It’s like a brand-new vehicle, totally redesigned inside and out and sitting on the most recent Civic platform. Meet the 2023 Honda HR-V, which is placed a notch right below the bestseller CR-V. The subcompact SUV gains a fresh and more powerful engine and substantial increases in wheelbase (1.7 inches), length (8.7 inches) and width (2.6 inches). Plus, the front and rear tracks are wider by 2.0 and 2.5 inches, respectively.
Available in front-wheel or all-wheel drive, this year’s HR-V gets a 2.0-liter (from 1.8) 4-cylinder engine packing 158 horsepower (up 17) at 6,500 rpm and 138 pounds-feet (up 11) of torque at 4,200 rpm. It is mated to an updated but still noisy continuous variable transmission. However, the MacPherson strut front and multilink rear suspension is up to the task of smoothing rough surfaces on the road. The dual-pinion assist electric power steering is direct and accurate, making it easy to place the five-seater in corners.
Sitting on the unit-body structure is the traditional H emblem, surrounded by wide-set LED headlights and a larger gloss-black honeycomb grille and trim on front bumpers, while the rear has LED tail lamps too and a spoiler. Space is plentiful in the airy interior with 97.3 cubic feet of passenger volume and 55.1 cubic feet with the 60/40 second-row seat. Step inside and the two rounded 140-mph speedometer and tachometer clusters with the driver information center draw attention. So does the metal honeycomb mesh that stretches across the dash, hiding silver-accented air vents. Save fuel by switching to econ from normal mode (snow is available). Other standard niceties include dual auto AC, 9-inch touch screen, leather on the seats, shifter knob and tilt/telescopic steering column, center storage bin, wireless phone charger pad, push-button start, eight-way power driver seat, 12-volt power outlet in cargo and power/tilt moonroof. What’s missing is a built-in nav system.
Dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag with rollover sensor, front knee airbags, vehicle stability assist, traction control, four-wheel antilock brakes with electronic brake distribution, hill-start assist and distance control, blind-spot info with rear cross-traffic monitor, rearview camera, side-impact door beams, front-seat active head restraints, electric parking brake, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights are standard. Adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation brake, lane-keep assist and more come at no cost with Honda Sensing.
Priced just right with a spacious cabin and impressive gas-sipping numbers, the HR-V is worth a test drive for a new driver in the family. However, an even greater power boost and a quieter transmission could make this baby SUV a huge moneymaker. Just like its big brother, CR-V.