2023 Honda HR-V 5DR AWD EX-L - Review by David Colman +VIDEO
Well Proportioned, Handsome, and Sooo Good Looking
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL
"What a lovely color!" Those were my wife's first words when she saw the "Nordic Forest" paint job Honda had applied (for an extra $395) to our $30,590 test car. I had already had some fun with this color prior to receiving the HR-V. My cousin, visiting for Thanksgiving, wanted to know how to spot 'my' car in a parking lot where we had agreed to meet. I told him to look for the Nordic Forest Honda, to which he replied, "Where do they come up with these names?" So I told him to read Tom Wolfe 's Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamlined Baby.
For 2023, however, Honda didn't rename the HR-V. They just changed out the whole car for something completely new, but kept the name the same. First sold in 2016, the original HR-V was based on the now discontinued Fit platform. The redesigned 2023 HR-V springs from the latest 11th generation Honda Civic. Replacing the prior HR-V's 1.8 liter, 141hp engine is a Civic-based 2.0 liter inline 4 making 158hp and 138lb.-ft. of torque. This new engine adds 17hp and 11lb.ft. of torque to the equation.
Three different front-wheel drive models are available, starting with the LX ($23,650) the Sport ($25,650), and the EX-L ($27,450). Honda also offers these three grades with all-wheel drive for an extra $1,500 each. Like all versions of the HR-V, our AWD EX-L harnessed engine output with a CVT transmission which was not equipped with paddle shifts or manual override via a floor-mounted sport stick. Although the gearbox detents carry on "S" setting, this choice is earmarked for Snow (not Sport) operation.
Although the redesigned shell of the latest HR-V certainly conveys a racier appearance than that of its predecessor, the new model's hard numbers for acceleration will not have you heading off to the local drag strip. The 2023 HR-V AWD will reach 60 MPH from a standing start in just under 10 seconds, and post a standing start quarter-mile run in 17.3 seconds at 85mph. The old HR-V posted a power-to-weight ratio of 21.59lb/hp while the new one slightly improves the bottom line to 20.84lb/hp.
The exceptional handling responsiveness of the new HR-V very nearly compensates for its power shortfall. The improvement begins with the sturdier structure the HR-V inherits from the Civic platform. Taking full advantage of that enhanced stiffness is an all-new independent front and rear suspension layout featuring MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link independent rear layout. Honda incorporated low friction bushings to improve both ride comfort and handling responsiveness. The AWD HR-V we tested rode on rather striking 5-spoke alloys (17x6.5J) shod with Hankook Kinergy GT (215/60R17) all-season rubber. Slightly wider 18x7J rims are available to improve both looks and grip at the expense of ride comfort loss.
The most notable improvement Honda has achieved with its second generation HR-V is the interior remodel. All versions offer a 7-inch color LCD instrument layout, with a 7-inch color touchscreen standard on LX and Sport models. The EX-L we drove replaces the smaller touchscreen with a 9-inch unit that is easy to read, facile to operate, and equipped with a physical volume knob, large icons, and hard buttons for Home and Back functions. Honda has come a long way since the first HR-V in meeting driver requirements for painless digital operation. The company also earns high accolades for the upmarket look of the new cockpit. The EX-L's front seats are good looking, and even better to spend time in. The driver's seat has plenty of bolstering and lower body support, with electric controlled functions for backrest inclination and fore/aft travel. The passenger's front seat handles the same chores with manual controls. Both seats are heated.
Honda has done an exceptionally good job of resurrecting the original HR-V with a beguiling new shape, an all-new interior, and a sweet suite of digital information screens that eliminate confusion and promote a Zen calm while driving. The icing on that new multi-layer cake is you can't spend more than $30,590 to get the HR-V AWD EX-L which is the pick of the litter.
2023 HONDA HR-V 5DR AWD EX-L
ENGINE: 2.0 Liter inline 4 Cylinder, DOHC, 16-valve, aluminum block and head
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 25MPG City/30MPG Highway
PRICE AS TESTED: $30,590
HYPES: Well Proportioned and Handsome
GRIPES: Hybrid Punch Would Be Nice
STAR RATING: 9 Stars out of 10