Could This Be The Next-Gen HR-V? Another Honda Crosover Spied In The Wild

The European HR-V looks different, but we're supposed to get a bespoke model here in the U.S.

This crossover looks a bit different to spy shots we’ve seen of the new CR-V, so this could be its smaller sibling. (Images: TFLcar, courtesy of Chris D.)

A follow-up to the aging Honda HR-V is coming — and this could be that car.

Earlier this year, Honda debuted a new, hybrid HR-V for the European market. That model’s based on the new Fit, which never made it to the U.S., but the automaker said we are getting a next-generation of the brand’s small crossover. Honda also said in both January and February, however, that this follow-up with be exclusive to the American market. Thanks to our friend Chris catching this pre-production car out on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, we may just have our first proper look at the next-generation Honda HR-V.

But what about the CR-V? Isn’t that coming too? We’re expecting a new version of Honda’s bestselling model as well, though that doesn’t appear to be what’s on the road here. Coincidentally, we can see this car behind two generations of CR-V (fourth and fifth) below:

The 2023 Honda CR-V should carry a similar profile in its sixth generation, according to spy shots we’ve seen so far. Mark sent in some spy shots of the new CR-V a few weeks ago, showing a larger-statured car — even dialing out all the cladding — to what you see here. Our friends over at Motor Authority also caught the CR-V testing in Europe, sporting a different look to the tailgate, rear quarter and a slight variation in the taillights. Definitely the same family tree, and Chris, who sent in these photos, said that “the front looked similar to a Honda Accord.”

Some curious changes from the old generation HR-V

Interestingly, despite most camouflaged cars being de-badged, you can actually make out the Honda logo in the photo below, underneath the rear wrap. There’s also a badge in the lower left corner of the tailgate, which appears to make out “HR-V”. It’s in the same location as the European version, though again that model sports a different rear-end design to what’s on display here. That could buttress Honda’s point that we’re getting a different version.

Unlike the old Honda HR-V, this new crossover seems to have ditched integrating the rear door handles, switching to regular ones instead. Though looking just past the C-pillar, behind the rear passenger window, it looks like they could have still hidden the handle there? I’m not quite sure, since it looks like just a chunk of black plastic for styling’s sake rather than a small window.

So what’s coming with a new Honda HR-V?

What does it all mean? Well, if this is indeed the next-gen Honda HR-V, it looks like the size of crossover that’s on the same plane as the Toyota Corolla Cross, Mazda CX-30, Kia Seltos and Jeep Compass. I mentioned earlier this year that Honda’s small CUV had some room to grow before elbowing in on its big brother, and most of its chief rivals are filling that “tweener” space between subcompact and compact too. So, we could see a U.S.-spec 2023 Honda HR-V share its underpinnings share its underpinnings with the Civic, rather than the Fit.

To that end, it’s totally plausible to see a 2.0-liter, 158 horsepower engine make its way in as the base unit. That would give it a moderate boost from the old car’s 1.8-liter unit. From there, a 1.5-liter turbocharged engine could wind up in a top-spec EX or EX-L trim, putting out closer to 180 horsepower. Honda’s CVT will almost certainly remain, as it does in the Civic, while front-wheel drive will be the default. Like the outgoing car and the new Toyota Corolla Cross, though, you should have all-wheel drive as an option.

We’ll know more with certainty in the coming months, as the 2023 Honda HR-V for America should debut later next year. Most likely, it will debut after the updated CR-V.

At any rate, Honda’s small CUV desperately needs the update to keep it competitive, and I’m curious to know how that will shake out as this value-rich segment continues to grow. If the new HR-V is larger and gets the updates we’re hoping to see, expect pricing to climb a bit higher to start — toward the low to mid-$20,000s.