2023 Honda HR-V First Look: The Smallest Honda SUV Grows Up
They grow up so fast. The 2023 Honda HR-V, the company’s smallest, most affordable SUV, enters its second generation, becoming larger, more powerful, more spacious, and better equipped—but also more expensive to own and operate.
Bigger and Better
As new generations of vehicles tend to do, the 2023 Honda HR-V has grown. Its wheelbase is 1.7 inches longer than before, much of which Honda tells us has gone to rear legroom. The vehicle overall is 9.4 inches longer, 2.6 inches wider, and fractions of an inch taller. The reason for the growth spurt is a change in platform. No longer based on the discontinued Fit hatchback, the 2023 Honda HR-V now shares a platform with the larger Civic sedan and hatchback.
As much as we liked the old Fit, the new platform is quite an upgrade. Honda is desperate for you to know it’s not the Civic platform, but a universal platform used by both the Civic and HR-V, a distinction without much of a difference and a curious point to belabor considering how much we like the Civic.
Aside from being larger, this platform also comes with a new multilink rear suspension Honda promises will increase both ride comfort and handling performance compared to the old torsion-beam setup. We think the new Civic handles great, so it bodes well for the HR-V.
Honda hasn’t said yet what the new HR-V weighs, but it would be difficult at best to build a substantially bigger car with more features and a more sophisticated rear suspension and have it weigh less. The new model’s fuel economy attests to that reasoning, as it’s dropped from 28/34/30 mpg across the board to 26/32/28 mpg city/highway-combined for front-wheel drive models and 25/30/27 mpg for all-wheel drive. Honda representatives readily admit the company traded fuel economy for greater interior space and more power.
Well, a Bit More Power
Borrowed from the Civic and now displacing 2.0 liters instead of 1.8, the 2023 Honda HR-V’s four-cylinder engine picks up 17 hp and 11 lb-ft of torque for a total of 158 hp and 138 lb-ft. Given the relatively small increases in output, the noticeable increase in size, and the slump in fuel economy, we don’t expect the new HR-V to be any quicker than the old model, which needed 9.6 seconds to reach 60 mph from a stop when equipped with the CVT automatic.
That’s another thing. The manual transmission that set the first-gen car apart is gone (well, it was gone, too, from the old model, since 2018). With either front- or all-wheel drive, your only choice is a retuned CVT Honda says is more refined and delivers the power better. Meanwhile, the optional all-wheel-drive system is mechanically the same as before but programmed to send power to the rear wheels sooner in slippery conditions.
Make It Safer
Elsewhere on the technology front, the 2023 Honda HR-V now carries the latest version of the Honda Sensing active and passive safety-tech suite as standard equipment. In addition to things like forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking, it also means every HR-V comes standard with adaptive cruise control and a lane keeping assistance system, features most companies charge extra for.
The HR-V also has more standard airbags, including new knee airbags for the front row and side airbags for the second row.
This Seems Familiar
The rest of the interior has gotten better, too. The new dashboard is a riff on the Civic’s, and we don’t mind one bit. Honda’s half-digital, half-analog instrument cluster is standard, as is a 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen with a physical volume knob and a few redundant hard buttons. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, and they go wireless if you upgrade to the 9.0-inch infotainment screen found on higher trim levels.
Below all that, Honda’s done some rearranging on the center console and armrest. Cupholders are now ahead of the shifter instead of behind, with an optional wireless charger ahead of them in a new cubby space. The pass-through and storage space below the shifter is relocated rearward under your elbow and features an easy-to-reach USB-C port on either side.
The front seats are new and quite comfortable, but they’ve forgotten their big party trick. The Magic Seat that used to lean all the way down horizontally for resting or fitting long objects is no more. Honda says not enough owners used it to justify its return.
In the back row, all the vehicle stretching has created more legroom and shoulder room, which makes the 2023 Honda HR-V noticeably more spacious for adults than before. Unfortunately, rear passengers of all ages will need to bring long cords or charge their devices before they leave home: There are no USB ports of any kind in the rear.
Although the Magic Seat is gone, there’s still more cargo space than before. Most of that extra overall length has turned up behind the rear wheels and ballooned the cargo area from 14.8 cubic feet to 24.4 cubic feet.
The Rest Is Up to You
The physical expansion has had controversial effects on the 2023 Honda HR-V’s proportions. Depending who you ask on our staff, the new model looks sleeker and sportier or hungover with a droopy butt. Good thing beauty is subjective. Whichever way you feel, you’ll find the rear door handles more easily, as they’ve reverted to their traditional location below the window instead of hidden in the black trim just aft of it. Speaking of black, the so-called Sport trim level is just a black trim appearance package.
It’s no surprise the 2023 Honda HR-V will cost a bit more. The base price has increased by $1,780 over the ’22 model, which seems reasonable for the extra space, power, and features. The first ones will hit dealer lots right about the time you read this.
|2023 Honda HR-V Specifications|
|LAYOUT||Front-engine, FWD/AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV|
|ENGINE||2.0L/158-hp/138-lb-ft DOHC 16-valve I-4|
|CURB WEIGHT||3,000-3,200 lb (MT est)|
|L x W x H||179.8 x 72.4 x 63.4-63.8 in|
|0-60 MPH||9.5 sec (MT est)|
|EPA FUEL ECON||25-26/30-32/27-28 mpg|
|EPA RANGE, COMB||N/A|
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