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Road Test: 2023 Honda HR-V EX-L AWD

Road Test: 2023 Honda HR-V EX-L AWD

A Complete Makeover for the Smallest Honda Crossover

The 2023 Honda HR-V begins the second generation for the smallest crossover in the Honda line-up. With a new design and built on a new platform, the 2023 Honda HR-V continues to be a good value with a roomy interior and 30+ mpg. The subcompact crossover category is crazy competitive with a model from just about every manufacturer, with Honda making the case for the HR-V to be on your shopping list.

2023 Honda HR-V EX-L AWD
Ready to play with the bigger boys

One Engine. One Transmission. AWD Optional.

Honda makes it simple as the HR-V is available with one engine and one transmission. The 2.0 liter non-turbocharged 4-cylinder engine is mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT). A shout-out to Honda for not putting needless paddle shifters on the HR-V. Performance numbers are 158 horsepower and 138 pound-feet of torque, driving the front wheels with all-wheel drive an option.

2023 Honda HR-V EX-L AWD
The only choice

For the all-wheel drive version, which Clean Fleet Report had for a week, the transmission is part of the Honda Real Time AWD with Intelligent Control. Real Time senses when your vehicle is losing traction, and automatically activates the rear differential to drive the rear wheels. When AWD isn’t needed, the system switches back to front-wheel drive. This computer-operated system automatically and seamlessly makes the power transfers without notice to the driver.

Running on 87 octane, the EPA rates the HR-V AWD at 25 mpg city/30 highway/27 combined. If opting for the front-wheel drive HR-V, the fuel economy numbers are 26/32/28. In 323 miles driving mostly on Southern California freeways, we averaged 28.2 mpg. Fuel economy numbers reported by Clean Fleet Report are non-scientific, and represent the reviewer’s driving experience using the dash gauge computer. Your numbers may differ.

Hitting the Open Road

The 2.0L in the HR-V AWD performed well, but with zero-to-60 times just under 10 seconds, merging into 70 mph freeway traffic can be an adventure. With four driver selectable drive modes of Normal, Eco, Snow and Sport, it takes just one highway on ramp to figure-out Sport mode is the best choice. It remaps throttle response and shift points, and was the place to be for maximum acceleration. The hill start assist and brake hold are standard safety and convenience features.

2023 Honda HR-V EX-L AWD
Tire noise was minimal

Wind and road (tire) noise was low, but at times the engine was noisy during stress, such as aggressive acceleration or climbing a grade. When highway cruising or in-town driving, it was quiet and smooth. SoCal’s concrete freeways increase the noise inside almost any car, but the HR-V held its own minimizing cabin noise about as good as any of its compact crossover competitors.

The first generation HR-V was based on the Honda Fit. The all-new 2023 HR-V shares components with siblings Civic and CR-V. The 3,333-pound curb weight was well managed by the AWD and the 250/60 Hankook Kinergy GT all-season tires mounted on 17-inch alloy wheels. The new front suspension and a new fully independent rear suspension led to a comfortable ride that absorbed bumps well and was smooth on the highway. With only seven inches of ground clearance, the HR-V AWD is not intended for aggressive off-road driving. The all-wheel drive functionality is there to help in slippery, wet or slushy street driving–and maybe a bit of light forest service road cruising.

The handling is not sporty, but Honda does not tout the HR-V as being a sport crossover, nor is it rated for towing. What you get is good traction, predictable cornering, little tire slippage when cornering hard, and only mild body lean on the most severe corners. Stopping was consistent from the power-assisted anti-lock brakes, electronic brake distribution, stability assist, and the ventilated front and solid rear discs.

Freshened Exterior

2023 Honda HR-V EX-L AWD
New look coming at ya

The HR-V is the smallest of Honda’s four SUVs and crossovers. Going up the size chart are the HR-V, CR-V, Passport and Pilot. All-new for 2023, the HR-V is conservative in its design with a look that forgoes scoops, chrome and sharp edges. The black-out honeycomb grille is the most distinctive design feature as it sets-off the wide-set LED head and daytime running lights.

Available in seven colors, our HR-V was painted in Nordic Forest Pearl that carried a $395 premium. The body color-keyed bumpers, door handles, shark fin antenna, power heated exterior mirrors and rear window spoiler were offset by black front and rear fascia.

The 2023 HR-V is understated, not flashy, with an overall safe design that is smooth and without unneeded cladding.

Comfortable Interior

The 2023 HR-V’s dimensions have grown to nine inches longer and three inches wider than the outgoing model, resulting in a larger interior. Clean Fleet Report tested the top trim level HR-V AWD EX-L with a gray interior, with the seats, shift knob and the steering wheel all trimmed in leather. The LX and Sport models get cloth seats with contrasting stitching.

2023 Honda HR-V EX-L AWD
Driver-friendly confines

The driver and passenger seats are heated, with the driver getting 8-way power adjustments, While the passenger has manual adjustments. Lumbar adjustments for the driver would have been a welcomed feature. The thigh bolsters were good, with the manual tilt and telescoping steering column helping the driver find a comfortable driving position. The one touch tilt and slide power moonroof opens the cabin to the great outdoors, and overall outward visibility was good.

The rear seat room welcomes grown humans, holding two comfortably with well-padded seat bottoms, but three for short jaunts. The 60/40-split rear seat folds for a flat cargo area of 55.1 cubic feet, but does not have a fold-down center armrest. The low sill step-over into the cabin and wide door openings were appreciated, while the rear seat area had ample leg, shoulder and head room. Rear passengers get touch-sensitive ceiling-mounted reading lights, door pocket storage, but no USB ports or ventilation vents.

2023 Honda HR-V EX-L AWD
Adults welcome

The cockpit design is driver-friendly, with a 7-inch screen using round white numbers against black background gauges that make finding driving information quick and convenient. Using controls on the steering wheel the driver can scroll-through various vehicle settings.

The LX and Sport models get a color 7-inch infotainment touchscreen. The EX-L ups that to nine inches to house the navigation and the 180-watt audio system with eight speakers. The good sounding audio system has a simple user interface with AM/FM/HD radio, SiriusXM, and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There is a volume knob and a rocker button to select the radio channels, but two knobs would be more user friendly. The lighted USB ports were accompanied by a 12-volt outlet.

The interior build and material quality are at an above average level for this category of crossover, with soft surfaces on the dash, door panels and center console, all embellished with top stitching. The low profile dash aided in good forward vision and the attractive linear honeycomb pattern on the dash gave an appearance of length and widening. The conveniently placed dual-zone automatic climate control has large wheels for easy operation.

Safety and Convenience

All HR-V models come standard with active and passive safety features such as front, and side air bags with rollover sensors, and Honda Sensing, their advanced driver assistance system (ADAS). Safety technologies include forward collision and road departure mitigation, lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control.

The all-new 2023 Honda HR-V
More space for fun

Additional safety and convenience features include remote keyless entry, a security system, push button start/stop, floor mats, walk-away auto lock, a tire pressure monitoring system, an automatic dimming rearview mirror, Bluetooth and voice recognition and an electric parking brake.

Pricing and Warranties

The 2023 Honda HR-V comes in three trim levels of LX, Sport and EX-L, and either FWD or AWD for each trim. Base prices are $25,045, $27,145 and $29,145. All pricing includes the mandatory $1,245 destination and handling fee.

The 2023 HR-V comes with these warranties.

  • Powertrain – Five years/60,000 mile
  • Basic – Three years/36,000 mile                  
  • Corrosion Perforation – Five years/Unlimited miles
  • Roadside Assistance – Three years/36,000 miles

Observations: 2023 Honda HR-V EX-L AWD

The all-new 2023 Honda HR-V is an entry level compact crossover that’s easy to live with. The redesign is more contemporary, and with added length and width the interior is more spacious than the outgoing model. The HR-V offers comfort for four, five in a pinch, has an AWD option for sloppy road conditions, has a full suite of advanced safety systems, and has the quality Honda DNA.

The all-new 2023 Honda HR-V
From the world to you

The compact Crossover category for the HR-V is fierce. With no-less than fourteen competitors, Honda is relying on the new design to keep current HR-V owners in the family, and attract those consumers moving-out of a sedan looking for a bit more space.

The HR-V is a true international crossover. The engine comes from the U.S., various parts are sourced from Canada and Mexico, with the final assembly point of Celaya, Guanajuato, Mexico. What this means to you the buyer is the HR-V is proving its value as a true world car.

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Story and photos by John Faulkner.

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Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.

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