We got all excited when Honda introduced the new Euro-market HR-V (known in some parts of the world as the Vezel), but Honda was quick to tell us to calm the hell down—this wasn’t the subcompact HR-V we were looking for. The U.S., Honda told us, would be getting a new HR-V all its own. Not to cast aspersions on our friends at Honda, but any time an automaker tells us something like this—any of them, not just Honda—we have to wonder if we aren’t just being put off.
Today, Honda released sketches of the North American-market 2023 HR-V (actually, they look like paintings, which is rather cool). And no, we weren’t being put off—this definitely is a different vehicle. Look at the back doors, and what do you see? Door handles on the body. The new Euro-HR-V/Vezel has its rear door handles concealed in the door pillar, just like the current (and soon-to-be-outgoing) HR-V.
From what the paint-sketches show, North America won the HR-V lottery, because if the real thing looks similar, it’s going to be a much cuter critter than the HR-V going to Europe. We like the big blacked-out grille—it’s rather Kia-esque, from the days when ex-Audi designer Peter Schreyer was trying to make all of his Kias look like Audis. It’s certainly a better look than the chromed confusion of the bigger CR-V. (Honda has a new CR-V coming for 2023, and we hope it looks this good.) Speaking of Audis (which we were, weren’t we?), the new HR-V’s bulbous back end bears quite a resemblance to that of the Audi Q3. We’re hoping the swank exterior style is an indicator of what we’ll see inside. We rather like the HR-V, and we’ve always thought a more upscale version would do well with buyers.
And what lurks under that handsome skin? Honda’s two-sentence statement accompanying the sketches. As a rule we don’t copy and paste press releases, but we’ll make an exception: “Honda kicks off its Year of the Crossover with a sneak peek at the all-new sporty and versatile 2023 HR-V. The all-new HRV will launch in North America this year.” Okay, so that yields no information. If we had to guess—which, obviously, we do—we’d predict that one of the new HR-V’s powertrains will be the 212-hp hybrid powertrain from the Euro-market HR-V, which is based around a 2.0-liter naturally aspirated engine.
We assume there will be a non-hybrid version, and as we’ve complained about the current HR-V’s leisurely acceleration, it wouldn’t surprise us if its 1.8 liter engine is replaced by something with a little more gumption, perhaps the 2.0-liter naturally-aspirated engine from the entry-level Civic and (if we’re lucky) Honda’s 1.5-liter turbo, also found in the spectacular new Civic.
The fact that the sketches show the HR-V dashing through the snow with snowboards strapped to the roof rack indicates an all-wheel-drive option. That may seem like a no-brainer for an SUV, but remember that some entry-level sport-utes (Toyota CH-R and Nissan Kicks, to name two) don’t offer AWD; today’s HR-V does offer AWD, however.
Whatever the final HR-V looks like and however it’s configured, this teaser has done its job: We are genuinely excited to see what the real thing looks like. We don’t need to tell you what a hot market segment the compact SUV field is, one chock full of new and credible contenders like the Toyota Corolla Cross, the Kia Seltos, and our pick of the bunch, the Subaru Crosstrek. We’re looking forward to seeing how the new 2023 Honda HR-V stacks up.
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