A silver 2023 Honda HR-V Sport is shown driving on a street after visiting a Honda HR-V dealer.

Is It Time for an HR-V Hybrid?

Take a walk around your local Honda HR-V dealer this year and you’ll find a compact crossover that’s received a significant makeover for 2023. Its exterior is sleeker with a smooth roofline and a long hood, the interior has better tech and is designed for optimal comfort, and there’s a more powerful engine under the hood. One thing you won’t find available on the 2023 HR-V, however, is a hybrid option—at least, not in the United States.

Go up a level in size and you can get a CR-V Hybrid. Downsize to a sedan and you can get an Accord Hybrid. Is it time for the HR-V to get on the electrification bandwagon? Let’s take a look at the current American HR-V, its European counterpart, and the factors driving Honda’s electrification strategy. Taking all of these factors together, we should be able to get a good idea of where the HR-V may be heading in future model years.

A red 2023 Honda HR-V EX-L is shown parked near a restaurant.

HR-V in the USA

If you compare the powertrain in the 2023 HR-V to the one in the 2022 HR-V, you’ll find that improvements have focused more on power than fuel economy. While the 1.8L engine in the 2022 HR-V was good for 141 hp and 127 lb-ft of torque, the 2.0L engine under the hood of the 2023 model delivers 158 hp and 138 lb-ft of torque. Honda is touting the new HR-V as a sportier model, pairing the larger engine with a new CVT transmission designed to be more responsive for a natural feel.

Driving enthusiasts looking for athleticism are no doubt happy about this change. But those prioritizing fuel efficiency will probably be disappointed to find that the 2023 HR-V has a combined city/highway fuel economy rating of 28 MPG, compared to the 30 MPG that the 2022 HR-V gets. Of course, that’s not a huge difference—it only lowers the total range by four miles and is in line with the average 2023 vehicle. But if your Number One deciding factor is fuel efficiency, then you’ll probably be more tempted by the CR-V hybrid, which has a larger interior and a combined city/highway fuel economy rating of 40 MPG.

And while the HR-V doesn’t currently offer a hybrid, the new model does take efficiency seriously. A new catalytic converter was designed to reduce emissions while also using the minimum necessary amount of rare metals. The HR-V also received a new Idle Stop system in this update to reduce fuel efficiency while waiting at red lights or sitting in stop-and-go traffic.

HR-V Hybrid in Europe

In Europe, the situation is quite different. The 2022 HR-V was released in Europe with a hybrid powertrain as the standard option. It uses Honda’s e:HEV system, which means it’s a full hybrid capable of running on electric power as opposed to being just a mild hybrid system. However, it’s not a plug-in hybrid either; its battery is charged by regenerative braking and doesn’t need to be charged by an external power source. This makes the HR-V hybrid both efficient and convenient.

However, the European version isn’t without its downsides. For one thing, it’s not quite as powerful as its US equivalent. The European HR-V has a maximum engine power output of 131 PS (about 129 hp) and 253 Nm (about 187 lb-ft) of torque—but climate-conscious drivers may be willing to make that sacrifice in order to get the WLTP combined fuel economy rating of 5.4 L/100 km (about 44 MPG).

The black interior and dash of a 2023 Honda HR-V EX-L is shown.

Honda’s Electrification Strategy

Automakers around the world are moving toward electrification, and Honda is no exception. While there isn’t an all-electric vehicle in its current American lineup, its European lineup is almost entirely hybrids and EVs. In 2022, Honda announced a ten-year plan to allocate more resources to electrification technologies and launch 30 EV models worldwide by 2030. We can already see some of the effects of this plan here in the States.

As we already mentioned, the CR-V and Accord both already offer hybrid models in the United States. In fact, Honda has made the hybrid version of the Accord an even more prominent feature for the 2023 model year, which kicks off the midsize sedan’s 11th generation. Instead of offering a hybrid and non-hybrid version of its top-tier trims, the 2023 Accord provides the hybrid system as the base powertrain for all but the two most basic trim levels. Honda estimates that hybrid Accords will represent around 50% of all 2023 Accord models sold.

It will be interesting to see how this move pans out for Honda in the coming year. If the hybrid Accord meets their expectations or even over-performs, it may signal to the company that American drivers are ready to switch to hybrid versions of their favorite nameplates. That could hasten any plans that Honda might have to roll out the hybrid HR-V in the US.

Pressure from the EPA

Outside of Honda’s own goals and the preferences of consumers, federal regulations could also affect whether we see an American HR-V Hybrid in the near future. For instance, on April 12, 2023, the EPA announced a new set of proposed emissions standards; the proposed rules would drastically cut back on the total greenhouse gas emissions allowed. While automakers can do whatever they like to meet these standards across their lineup, it’s unlikely that any company will be able to adhere to the standards without producing a significant amount of hybrids and EVs.

As of now, the standards are only a proposition; even if they are adopted, they won’t go into effect until the 2027 model year. But this announcement does signal the direction that the US is going in regarding automotive emissions. The pattern becomes even clearer when you keep in mind that the standards adopted in 2021 (to cover model years 2023-2026) were the strictest yet. On top of that, automakers have already been adding plenty of hybrids and EVs to their lineups, even before these stricter standards were put in place.

A silver 2023 Honda HR-V is shown driving near a lake.

So, Will the HR-V Hybrid Come to America?

Predicting the future is always a risky business. The automotive industry can be affected by events that are difficult to see coming. Because of this, it’s hard to say for sure whether a hybrid HR-V is on its way to American dealerships. However, looking at the overall signs from consumers, the US government, and Honda itself, it seems almost inevitable that American drivers will get an HR-V hybrid eventually. That brings us back to our original question: is now the time for an HR-V hybrid?

According to Honda, the answer is “no” as of the 2023 model year. We do think drivers will enjoy the extra power and sporty styling of the compact SUV, but we also hope that engineers are working behind the scenes to bring Honda fans the best of both worlds in the next year or so. If the extra horsepower of its new engine could be seamlessly paired with the efficiency of a hybrid setup, that could definitely be a winning combination. For now, the redesigned 2023 HR-V has a lot to love, from a longer and wider body to a sound-absorbing interior and body-stabilizing seats that reduce fatigue. Adding a hybrid option down the road would simply be a cherry on top.