The 2023 Honda HR-V Looks Like A Reasonably Nice Way To Leave One Place And Arrive Somewhere Else

2023 Honda Hr V Sport

Greetings fellow youths, how do you do? Would you like an angry-looking subcompact crossover good for carrying things and going places? Sure you do! Say hello to the new 2023 Honda HR-V, it’s a lot like a Civic but bigger. Mark my words, you’re gonna see these things absolutely everywhere no matter your demographic.

2023 Honda HR-V EX-L
Photo credit: Honda

From the front, the new HR-V looks decidedly unimpressed, like it loathes the concept of being a vehicle. It’s seething with contempt for its purpose – schlepping Lack coffee tables home from IKEA after its owner’s housemate had a Marinara disaster. It know the chances of receiving an ugly state-mandated front license plate and approaches such a possible fate with a cynicism usually reserved for deeply disappointed optimists. Things get a bit better around the side – think five-eighths-scale Acura MDX if someone didn’t quite nail the scaling on the vertical axis.

2023 Honda HR-V EX-L
Photo credit: Honda

While the HR-V’s profile styling is quite agreeable, things get worse as your eyes wander toward the ground. Is it just me, or are the wheel designs on this thing quite dreadful? The Sport trim drowns its wheel design in a bath of black paint, while the EX-L’s convex five-spoke design with five thin machined strips look downright sad. Those EX-L wheels just make the HR-V look like a water buffalo on roller skates. I’m not saying that better wheels would transform this into a fabulously sharp vehicle, but come on. Thankfully, things tidy up nicely out back.

2023 Honda HR-V EX-L
Photo credit: Honda

Ah yes. See that unadorned panel between the tail lights? That’s quite neat. Clean and minimalist, a breath of actual air in today’s sea of overstyled cars. The HR-V’s tail lights themselves are also quite good, a fun bit of nostalgia for the aughts. Altezza-style tail lights that are actually pleasant instead of heinous, with lots of neat detailing. The little LED strip beneath the red swoosh looks to be either for reverse lights or indicators. I’m crossing my fingers for amber blinkers.

2023 Honda HR-V EX-L
Photo credit: Honda

Also, let’s talk about the use of glossy black plastic cladding on the EX-L trim instead of unpainted tupperware. Sure, it’ll scratch like DJ Lethal, but it should age so much better than simple textured plastic. Mind you, lower trims don’t get massive slabs of plastic down their flanks, so good on Honda for trying to be somewhat restrained with the trim.

Check out those funky seats!
Photo credit: Honda

There’s actually some neat stuff going on inside the new HR-V. Check out the USB charge ports in the center console positioned just right so you can drop devices in a little cubby underneath the center console’s switch bank. That’s simply great design, just like the really cool ribbing on the lower door panels and cargo area plastics. As for the rest of the interior, Honda’s ‘simplicity and something’ (yes, that’s the real name) design ethos is on full display here, with very Civic-like full-width mesh for the dashboard air vents, three nice-looking knobs for the HVAC controls, and some nice stitched materials on the center console. Honestly, this interior looks much nicer than what’s in the bulk of subcompact crossovers. It’s a cabin ready to take the fight to the Mazda CX-30.

2023 Honda HR-V EX-L
Photo credit: Honda

There’s decent tech on board too. While Honda’s native infotainment interface feels like a $40 head unit you bought off of Wish, available wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is pretty nice, while Honda’s active safety suite has been upgraded with a wide-angle front camera, traffic sign recognition, and a traffic jam assist function to ease the tedium of commuting. Also, hey, a physical tuning knob on lower-trim seven-inch infotainment systems! That’s certainly a dying feature and a really nice one to have at that.

2023 Honda HR-V Sport
Photo credit: Honda

As for cargo space, it looks pretty alright. 24.4 cubic feet (690.9 L) behind the rear seats, 55.1 cubic feet (1,560 L) with the rear seats folded. Admittedly, the Kia Seltos is roomier with 26.6 cubic feet (753 L) of cargo space behind the rear seats and 62.8 cubic feet (1,778 L) with the second-row folded, but it also feels quite cheap. If the new Civic’s anything to go by, the new HR-V should feel quite nice, a wonderful cocoon of tightly-grained soft-touch plastics and pleasantly clicky controls.

Honda's two-liter four-cylinder engine
Photo credit: Honda

Power comes from an adequate two-liter four-cylinder engine making some sort of horsepower. Let’s be honest, 158 horsepower and 138 lb.-ft. of torque is enough to move a vehicle like this forward but not enough to really matter. Like getting Cs in school, the HR-V’s engine will get you by just fine. The only available gearbox is a CVT that can send power to the front wheels or all four. Look, if you really care about acceleration, buy a Hyundai Kona N or something. The HR-V’s powertrain is here to get the job done without a massive amount of complaint and with a modest fuel bill. The EPA’s rated this thing at 26 mpg city, 32 mpg highway, and 28 mpg combined for the front-wheel-drive version, while all-wheel-drive models lose one mpg city, two on the highway, and one combined. That’s definitely not hatchback territory, but it’s not awful either.

2023 Honda HR-V
Photo credit: Honda

Much better than simply “not awful” is the HR-V’s general underpinnings. It’s based on the new Civic so it features a nice stiff structure, independent rear suspension, and a much more usable footprint than the old model. More importantly, there’s some wonderful nerdiness going on. The roof is laser-brazed to eliminate rubber rain gutters, while the windshield wipers are largely concealed for a sleek look. Lovely stuff.

2023 Honda Hr V Ex L
Photo credit: Honda

Pricing for the new HR-V ranges from $24,985 for the base LX front-wheel-drive model through to $30,195 for the loaded EX-L all-wheel-drive model, including a $1,245 destination charge. Not ultra-cheap, not expensive, just smack dab in the middle of the compact crossover market. Honestly, the new HR-V looks to be a really nice step up from the old one. Mind you, I hold the old HR-V in contempt – I came into testing one expecting nothing and still ended up disappointed. In contrast, this 2023 model looks pretty decent. It says the right things on paper and should be perfect at doing what subcompact crossover owners need their vehicles to do.

2023 Honda HR-V Sport
Photo credit: Honda

However, Honda seems to think that they’ll sell this thing to young people. The marketing team’s even used the term “GenZennials” in the press release for the new HR-V’s marketing which makes me want to claw out my eyeballs out with a rusty melon bowler. Speaking as a “GenZennial,” whatever the Cinnamon Toast Fuck that means, I can tell you this – young people aren’t going to buy this thing in droves. They’re going to walk into Honda dealerships, see the fuel economy figures for the Civic hatchback and buy one of those instead.

2023 Honda HR-V Sport
Photo credit: Honda

Who could blame them? The Civic hatchback is practical, economical, well-equipped, and just a little bit cheaper than an HR-V. I’m not saying this as a young person who’s into cars, I’m saying this as a young person full-stop. Small cars are generally good with my demographic. You know who will buy a ton of HR-Vs? Our parents and grandparents. Empty-nesters who want to haul bags of mulch home from Home Depot because they have the time and energy to spend keeping their backyards nice. People who welcome a higher driver’s seat because the ol’ back just isn’t quite what it used to be. You know what? That’s absolutely fine. A small crossover SUV with a nicely-designed interior is absolutely perfect for that demographic, and unquestionably a good option to have on the market in general. Expect the new HR-V to roll into showrooms this month and appear in every single big box store parking lot from coast to coast shortly thereafter.

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42 Responses

  1. Unless they come out with a hybrid or PHEV version, I’m not interested in a vehicle that gets WORSE mileage than the previous generation.

    Come on Honda, I thought you were trying to be a leader here.

  2. Aside from the standard ‘generic boring modern car’ comments, I’ll point out that this is very similar in overall specs to the 1st gen CRV. Dimensions are close, it gets a few more hp and gets about 4 mpg better fuel economy, but loses 12 cu.ft. of cargo (almost 20%). I expect more progress in 20 years! At least it isn’t 4000 lb.

    1. Eventually the HR-V will keep growing too, then they will need to introduce something smaller below it.

      They cripple the cargo space with that stupid slanted back hatch. Don’t tell me it’s aero if it has to have that spoiler “hood” over dead air, that could have been vertical interior space instead.

  3. Prediction; yeah, these’ll sell. Maybe not as well as Honda hopes, or it would’ve if Big Oil hadn’t figured out they can jack up pump prices all they want and people’ll just blame the president (just-adequate gas mileage in a transportation appliance for normies doesn’t cut it anymore).
    There has to be a hybrid option soon, it has to get better MPG (both real-world and on the EPA cycle) than the Corolla Cross hybrid, and it should be offered in the entry trim level and get better MPG than the last Fit (I’m currently averaging just over 40 on mine, with the 6MT).

    But the top trim level will be a unicorn; Honda dealers will use it as an opportunity to upsell to a CR-V.

  4. This would look a lot better without the black fog light hooks down there under the headlights. Just smooth that area out, mostly, and we’d have a 100% better looking front end.

    Maybe just a few horizontal strakes instead. It wouldn’t take much because I actually like the rest of the front.

  5. Honda should’ve just sold the international HR-V here

    No more small Hondas for us 🙁
    Since the US HR-V is bigger and fatter (a Civic rather than a Fit), we don’t even get the Fit with a lift kit.

    What happens to the CR-V then?

  6. The wheels would look a whole heck of a lot better if either the spokes reached all the way to the edge of the rim or the flare they terminate into were the same color. The current-gen refreshed CR-V has this same problem of the bright parts of the wheel not going all the way to the edge, and it isn’t much of a looker, either.

  7. “From the front, the new HR-V looks decidedly unimpressed, like it loathes the concept of being a vehicle.”

    Yeah, that is pretty much the most accurate description of the HR-V. A collection of parts that loathes the very idea that it is a car or even transportation.

  8. The New Honda HR-V: Get in one and eventually, get out.
    Honda HR-V: Put it in drive and then, well, you really won’t remember, but you’re gonna end up at work.
    Honda HR-V: Hey, kid! Yeah. You. I’ll give you one free for four months if you’ll put it on that Tik Tok channel of yours. Where are you going?
    Honda HR-V: It’s the new kid on the HR-Block. Shit. Ask the lawyer if we can say that.
    Honda HR-V: I’m fired? Why am I fired? F***.

  9. I’m not in the market for one or anything that even shares the segment but I’m so happy they didn’t overdesign this, it’s much less busy than a lot of modern car design and I appreciate that. That said, they took all that wasted design energy and put it in those wheels, ew.

  10. I liked the body styling on the previous model, but hated that ugly grille. I’m one of the Old Folks who needs to climb up instead of down as I age, and I was kinda hoping this new model would be more… inspiring. The front end is an improvement. Glad to see Honda getting away from that 13 year old wearing braces grille thing they had going on. But it’s almost like it’s going against the current angular design language in the car world as an excuse for its uninspiring design, as opposed to actually designing something… inspiring. If it had some get-up-and-go that would be one thing. If it had better fuel economy that would be another. A hybrid that got something in the range of 40-50 MPG would do this model wonders. Until then, maybe I’ll keep shopping.

  11. Ms. cold has a 2016 model and likes it. It is a size she prefers and has proven quite satisfactory. The greenhouse has good visibility, important, and the awd is great in the snow. The power is adequate and this is our first cvt. I have driven it and it is not droney and the suspension and handling are just right for a car not driven aggressively.
    We will shop the new one, just because.

  12. Disappointed in this new generation of HRV. Don’t know why this isn’t offered with a hybrid option since it’s mpg is now worse than the previous gen. I have a 2016 HRV EXL w/ AWD and I average 28mpg city and 32+ mpg highway. Can’t see getting this vehicle over an CRV now. Now that its built on a Civic platform and not a Fit, its no longer small and compact. I guess just like the millennials Honda originally marketed this vehicle to, the HRV has too, grown longer and bloated to keep up with its marketed demographic.

  13. Please…. for the LOVE of all things Holy…

    Self Question: Where do I have to go.. to avoid seeing this lump of shit?

    Self Answer: HELL. Id rather go there.. than have to see that ugly lump of shit.

    Now…
    Ive driven that thing they call a motor / transmission combo. Its shit. I dont mean freshly chiseled from a GRANITE ROCK OF GIBRALTAR. I mean… something that my 90T trailer uses to back up the toilet. I hated driving it. No feeling, no power, no nothing.

    My 05 Honda Element… has this thing beat all the way around. (Might make more power, but after I find a wrecked related CR-V with a 5spd… Imma beat its stupid ass.) This… squiggly ball of snot.. is damn awful. Two… people who COULD be considered as my neighbors bought TWO nearly identical piles of shit like this (only reason I could formulate to why anyone would buy one). Id guess they have off spring (I think) who “needed a car”. (Enter the Kia THATS A CAR ad.)

    Fuck it.. personally.. theyd be better off with a shotgun to the face over driving this.
    This… is Orrible.

  14. Maybe I’m getting old (read: definitely getting old), but I kind of like it. The exterior is a bit of a mish-mash and the front end looks very Ford-ish to me, but I kind of love the interior layout. Hooded dash for minimized glare on sunny days, a screen that is tacked on, but at least they bothered to mold a spot in the dash for it, and, most importantly, knobs for volume, temperature, and fan speed.

    Everyone can “meh” all they want, but a properly designed dashboard layout is becoming a killer feature in this age of “just slap a screen on it” interior design.

  15. This is a boring car and not something an enthusiast would buy for themselves. Having said that, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this. I was expecting crap cargo capacity but 55 sq ft is not bad.

  16. I’m a big Honda fan, currently with a Honda and a Acura in the fleet, adult son still driving the EG Civic we bought him during his teenage years, and having Accords and a CRX in the past. But… this just isn’t a Honda to me. It’s another anonymous crossover that will sell just fine and have zero impact on my life and consciousness. Now, back to bad purchasing decisions, wrenching nightmares, taillight madness and other proper automotive insanity!

  17. The overall exterior design doesn’t inflame any passions, but the front half looks anonymous verging on good. I really really hate the split the difference between a hatch and fastback rear roofline, though. Either of those extremes is good, in the middle looks dumb and offers no practical benefit.

    The interior actually looks decent! I expect Honda interiors to look like they were designed by someone(thing?) who has only ever read about humans in a book with no illustrations, but this is a nice change.

    The gas mileage and insipid powertrain are independently dealbreakers in 2022, and together are shameful. The Maverick is table stakes. There’s no excuse for anything mid-size or below to have less power or worse mileage, particularly for more money.

  18. “Speaking as a “GenZennial,” whatever the Cinnamon Toast Fuck that means, I can tell you this – young people aren’t going to buy this thing in droves. They’re going to walk into Honda dealerships, see the fuel economy figures for the Civic hatchback and buy one of those instead.”

    Maybe, but a lot of people will pay more in MSRP and fuel in order to sit a little higher. That will even be true of young people who are increasingly growing up in and learning to drive in a truck or SUV.

    I personally will give up a higher seating position for a car that handles better and burns less fuel. It can be a pain trying to see around the amorphous blobs and giant brick trucks that surround me, but I’m still glad I chose my hatchback over a crossover.

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