Honda's smallest crossover, the HR-V, has hardly changed since its introduction to the U.S. as a 2016 model, and we'd say it's overdue for a remodel. Honda seems to think so, too, since one of our spy photographers caught the company testing a completely redesigned model. It's a significant design departure that could potentially have some big mechanical upgrades.
The styling of this HR-V is more aggressive, with the whole vehicle looking like its leaning forward, from the upright fascia to the fastback roofline. It looks wider, too, thanks to the the thinner headlights and a grille that doesn't seem to taper as much as it descends the nose. The flat, long nose and very prominent fender flares also bolster the HR-V's sportier appearance.
The fastback tail is a big departure from the current model, which had a more conventional hatchback shape. It does look as though Honda kept the roof as tall as it could right about to where the back seat ends, which will hopefully maintain headroom and clearance for stuff that might be carried with the Magic Seat flipped up. There is one bit of HR-V design that has carried over from the current model, and that's the concealed rear door handle.
Honda hasn't said much about the next HR-V, but we'd really like to see the old SOHC 1.8-liter engine (the first version of which appeared in the 2006 Honda Civic) replaced with something more modern and potent. The current Civic's base 2.0-liter four-cylinder would seem like a strong choice, offering an extra 17 horsepower (158) and 11 pound-feet of torque. The Civic's turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder with 174 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque would also be quite appealing, possibly as an optional engine. It's already available in the HR-V in some overseas markets. Front- and all-wheel drive will almost certainly be available. The current HR-V is only available with a CVT, and we don't see that changing, even though Honda has offered both the above engines with manuals in the past.
Considering how close to production-spec this prototype appears to be, we're expecting it to be revealed sometime this year as a 2022 model. Pricing will likely be comparable to the current model, which starts at around $22,000.