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

Blue 2023 Hyundai Kona Limited parked near brown field.

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 But that doesn’t mean it’s out of date.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
Starting Price $23,800 $21,990
Popular Powertrains
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

Source link