Review: The 2023 Honda HR-V is a big little SUV

·3 min read

Honda’s smallest SUV is a big boy now.

The HR-V has grown more than nine inches longer since you last saw it.

The all-new 2023 model is now longer than the 2011 Honda CR-V, which has also been stretched for 2023.

It technically competes in the subcompact utility class against the likes of the Kia Seltos and Volkswagen Taos, but don't put a label on it. Vanity sizing has come to the segment.

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I can confirm that it’s as capable a family car as a Honda Accord sedan now having recently spent time with my wife and two kids in both. It's even better if parking is tough to come by where you live.

The HR-V is offered in a simple lineup of LX, Sport and EX-L trims at starting prices of $24,895, $26,895 and $28,695, respectively. All come with a 158-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and shiftless CVT automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is $1,500 across the board.

They’re all mechanically identical and come standard with a suite of electronic driver aids that includes automatic emergency brakes, lane-keeping assist and adaptive cruise control, with the Sport and EX-L adding a blind-spot monitor.

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Along with the added overall length, the wheelbase has also been extended to create a larger passenger cabin. It can comfortably fit a six-foot passenger behind a driver who is the same height without either having to compromise on legroom.

The interior has a handsome design that’s similar to the Honda Civic’s with hidden vents behind a throwback grating in the dashboard. This isn’t much of a surprise as the HR-V and Civic are built on the same platform.

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A seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration comes on the LX and Sport, while the EX-L gets a nine-inch screen, the wireless connectivity version of both systems and a charging pad in the center console to go with it. A spacious 24.4 cubic foot cargo area is provided but could be bigger if not for the raked hatchback design.

The HR-V’s performance is best described as peppy, if not overpowering, and fuel economy in front-wheel drive models is 28 mpg, which is on the low side for the class. All-wheel drive drops that to 27 mpg.

The ride quality is exceptional, however. It has Honda’s signature road feel and soaks up bumpy pavement like it’s made of sand. It would embarrass some near-luxury utility vehicles. And its handling at the limit is so well-balanced for a vehicle like this that it wouldn’t be out of place on an autocross course.

My only real gripe about the EX-L I tested is that I found the leather-upholstered front seats a bit firm in the keister region for long trips. Honda intentionally made them more supportive than the old HR-Vs, and I can’t vouch for the comfort of the cloth seats in the LX and Sport.

It's a personal preference, of course, and only disappointing because the HR-V is otherwise so good, I would be happy driving it all the time.

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2023 Honda HR-V

Base price: $24,895

As tested: $30,590

Type: 5-passenger, 4-door, all-wheel drive SUV

Engine: 2.0-liter 4-cylinder

Power: 158 horsepower, 138 lb-ft torque

Transmission: CVT automatic

MPG: 25 city/30 highway