It’s hard not to notice the trends. Automakers are moving away from sedan production to focus more on SUV and electric vehicle rollouts. With that territory comes the inevitable question: what is going to replace the sedan? Honda has an answer in the all-new 2023 Honda HR-V.
The HR-V, which first came to American dealerships in 2015, is based on the same platform that the famous Honda Fit, that roomy little hatchback, sits on. That essentially makes the HR-V a micro-SUV, or subcompact, as the industry says. Subcompact SUVs are essentially sedans on steroids. They are beefed up just enough to give the appearance of an SUV but still small enough to provide sedan-like ride quality and fuel economy. The HR-V is special in that sense because it was one of the first subcompacts on the market. Other brands like the Ford EcoSport and Toyota C-HR exist partly thanks to Honda.
The HR-V has seen a complete redesign for 2023, giving it a head-turning makeover. Not only has it gotten a complete makeover inside and out, but there are now more features available on the HR-V than ever before. We’re excited to take you on a tour of this plucky little SUV and show you some of its best qualities.
In a market as competitive and fickle as that of the SUV, you really want your new entry into the field to stand out. That’s what Honda has done with the 2023 HR-V. From the ground up, Honda has completely redesigned both the exterior and interior of the HR-V, creating an elegant and intelligent design that mirrors that of the new Civic.
Anyone who remembers the first iteration of the American market HR-V will remember it looking physically sharp and angular to a fault. Honda has ditched that concept entirely to create a sophisticated, albeit conservative, profile that makes one stop to give another look. A profile view of the HR-V doesn’t particularly distinguish it from other subcompact SUVs; however, Honda's use of “laser brazing” joining technology allows the roofline to seamlessly flow into the side panels, creating an attractive, continuous look.
It’s the front, though, that has received the most attention where restyling is concerned. The centerpiece is the honeycomb grille, which strikes a far more impressive image than the horizontal grille of the previous generation. The headlamps are still angled, but it's a gentle angle that flows down the hood, bringing your eyes to the attention of the Honda emblem seated perfectly in the middle of the upper grille.
The interior of the 2023 HR-V blends modern style with comfort and convenience. An ergonomic, 3-spoke steering wheel greets you with all the conventional controls at your disposal, such as volume control, Bluetooth access, and cruise control functions. Behind the steering wheel is the 7'' Driver Interface System, where the speedometer and tachometer live, along with a mileage tracker, digital speed gauge, tire pressure warning light, etc. The HR-V can accommodate 5 passengers and has a 60/40 rear folding seat that offers a maximum cargo capacity of 55.1 cu.ft.
Affordability is an important factor when looking into subcompact SUVs, as they are meant to compete with the affordable sedan market. Luckily, no trim level of the HR-V exceeds a price tag of $30,000.[a] However, despite the seemingly low price tag, there are noticeable upgrades to the interior and technologies with each upgraded trim level.
The LX is the base trim level for the 2023 Honda HR-V. On the exterior, you get 17" Alloy Wheels, LED brake lights, a roofline spoiler, and body-colored power side mirrors. Inside, basic cloth trimmed seats, automatic climate control, and a 4-speaker 180-watt audio system. For infotainment, you get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, Bluetooth, a 7" touchscreen audio display, push-button start, and front and center console USB ports.
The Sport trim is next up on the trim line. The exterior ramps up for the Sport trim, with a gloss black grille, chrome exhaust finisher, 18" gloss black wheels, rear privacy glass, and gloss black exclusive Sport badging. Inside, the all-black cloth interior gets an extra zap of color with bright orange stitching and a long honeycomb dashboard to complete the inner sporty look. Other upgrades include heated front seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear shifter, remote engine start, push-button ignition, 6-speaker 180-watt audio system, and Smart Entry with Walk Away Auto Lock.
The EX-L, at the top of the trim line, looks the same as the LX on the outside, save for the EX-L badge on the rear of the vehicle. It's inside where the EX-L shows off its high-end nature. The biggest upgrade is a complete leather interior, with heated captain's chairs, an 8-way power adjustment for the driver, and a one-touch moonroof. The steering wheel is wrapped in leather, and the cabin has Dual-Zone Automatic Climate Control. An 8-speaker 180-watt audio system is mated to a 9" touch screen audio display. Other tech features include a wireless phone charging pad, remote engine start, push-button ignition, and Smart Entry with Walk Away Auto Lock.
The engine options for subcompact SUVs are very important as they dictate the fuel economy of the vehicle. They are also matched with the drivetrain, which in the case of the HR-V, is available with real-time AWD.
The engine powering all HR-V trim levels is a 2.0L Inline 4-cylinder producing 158 hp and 138 lb-ft of torque. The standard drivetrain is a front-wheel drive (FWD) system mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT), with an EPA-estimated fuel economy rating of 26 MPG in the city and 32 MPG on the highway.[b] All-wheel drive (AWD) is available with a CVT and brings the EPA-estimated fuel economy ratings to 25 MPG in the city and 30 MPG on the highway.[b]
Depending on where you live in the Atlanta area will likely dictate whether or not you spring for the optional AWD or stick with the standard FWD. If you’re a city dweller or suburbanite, FWD will be your drivetrain of choice. Should you live in an area of Georgia where you have to deal with backroads, AWD is looking like the better option for you.
Now, what comes with the AWD system? Well, the Real Time AWD is a system developed by Honda that uses an array of sensors to analyze the road situation and send the right amount of power to the wheels accordingly. For example, if you’re entering a slippery situation and the system senses that the rear wheels are about to spin out, it will send more power to the rear wheels to allow for better traction and less slippage.
Snow mode is also an available feature for both AWD and FWD HR-Vs. It helps minimize spinouts by starting the automatic transmission in second gear, offering smoother acceleration and more grip. Pedal feel sensitivity is also reduced, allowing for more peace of mind when accelerating. Hill Descent Control also comes in handy when facing a tricky descent where you don’t want to speed up accidentally. Hill Descent Control controls your braking so you can focus on the road ahead.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t discuss Honda’s safety suite: Honda Sensing. Available across the HR-V lineup, safety is no joke with Honda. All vehicles are outfitted with either the full suite or a standard amount therein.
Honda Sensing safety technologies include the Collision Mitigation Braking System, Road Departure Mitigation System, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keeping Assist, Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning, Traffic Jam Assist, and the Traffic Sign Recognition System. Honda also has available a suite of additional driver-assist technologies, which include: Auto High-Beam Headlights, Rear Seat Reminder, Blind Spot Monitoring, and Low-Speed Brake Control (only available on Elite).
Honda also includes what they like to call Active and Passive Safety systems. Active Safety includes: a Multi-Angle Rearview Camera with dynamic guidelines, Vehicle Stability Assist, Anti-Lock Brakes, Electronic Brake Distribution, LED Daytime Running Lights, and a Tire Pressure Monitoring System. Passive Safety is the stuff you don’t think about, such as front, side, knee, and curtain airbags, 3-point seatbelts, LATCH tethers for children, seat belt reminders for all passenger positions, and rear child safety locks.