform as the Civic, instead of the older platform that was shared with the Fit.
In terms of styling, the new HR-V has a more grown up look than before with its sculpted body, traditional rear door handles and simpler grille. The last HR-V had a bit too many lines, so its great to see that Honda has smoothed out the overall look of the new HR-V.
Inside there are some big improvements that help the HR-V stand out in this entry-level class. You’ll notice that the interior does borrow many styling cues from the Civic with its minimalistic design and metal honeycomb mesh that covers the air vents. The biggest difference between the two is the center console which has a nice storage area underneath. The HR-V’s interior is wrapped in high quality materials, which makes it feel more upscale than the Corolla Cross.
In front of the driver there’s a partially digital gauge cluster with a 7-inch screen and a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system. The top spec EX-L ups the technology with its larger 9-inch screen. The base infotainment system comes standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but if you go with the EX-L you can connect wirelessly. There’s also a wireless charger and nice sounding eight-speaker audio system on the top trim level.
Moving to the rear seat, there’s another big change. The previous HR-V’s Magic Seat that was able to fold up to fit larger items on the floor has been deleted. Instead the new HR-V gets a more traditional split-folding rear seat. With the rear seats up, there’s 24.4 cubic feet of cargo space.
On the safety front, the HR-V comes standard with the Honda Sensing suite of active safety technologies, which includes automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, traffic sign recognition, automatic high beams and a rear-seat reminder.
Under the hood the HR-V borrows its engine from the Civic. It’s now powered by a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 158 horsepower and 138 pound-feet of torque, that’s mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT). That means that the new HR-V has an additional 17 hp and 11 lb-ft. more than the last HR-V’s 1.8-liter engine. But if you’re thinking that the extra power will make the HR-V more fun to drive, you’ll be disappointed. The additional weight from its bigger body means that the additional power under the hood doesn’t mean that you’ll take off from a stop faster. Just like most models in this class, the HR-V is slow to pick up speed. We really wish Honda would offer the Civic’s 1.5-liter turbo in the HR-V, which would really help.
Just like before front-wheel drive is standard, while all-wheel drive is optional. The FWD version is rated at 26 mpg city, 32 mpg highway and 28 mpg combined, while the AWD version is rated at 25/30/27 mpg. Those specs are slightly down from the last HR-V, but it’s expected considering how much bigger the 2023 HR-V is.
While the amount of power under the hood is a bit disappointing, the good news is that the new HR-V has a more refined driving experience than before. Its cabin is quiet with low levels of road and tire noise disrupting the space. The eating position is lower than before too, which makes the HR-V feel more carlike than before. The ride quality is also better thanks to its new independent rear suspension. There’s still a bit of body roll in corners, but that’s on par with its rivals.
The 2023 Honda HR-V is available in three trim levels: LX, Sport and EX-L. The base LX starts at $24,985, including destination with all-wheel drive adding an additional $1,500. All in, the EX-L with AWD is priced at a reasonable $30,195.
At the end of the day, the 2023 HR-V has grown up a bit with its larger footprint, more interior space and better driving dynamics. Can we call the HR-V exciting? No. But we can’t ignore that the HR-V will do mostly everything that buyers in this class want. It’s got plenty of room, attractive pricing and an interior that feels more premium than most other crossovers in this class.