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Is the 2023 Honda HR-V a Good SUV? 4 Pros and 5 Cons

honda hr v 2023 06 exterior rear angle scaled jpg 2023 Honda HR-V | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

Redesigned for 2023, the Honda HR-V subcompact SUV has grown larger and cushier, and it gets added safety features. But it has lost some of what helped make the first generation stand out in a sea of similar competitors.

Related: 2023 Honda HR-V Review: Missing the Magic

The redesigned HR-V rides on the same platform as the Civic, making it substantially larger than the old one. Curiously, the extra girth results in less rear-seat legroom, although front-row occupants see a slight increase. Room aside, the cabin is a more pleasant place to be, with nicer materials and finish. Gone is the rear Magic Seat, however, which could be folded different ways to accommodate bulky items and was a distinctive feature of the old HR-V.

Unfortunately, the HR-V’s lackluster driving dynamics and performance remain largely the same, making the new model no more exciting than the old one from behind the wheel. Fuel economy has also taken a hit. Under the hood is a new 158-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, delivering a slight power increase but little excitement. Matched with a continuously variable automatic transmission, acceleration is sluggish and response is slow in coming.

Cars.com’s Jennifer Geiger recently spent some time with a 2023 Honda HR-V and found it to be a mixed bag of good and bad. Tap the link above for her complete expert review; for a quicker look, read on for four things we like and five things we don’t.

Things We Like

honda hr v 2023 17 interior front row scaled jpg 2023 Honda HR-V | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

1. Improvements Underneath

The HR-V gets a new fully independent rear suspension, helping to make it one of the best-riding subcompact SUVs available. Handling is composed and bumps are absorbed nicely. Other improvements underneath include a new Snow mode for AWD models, along with standard hill descent control for easier navigating of steep grades.

2. Upgraded Accommodations

Inside, the cabin has a more upscale look and feel with more padded surfaces, improved materials and a clean, modern design. Instruments and controls receive a welcome upgrade and include a return to physical knobs and buttons for climate and audio functions. The center console has a handy bin that’s open to the sides and includes a USB port, making it an easy place to keep devices powered up and out of the way.

3. Better Infotainment

Base LX trims now come with standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay and a larger 7-inch touchscreen. Top EX-L variants like our test car get a 9-inch touchscreen with wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. We found the system, which is mounted high on the dash, refreshingly easy to use and quick to respond, making it one of the better ones in the class.

4. Added Safety Features

The Honda Sensing suite of active-safety features is now standard even on the base trim, and new features include a front wide-view camera, traffic jam assist and traffic sign recognition. You also get forward collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking, road departure mitigation, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and lane departure steering assist.

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Things We Don’t Like

honda hr v 2023 39 interior backseat scaled jpg 2023 Honda HR-V | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

1. Sluggish Powertrain

In spite of a larger engine and a not-insignificant power increase for 2023, the HR-V still feels lethargic throughout its power band. It’s slow to get underway from a standstill, and passing maneuvers take some forethought and planning. The CVT doesn’t help and keeps both engine revs and noise levels high.

2. MPG

Unfortunately, the underwhelming engine and transmission don’t provide any increase in fuel economy. In fact, the new HR-V gets worse mileage than the old one: Models with front-wheel drive are EPA rated at 28 mpg combined, while all-wheel-drive versions drop that to 27 mpg. Both represent a drop of 2 mpg compared with the outgoing HR-V.

3. The Magic Is Gone

HR-V fans will be sorry to hear the rear Magic Seat is gone, a unique feature that folded the seat up or down to accommodate different types of cargo. In its place is a conventional seat with a folding seatback, taking away one of the HR-V’s most distinctive attributes.

3. Lost Legroom

In spite of a 9.4-inch gain in overall length, rear-seat passengers will find slightly less head- and legroom than in the old HR-V. The good news: There’s still adequate room for adults, and the redesigned seats are comfortable and accommodating. The HR-V also scored well in our Car Seat Check linked above thanks to ample room for two child seats and Latch anchors that are easy to access.

5. Premium Price

The price of admission for an HR-V is now among the highest in the category, with a base FWD LX starting at $24,895 (prices include destination). The top EX-L starts at $28,695, and AWD adds $1,500 to any variant. That works out to an increase of between $780 and more than $2,000 compared to the old HR-V, depending on trim and configuration.

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