Honda has fully unveiled the brand new 2023 Honda HR-V for North America, and that geographical context is important because this is an entirely different HR-V to the one already released in Europe.
The difference comes down to Honda of America’s belief that U.S. and Canadian audiences need a bigger car than the supermini-based vision sold in Europe. So instead of being built around the Jazz/Fit supermini, the North American HR-V is based on the latest Civic and grows substantially in size, and slightly in price.
Ranging from $23,650 to $28,950 plus $1,245 destination, the 2023 HR-V rides on a 1.7-in (43 mm) longer wheelbase than the car it replaces, and measures a huge 9.4-in (239 mm) longer from nose to tail. Those prices and dimensions put the new HR-V much closer to its CR-V big brother, which starts at $26,800, but don’t bet against next year’s new CR-V increasing in both size and price.
The Civic origins are fairly clear from the powertrain lineup. A naturally aspirated 2.0-liter four is standard, and sends its 158 hp (160 PS) and 138 lb-ft (187 Nm) to the front wheels through a CVT transmission. Those numbers are 17 hp (17 PS) and 11 lb-ft (15 Nm) better than the old car’s atmo 1.8 could muster, but they’re hardly fulsome, and unlike the Civic, the HR-V doesn’t offer buyers the option of a 180 hp (183 PS) 1.5-liter turbocharged alternative, or a six-speed manual gearbox.
There’s no hybrid option either, which might be a deal breaker for some buyers. The most frugal of the new HR-V’s is only rated at 28 mpg on the EPA’s combined cycle compared with 35 mpg for a 2022 Civic sedan with the same engine and transmission setup.
What the HR-V does bring over the Civic is the chance to upgrade from front- to all-wheel drive for an additional $1,500. Honda says this year’s AWD transmission, which can be configured via a mode dial on the console, can send more power to the rear wheels in slippery conditions than the old one, and every HR-V regardless of the number of driven wheels comes equipped with Hill Descent Control.
There are clear Civic references inside the HR-V, including the mesh-covered strip air vents, rotary heating controls and the way the infotainment tablet sits in a scooped-out section of the dash-top. But close inspection reveals minor detail changes to the console and switch layout that avoid it looking like a straightforward lift. A 7.0-in digital gauge pack and same-sized center screen are standard on the LX, and also the Sport, which starts at $25,650. EX-L upgrades the latter to a 9.0-in version and adds wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, but brings a starting price of $28,950.
And finally, if you’re reading this from China and Europe and are wishing you could have this North American HR-V instead of the smaller one you’re actually being offered, don’t worry. Honda will also offer this U.S. car in other markets, but badged as the ZR-V.