2023 Honda HR-V doesn’t mind a little PEI road grime

Let’s do some simple math. Multiply typical January Canadian conditions by Prince Edward Island roads. Add Platinum White Pearl paint. Subtract conscientious car owners. And divide by a jaded car writer who simply needs some attractive photos.

You don’t need to carry the 1, you don’t need to remember the first seven digits of pi, and there are no prime numbers. There aren’t even any fractions. Run all of those equations and the end result is an instantly filthy 2023 Honda HR-V EX-L.

But isn’t that what the HR-V is designed for?

 

2023 Honda HR-V
Photo: GARRY SOWERBY

 

No, we don’t mean that HR-Vs are designed for a life of filth, but this second-generation Honda crossover (third-gen, if you count the 1998-2006 model that never made it to Canada) is most definitely intended for a life of everyday living.

 

The 2023 Honda HR-V: Designed for normal transportation. The daily grind. The hamster wheel. The ol’ 9-to-5.

The new HR-V may not be the car of your dreams, but for a rapidly growing number of subcompact crossover shoppers, it’s very likely on the shopping shortlist.

This top-spec 2023 HR-V’s visit to Prince Edward Island at the very start of 2023 was never destined to be one filled with flashy cliffside time-lapses, trips to white sand beaches along the north shore, or flashy photo shoots in quaint tourist towns like Victoria-by-the-Sea or North Rustico.

 

2023 Honda HR-V
Photo: TIM CAIN

 

At 46.5°N during the first week of January, daylight hours are few. Flurries are plentiful. And the roads are layered with an ocean’s worth of salt and sand.

 

Might you enjoy a wintry PEI vacation?

Sure. Most definitely. Especially if we ever receive sufficient quantities of snow for snowmobiling, skiing, sledding. Or at least enough cold to freeze our backyard rinks. But is the early – and decidedly unseasonable – winter of 2023 showing PEI in its best light?

Uh, no. For this particular week, the HR-V doesn’t need to ferry beachgoers from the cottage to Cavendish; it isn’t required to carry kids to ceilidhs. The task is straightforward: A-to-B transportation.

To be honest, isn’t that what people want? The world isn’t stuffed full of automotive enthusiasts, but it is stuffed full of people who want to go places. The HR-V is no Civic Type R – this small crossover is very clearly designed for the latter group.

 

2023 Honda HR-V
Photo: GARRY SOWERBY

 

Standard equipment on every HR-V includes, not a turbocharged four-pot cranking out in excess of 300 horsepower paired to a six-speed manual, but rather winter-friendly features such as remote start, heated front seats, automatic climate control, LED headlights, and proximity access.

The HR-V Sport adds a heated steering wheel and sunroof. At $39,224, this top-spec EX-L’s key additions are leather upholstery and navigation.

Performance? Though by no means eye-watering, it’s much improved from the previous HR-V thanks to the Civic’s 158-horsepower powerplant.

Refinement? Dramatically upgraded thanks to the Civic platform, rather than the prior HR-V’s Fit architecture.

Space? Though lacking the previous HR-V’s flexible rear seat configuration, the new HR-V’s 9.4 inches of additional length definitely create a more capacious interior.

 

2023 Honda HR-V: Perfectly liveable

Collectively, more upmarket content, better performance, greater refinement, and improved cabin room create a vehicle that’s perfectly liveable on a daily basis. And there may be no more intensive test of daily expectations for the 2023 HR-V than the doldrums of early winter in PEI.

 

2023 Honda HR-V
Photo: TIM CAIN

 

Determining whether the Honda HR-V can live up to a commuter’s expectations doesn’t require testing on Laguna Seca’s Corkscrew or, for that matter, quarter-mile competitions in Oyster Bed. The HR-V, even with RealTime all-wheel-drive, isn’t about to leave home for an adventure-packed trip to the Rubicon or to race in the Baja 500.

The 2023 Honda HR-V’s job is to efficiently escort a small family from hockey rink to home in warmth, safety, and comfort.

Or, should we say, warmth, safety, comfort, and filth?

Test complete. Whatever weight the HR-V lost in spent fuel last week was gained back in a red road grime.

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