Not So Small Wonder: 2023 Honda HR-V

Honda made a name for itself through two models – the compact Civic and the midsize Accord. Each model was among the top models in their respective segments for decades. But with cars giving way to utility vehicles, a host of crossovers have taken over. Among them is the Honda HR-V, the smallest of four such models, and completely redesigned for 2023.

2023 Honda HR-V front fascia
The 2023 Honda HR-V.

2023 Honda HR-V Overview

The 2023 Honda HR-V is available in three grades: LX ($24,895/$26,395); Sport ($26,895/$28,395); and EX-L ($28,695/$30,195). The first set of prices is for the front-wheel drive; the second set is for the all-wheel drive. These prices include the $1,245 delivery charge.

Now in its second generation, the latest HR-V is longer, wider, and roomier than before. Whereas the original model was built on the Honda Fit platform, this one is based on the Honda Civic, just like the Honda CR-V. However, the HR-V is a few inches shorter than the CR-V and falls under the subcompact category. The change was made because the Fit is no more. Therefore, Honda needed a new foundation to underpin the HR-V.

Incidentally, the Passport and Pilot SUVs are based on the Honda Accord. The same can be said for the Ridgeline truck and the Odyssey minivan.

Exterior Highlights

Honda made do with what they had to develop the HRV. This model is in no way a compromise. Instead, what we have here is an improved and more sophisticated vehicle than before. The hood is longer, and the HR-V sits more like a raised hatchback. Some manufacturers attempt to tame the obvious layout of a crossover in favor of a more pleasing and less anonymous design. The HR-V succeeds in that department.

Not every feature on the HR-V is exclusive to this model. Indeed, when the next-generation CR-V comes out within the next few months, certain features will be common. The taillights, for example.

2023 Honda HR-V profile

Give Honda credit for offering design detail separation between trims. All models come with a rounded and gaping grille with LED accent lighting front and back. The differences between grades include body-colored side mirrors and lug nuts on the LX along with a chrome grille. Choose the Sport model, and blacked-out touches appear, including on the door handles, lug nuts, and the grille. It is also at this level that Honda adds heated side mirrors with turn signal indicators. Choose the EX-L and this model reverts to the color coordination of the LX. This grade also receives rear privacy glass and a power moonroof with a tilt feature.

As for the wheels, the LX and EX-L have 17-inch alloy wheels, the latter with a matte finish. The Sport is dressed in 18-inch gloss black wheels.

Interior Highlights

A larger HR-V translates into more cabin space. On paper, this model seats five, but we will go with four adults or two adults and three children. The cargo space is also roomy, but it is not as versatile as before. Indeed, the previous “magic seat” is gone and the ease of carrying a bicycle inside went with it.

But the loss in versatility was replaced by a gain in improved features. The HR-V is not a budget model, at least not in looks. We were impressed with the expansive soft-touch surfaces throughout – the dashboard, door inlays, and center console. That is something typically not offered in this class or at least not across the trim range. How easy was it for Honda to conduct this? By taking the Civic’s interior and carrying it over to the HR-V. That is how.

The seats are comfortable front and back. As expected, the front row offers the most comfort. The rear seat is as well padded, but we’ll take the support of bucket seats over bench seats any day.

We laud Honda for setting the instrument panel low enough to both remain useful and for improved forward sight lines. The roof pillars are narrow too – add in the height advantage of a crossover and this Honda is a driver-pleaser.

Keyless entry with push-button start comes standard. We are happy about that as manufacturers continue to “lose” the traditional door and ignition key arrangement. Manually adjusted front seats, automatic climate control, and cloth upholstery come standard.

Heated cloth seats with orange stitching accompany the Sport model. Move up to the EX-L and this grade supplies a power-adjustable driver’s seat, dual-zone climate control, and ambient lighting. Honda also swaps out the textile seats for real hides.

2023 Honda HR-V front seats
2023 Honda HR-V rear seats

Safety Features

Under the “active safety” umbrella, the Honda Sensing bundle includes forward collision warning, lane departure warning, road departure mitigation, and a collision mitigation braking system. This bundle is standard across all three grades.

As for driver-assist technologies, the list is even more expansive, beginning with a lane-keeping assist system. Automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition, traffic jam assist, and a rear-seat reminder complete the standard features. Move up to the Sport grade and a blind-spot information system with cross-traffic alert comes in. On the EX-L level, low-speed braking control is added.

Technology Features

On the tech front, Honda supplies the HR-V with four speakers on the LX grade. This is followed by six speakers with the Sport and eight speakers with the EX-L. Three USB ports, Bluetooth, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay come standard. HD Radio, SiriusXM satellite radio, and a wireless phone charger are exclusive to the EX-L grade.

Honda equips the LX and Sport grades with a 7-inch touchscreen display. A 9-inch screen goes with the EX-L model. The display is easy to reach, simple to use, and responsive.

2023 Honda HR-V technology

Powertrain Choices

Honda supplies one powertrain combination with the HR-V. A 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is paired with a continuously variable transmission. This engine makes 158 horsepower and 138 pound-feet of torque.

The HR-V is not rated to tow. On the fuel economy front, the HR-V makes an EPA-estimated 26/32/28 mpg city/highway/combined with front-wheel drive. Choose all-wheel drive and the numbers come in at 25/30/27 mpg.

Driving Highlights

Be prepared to be underwhelmed with the Honda HRV. It succeeds at its mission, which is to deliver an efficient model with no better-than-average power on tap. But that is not unusual for this segment as most competing models such as the Nissan Rogue Sport, Toyota C-HR, and Kia Seltos also supply no better than average power.

And why is that? Because these models were created with value in mind. Just as cars once fulfilled that mission. Yes, the Honda Fit was a proper example in its day. But that model is gone. And the HR-V is now Honda’s low-cost leader.

The HR-V moves at a leisurely pace, with a gradual run-up to highway speed. Once on the highway, it labors to pass, particularly under hard acceleration. And under these same conditions, the engine whines, then eventually eases as the CVT seems to release its grip. In any case, the engine seems almost exhausted after a vigorous workout.

We do give the HR-V credit, though, for supplying engaging steering with decent feedback. The HR-V tracks well and manages the twisties like a champion and does not flag when cornering. We are not suggesting off-road use for this model, but on uneven surfaces including gravel and sandy roads, it stays poised.

2023 Honda HR-V rear

Our Recommendation

We are pleased with how Honda designed and engineered the 2023 HR-V. The new model is more attractive and comfortable, although we are disappointed the “magic seat” did not make the cut.

We like the Sport model for its handsome trim and improved amenities over the base LX. The powertrain is not snappy and that is something to consider if you place a premium on the driving experience. But for people needing an entry-level model that is also dependable, the Honda HR-V rates high in our assessment.

2023 Honda HR-V Specifications

Honda 2023 HR-V
Segment Subcompact SUV
Price Range $23,650 to $28,950
Destination Charge $1,245
Standard Engine 2.0-liter I4
Horsepower 158 hp @ 6,500 rpm
Torque (lb.-ft.) 138 lb.-ft. @ 4,200 rpm
Transmission continuously variable
Seating 5
Curb Weight (pounds) 3,706
Wheelbase (inches) 104.5
Length (inches) 179.8
Width (inches) 72.4
Height (inches) 63.4 to 63.8
Headroom (f,r…inches) 39.4/38.0
Legroom (f,r…inches) 41.9, 37.7
Shoulder room (f,r…inches) 56.6, 55.2
Hip room (f,r…inches) 54.0, 47.4
Cargo Storage 24.4/55.1
Gross vehicle weight (pounds) NR
Towing (pounds) Not Recommended
Payload (pounds) NR
Fuel regular
Fuel Tank (gallons) 14.0
EPA Fuel MPG (city/highway/combined) 26/32/28; 25/30/27
Manufacturing Plant Celaya, Mexico

Specifications supplied by the manufacturer. Compiled by Tom Keegan.

See AlsoAbout the 2023 Honda HR-V Crossover

Photos copyright Stumpwater Media Group, LLC. All rights reserved.

Matt Keegan
Author: Matthew Keegan
Matt Keegan is a journalist, media professional, and owner of this website. He has an extensive writing background and has covered the automotive sector continuously since 2004. When not driving and evaluating new vehicles, Matt enjoys spending his time outdoors.

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