Honda HR-V — New engine, new tech, bigger size

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

(October 23, 2022) Honda's completely redesigned HR-V small crossover is a handsome vehicle that will look good in anyone's driveway. And it's a pleasant car to drive, whether just down the road to the store or 100 miles across country for a fall beach outing. Opt for the top trim level and it can be outfitted with most of the modern safety features available on the market today as well as a decent amount of high tech. 

Let's put the electric car conversation on the back burner for a minute and talk about the incredible number of really good and well-equipped — if you so desire to acquire all the stuff that manufactures now offer on small vehicles — small gas-engine-driven crossovers available in showrooms. Now add the 2023 HR-V to that list that includes the Hyundai Kona, Kia Seltos, Mazda CX-30, Volkswagen Taos and soon to enter the scene, the restyled Chevrolet Trax.

The 2023 HR-V is the first of the nameplate's second generation — and a big improvement over the first gen, which entered the marketplace as a 2016 model. That's not to say the original HR-V was not attractive to a lot of buyers — more than 700,000 were sold from 2016 through 2022.

Gaining nearly a foot in length, the new HR-V is noticeably larger than the original including most competitors in its class. It’s just two-inches shorter than the Honda CR-V. By comparison, the new HR-V puts a lot of distance between it and the outgoing HR-V feeling more mature with a significantly improved level of driving comfort and handling. It doesn’t just look completely new it feels like a completely different vehicle.

The HR-V begins at $24,895 in base LX trim, climbs to $26,895 in mid-level Sport, and tops out at $28,695 for the EX-L. We drove the EX-L and found it very well equipped for the nearly 30 grand cash outlay.

All HR-Vs get such standard features as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, height-adjustable driver's seat, and 7-inch touchscreen. Standard safety features — called Honda Sensing — include adaptive cruise control, lane departure mitigation, and forward collision mitigation. The Sport trim add such things as 18-inch gloss-black wheels, keyless entry, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and blindspot monitoring with cross-traffic alert.

No options are needed for the EX-L, which comes standard with such desirable equipment as leather trimmed seats, 9-inch color touchscreen, heated front seats, power drive's seat, dual climate control, remote engine start, power moonroof and all-wheel drive.

All HR-V's are motivated by a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine making 158 horsepower and 138 pound-feet of torque mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT). That's 17 more horsepower and 11 more pound feet of torque over the outgoing model, but still short of what is necessary to give the little Honda a confident feel.

While the bump in horsepower is appreciated it was also one of our main disappointments along with its unimpressive fuel economy. On the road we found the engine to struggle with acceleration getting up to speed with any sense of urgency. Major auto magazines have recorded times around 9.5 to 10.0 seconds from 0 to 60, one of the slowest in the segment.

And while EPA combined fuel economy is rated at 27 mpg for AWD our real-life driving experience recorded a best of 23 mpg combined during a week of testing. Still, we found the new HR-V to deliver a comfortable, quiet ride even over rough and uneven pavement. Handling on winding roads was confident and enjoyable, brakes sure and confident.

Inside, the HR-V is noticeably similar to the Civic including the attractive honeycomb strip across the middle of the dash that houses the air vents and a number of pleasing climate knobs. The interior is also roomier including seats with ample amounts of adjustment and comfort thanks to its overall longer length and wheelbase. Four adults of average size will find plenty of comfortable room even on longer road trips. Our EX-L trim level came with gray perforated leather seating, heated up front and eight ways to power adjust the driver’s seat.

Back-seat passengers get decent leg and head room and reasonable seat comfort. While there's three USB ports in front, there are no USB ports in the rear, cup holders are only in the door, there's no fold-down center armrest that usually includes drink holders, and no rear air vents.

All trim levels include plenty of tech starting with a seven-inch touchscreen, a Sirius XM trial subscription. Our EX-L tester upgraded to a nine-inch touchscreen, plus Qi-compatible wireless charging.  One of the highlights of the new infotainment system was the Sirius/XM readout. That's obviously not high on most reviewer's lists, but we appreciated a screen that displayed song and artist information in large letters with a very clear-looking font. It's high on our list because —with a quick glance — we get the info, which was very readable even without glasses.

Alongside the touchscreen is a seven-inch color TFT display with an analog speedometer on the right side, an information panel in the tachometer on the left, and a digital speedometer in the center. There's also a Multi Information zone presenting various alerts and info including Honda's Sensing function.

We expect fans of Honda vehicles will be pleased with the new HR-V, but we found it lacking power with disappointing fuel economy. But without breaking any new ground or offering anything not already offered by most competitors in its class it just doesn’t score any “wow” points.

2023 Honda HR-V


Base price: $24,895, as driven, $30,595
Engine: 2.0-liter 4-cylinder
Horsepower: 158 @ 6,500 rpm
Torque: 138 pound-feet @ 4,200 rpm
Transmission: Continuously variable
Drive: all-wheel
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase: 104.5 inches
Length: 179.8 inches
Curb weight: 3,159 pounds
Turning circle: 35.1 feet
Luggage capacity: 24.4 cubic feet
Cargo capacity: 55.1 cubic feet
Fuel capacity: 14 gallons (regular)
EPA rating: 25 city, 30 highway, 27 combined
Also consider: Kia Seltos, Volkswagen Taos, Toyota Corolla Cross

The Good
• Roomy seating
• Top trim level well outfitted
• Affordable price

The Bad
• No vents, center arm rest in back

The Ugly
• Slow acceleration

Jim Prueter contributed to this review.