The 2023 Honda HR-V is a far cry from greatness

In this age of $6.00-per-gallon gasoline, driving the 2023 Honda HR-V last week sparked mixed feelings about where automakers think the priorities are for buyers in the market to mass on a limited budget.

As I report today in a comprehensive review of the HR-V at car connection, Honda has a very good vehicle—only one that, at 27 mpg combined with all-wheel drive, isn’t fuel efficient for its size by today’s standards.

Whether compared to the larger 2022 Honda CR-V or the outgoing 2022 Honda HR-V, the 2023 HR-V falls behind in terms of fuel economy – by 2 mpg across the range, compared to the one or the other model. And that’s if you try to ignore the excellent 38-mpg CR-V hybrid.

There is so much to love. It’s the right size, refined and well-equipped inside, with best-in-class seating comfort. It has all-wheel drive available, and it rides and handles better than most models you could possibly compare it to. It just has the wrong powertrain.

2023 Honda HR-V

First, it hits its stride in today’s market, slipping into a “lost segment” that was occupied by compact SUVs like the CR-V (before 2017) before the latest round of “segment creep” took hold. settled down and they all grew up.

That means the HR-V grows taller too, about nine inches in length over the previous subcompact model. Gone is the Magic Seat setup offered by the outgoing HR-V, which allowed you to easily fit your big dog or large potted plant, in favor of a cabin that exemplifies why people have turned to crossovers these last years.

With the upcoming 2023 Honda CR-V set to go up another half step, the HR-V’s size is perfectly adequate – and not too big. The seat works its own magic. With clever door cutouts and a high roofline, those over six feet tall can sit behind each other; four adults will fit comfortably. Even the driving position is perfect: you sit a little higher than in a car, but you don’t sit ridiculously high…in the car, not on like some SUVs. And I appreciate the subtle nods to Honda E styling, built into the sedan’s round.

2023 Honda HR-V

2023 Honda HR-V

Its price is a bargain. In this time of inflationary price increases and supply chain overloads, it starts at under $25,000, going to just over $30,000 for the fully equipped EX-L version which includes a sunroof , automatic climate control, leather upholstery, a larger infotainment screen, and wireless smartphone compatibility.

And yet, it’s not that good on the gas – which is why it’s just not a model we can objectively review here at Green car reports. All-wheel-drive versions of the Honda HR-V are rated at 27 mpg combined (25 mpg city, 30 highway), while front-wheel-drive versions hit 28 mpg combined (26/32).

From what I’ve seen in an all-wheel-drive example, the HR-V beats its real-world EPA ratings quite a bit. On a 200 mile trail route in varied terrain, mostly at 45-65 mph but with a brief run over 70 mph, I saw very close to 30 mpg.

It might be more forgivable if the HR-V delivered dashing, inspiring performance with this, but it doesn’t. The 2.0-liter inline-4 produces 158 hp and 138 lb-ft of torque, and sings sweetly, but it struggles with the CVT. A Sport mode helps, but as they say, your mileage may vary.

2023 Honda HR-V

2023 Honda HR-V

2023 Honda HR-V

2023 Honda HR-V

2023 Honda HR-V

2023 Honda HR-V

It would all be so much better with Honda’s hybrid system, both in terms of handling and efficiency. In a form factor more likely to be part of daily stop-and-go, especially such a heavy vehicle, not taking advantage of electrification would be a wasted opportunity.

It looks like Honda is teasing the rest of the world with this idea much earlier. While the rest of the world gets a different HR-V, which is a hybrid, the new US HR-V is called the ZR-V globally. And curiously, Honda has unveiled a ZR-V for Europe, confirming that in that market it will be a hybrid-only model.

As Honda explained, they needed to give the HR-V a more premium look, while staying on a budget, noting that the outgoing HR-V spans a range and has been popular with “mature buyers looking for something sensible”. With Europeans willing to pay more for items like technology and premium powertrain options, Honda hinted that we might not see that for the US, at least not right away.

The brand has big plans for its hybrid system; it plans to increase hybrid sales to more than 50% of sales volume with the next generation CR-V and Accord models.

2023 Honda HR-V

2023 Honda HR-V

2023 Honda HR-V

2023 Honda HR-V

2023 Honda HR-V

2023 Honda HR-V

Honda declined to say if there was a hybrid HR-V in the works for the United States, but that would be where all the magic of the products I was driving would be unleashed. If a front-wheel-drive version hit 40 mpg instead of 27 or 28, it wouldn’t just be a better ride, but it would save several hundred dollars a year in gas revenue – a few thousand dollars upsell for the hybrid which reimburses customers very quickly.

On a fleet basis, Honda produced a set of vehicles with the greatest fuel economy and lowest CO2 emissions, collectively, of all full-line automakers, according to annual EPA ratings. But in this class, it is shaping up to be one of the worst in terms of efficiency.

The Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid, which follows a taller, more SUV-like shape, is expected to hit 37 mpg combined, Toyota says, and it’ll be a volume model, likely to land around $30,000.

2023 Honda HR-V

2023 Honda HR-V

If Honda offered a hybrid HR-V it would be better than that and could be one of the best models on the market for small families who need the versatility of a crossover, want to watch their fuel budget and cannot not plug in.

In the meantime, take a long look at the numbers on the window sticker.

#Honda #HRV #cry #greatness

Add Comment