Photography: Jeff Voth

Road Test: 2023 Honda HR-V

For its second generation, Honda’s smallest crossover has been given a makeover from the ground up, featuring a new engine, enhanced styling inside and out, and improved technological offerings.

Available in four trims, we tested the top-of-the-line EX-L Navi featuring all-wheel drive, which brings with it some additional features like a larger infotainment system, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless charging and more.

2023 Honda HR-V EX-L Navi

As tested, the price point is $39,495, while the base LX trim enters the market closer to the $30,000.

Powertrain: The new engine for the 2023 HR-V is larger than the previous generation. It now features a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine which is paired to a continuously variable transmission.

2023 Honda HR-V EX-L Navi

It is rated at 158 horsepower and 138 pound-feet of torque, and unfortunately, I noticed pretty quickly that it idles quite rough. At a stoplight, the vibrations in the car were quite evident, which is rather disappointing.*

Our tester was equipped with an all-wheel drive system, while the base HR-V is a two-wheel drive setup.

The HR-V (with AWD) has an estimated combined fuel consumption of 8.7 litres per 100 kilometres, but I did no better than 10.2 L/100 km.

2023 Honda HR-V EX-L Navi

Exterior: The completely redesigned HR-V is a nice improvement over the previous generation in my opinion.

The front end might not be everyone’s cup of tea, however, as the honeycomb grille opening kind of looks like a whale shark’s mouth waiting to feed on oncoming traffic.

But at least on the EX-L Navi trim, the grille gets a unique gloss-black treatment. The same treatment is applied to the door pillars and other trim pieces. Not so evident when you pick black as your exterior colour, but they would definitely standout on other paint choices.

The EX-L Navi also gets 17-inch alloy wheels that are painted a shark grey and feature a machine finish.

2023 Honda HR-V EX-L Navi

Honda designers did a lot of work on the aerodynamic efficiency, so you will find air inlets on other side of the grille, wipers hidden under the lip of the hood and other exterior elements to improve airflow.

Completing the front look are the LED headlights on the outer edges of the fascia, which combined with the HR-V’s wider stance, makes this crossover look larger.  The rear gets LED taillights and a tailgate spoiler.

Interior: The cabin is also refreshed on the HR-V, with new features, improved ergonomics, and enhanced materials.

One feature I really like is the uniform honeycomb motif that stretches horizontally across the dash, hiding the air vents neatly behind them. A very clean look.

2023 Honda HR-V EX-L Navi

The seats are also quite comfortable and feature some nice contrast stitching to give them a more upscale look.

Outward visibility from the driver’s seat is quite good as well, and that is something Honda designers worked on for this new model.

The overall layout of the controls is also very nicely done, with clear and simple ventilation controls below that honeycomb mesh, and the infotainment controls above that for a clear delineation.

2023 Honda HR-V EX-L Navi

The centre console is one aspect that I perhaps didn’t quite find fit with the rest of the cabin. The shape of the console made the shifter feel unnecessarily tall, but I did appreciate having that lever vs. the button setup in other Honda models.

The HR-V also has a rather generous cargo space behind the rear bench.

Infotainment: While the three other trims of the HR-V come with a 7-inch infotainment screen, our EX-L Navi tester gets an upgrade to the 9-inch version that comes with navigation embedded.

It also features wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, as well as wireless charging.

2023 Honda HR-V EX-L Navi

Along with the larger screen, you also get an upgraded sound system that features 8 speakers. I appreciated the fact that the touchscreen controls are complemented by a physical volume knob, as well as physical buttons for home and back functions.

The menus on the screen feature large menus and response time is good, with very little lag to your input.

Drive: Other than that rough idle, I found that the overall driving experience was good for the HR-V. The engine will not overwhelm you with power, but it gets the job done for this vehicle. And the CVT isn’t too noisy, which is a plus.

During the redesign, Honda engineers placed the HR-V on a new platform that also includes an independent rear-suspension for smoother drives. The HR-V also grew wider and longer, for a more stable and athletic stance.

The HR-V includes as standard some features that are nice to have, like adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow, lane-keeping assist and more to help the driver out.

Overall, it’s a solid driving performance from the HR-V that will please the city dwellers who will likely be buying this type of vehicle.

Conclusion: The HR-V received a very well-done makeover for 2023, with a nice new look on the outside, a stylish interior and a host of technological and safety improvements.

As Honda’s smallest crossover, this is a pretty good way to get buyers into the brand and hopefully see them stay there as they grow into potentially larger vehicles.

* Editor’s note: In a separate week of testing a similarly equipped all-new 2023 Honda HR-V, I experienced no such rough idle, but a smooth driving experience throughout my time in the vehicle. 

2023 Honda HR-V EX-L Navi
Price as tested: $39,495.00
Freight: $1,950.00
Configuration: Front engine/All-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: 2.0-litre 4-cylinder/ CVT
Power/torque: 158 horsepower/138 lb-ft of torque
Fuel (capacity): Regular (53 L)
Combined fuel economy ratings (L/100 km): 8.7 L/100 km
Observed fuel economy (L/100 km): 10.2 L/100 km
Warranties: 3-years/60,000 km (basic)
Competitors: Hyundai Kona, Kia Soul, Mazda CX-30, Nissan Kicks, Subaru Crosstrek, Toyota C-HR, Volkswagen Taos

Link: Honda Canada

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