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A blue 2023 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid is shown parked outside of a storefront.

Profiting From Your Daily Commute: 2023 Subaru Crosstrek vs Honda HR-V

More and more drivers are choosing subcompact SUVs for their daily commute. These sporty little vehicles provide higher ground clearance than sedans, are roomier, and don’t miss out on the benefits of powerful little engines with superior fuel economy. As a result, they provide a safe and comfortable way for many workers to get to and from their jobs on a daily basis. Two of the top-rated models competing in this class are the 2023 Subaru Crosstrek vs 2023 Honda HR-V.

Both of these vehicles deliver a great deal of standard features at a very affordable price. For example, the Subaru Crosstrek has a Starlink Multimedia system with either a 6.5-inch or eight-inch color touchscreen, while the Honda HR-V has a Display Audio infotainment system with a seven-inch or nine-inch touchscreen. Each of these infotainment options allows drivers to stay connected with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

The 2023 Crosstrek and 2023 HR-V also have standard driver-assistance features. The Crosstrek features Subaru EyeSight driver-assistance technology, while the HR-V is equipped with Honda Sensing. These will make sure that commuters like you get to and from your place of work safely. In fact, the price tags on these two vehicles are also almost the same, with the 2023 Crosstrek starting at $23,645 and the 2023 HR-V at $23,800. As a result, the only key difference for most drivers is the performance of their respective powertrains.

A grey 2023 Honda HR-V Sport is shown driving in a city during a 2023 Subaru Crosstrek vs 2023 Honda HR-V comparison.

Two Different Powertrain Approaches

The main area of departure between these two models is their choice of powertrains. While Honda has chosen to give every 2023 HR-V the same powertrain, Subaru offers drivers a selection of three different engines and two different transmission options.

The 2023 Honda HR-V is the latest generation in this model’s history, which dates back to the 2016 model year. No matter which of the three trim levels you choose on an HR-V, you will get a model equipped with a 2.0-liter I-4 gas engine paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). This engine has a dual overhead camshaft (DOHC) design with 16 valves feeding its four cylinders, and it features a lightweight die-cast aluminum block with cast-in iron cylinders. It also features an i-VTEC valve control system, a type of variable valve timing to improve engine efficiency. The Honda HR-V’s engine uses multi-point fuel injection to deliver 158 hp at 6,500 RPM and 138 lb-ft of torque at 4,200 RPM.

The 2023 Subaru Crosstrek is the latest version of this popular subcompact SUV, which debuted in 2013. It features three different engine options, depending on which trim level you choose. If you opt for the Base or Premium trim, your Crosstrek will come with a 2.0-liter Boxer-4 gas engine. You will also get the choice of a Lineartronic CVT or six-speed manual transmission. The CVT on all Crosstrek trims except the Base has a simulated eight-speed manual mode with paddle shifters mounted on the steering wheel. This allows you to emulate manual shifting without having to struggle with a clutch. The 2.0-liter Boxer-4 has an aluminum block and heads, a DOHC configuration, and uses direct fuel injection to provide 152 hp at 6,000 RPM and 145 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 RPM. These numbers are roughly equal to those provided by the standard engine on the 2023 Honda HR-V.

Subaru has provided a larger engine on the 2023 Crosstrek Sport and Limited trims. This is a 2.5-liter Boxer-4 with a Lineartronic CVT. This also has a DOHC configuration with 16 valves feeding four cylinders, an aluminum block and heads, and utilizes direct fuel injection to deliver an impressive 182 hp at 5,800 RPM and 176 lb-ft of torque at 4,400 RPM. That’s a substantial boost in performance over the Honda HR-V.

There is also the Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid. As you probably guessed, this model pairs a gas engine with an electric motor. In this case, it uses a 2.0-liter Boxer-4 engine with a CVT like on the Base and Premium. However, it works with permanent-magnet motors powered by an 8.8-kWh nickel-metal hydride battery pack. The mix between the two power types is achieved using Subaru’s StarDrive Technology, allowing this plug-in hybrid to get 17 miles of pure electric driving. The gas engine on the Crosstrek Hybrid provides 137 hp at 5,600 RPM and 134 lb-ft of torque at 4,400 RPM, while the electric motors add 118 hp and 149 lb-ft of torque. These numbers are also more powerful than those on the Honda HR-V.

Premium All-Wheel Drive Without Paying a Premium

The 2023 Honda HR-V comes with front-wheel drive standard. This is fine if you want to get the most out of your vehicle’s fuel economy. However, if you face inclement weather, it leaves a bit to be desired, as front-wheel drive doesn’t provide the type of traction supplied by all-wheel drive. You must pay extra for the feature if you want all-wheel drive on the HR-V.

In contrast, every 2023 Subaru Crosstrek comes equipped with standard Symmetrical all-wheel drive. This means you don’t have to pay extra to get the most traction possible on the Subaru. It also signals that the Crosstrek was designed from the wheels up as an all-wheel drive vehicle. The same cannot be said of the Honda HR-V, which like most front-wheel drive vehicles, had to be retrofitted for an all-wheel drivetrain.

Performance and Acceleration Compared

When you are driving to work, you want to know that you have the kind of acceleration you need to easily merge onto a busy highway. The 2023 Honda HR-V can go from zero to 60 mph in 9.4 seconds with a top speed of 115 mph. While this is fine for getting off the light, it may be a bit sluggish for someone looking to get onto the road in rush hour.

The 2023 Crosstrek easily bests these numbers. The models with the 2.5-liter engine can go from zero to 60 mph in just 7.5 seconds, while even the Crosstrek Hybrid provides solid acceleration, going from zero to 60 mph in a respectable 8.3 seconds. This makes the Crosstrek a vehicle that will give you a little more get-up-and-go when you really need to get where you are going.

A gold 2023 Subaru Crosstrek Gold is shown driving on wet road.

Two Economical Models

If your biggest concern with buying a subcompact SUV is the fuel economy, then the clear choice is the 2023 Crosstrek Hybrid. This will give you an incredible 35 MPG combined on gasoline and 90 MPGe on electricity. This incredible efficiency is because the Crosstrek Hybrid primarily relies on its electric motors to power the vehicle at lower speeds.

If you want to stick with a conventional gas engine, the Subaru will still be your more efficient choice. A Subaru Crosstrek with the 2.5-liter engine provides an impressive 29 MPG combined, while versions with the 2.0-liter engine can give you 30 MPG combined. The key difference between the two is that the Crosstrek with the larger engine gets better gas mileage in highway driving, while the smaller engine delivers better fuel economy in the city. Even choosing a Crosstrek with the six-speed manual transmission will still provide a solid 25 MPG in combined fuel economy.

The 2023 Honda HR-V with front-wheel drive surpasses the numbers on the Crosstrek with the six-speed manual transmission but with a fuel economy of 28 MPG combined, can’t come close to the other three versions of the Crosstrek. Opting for all-wheel drive on your 2023 HR-V reduces fuel economy further to 27 MPG combined. As a result, the 2023 Subaru Crosstrek is the better choice to save you gas while commuting.

A Choice of Powertrains That Outperform

The 2023 Subaru Crosstrek and the 2023 Honda HR-V provide many similar features, like exceptional standard safety technology, a roomy interior design, and a fun infotainment system. However, when it comes to performance and fuel economy, the three engine options for the Subaru Crosstrek will deliver more than the single engine for the Honda HR-V. If you plan on using your subcompact SUV to commute to work each day, the added speed, standard all-wheel drive, and superior fuel economy of the 2023 Subaru Crosstrek will all work to make each day more profitable for you.