2023 Honda HR-V First Drive Review: The Big Upgrade

2023 Honda HR-V First Drive Review: The Big Upgrade



The new HR-V’s 2.0-liter engine gets 17 hp and 11 lb-ft upgrades compared to the old car, but we’re more interested in how the engine drives as a whole. Honda promises more efficiency and refinement, which is excellent news if the engine is smoother, quieter, and more responsive than the outgoing model’s. It is, and we immediately appreciated the smoothness with which the HR-V pulled away for the first time. The standard CVT gearbox had the potential to cause alarm, but it’s a refined unit that adds to the experience, programmed to create stronger engine braking when going downhill rather than feeling like a loose rubbery thing separated from the rest of the experience.In standard form, the HR-V is front-wheel-drive, but Honda’s Real Time AWD system is optional and was equipped to our tester, adding Hill Descent Control. The HR-V comes with three main drive modes, Normal, Snow, and Econ. Normal is self-explanatory, while Snow softens the throttle response, increases the adjusts the transmission and AWD for slippery conditions, and turns off the automatic engine stop/start function. Econ does the same as other Honda models by changing the input ratios for the throttle to maximize efficiency and uses a more efficient cycle for the air conditioning. In this mode, two-wheel-drive versions return an estimated 26/32/28 mpg city/highway/combined, while the all-wheel-drive models return 25/30/27 mpg.