2023 Honda HR-V First Drive Review: Better in Almost Every Way

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The third-generation Honda HR-V has been designed particularly for the American market, sharing virtually nothing with the HR-V that the remainder of the world will get. Our 2023 HR-V rides on the identical new platform because the Civic as a substitute of utilizing Match underpinnings like earlier than, with Honda wanting to maneuver the HR-V upmarket. It is simply too unhealthy the 2023 HR-V is so rattling ugly, as a result of beneath the pores and skin is a crossover that has been improved in each single method.

Honda describes the brand new HR-V as having a coupe-like silhouette. It doesn’t. The 2023 HR-V’s form is much like that of the previous HR-V, however its overhangs are longer and the greenhouse is taller, main it to look a bit of bloated. General, the 2023 HR-V is 9 inches longer and a pair of.6 wider than earlier than, making it almost so long as the present CR-V and barely longer than a Civic hatchback. It additionally does with out the previous mannequin’s hidden rear door deal with, as a substitute going for a completely regular pair of doorways.

This isn’t a coupe, Honda.


Daniel Golson/CNET

The HR-V’s face has slim rectangular headlights and a big grille that makes it seem like a bottom-feeder fish, a glance that is not helped by the complicated faux-intake plastic trim within the decrease bumper. Whereas the entrance finish is ungainly, the remainder of the HR-V is simply boring, with a saggy rear finish and no distinguishing Honda traits or detailing. The highest-end EX-L mannequin makes all the outside cladding gloss black as a substitute of matte, which does not look nice and is a bit foolish for a automotive aimed on the energetic life-style kind. The brand new HR-V’s styling simply makes me a bit unhappy, because the outgoing one was at the very least distinctive and the newest Civic could be very engaging.

Far more profitable is the HR-V’s inside, which options the identical minimal design aesthetic because the Civic. A steel honeycomb mesh runs the width of the sprint and homes the air vents, with a panel of analog local weather management buttons and knobs beneath. One main differentiator from the Civic is the design of the middle console, which has a bridge-like form over a storage space and a pair of built-in USB-A ports. The EX-L mannequin has leather-based upholstery and a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and the HR-V has properly padded surfaces on generally touched elements of the inside just like the dashboard, door panels and middle console. It does not really feel like an entry-level automotive, in contrast to many of the competitors.

The HR-V’s inside is great.


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Each HR-V will get {a partially} digital gauge cluster with a 7-inch display, and the bottom LX and mid-range Sport fashions have a 7-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and a lot better infotainment software program than the previous HR-V’s system. Each setups get a quantity knob, however the bigger display has fewer bodily controls. The EX-L’s 9-inch display has wi-fi smartphone mirroring, SiriusXM and a wi-fi charger, in addition to a incredible eight-speaker sound system.

The HR-V has the identical thinner A-pillars because the Civic that present an ideal view out the entrance, however there’s a disappointingly enormous blind spot on the D-pillar and hatch space. Followers of the previous HR-V will likely be unhappy concerning the dying of that automotive’s Magic Seat, a rear bench that folded as much as match giant gadgets on the ground. However the brand new HR-V has a intelligent split-folding rear seat that lowers the seat base because the seatbacks are folded, which provides the HR-V each stadium seating and a flat cargo flooring. The HR-V’s 24.4 cubic ft of cargo area with the rear seats up is barely higher than earlier than, however with the seats folded the overall space is definitely smaller than the outgoing mannequin’s by round 3 cubic ft. The Civic hatchback has a virtually an identical quantity of room.

There’s extra space for rear passengers.


Daniel Golson/CNET

On the street, what first strikes me concerning the HR-V is how quiet it’s. The close to lack of street and tire noise is tremendous spectacular for the category, particularly in comparison with the a lot louder earlier technology. (The EX-L mannequin I am driving has 17-inch wheels with all-season tires, however the Sport mannequin will get 18s that may be a bit of rougher and noisier.) Journey high quality is vastly improved, too, because of the HR-V’s new unbiased rear suspension, with the automotive remaining composed over tough street surfaces. Entrance-wheel drive is customary, however the HR-V I am driving has the non-compulsory $1,500 all-wheel-drive setup that sends extra torque to the rear wheels than earlier than. Whereas the HR-V actually is not sporty and has loads of physique roll in corners, the AWD mannequin has impartial dealing with with out a lot understeer.

Honda’s sole powertrain providing is the HR-V’s greatest dynamic weak spot. It is a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter inline-4 making 158 horsepower and 138 pound-feet of torque paired with a constantly variable transmission (CVT). That is the very same setup as within the Civic sedan, and it is 17 hp and 11 lb-ft greater than the previous HR-V. However the brand new HR-V remains to be gradual to the purpose of being aggravating, particularly when attempting to speed up up a hill. Placing the gear selector in S retains the revs increased, but it surely barely helps, with the powertrain feeling sluggish even when flooring it, prefer it’s attempting to tug itself via molasses. Gasoline economic system is worse than the previous mannequin too, although I am simply capable of match the EPA’s 30-mpg freeway ranking in combined driving.

No extra Magic Seat, however these fold flat.


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Each HR-V comes with the Honda Sensing suite of energetic security options, which incorporates adaptive cruise management, computerized excessive beams, computerized emergency braking with ahead collision warning, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping help, site visitors signal recognition and a rear-seat reminder. All these options work nicely with out being too intrusive, however the HR-V’s backup digital camera high quality is terrible.

The 2023 HR-V begins at $24,895 together with a $1,245 vacation spot cost, a $1,780 enhance over final 12 months’s mannequin. For that value you get computerized local weather management, LED head- and taillights, push-button begin, heated facet mirrors, hill-descent management, and an auto up/down driver’s window. The $26,895 Sport mannequin provides largely beauty gadgets like totally different bumper and grille designs and candy orange-accented fabric seats, but it surely additionally will get blind-spot monitoring, a leather-wrapped shifter and steering wheel, distant begin, keyless entry and heated entrance seats. For $28,695 the HR-V EX-L beneficial properties leather-based upholstery, an auto up/down entrance passenger window, ambient lighting, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, entrance and rear parking sensors, a sunroof and dual-zone local weather management.

That looks like loads of automotive for the cash, and it’s — till you take a look at the Civic. Bigger touchscreen apart, the Civic Hatchback EX-L has the entire identical options because the HR-V EX-L, and it prices $350 much less. The Civic additionally has a 180-hp turbocharged engine and is even nicer to drive, to not point out vastly higher to have a look at, and its $31,145 Sport Touring trim comes with issues you possibly can’t even get on the HR-V. Until you actually need the upright stance and out there all-wheel drive of the HR-V, Honda’s new compact crossover is sweet, however its personal sibling is best.

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