- High-quality interior
- Spacious cabin for a small SUV
- Standard active safety tech
- Slow, even for an entry-level SUV
- Small 7.0-inch touchscreen on two of three trims
- Less efficient than before
Time for some crazy talk: The redesigned 2023 Honda HR-V might soon be the company’s only SUV with an MSRP comfortably less than $30,000. That’s not big news for car enthusiasts, but buyers not aware of the new 2023 Honda CR-V’s upmarket move are in for a surprise. Suddenly, price-conscious CR-V intenders will be kicking tires on the more affordable HR-V, which takes on a more important role in Honda’s SUV lineup. Those buyers will find in the 2023 Honda HR-V a refined ride with influences from the excellent Civic as well as from the outgoing HR-V—the latter not quite in the way we’d like.
0-60-MPH Acceleration Versus Its Rivals
At MotorTrend, we track-test cars—even small SUVs like the 2023 Honda HR-V—so we can establish how each vehicle’s performance compares to the competition. And in this Honda’s case, it’s not a great story.
Every new HR-V is powered by a 158-hp naturally aspirated 2.0-liter I-4 good for 138 lb-ft of torque. Those numbers match the latest Civic, which uses the same engine. As you’d expect, the engine sweats less with the front-wheel-drive Civic sedan, which is hundreds of pounds lighter than our 2023 HR-V EX-L test SUV with more features and all-wheel drive.
OK, so let’s compare the new HR-V’s 9.8-second 0-60-mph time to vehicles its own size. A 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross XLE AWD is nearly a half-second quicker (9.3 seconds), while a Subaru Crosstrek with a 2.5-liter engine is a startling 2.0 seconds quicker. As if that isn’t enough, the AWD Subaru is also more efficient. Even against the last-gen HR-V, the new model comes up short; a 2019 HR-V Sport AWD we tested reached 60 mph in 9.6 seconds.
Behind the wheel, the HR-V feels slow, but you can still execute highway passes as long as you plan them out a bit. That type of compromise used to be a given in this segment, but that’s no longer the case. The Kia Seltos, Subaru Crosstrek, and a couple other competitors won’t feel quite as slow as the HR-V. It’s not the end of the world, and it won’t be the top priority for most buyers, but it’s worth noting. This engine doesn’t show much power until it revs past 4,000 rpm.
Braking and Handling
The 2023 Honda HR-V doesn’t gain competitive ground in 60-0-mph panic-braking, either. Or, rather, it covers more ground than its competitors. A distance of 125 feet is fine for a small SUV like this one, but so is 120 feet (the Corolla Cross), 114-124 feet (two Crosstreks we’ve tested), or 114 feet (a 2019 HR-V). Clearly, this Honda isn’t a numbers car, but at the test track we found brake-pedal feel to be fine for a daily driver. The brakes also remained trustworthy and consistent across our figure-eight testing, being both effective and predictable.
On the figure-eight course—a MotorTrend evaluation that assesses acceleration, handling, braking, and the transitions in between—the 2023 HR-V finished in 28.5 seconds at 0.56 g (average), placing it behind the most recent Subaru Crosstreks, and the Toyota Corolla Cross and Kia Seltos Turbos we tested. The steering felt a little heavy but was precise. The engine displayed merely adequate power, and made lots of noise.
The new HR-V’s story improves away from the track. Its continuously variable transmission feels well-tuned around town and on the highway, delivering smoother performance than any conventional or dual-clutch automatic ever could. The suspension is well-damped for a small and inexpensive SUV, too. In other words, put up with the mild acceleration and there’s a payoff in the general feeling of solidity you don’t get with all of the HR-V’s rivals.
Ups and Downs
Honda backs up that feeling with an interior sprinkled with surprising and delightful touches. There’s soft material on the side of the center console (perfect for resting your leg against during a long red light), and you get the honeycomb dash-trim design we’ve seen on the Civic and CR-V. That real metal trim disguises air vents and separates two physical knobs on top to control the audio system (volume and tuning), as well as three knobs below for the HVAC system. A small open storage area can hold your keys, and the back seat is spacious for such a small SUV.
You simply don’t get these touches on every HR-V competitor. Where many of them make up ground is digital screen-space. The 2023 HR-V LX and Sport trims come standard with a 7.0-inch touchscreen—smaller than what you can get elsewhere; a larger 9.0-inch unit comes on the top EX-L trim. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard across the line, but we’d welcome a bigger screen or one tilted a bit toward the driver on the lower two trims. By the way, we asked Honda whether it expects any feature omissions due to parts shortages affecting the industry, and the automaker said all HR-Vs should have “the full features and functions listed for each trim level.” Great.
The entry-level SUV segment is much larger than it was when the first-generation HR-V arrived, which helps put the Honda’s pros and cons into perspective. With fuel economy and driving range, for example, it doesn’t quite keep up with our chosen competitive set. An EPA-rated 26 city/32 highway mpg with FWD and 25/30 with AWD is not bad on its own, but it’s inferior to the 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross—31/33 mpg with FWD and 29/32 with AWD—and the AWD-only Subaru Crosstrek. For the 2023 model year, the Subaru comes in at 28/33 mpg with its standard 2.0-liter engine and 27/34 with the 2.5-liter unit.
The Subaru also holds a huge advantage compared to the Honda in combined city/highway driving range; you’ll travel about 100 miles farther in either automatic-transmission Crosstrek than you will in the Honda.
The Honda HR-V remains a good choice in its second generation. But with its physical growth, the new 2023 model is slower and less efficient than a couple key competitors. The former isn’t a huge deal for an entry-level SUV, but if you don’t need to make that compromise, why should you? In the HR-V’s case, it would be because of the trust some have in the Honda name and because the SUV drives well. The Civic-based platform means the 2023 Honda HR-V feels good on the road before you even consider its spacious interior. Standard Honda Sensing safety tech and good anticipated safety-test results should also provide buyers with confidence.
Honda loyalists should also appreciate the new interior design and improved HVAC system, but cross-shoppers will want to consider what they really want from an inexpensive SUV. The Kia Seltos is spacious and much quicker, but it lacks a five-star overall safety rating from NHTSA. Subaru’s popular Crosstrek offers standard AWD, better efficiency, and a good driving experience, but doesn’t look like a traditional SUV.
Especially in LX and Sport trims, the 2023 Honda HR-V represents the brand well enough in this crowded space. For the rare customer seeking a loaded HR-V EX-L, however, we suggest giving a closer look to the competition, and especially the new 2023 CR-V.
Looks good! More details?
2023 Honda HR-V AWD (EX-L) Specifications
PRICE AS TESTED
Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV
2.0L port-injected DOHC 16-valve I-4
POWER (SAE NET)
158 hp @ 6,500 rpm
TORQUE (SAE NET)
138 lb-ft @ 4,200 rpm
Cont variable auto
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)
3,271 lb (58/42%)
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT
179.8 x 72.4 x 63.4 in
17.5 sec @ 83.0 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH
0.80 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT
28.5 sec @ 0.56 g (avg)
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON
EPA RANGE, COMB
378 miles (est)