Honda’s smallest crossover, the subcompact HR-V, is all-new for 2023, rocking a bolder redesign with an adventure-seeking outlook.

Now sharing its basics with the Civic compact, the 2nd generation HR-V is offered in LX, Sport, and top-trim EX-L. No matter which you chose, a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine is mounted under the hood, producing 158 horsepower and 138 lb-ft of torque. That’s sent to the standard front-wheel drive or available all-wheel drive system.

Some may groan at the mention of a CVT automatic, but the HR-V tries to lessen the sting with “Step-Shift” programming. It better simulates gear changes under acceleration and was surprisingly intuitive. We had a chance to try it out and a few of the HR-V’s other enhancements during our Pacific Northwest First Drive.

STEPHANIE HART: "Going down this mountain or a steep hill is a no-brainer thanks to a new standard feature on the HR-V. It’s called Hill Descent Control. All you do is push a button in the center console and a set a speed between 2 and 12 miles-per-hour. The vehicle will maintain that set speed. All you have to do is concentrate on the road and steer. This is especially great for anxious drivers— people who are a little fearful of driving in the snow or rain heading down a steep hill or mountain."

Seeing through inclement weather is a pair of LED headlights, encasing the HR-V’s more aggressive grille. The rear sees a just as stylish treatment: LED taillights and a sculpted hatch topped off by a tailgate spoiler. Sport models don a different grille, a black spoiler, and 18-inch wheels.

The new HR-V is longer and wider, and better able to handle a family of 5 in its two-row cabin. We do, however, miss the flip-up second row magic seat that made the outgoing HR-V the most versatile in its class. All grades include a 7-inch digital instrument panel paired to a physical speedometer. The standard infotainment screen is also 7-inches, but the EX-L trim bumps up to a 9-inch display with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The 2023 Honda HR-V made for a great vessel during our Oregon odyssey, looking the part of a capable weekend warrior and comfortable weekday commuter. Starting around 25-thousand dollars, we see it as a very enticing small-ute choice.

And, we’ll have a more definitive dive into the 2023 Honda HR-V soon.