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2023 Honda HR-V Surprises with Glorious Trip and Redesign

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UPDATE 8/24/22: This evaluation has been up to date with take a look at numbers.

Pacific Northwest loggers run the mountain roads with flat-footed confidence, even within the rain, and since it is nearly all the time raining, they’ve had a number of apply. It was raining throughout our take a look at drive of the 2023 Honda HR-V, and the 18-wheeler within the rearview mirror got here up behind us prefer it was auditioning for a remake of Duel. To keep away from changing into a Peterbilt hood emblem, we put the pedal down. Floored, the HR-V made extra noise, however, in disappointing CVT-equipped trend, didn’t go noticeably sooner. Simply as we had been making ready to be absorbed right into a truck grille, the straight uphill street took a proper, then a left, after which a enjoyable sequence of sweeping curves. The truck slowed down, and the HR-V swept by way of at full pace. It was the primary of a number of nice surprises from the redesigned small Honda.

The HR-V isn’t a automotive with a fame for enjoyable surprises. Since its introduction in 2016, it has been a wise and uninspiring selection of transportation, a car meant to unravel the fundamental drawback of transportation with slightly additional house. The redesigned HR-V is hoping to shed its fame for uninteresting driving whereas holding on to its promise of worth and practicality. To take action, Honda moved it from the tiny and now departed Match platform to the bigger Civic underpinnings whereas giving it a tad extra horsepower and much more persona. The brand new mannequin is sort of 10 inches longer and three inches wider than the first-generation HR-V, with much less stubby proportions and a growly entrance fascia—sure, you are so robust, little SUV.

The outside rework brings extensive LED lights in entrance and rear, dramatically framed inlets and patterned grilles within the nostril, an angled hatch, and a clear roofline, because of roof panels which can be laser brazed, which leaves a clean end. It will not go down within the annals of groundbreaking automotive design, however we discovered it kind of endearing, like an offended hamster.

Inside, issues are extra interesting and fewer raging rodent. The seating place is decrease and extra carlike than within the outgoing mannequin, which sat the motive force excessive and upright. The seats are patterned material within the LX and Sport trim and leather-based within the prime EX-L, providing a pop of texture throughout all ranges. The pillowy sprint echoes the Civic with an unbroken line of honeycomb mesh throughout all of the vents. The steering wheel is thickly padded. The automotive is extra cohesive and classy than the earlier technology, with a great mixture of bodily buttons and digital shows. The middle console is a piece of ergonomic artwork, with a tall shifter, deep cupholders positioned ahead and out of the best way, and several other locations to retailer or cost a cellphone, together with a pass-through that offers the passenger entry to their very own cellphone storage and USB charging. The EX-L trim we drove additionally supplied wi-fi charging within the entrance tray. Whereas higher contact factors are squishy delicate, the plastic decrease on the door panels has a wavy corrugation. It hides scuffs, provides rigidity to the big door pockets, and is each a intelligent and a sexy resolution to an space of the automotive that will get lots of tough dealing with—or, extra precisely, footing.

HIGHS: Nicer to spend time in, simpler to see out of, improved trip and dealing with.

In case you’re nonetheless hung up on the decrease seating place—a better viewpoint is one purpose folks have moved to SUVs—we guarantee you that visibility within the new HR-V is vastly improved. The beltlines of door and hood are decrease, the A-pillars are thinner, and the driving place is extra comfy whereas providing a greater view. Honda says the entrance seats had been redesigned with extra inside construction to supply assist and a greater posture, and after a full day of outrunning vehicles and chasing waterfalls in blatant defiance of TLC’s recommendation, we agree that no matter is going on contained in the seat cushions makes a constructive distinction. The brand new seat isn’t solely delicate and supportive but in addition extremely adjustable. Between that and the nice sightlines, we might put the brand new HR-V excessive on a listing of advisable automobiles for folk of smaller stature. Tall drivers will nonetheless match wonderful behind the wheel, and the rear seats lean again and provide extra padding than the outgoing mannequin’s. So despite the fact that this utility car is small, the passengers do not have to be.

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If it is stuff you are carrying, it’s possible you’ll be saddened to listen to that the “magic seat,” which supplied the choice of flipping up the rear seat backside for extra hauling house, is a casualty of the brand new chassis design. Until you are commonly taking your fiddle-leaf fig for a drive, we’d say it is a truthful commerce for the way more comfy again seat and the wonderful dealing with traits. Common cargo house is barely decreased behind the rear seats, however they nonetheless fold flat, so you may carry loads of shorter crops, a bicycle, or all of your soiled laundry in your option to your dad and mom’ place for spring break.

Options and pricing are simplified from 2022. There are three trims, every normal as front-wheel drive, with all-wheel drive a $1500 choice. The bottom LX begins at $24,895, whereas the highest trim EX-L requires $28,695. The engine and transmission are unchanged by trim selection, and all of Honda’s safety-related driver aids come normal on all fashions. The EX-L will get the eight-way adjustable leather-based seats, a sunroof, dual-zone local weather management, and a 9.0-inch touchscreen infotainment interface, amongst different audio and tech upgrades. We appreciated the Sport trim’s black accents, orange inside stitching, and decrease $26,895 worth. Honda famously does not provide mechanical or comfort choices on any given trim, however the all-wheel-drive EX-L we had in for testing was slathered in Nordic Forest paint that added $395 to its backside line. Its $30,590 whole worth is just about probably the most you may pay for one among these.

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The HR-V powertrain stays unsatisfying. It is higher than the final one, however by so little, they should not have bothered. The earlier loud and torpid 1.8-liter four-cylinder made 141 horsepower, getting the all-wheel-drive car an EPA score of 28 mpg mixed. The brand new mannequin’s 2.0-liter engine, additionally borrowed from the Civic, makes 158 horsepower, continues to be loud and torpid, and helps the all-wheel-drive model get a 27-mpg mixed EPA score. However this new HR-V did show extra environment friendly on our 75-mph freeway fuel-economy loop, averaging 32 mpg, an enchancment over the outgoing mannequin’s 30-mpg displaying.

LOWS: Nonetheless gradual, nonetheless noisy, not fairly as adept at carrying cargo.

In efficiency testing, the EX-L AWD reached 60 mph in 9.4 seconds, faster than the ten.1 clicks the earlier model wanted. Efficiency falls off rapidly, as a full quarter-mile takes 17.3 seconds, solely 0.5 second higher than earlier than. Honda made some try to quiet it down with a sophisticated crankshaft and a low-friction cam drive, however it nonetheless howls and shivers while you ground it. The CVT behind it performs make-believe as a gearbox, promising fake downshifts and stepped acceleration to distract from the hardworking four-banger, however straight-line acceleration is all bark and barely a nibble.

We did see enchancment within the stopping numbers. Within the 70-mph braking take a look at, the brand new HR-V got here to a halt in 172 ft, eight ft shorter than the final one. Like many small SUVs, the earlier HR-V supplied all of the driving pleasure of a Residence Depot lumber cart. The brand new HR-V might not be superquick, however it’s gentle and cheery on the street, feeling related whereas nonetheless cushioning uneven pavement. That is because of the multilink rear suspension, which replaces the torsion-beam setup of the earlier technology. The physique additionally makes use of extra adhesive for elevated rigidity. Aluminum parts cut back weight entrance and rear, and the entrance suspension rides easily on a low-friction damper mount. The steering, too, is vastly higher than the earlier automotive’s and feels gentle however not flimsy. The driving expertise was notably higher subjectively, however that was not borne out when the HR-V was making circles on the restrict on the skidpad. There, the 2023 car pulled 0.80 g, whereas the earlier mannequin did 0.84.

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We received behind the wheel of the HR-V anticipating a dutiful however joyless driving expertise. What we discovered was an enthralling small machine that would use a bit extra push (to maintain from being pushed by fast-moving tractor-trailers) however made a prepared and inspiring road-trip companion. Huge home windows, easy-to-read shows, a sexy and cozy inside, and a pliable chassis are the HR-V’s defining traits. That is nonetheless a car designed to unravel the fundamental drawback of transportation, however it now fulfills that mission with energetic enthusiasm, if not outright pace.


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