UPDATE 8/24/22: This evaluate has been up to date with check numbers.
Pacific Northwest loggers run the mountain roads with flat-footed confidence, even within the rain, and since it is nearly at all times raining, they’ve had numerous follow. It was raining throughout our check drive of the 2023 Honda HR-V, and the 18-wheeler within the rearview mirror got here up behind us prefer it was auditioning for a remake of Duel. To keep away from turning into a Peterbilt hood emblem, we put the pedal down. Floored, the HR-V made extra noise, however, in disappointing CVT-equipped trend, didn’t go noticeably quicker. Simply as we have been getting ready to be absorbed right into a truck grille, the straight uphill highway took a proper, then a left, after which a enjoyable sequence of sweeping curves. The truck slowed down, and the HR-V swept by at full pace. It was the primary of a number of nice surprises from the redesigned small Honda.
The HR-V shouldn’t be a automotive with a status for enjoyable surprises. Since its introduction in 2016, it has been a wise and uninspiring selection of transportation, a automobile meant to resolve the essential drawback of transportation with slightly further house. The redesigned HR-V is hoping to shed its status for boring driving whereas holding on to its promise of worth and practicality. To take action, Honda moved it from the tiny and now departed Match platform to the bigger Civic underpinnings whereas giving it a tad extra horsepower and much more character. The brand new mannequin is almost 10 inches longer and three inches wider than the first-generation HR-V, with much less stubby proportions and a growly entrance fascia—sure, you are so powerful, little SUV.
The outside rework brings vast LED lights in entrance and rear, dramatically framed inlets and patterned grilles within the nostril, an angled hatch, and a clear roofline, because of roof panels which might be laser brazed, which leaves a easy end. It will not go down within the annals of groundbreaking automotive design, however we discovered it type of endearing, like an offended hamster.
Inside, issues are extra interesting and fewer raging rodent. The seating place is decrease and extra carlike than within the outgoing mannequin, which sat the driving force excessive and upright. The seats are patterned cloth within the LX and Sport trim and leather-based within the prime EX-L, providing a pop of texture throughout all ranges. The pillowy sprint echoes the Civic with an unbroken line of honeycomb mesh throughout all of the vents. The steering wheel is thickly padded. The automotive is extra cohesive and classy than the earlier era, with a superb mixture of bodily buttons and digital shows. The middle console is a piece of ergonomic artwork, with a tall shifter, deep cupholders positioned ahead and out of the best way, and a number of other locations to retailer or cost a cellphone, together with a pass-through that offers the passenger entry to their very own cellphone storage and USB charging. The EX-L trim we drove additionally provided wi-fi charging within the entrance tray. Whereas higher contact factors are squishy smooth, the plastic decrease on the door panels has a wavy corrugation. It hides scuffs, provides rigidity to the big door pockets, and is each a intelligent and a beautiful answer to an space of the automotive that will get a whole lot of tough dealing with—or, extra precisely, footing.
Should you’re nonetheless hung up on the decrease seating place—a better viewpoint is one purpose folks have moved to SUVs—we guarantee you that visibility within the new HR-V is vastly improved. The beltlines of door and hood are decrease, the A-pillars are thinner, and the driving place is extra snug whereas providing a greater view. Honda says the entrance seats have been redesigned with extra inside construction to supply assist and a greater posture, and after a full day of outrunning vans and chasing waterfalls in blatant defiance of TLC’s recommendation, we agree that no matter is occurring contained in the seat cushions makes a constructive distinction. The brand new seat shouldn’t be solely smooth and supportive but in addition extremely adjustable. Between that and the great sightlines, we would put the brand new HR-V excessive on an inventory of advisable automobiles for people of smaller stature. Tall drivers will nonetheless match effective behind the wheel, and the rear seats lean again and provide extra padding than the outgoing mannequin’s. So regardless that this utility automobile is small, the passengers do not should be.
If it is stuff you are carrying, it’s possible you’ll be saddened to listen to that the “magic seat,” which provided the choice of flipping up the rear seat backside for extra hauling house, is a casualty of the brand new chassis design. Except you are recurrently taking your fiddle-leaf fig for a drive, we’d say it is a honest commerce for the rather more snug again seat and the superb dealing with traits. Common cargo house is barely decreased behind the rear seats, however they nonetheless fold flat, so you may carry loads of shorter vegetation, a bicycle, or all of your soiled laundry in your approach to your dad and mom’ place for spring break.
Options and pricing are simplified from 2022. There are three trims, every customary as front-wheel drive, with all-wheel drive a $1500 possibility. The bottom LX begins at $24,895, whereas the highest trim EX-L requires $28,695. The engine and transmission are unchanged by trim selection, and all of Honda’s safety-related driver aids come customary on all fashions. The EX-L will get the eight-way adjustable leather-based seats, a sunroof, dual-zone local weather management, and a 9.0-inch touchscreen infotainment interface, amongst different audio and tech upgrades. We appreciated the Sport trim’s black accents, orange inside stitching, and decrease $26,895 value. Honda famously does not provide mechanical or comfort choices on any given trim, however the all-wheel-drive EX-L we had in for testing was slathered in Nordic Forest paint that added $395 to its backside line. Its $30,590 whole value is just about essentially the most you may pay for one in every of these.
The HR-V powertrain stays unsatisfying. It is higher than the final one, however by so little, they should not have bothered. The earlier loud and torpid 1.8-liter four-cylinder made 141 horsepower, getting the all-wheel-drive automobile an EPA ranking of 28 mpg mixed. The brand new mannequin’s 2.0-liter engine, additionally borrowed from the Civic, makes 158 horsepower, remains to be loud and torpid, and helps the all-wheel-drive model get a 27-mpg mixed EPA ranking. However this new HR-V did show extra environment friendly on our 75-mph freeway fuel-economy loop, averaging 32 mpg, an enchancment over the outgoing mannequin’s 30-mpg exhibiting.
In efficiency testing, the EX-L AWD reached 60 mph in 9.4 seconds, faster than the ten.1 clicks the earlier model wanted. Efficiency falls off rapidly, as a full quarter-mile takes 17.3 seconds, solely 0.5 second higher than earlier than. Honda made some try to quiet it down with a elegant crankshaft and a low-friction cam drive, but it surely nonetheless howls and shivers whenever you ground it. The CVT behind it performs make-believe as a gearbox, promising fake downshifts and stepped acceleration to distract from the hardworking four-banger, however straight-line acceleration is all bark and barely a nibble.
We did see enchancment within the stopping numbers. Within the 70-mph braking check, the brand new HR-V got here to a halt in 172 ft, eight ft shorter than the final one. Like many small SUVs, the earlier HR-V provided all of the driving pleasure of a House Depot lumber cart. The brand new HR-V is probably not superquick, but it surely’s mild and cheery on the highway, feeling related whereas nonetheless cushioning uneven pavement. That is because of the multilink rear suspension, which replaces the torsion-beam setup of the earlier era. The physique additionally makes use of extra adhesive for elevated rigidity. Aluminum elements scale back weight entrance and rear, and the entrance suspension rides easily on a low-friction damper mount. The steering, too, is vastly higher than the earlier automotive’s and feels mild however not flimsy. The driving expertise was notably higher subjectively, however that was not borne out when the HR-V was making circles on the restrict on the skidpad. There, the 2023 automobile pulled 0.80 g, whereas the earlier mannequin did 0.84.
We obtained behind the wheel of the HR-V anticipating a dutiful however joyless driving expertise. What we discovered was a captivating small machine that might use a bit extra push (to maintain from being pushed by fast-moving tractor-trailers) however made a keen and inspiring road-trip companion. Massive home windows, easy-to-read shows, a beautiful and cozy inside, and a pliable chassis are the HR-V’s defining traits. That is nonetheless a automobile designed to resolve the essential drawback of transportation, but it surely now fulfills that mission with vigorous enthusiasm, if not outright pace.