Having first brought you news of the new, redesigned 2023 Honda HR-V in April, more details have emerged about Honda’s least expensive U.S. crossover SUV designed for the American market.
In other markets, Honda will continue with a smaller HR-V, dubbed the Vezel in Japan, still based on the Honda Fit, which the automaker no longer sells in America
“The new Honda HR-V is just the right size for young, active buyers looking for a sporty driving experience, and plenty of space and utility,” said Michael Kistemaker, assistant vice president, Honda National Sales, American Honda Motor Co. Inc.
A larger small CUV
The new second-generation HR-V is now based on Honda’s new global architecture like the 11th-generation Civic platform, rather than the Honda Fit architecture used for the first-generation HR-V. This endows it with an HR-V that’s 9.4 inches longer and 2.6 inches wider than before riding on a 1.7-inch longer wheelbase. The new HR-V is clearly still a compact however, measuring 179.8 inches long, 72.4 inches wide and 63.8 inches tall.
It comes with a new fully independent suspension with MacPherson struts in front and a new multilink arrangement in the rear. It’s a clear step up from last year’s independent front suspension and torsion beam rear axle or rear DeDion suspension, depending on model. This should improve handling and make it even more fun to drive.
More power and lower fuel economy
With the larger footprint comes a larger powerplant, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine producing 158 horsepower and 138 pound-feet of torque, up from last year’s 1.8-liter model that produced 141 hp and 127 lb-ft of torque.
As before, it will be offered with front wheel or all-wheel drive with Econ, Normal and Sport driving modes though a continuously variable automatic transmission. The 17-inch wheels are standard on LX and EX-L models, while Sport models have larger 18-inchers.
A number of driver assistance safety features have been added, including Traffic Jam Assist, Traffic Sign Recognition, Blind-Spot Detection, Hill Descent Control, Driver Attention Monitor, and a Rear Seat Reminder. Existing features, such as Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow and Lane-Keeping Assist return as well.
But the HR-V’s larger size means it weighs more that along with the more powerful engine has taken a toll on fuel economy. According to the EPA, the 2022 HR-V’s combined fuel economy is 29 mpg with all-wheel drive, and 30 mpg with front-wheel drive. That drops to 27 and 28 mpg respectively for 2023.
The inside story
Hoinda said it has upgraded the materials used in the cabin, and added French stitched accents and metal mesh trim, while increasing the heft of the switchgear. Designers also reduced the number of cutlines in the top of the instrument panel to reduce reflections in the windshield.
The added size hasn’t done much to increase cargo capacity, now rated at 24.4 cubic feet, up from 24.3 cubic feet in 2022. Fold the rear seats and you’ll get 55.1 cubic feet of space, down from 57.6 cubic feet on all-wheel-drive models and 58.8 cubic feet on front-wheel-drive trims. Let’s hope the added size went to the passenger space.
All Honda HR-V’s come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto Compatibility, but it’s wireless on the EX-L, which also comes with Qi-compatible wireless charging pad and an upgraded 8-speaker audio system. LX and Sport HR-Vs come with a 7-Inch Color touchscreen with two knobs, while EX-L trims gets a 9-Inch HD Color touchscreen with a single knob. All HR-Vs have a 7-inch instrument cluster.
Looking for more sales
“We look to grow its position as the segment leader with young buyers, first-time buyers, and multicultural customers,” said Kistemaker.
Yet Honda’s smallest crossover utility vehicle has seen its sales grow despite being around for several years. In fact, the increases have been impressive enough you might wonder why they’re redesigning it.
In the first quarter of 2022, the HR-V sold 42,168 units, a 38% increase from the 26,175 units it sold in the same period in 2021. That’s an annual sales volume of 168,672 units, considerably more than the 137,090 units sold in 2021, the 84,027 peddled in 2020 or the 99,104 retailed in 2019.
One reason might be its low $21,870 starting price, which is lower than most other CUVs. But will that continue for 2023? Like the HR-V itself, the price has grown larger as well, with models starting at $23,650, or 7.5% higher.
It remains to be seen whether its new larger platform and more sophisticated underpinnings can offset its higher price and lower fuel economy. Given Honda’s track record, we think not.