In an effort to compete with the glut of stylish and appealing small SUVs that have flooded the market, the 2023 Honda HR-V underwent a complete overhaul. The previous generation was practical and economical, but the Hyundai Kona, Kia Seltos, and Mazda CX-30 virtually always outperformed it. It should come as no surprise that the new HR-V looks utterly different from the previous model. The new HR-V uses a 2.0-liter naturally aspirated inline-four from Honda’s compact sedan and shares its platform with the Civic.
Sadly, the second-row Magic Seat from the previous model is no longer available, making the HR-V one of the most adaptable small SUVs for hauling cargo. Honda contends that the longer and larger proportions of the latest generation make the space feel larger. With the independent rear suspension in place of the torsion beam rear suspension, ride and handling should be improved. The new model also has more advanced driver-assistance technology and upgraded infotainment features.
Honda’s smallest crossover SUV, the HR-V, sits below the venerable CR-V, Passport, and Pilot in the company’s lineup. The Honda Fit hatchback served as the basis for the HR-V’s first iteration, which debuted in North America in 2016. The smallest SUV made by Honda has changed in almost every way.
The new HR-V is roomier than the outgoing model, especially in the back seat, because it is based on the bigger Civic. Honda no longer offers its infamous Magic Seat, which allowed passengers to flip up the backs of the seats and store large objects on the floor. It’s unfortunate because the HR-V stood out from the competition with that feature.
A new generation of HR-V also means a new age of technology, and this particular model is equipped similarly to the new Civic. The EX-L has a 9-inch central screen instead of the regular 7-inch size. Both screens allow for smartphone connectivity with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, although only the EX-L supports wireless operation. You’re out of luck if you go off the usual path in an area without phone coverage because the HR-V lacks an in-built navigation system, unlike the Civic.
The 2023 HR-V’s engine is arguably the least “new” component. It has a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with no turbocharger that generates 158 horsepower and 138 lb-ft of torque. These new numbers represent increases of 17 horsepower and 11 lb-ft over the previous HR-V’s engine, but considering the model’s greater size, we had hoped for a little bit more power.
Honda positions the HR-V as an entry-level SUV model in competition with the Chevrolet Trailblazer, Mazda CX-30, Toyota Corolla Cross, and Volkswagen Taos, among others.
Performance, Engine, Transmission, and Others
The Insight and Accord hybrid powertrain was developed for the European HR-V, while the American HR-V’s 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine produces 158 horsepower. If that sounds familiar, it’s because the base engine for the Civic is the same. The HR-V accomplished a 9.4-second acceleration to 60 mph during our acceleration tests. That is more than a full second slower than the more potent Mazda CX-30 without a turbo, which has 147 hp, and two tenths slower than the Hyundai Kona.
The HR-V’s 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine lacks enthusiasm and power, but since the SUV and Civic share a base, a hybrid or a 1.5-liter turbocharged engine with 180 horsepower might be added to the roster in the future. Although front-wheel drive and a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) are now the default setups, all-wheel drive is an option on all grades. The new HR-V makes up for the old model’s lack of the silent agility we expect from Honda automobiles with a chassis adapted from the nimble Civic.
Honda HR-V: Comfort
The front seat cushions on the HR-V are quite rigid. It almost feels like you’re sitting on a wooden bench. Also surprising and disappointing, especially in our fully loaded test car, is the lack of lumbar support adjustability. The 2023 Honda HR-V is one of the few vehicles where the back seats are as comfy as the front ones. Fortunately, things improved from here.
Great ride comfort. Although it doesn’t completely filter out road imperfections. The 2023 Honda HR-V does a commendable job of softening them without becoming excessively floaty or losing body control.
The 2023 Honda HR-V does a good job of minimizing road, wind, and ambient noise, and if the engine isn’t being prodded for speed, the powertrain is also barely audible.
The cabin was easily cooled by climate control, but weirdly, no matter what setting we used, it always stayed too cold for our preferences. Perhaps it’s to make up for the absence of rear air vents, which is another blemish on the HR-V’s overall comfort rating.
Honda HR-V: Interior
Despite a few minor comfort flaws, the 2023 Honda HR-V’s interior is one of its strongest suits. For starters, the cabin is one of the roomiest in this SUV class, with plenty of space in both rows. Larger door apertures and easily accessible seat heights made it quite simple for us to enter and exit.
The new touchscreen interface from Honda, which is being incorporated into several new vehicles, is user-friendly and straightforward to get used to. All of the gauges are clearly visible and easy to use, and none of the controls on the steering wheel are awkwardly situated.
Although the driver’s seat adjustments have a relatively small range of motion, they nonetheless provide a reasonable range of motion. We appreciate being able to see clearly outside the cabin in all directions. Although Honda doesn’t offer a surround-view video system, the rearview camera does have multiple viewing angles, which is a benefit.
Honda HR-V: Technology
The HR-V is not very strong in this area. However, it’s always a great option for those who desire it. There is a reason behind forgoing a native navigation system in favor of a smartphone connection, which the HR-V does. At this pricing point, the HR-V features wireless CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, a wireless charging pad, and three USB charging ports in the front cabin. The HR-V’s audio system is likely to fall short of expectations for audiophiles as well.
Although the 2023 Honda HR-V has a vast array of driver aids, many of them are configured too conservatively. The automatic cruise control accelerates slowly and brakes abruptly, and the blind-spot warning system frequently alerts us to vehicles that we believe are too far away. They were really useless with people on board.
An SUV needs to be able to haul things, and the HR-V is among the best in its class in this regard. Due to its excellent usability and accessibility, the rear load room feels larger than its actual volume (24.4 cubic feet) would indicate. To make it easier to haul longer objects, the rear seatbacks can also be nearly flattened with the cargo floor. Additionally, installing car seats is a breeze. The vehicle offers spacious doors, ample back legroom, easily accessible top tethers, and LATCH anchors to enhance your life. One slight caveat: Since the center position lacks a top tether, front-facing car seats must be fitted in an outboard seat.
The cabin’s storage for minor goods is passable but not spectacular. The rubberized bridge pocket behind the shifter is a popular choice for charging smartphones. Additionally, the center armrest bin has good depth. Otherwise, the glovebox and door pockets are also typical in size. Honda eliminated the cool and ingenious rear flip-up seat bottoms (also known as the Magic Seat).
In combined driving, the all-wheel-drive HR-V achieves an EPA-estimated 27 mpg (25 city/30 highway), which is just a little bit less than most of its closest rivals, some of which have more potent engines. However, after putting it through our 115-mile evaluation loop, we recorded a remarkable 31.6 mpg in rather moderate traffic. This underpowered engine will be put under greater strain when there are passengers on board.
Coverage for Warranties and Maintenance
The Kona and Seltos, two competing SUVs, both come with significantly lengthier coverage agreements. The typical warranty package for Honda is rather straightforward. The Honda does not offer a two-year complimentary maintenance plan, but buyers of the HR-V will.
3 years, or 36,000 miles, are the expiration dates of the limited warranty.
Powertrain warranties are still valid for five years or 60,000 miles now.
For two years, or 24,000 miles, routine maintenance is free.
The HR-V, Honda’s smallest SUV, is known for its impressive functionality and innovative features in a compact space. And it has undergone a complete overhaul for 2023. Inside and out, it looks bigger, more elegant, and more sophisticated. The new HR-V may not be advanced enough to compete with the best models in the extra-small SUV market.