Since many automakers have left the subcompact car market, their subcompact SUVs are often the least-expensive vehicles on its sales lots. Inexpensive doesn’t have to mean cheap, though. Some of 2023’s subcompact SUVs offer high build quality, extensive feature lists, and design with real attention to detail.
The Honda HR-V is all-new for 2023, with improved ride quality and impressive cargo space. The Hyundai Kona is an older platform due for an update. But it’s an excellent value with a lot of equipment for its price and one of the longest warranties in the business. Let’s compare them to see which one might be right for you.
2023 Honda HR-V
Honda has completely redesigned its smallest SUV for 2023. The 2023 Honda HR-V now rides on the same platform as the Civic, giving it a more sophisticated suspension and better ride quality than most competitors. A handsome new cabin design borrows tricks from more expensive models, too. Prices start at $23,800.
Honda HR-V Highlights
Refined ride: Allow us to get nerdy for a moment. Most subcompact SUVs, including almost every version of the Kona, use a simple torsion beam rear suspension to keep costs down. Honda, moving the new HR-V to the Civic platform, went with a more sophisticated multilink setup. You don’t need an engineering degree to understand that the ride feels smoother than most subcompacts because the HR-V uses a suspension system designed for a more expensive class of vehicle.
More cargo space with the seats up or down: The HR-V offers more cargo space than the Kona with the rear seats in place and with them folded. We still miss the infinitely flexible Magic Seat of the last generation HR-V. But, truth be told, this one doesn’t need it to swallow a weekend getaway’s worth of gear.
HondaLink App: Honda’s HondaLink smartphone app offers a range of services, such as stolen vehicle location, geofencing, automatic collision notification, and service appointments. It’s a lot of convenience for no added fee.
Check this week’s Fair Purchase Price or see the Honda HR-V models for sale near you.
2023 Hyundai Kona
The current Hyundai Kona is in its last model year before a major redesign. But that doesn’t mean it’s out of date. Hyundai dealers have a flexible stable full of Kona options to offer, including gasoline and electric-powered versions, plus a high-performance Kona N that adds fun to a pretty staid market segment. Pricing starts at $21,990.
Hyundai Kona Highlights
A selection of powertrains: The HR-V comes with one engine option. It’ll serve your needs; otherwise, there’s not much to say about it. The Kona is available with a 147-horsepower 4-cylinder option similar to the HR-V’s sole choice, a 195-horsepower turbocharged engine that’s more fun to use. If that’s still not enough, you can step up to a 276-horsepower mill that’s truly sporty with the Kona N — almost unheard-of power in a subcompact SUV. Also available is the Kona Electric with 258 miles of range.
High-performance N version: If you need a practical SUV for everyday use but want something fun for the occasional spirited countryside drive, the Kona N is unlike any other subcompact SUV. That 276-horsepower engine is part of its fun formula. Paddle shifters give you more control over the shift points of the 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. And it uses a multilink rear suspension like the HR-V, tuned for sporty handling.
Long-term security: Hyundai protects Kona buyers with a 5-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain plan. Honda gives only three years or 36,000 miles to the former and 5-years/60,000 for the latter.
Similar prices, 4-cylinder engines paired with continuously-variable transmissions, and similar driver and passenger space
The all-new Honda HR-V brings a new level of refinement to the subcompact SUV class, with its sophisticated suspension and upscale cabin. But it offers just one powertrain choice, tuned for everyday driving. The Hyundai Kona is an older platform, but electric and high-performance options give buyers more ability to personalize their new car.
You might enjoy owning either one, and only your own priorities can tell you which one you’d prefer.
|2023 Honda HR-V||2023 Hyundai Kona|
|Engine||2.0-liter 4-cylinder||2.0-liter inline-4|
|Horsepower||158 hp @ 6,500 rpm||147 hp @ 6,200 rpm|
|Torque||138 lb-ft @ 4,200 rpm||132 lb-ft @ 4,500 rpm|
|Transmission||CVT automatic||CVT automatic|
|Fuel Economy||26 city/32 highway/28 combined mpg||32 mpg (30 city/35 hwy)|
|Also Available||AWD||AWD; 1.6-liter turbo 4-cylinder; 2.0-liter turbo 4-cylinder; electric model|
|Warranty||3 years/36,000 miles||5 years/60,000 miles|
|Powertrain Warranty||5 years/60,000 miles||10 years/100,000 miles|
|NHTSA Overall Safety||TBD||5 stars|
|Max Seating Capacity||5||5|
|Wheelbase||104.5 inches||102.4 inches|
|Overall Length||179.8 inches||165.6 inches|
|Width||72.4 inches||70.9 inches|
|Height||63.4 inches||61.0 inches|
|Turning Diameter||35.1 feet||34.8 feet|
|Headroom, Front||39.4 inches||39.6 inches|
|Headroom, 2nd row||38.0 inches||37.8 inches|
|Legroom, Front||41.9 inches||41.5 inches|
|Legroom, 2nd row||37.7 inches||35.2 inches|
|Shoulder Room, Front||56.6 inches||55.5 inches|
|Shoulder Room, 2nd row||55.2 inches||54.5 inches|
|Cargo Volume||24.4/55.1 cubic feet||19.2/45.8 cubic feet|