2023 Honda HR-V First Look: Second-Generation Compact SUV Plays The Hits

1 2023 Honda HR-V First Look: Second-Generation Compact SUV Plays The Hits
The 2023 Honda HR-V features sleeker exterior styling that echoes the brand’s current design ethos. Honda

Honda is giving the world its first look at the second-generation 2023 HR-V compact crossover. Since its debut in 2016, the HR-V has found a place among its class’s most reliable and economical vehicles. With the all-new 2023 model, Honda is steering driver expectations toward a nimbler, more sporting take on the CUV (Compact Utility Vehicle) formula.

The 2023 HR-V will be larger than the first-generation model. By how much we don’t yet know—specific dimensions for the 2023 HR-V are not yet available—but we do know that it is based on the current, 11th-generation Honda Civic. If the HR-V’s wheelbase corresponds to the Civic’s, it will increase nearly five inches over the outgoing version.  

Though showing its age and a less-than-class-leading power, the current, first-generation HR-V remains a strong seller in a competitive segment populated with attractive alternatives including the Chevrolet Trailblazer, Hyundai Kona, Mazda CX-30, Nissan Kicks and Subaru Crosstrek. Honda’s challenge is to retain that core essence while expanding its’ dynamic capabilities and updating the interior.

2023 Honda HR-V Stying

Upfront, the 2023 HR-V design starts with a much-needed departure from the first-generation model with a new grille and angular headlights somewhat reminiscent of the classic S2000 roadster. The eye follows the HR-V’s silhouette from its lengthened hood over a smooth roofline made possible by laser-brazing technology, which eliminates the need for moldings that would otherwise break up the flow between it and the compact SUV’s pillars and panels. The roofline ends as it reaches the integrated spoiler of the HR-V. Along the sides of the 2023 HR-V a line runs from the bottom of the front fender, tapering off as the top of the rear fender juts out and pokes just slightly against its beltline.

2 2023 Honda HR-V First Look: Second-Generation Compact SUV Plays The Hits
Unlike the previous HR-V that was based on the Fit, the new 2023 model uses the underpinnings of the popular Honda Civic. Honda

The overall effect of the 2023 HR-V is an improvement over a first-generation model that frankly came off a bit dull, even if the 2023 version is a bit of a greatest hits compilation of contemporary SUV/CUV design. Keen-eyed observers will see elements of Audi, Mazda and even Porsche models in the bodywork of the HR-V.

What makes the all-new HR-V work is that its most distinctive design feature—the new front end—gets to make the CUV’s first impression. It’ll need to make a big one as the 2023 HR-V enters a highly competitive compact SUV segment with the likes of the Mazda CX-30, Hyundai Kona, Volkswagen Taos and many more.

Aspirational Qualities

Honda is specifically targeting younger and first-time buyers who it hopes will find the 2023 HR-V compact and light enough for driving in the city, but with enough space and comfort for weekend adventures outdoors or the occasional road trip.

“By gaining aspirational qualities beyond its segment, the all-new 2023 Honda HR-V will welcome a new generation of customers to Honda and grow in importance as a gateway to the Honda brand,” said Michael Kistemaker, assistant vice president of Automobile Sales of American Honda Motor Co., Inc.

2023 Honda HR-V Powertrain

Under the new body, Honda promises a more responsive engine and new independent rear suspension for the all-new 2023 HR-V. Honda wants the second-generation HR-V to be more refined, confident and fun to drive than the first, with substantially improved dynamics and powertrain responsiveness.

We’ll have to wait a little longer to get the measurements and performance figures of the all-new 2023 Honda HR-V; all Honda is currently revealing is the new exterior design. Reports have European models arriving with a hybrid powertrain. But, with the 2023 HR-V based on the Civic—whereas the first-generation HR-V was based on the Fit—the new HR-V could be offered with versions of the Civic’s four-cylinder engine to help alleviate the lethargy of the first-generation model.

At the same time, an all-new CR-V is in the works for 2023, which is also based on the Civic platform. As a result, it’s possible the power of the new HR-V model may be limited to better slot it in the lineup under the traditionally slightly larger, more powerful CR-V and avoid cannibalizing sales.

2023 Honda CR-V Price and On-Sale Date

Honda is playing this one close to the vest. However, given the $23,095 base MSRP (including a $1225 destination fee) the new, 2023 HR-V will likely start under $24,100. Any higher would put too much distance between it and the slightly less expensive Civic and too close to the CR-V and Accord.

We should be learning more about the all-new 2023 Honda HR-V sooner than later; it’s currently slated to make its formal debut this summer.

3 2023 Honda HR-V First Look: Second-Generation Compact SUV Plays The Hits

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