Honda’s answer to the Mazda CX-30 and Nissan Kicks, the HR-V, returns for a second generation completely redesigned for 2023. Longer, wider and boasting the same platform and engine as found in the Civic the vehicle has matured nicely offering a good option for small families.
"The new HR-V is the perfect size for those looking for a SUV that can park in tight spaces and carry all their gear while delivering a fun and sporty driving experience," said Honda Canada vice president Steve Hui in a press release. "HR-V's upgraded and enhanced features will solidify its position as a segment leader that will attract a new generation of Honda customers. We expect it will be popular with young and diverse consumers representing a variety of lifestyles."
Design takes a sharp detour from the global model that finally arrived in the U.S. and Canada back in 2016, deleting quirks like the hidden rear door handles and flip-up interior Magic Seats seen in the Fit hatchback. The front fascia adopts a contemporary appearance wearing sleek LED headlights, complemented by similarly slimmed down units at the back, and a traditional centre-set black grille painted gloss black on Darpan’s EX-L Navi grade tester.
The aforementioned 221-millimetre longer length and 70-millimetre increased width provide more athletic proportions, and adding to the performance aesthetic are unique 17-inch Shark Gray machined-finished alloy wheels, gloss black door pillars and bumper trim, and a painted window spoiler.
Sharing a similar interior as the Civic, the same polarizing metal honeycomb decoration runs across the entire dashboard and conceals the air vents behind. The leather steering wheel and heated seats have a premium feel to them given the entry-level segment though curiously feature complete manual adjustment even on the driver’s side.
The nine-inch colour touchscreen is nice to look at but Honda infotainment remains one of the less intuitive examples on the market and could really use some type of rotary control knob found in many competitor vehicles. Having a larger footprint allows for the implementation of a widened bench so second row passengers are more comfortable, as well as an expanded cargo area affording either 691 litres of space when the seatback is upright or 1,559 litres if folded.
A 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine shared with the base Civic is found under the hood producing 158-horsepower and 138 lb-ft of torque, a rather small improvement of 17 and 11 respectively compared to the outgoing 1.8-litre. Sadly, a slightly whiny CVT is the only transmission option as the former six-speed manual gearbox has bit the dust.
The EX-L Navi receives an enhanced all-wheel drive system as standard now capable of sending additional torque to the rear wheels in low traction scenarios. Grip was admirable during the wet week I drove the crossover, and a fresh, fully independent suspension has really tightened up the handling over the previous version.
Four trims of the 2023 Honda HR-V are available, starting with the front-wheel drive LX ($28,730 MSRP) and topping out at the EX-L Navi ($39,080).
Highlights (as tested):
Motor: 2.0-litre inline-four cylinder
Horsepower: 158 @ 6,500 rpm
Torque (lb-ft): 138 @ 4,200 rpm
Layout: all-wheel drive
Fuel economy: 9.9 L/100 km mixed city/highway (observed)