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Good value but a groaning engine

Good value but a groaning engine

Tyler Duffy

Honda hit the nail on the head with the new 11th generation Civic. It’s pretty much the best affordable compact on the market. It was an easy pick for our GP100 list last year. But it’s the 2020s. Sedans are in decline. If your product planning was for Honda, you’d want “the Civic… just a crossover.” And Honda is now selling the all-new 2023 Honda HR-V, which literally is.

Honda kept the HR-V name for the new entry-level SUV. But they deviated from the global HR-V range. Go outside, the quirky door handles and the magic chair in the second row. A more conventional, Civic-based (and Civic-looking) crossover, dubbed the ZR-V, is coming in China. “Civic Cross” might have been a more accurate name. But Honda’s weird experience with the Accord Crosstour probably prevented that choice.

I tested the new HR-V and drove it around my home in Michigan for a week. It wasn’t the fanciest car to drive to the valet when my wife and I were attending a rehearsal dinner. But it turned out to be a solid, good value, pleasant little crossover – as long as I didn’t hit the accelerator with great enthusiasm.

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The 2022 Honda HR-V EX-L AWD

Advantages: Luxurious interior, solid handling, strong value for money

cons: Engine lacks power and liveliness

  • Drivetrain: 2.0-litre inline four, CVT, AWD
  • Horsepower: 158
  • Couple: 138 lb-ft
  • EPA fuel consumption: 25 mpg city, 30 mpg highway
  • chairs: 5

The Honda HR-V drives quite well

The Civic’s superpower is excellent chassis tuning for its price. And a bit of that shine finds its way to the HR-V. The HR-V is more agile and balanced than you might think, at least in Michigan-quality corners, and the steering feels direct and nicely weighted.

The HR-V delivered surprisingly plush ride quality for an inexpensive crossover. It was smooth and quiet over a bumpy Michigan-grade pavement. The HR-V can cruise so smoothly, I found myself going 10-15 mph above the speed limit without intending to.

But the HR-V’s base engine is downright depressing

The new HR-V gets one engine option. It is the base engine of the Civic, a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter plant that produces about 158 ​​horsepower. That engine matches a thumping CVT transmission. And the combination turns out to be painfully slow. Motorcycle trend clocked the HR-V at 9.8 seconds from 0-60 mph.

I found a safe place while driving the HR-V and accelerated. It resulted in a whine, a faltering rev counter and the car – in my perception – did not go any faster. I reached for sports mode to run a pass on the aforementioned rehearsal dinner ride. But there is no sport mode in the driving modes.

The Corolla Cross added a more powerful hybrid. Hopefully Honda will follow suit.

The HR-V interior is luxurious, but a little less magical

Honda doesn’t work wonders for the price. But buyers of the premium EX-L trim I rode won’t feel changed. The design is similar to the new Civic with the minimalist horizontal line across the dashboard. You get quilted leather, body-supporting seats and a comfortable leather-wrapped steering wheel, sunroof and dual-zone climate control. You also get plenty of technology with wireless phone charging, wireless Apple Carplay and Android Auto, and features like remote start.

However, the HR-V loses one of its distinguishing features from the previous generation, the magic chair in the second row. The magic chair can fold 60/40 and fold flat; the seat bottoms are folded up to accommodate tall objects; plus, you could remove the front passenger’s headrest and fold that seat up for extra-long items. So while the new Civic-based HR-V is bigger, you actually get almost four cubic feet fewer cargo space.

How much does the Honda HR-V cost?

The HR-V is an affordable entry-level crossover. The suggested starting price is $23,650. My top-trim EX-L tester with AWD came more or less fully loaded—unless you want fancy gold rims—with $395 Nordic Forest paint for $30,590 with the destination surcharge included.

What Are Some Honda HR-V Alternatives?

The Honda HR-V’s closest competitor is the Toyota Corolla Cross ($22,445), a new crossover based on Civic rival Corolla. Both cars have similar strengths (drive quality) and weaknesses (engine). The driver alternative would be the excellent Mazda CX-30 ($22,500). It has less cargo space. But with a 227 horsepower engine, you can’t go soar for much more money than an HR-V. Other attractive cross-shopping options may include the Kia Seltos ($22,840) and Volkswagen Taos ($24,155).

The new HR-V is a vehicle that stands taller than the one it replaces. The ride quality and interior make it feel more expensive than it is. But it’s impossible to overlook the sad combination of engine and CVT, especially when competitors offer more power and conventional automatic transmissions.

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