Driven: 2023 Honda HR-V Is Pleasant, Competent and Unexciting

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The new HR-V’s interior is a huge step up from the previous car’s. Not because it’s particularly revolutionary, but because it’s been pulled straight out of the 11th-generation Civic. It’s safe to say we love that interior. Honda got the tactile feel of the climate controls and buttons on the steering wheel just right, and the honeycomb-style trim on the dashboard and steering wheel is a nice touch.

Just like the Civic, the HR-V can be had with cloth seats on lower trims, but the top-spec EX-L gets leather seat surfaces. There are three USB ports up front, two of which rest neatly in the redesigned two-tier center console that features a handy cubby between the front seats. The EX-L also gets a wireless charging pad.

The back is decidedly less tech-y than the front. Even in the range-topping EX-L, you won’t find things like charging ports, an air vent or a fold-down armrest. The rear bench offers just a single position for the backrest, but on the bright side, it is set at a comfortable angle. There’s an abundance of headroom and legroom, too, even for 6-foot-plus passengers. Some rival subcompact crossovers can feel claustrophobic once you start filling the cabin with adults, but the HR-V gives you plenty of room to stretch out.

How’s the HR-V’s tech?

With a new generation of HR-V comes a new generation of tech. But again, it’s stuff we’ve seen before in the Civic. A central infotainment display remains at the top of the dash. The standard size for the central screen is 7 inches, but the EX-L has a 9-inch unit. Both screens support Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, but only the EX-L allows you to go wireless. Unlike the Civic, the HR-V does not offer an integrated navigation system, so you’ll be out of luck if you venture off the beaten path in an area without cell service.

All trims get a 7-inch multi-information display on the left side of the instrument cluster. The screen is customizable and can show things like your media selection, a traditional speedometer and more. The right side of the instrument panel is a classic analog rev counter.

The Honda Sensing suite of advanced driver aids (consisting of features such as lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, and forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking) is standard across the range. Sport and EX-L trims also get a true blind-spot monitor, rather than the low-resolution blind-spot camera that annoyed us in the previous HR-V. Unfortunately, the upgraded (and quite good) Bose sound system available for the Civic is nowhere to be found on the HR-V, which means buyers who value high-quality audio may be disappointed.

How’s the HR-V’s storage?

The new HR-V’s cargo area is similar to the previous model’s, with 24.4 cubic feet of storage space in the rear hatch area. The rear seatbacks also feature a 60/40 split and are now able to fold completely flat for larger items. With the rear bench folded flat, cargo space expands to 55.1 cubic feet.

Unfortunately, the trick storage solution made famous by the previous HR-V is gone in this iteration. Honda’s so-called Magic Seat, which let users flip up the rear seat bottoms to store tall items on the floor, is no more. It’s a bummer because that feature differentiated the HR-V from the rest of the class.

How economical is the new HR-V?

The new HR-V gets an EPA-estimated 28 mpg combined (26 city/32 highway) with front-wheel drive and 27 mpg combined (25 city/30 highway) with all-wheel drive. Overall, these are average figures for an extra-small SUV.

The 2023 Honda HR-V is available in three trim levels: LX, Sports and EX-L. All are powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (158 horsepower, 138 lb-ft of torque) connected to a continuously variable automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is optional. Feature highlights include:

The entry-level HR-V LX starts you off with:

  • 17-inch wheels
  • LED headlights
  • push-button start
  • Single-zone automatic climate control
  • Height-adjustable driver’s seat
  • Four-speaker audio system
  • 7-inch touchscreen
  • Three USB ports
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration

Every HR-V comes with a number of advanced driver aids, including:

  • Forward collision mitigation (warns you of an impending collision and applies the brakes in certain scenarios)
  • Lane departure mitigation (warns you of a lane departure when a turn signal isn’t used and can automatically steer to maintain lane position)
  • Adaptive cruise control (maintains a driver-set distance between the Honda and the car in front)

Upgrades the HR-V with:

  • 18-inch gloss-black wheels
  • Remote engine start
  • Distinctive grille
  • Heated mirrors with black-painted caps
  • Chrome exhaust tip
  • Tinted rear windows
  • Keyless entry
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter
  • Heated front seats
  • Six-speaker audio system
  • Blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert (warns you if a vehicle is in your blind spot during a lane change or while in reverse)

The most luxurious HR-V comes with the Sport’s equipment (minus that trim’s unique features) plus:

  • 17-inch wheels
  • Body-color mirror caps
  • sunroof
  • Self-dimming rearview mirror
  • Ambient lighting
  • Dual-zone automatic climate control
  • Power-adjustable driver’s seat
  • Leather upholstery
  • Eight-speaker audio system
  • Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • satellite-radio
  • wireless charging pad
  • Parking sensors (alert you to obstacles that may not be visible in front of or behind the vehicle when parking)

Edmunds says

The 2023 Honda HR-V is a nicely executed vehicle that will satisfy shoppers looking for a useful small SUV. However, its standout attributes are shared with other vehicles in this class. The HR-V simply doesn’t offer anything unique to make it a must-buy.

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