When the Honda HR-V debuted in the U.S. over a decade ago, it did so with all the charm of a cutting board; it was a solid, reliable platform that you could use everyday and yet totally ignore. But this could change now that the 2023 Honda HR-V is finally here with a redesign that borrows heavily from the latest Honda Civic. The Honda HR-V is finally trying to get our attention, and I think that with this second generation (in the U.S.), the HR-V does actually deserve it.
Come to think of it, it’s harder now to overlook that the outgoing Honda HR-V shared design language with the CR-V. And that the CR-V looked like Honda stretched the face of a contemporary Civic over too-big a frame. All three older Hondas shared a vaguely flat face — to some degree. Even if the previous HR-V wasn’t as ugly as the CR-V or Civic, it wasn’t exactly good-looking.
This new HR-V has a longer hood and with its narrow headlights set high, the crossover looks sleeker than before. The snout keeps the underbite, but it’s less.
The “unsightly roof moldings” are gone, per Honda, and the windshield wipers are hidden. This makes for much cleaner lines overall. Honda says that the HR-V is still based on the Civic, and like the eleventh-generation of the beloved sedan, the crossover wants to grow up:
Based on the award-winning 11th generation Honda Civic, the HR-V is larger than its predecessor, with a longer wheelbase and wider stance while still remaining sporty and personal. The HR-V is the right size with the space and utility for an adventurous weekend escape, yet nimble to maneuver city streets. Set to launch this summer, HR-V will feature a more responsive engine and a new independent rear suspension, giving the compact SUV a more confident, refined and fun-to-drive personality.
It’s funny, then, that the 2023 Honda HR-V reveal goes for a youthful vibe that wants to convince us the HR-V is playful. Honda even calls out which customers the HR-V is after, specifically citing young and first time buyers. Honda is also doubling down on its claim that the new HR-V is sporty and adventurous, which is, more or less, marketing-speak for “you can off-road this at your own peril.”
But I don’t think the H-RV should try to be something it’s not. It’s not a sporty car; it’s also not an off-roader. I hope it turns out to be a hybrid car. And I really hope it’s still a cheap car, which starts somewhere around $21,870. Like before.
We can’t know exactly what kind of car it is based on specs, because those are still under wraps. Ditto the release date, which Honda says is sometime this summer. Really, I think the 2023 Honda HR-V should mostly just lean — regardless of body roll — into what it finally is: a good-looking crossover.