This redesigned small SUV is more premium than ever thanks to its swanky new interior and Civic-based underpinnings.
The 2023 Honda HR-V SUV has at long last been unveiled, making its US debut on Tuesday. Thanks to its fetching new exterior, and primo interior trimmings, the new HR-V is moving up in the world.
This SUV is based on the 11th-generation Honda Civic, an excellent starting point. These sturdy, new bones have allowed the HR-V to grow out as it grew up. The vehicle is a couple inches wider than its predecessor, nearly 9 inches longer and it rolls on a wheelbase that's been stretched by 1.7 inches. Along with its new structure, there's also a new independent rear suspension that should improve both the ride and handling.
The second-gen HR-V will be offered in three trim levels: base LX, midrange Sport and fancy EX-L. Regardless of the model, this vehicle wears styling that's clean and handsome. The front end looks a bit like the old Honda CR-Z hybrid hatchback or maybe like a slightly more angular Ford Escape . That prominent grille is flanked by inlets in the front bumper that direct air around the tires for better aerodynamics.
Telling these models apart, the LX grade rolls on painted 17-inch alloy wheels and features a matte-finished grille insert. One step up, the midrange Sport trim is graced with a more aggressive grille mesh, a gloss-black rear spoiler and a chrome exhaust finisher. There's also a gunmetal metallic rear bumper add-on and 18-inch wheels. Finally, for an even more upscale look, the range-topping EX-L trim features a special gloss-black grille insert, gloss black door pillar finishers and blackened trim on the bumpers. EX-Ls also ride on gray 17-inch wheels with a machined finish.
The 2023 HR-V features just one engine: a 2.0-liter naturally aspirated inline-4 that delivers 158 horsepower and 138 pound-feet of torque, numbers we suspect will be merely adequate figures in an SUV, especially with a full load of passengers and parcels. Sadly, the Civic's lovely 1.5-liter turbo engine is not on offer here, at least not right now. Regardless, that 2.0-liter engine promises better drivability, lower emissions and greater fuel economy than the 1.8-liter I4 found in the outgoing HR-V.
A familiar continuously variable transmission is standard and can simulate traditional gearchanges so there's less engine droning. All-wheel drive is available, though curiously, hill-descent control is standard across the model lineup, even on front-drive HR-Vs, which is kind of odd.
As for fuel economy, this Honda is estimated to return 26 mpg city, 32 mpg highway and 28 mpg combined with front-wheel drive. All-wheel-drive variants will be slightly less efficient. They're expected to sticker at 25, 30 and 27, respectively.
Inside, the 2023 Honda HR-V doesn't disappoint. Almost a copy/paste of the new Civic's cabin, the dashboard is strongly horizontal and made with minimal cutlines to reduce windshield reflections. Just like in its small car counterpart, fetching honeycomb mesh runs from door to door and it looks just as nice in this application. Between the front seats, which feel soft yet supportive, is a unique -- and quite curvaceous -- center console that's nicely padded, even in the base model.
A 7-inch digital instrument cluster is standard equipment. LX and Sport models also come with a 7-inch touchscreen that supports both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, though the EX-L trim boasts of a 9-inch display that can wirelessly connect to both of those smartphone-mirroring systems. The EX-L HR-V also comes with a wireless charging pad and an eight-speaker audio system.
Reducing driver fatigue and improving safety, the Honda Sensing suite of aids is standard fare. Updated with a new wide-angle single camera that has a 100-degree field of view, this system performs better than the previous setup, which featured a radar sensor along with an optical camera. Honda Sensing includes adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow and lane-keeping assist. Beyond that, road sign recognition and traffic jam assist are new for 2023. Blind-spot monitoring is also available.
When it comes to luggage space, the new HR-V provides 24.4 cubic feet behind the rear seat, a space that has plenty of headroom and legroom for adult passenger and clever touch-sensitive reading lights. Reducing back strain, the load height is nice and low at just about 27 inches. Drop this vehicle's 60/40-split rear backrest (which results in a nearly flat floor, an awesome feature for sliding cargo right in) and the cargo hold expands to 55.1 cubes. Helping things look nice for years to come, the texture used on the lower door panels and the sides of the luggage compartment is designed to hide scratches.
With its Civic-based underpinnings, fresh exterior styling, lovely new interior and generous helping of tech, we suspect the 2023 Honda HR-V will be one of the best small utility vehicles around when it goes on sale, which is soon.
The redesigned HR-V is expected to start landing at dealerships this month. This sprightly little SUV should start at $24,895 including $1,245 in shipping and handling fees. All-in, the HR-V is expected to top out at around 30 grand and change, which ain't too shabby at all.