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  • Writer's pictureCory Fourniquet

2023 Honda HR-V AWD EX-L: A Perfectly Fine AWD Alternative to the FWD-Only Chevy Trax

The compact and sub-compact crossover market is getting pretty heated. Chevy recently identified some white space in their lineup and in the market to introduce their new 2024 front-wheel-drive-only Trax that starts right at $22,000 and maxes out just over $26,000. However, in their pursuit of affordability, Chevy left out the option for AWD traction. Is this Honda HR-V AWD EX-L worth the premium for that added traction?

Well, that depends on various factors. First, this really is a perfectly fine vehicle. It won’t get you hot under the collar when you look at it, nor will it give you the tingly fizzy feeling (IYKYK) while driving it, though it goes about its mission of efficient transportation without much fuss.

Sadly, the weakest link in this platform is not the engine, but the continuously variable transmission attached to it. The CVT absolutely kills any diving fun someone like yours truly seeks in a vehicle of any sort. Even my 10-year-old Chevy Cruze Eco has some sporty character. This HR-V has been described by friends who have tested it as well as a “wet blanket” of a driving experience. It just moans around wherever you go.

CVT aside, the HR-V is a competent entry into the segment. It has decent power and can put it down to all four wheels, something we tested off-pavement recently. The inside is a fine place to spend time as well, stealing design elements from the Civic on which it is based. The seats are leather wrapped in our EX-L model (hence the L designation) and reasonably comfortable for commuting.

Tech inside is what you would expect with a decent 9-inch infotainment screen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The instrument cluster features a real analog speedometer with a 7-inch digital helper screen that can display various different bits of info for the driver. Honda has their latest Honda Sensing suite of driver assistance features for added peace of mind as well.

Where this thing really shines is Honda’s ability to build a large cargo area. While this HR-V concedes some rear seat space to the Chevy Trax, it makes up for it in the rear cargo area (especially with the seats folded). We will put a spec-by-spec comparison of the two vehicles down below to see how the two stack up against each other.

In the world of subcompact crossovers, this is a perfectly fine example. It does not excel in any one area, but it does a lot of things really well. It would make a perfectly fine commuter or long-distance hauler. The cargo area is comparable to many large three-row SUVs and the seats are decently comfortable. With features like heated front seats, keyless push-button start, and Honda Sensing suite of driver assistance tech, this is a perfectly capable small crossover. However, at a $30,590 price point, I find it a hard sell versus their larger Accord sedan we tested earlier this year which gets better fuel economy and has more room. If you are in need of the most affordable and nicely-trimmed crossover from Honda, this is your pick, but in the market, I suppose there are better options for sporty driving or passenger space. And for the price, there are better options within the Honda lineup as well.

2023 Honda HR-V AWD EX-L Specs:

  • 2.0L 4-cylinder 16-Valve DOHC VTEC® with Dual Variable Timing Control Engine

  • 158 Horsepower

  • 138 lb-ft of Torque

  • Continuously Variable Transmission

  • Real-Time AWD™

  • MacPherson Strut Front Suspension

  • Multi-Link Rear Suspension

  • Electric Power-Assisted Rack-and-Pinion Steering

  • 12.3-inch Vented Front Disc Brakes

  • 12.2-inch Solid Rear Disc Brakes

  • 3 Driver-selectable Drive Modes

  • Seating for 5

  • Heated Front Seats

  • 8-way Power Adjustable Driver Seat

  • 60/40 Split Rear Bench Seat

  • Leather Seating Surfaces, Steering Wheel, and Shift Lever

  • Heated Steering Wheel

  • Standard Sized Moonroof

  • 7-inch Digital Gauge Cluster and Analog Speedometer

  • 9-inch Infotainment Screen with Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

  • 8-speaker, 180-watt Sound System

  • Dual-zone Automatic Climate Control

  • LED Headlights

  • LED Taillights

  • 17-inch Alloy Wheels

  • 215/60 R17 Hankook Kinergy GT Tires

  • Manual Liftgate

  • Proximity Key with Push Button Start and Walk Away Auto Lock®

  • Up to 24.2 Cubic Feet of Storage Behind the Rear Seats

  • Up to 55.1 Cubic Feet of Total Storage with All Seats Folded

  • EPA Fuel Economy 25/30/27 (city/hwy/cmb)

    • 26/32/28 in FWD

  • Starting Price: $24,100

  • Price As Tested: $30,590

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