The 2023 Honda HR-V and 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross are two of the most popular subcompact SUVs. The Toyota was actually one of the 10-best-selling cars in the entire world last year. Like a Big Mac, however, popularity does not automatically equal the best available product. Neither is one of our top recommended choices in their segment. You can find our top choices here.
The reliability and value retention provided by Honda and Toyota is undeniable, though, and there are in fact areas that are class-leading (just not many). Let’s take a closer look at each in a variety of different categories to help answer which might be a better choice for you.
Read our full 2023 Honda HR-V Review
Read our full 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Review
Which has a nicer interior?
The HR-V interior is its finest attribute, and apart from perhaps the Mazda CX-30’s, a class-leading offering. It looks terrific, knobs and buttons click with Audi-like precision, and materials are top notch. Where most SUVs at its price point have hard plastic, the HR-V has cushy simulated leather trim. This applies even to the midgrade Sport trim, pictured above, which even gets cool-looking cloth upholstery. Functionality is also strong with lots of useful storage.
The Corolla Cross is nothing special. It too can have some simulated leather on the dash, but it’s a comparatively plain environment with more hard plastic. Top trim levels are a little ritzier thanks to two-tone color choices that make things a little dour. Ultimately, this is more about the HR-V being exceptional.
Which has better infotainment technology?
The Corolla Cross gets Toyota’s latest infotainment system for 2023 (above right), and although quicker and prettier than before, there are some usability issues. For instance, it no longer has physical menu shortcut buttons that make it easier to navigate – especially when using Apple CarPlay. Honda’s system still has those and is better for it. Now, unlike the Corolla Cross, the HR-V has two infotainment options. The base unit found in the LX and Sport measures 7 inches and is simpler in operation, though still provides Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The EX-L gets a 9-inch screen (pictured above left) with color graphics, a customizable home screen and permanently docked menu icons. This is the one that looks more comparable to Toyota’s, but both are ultimately easier to use.
Which has the bigger back seat?
The HR-V (above left) has one of the biggest back seats in its segment, whereas the Corolla Cross is merely average. The specs back that up, with the HR-V measuring 37.7 inches of legroom versus the Corolla Cross’ 32.0 inches. The Toyota does have an extra inch of headroom, but it’s not like our heads were in the Honda’s roof. The HR-V is a more viable choice as a family vehicle.
Which has more cargo capacity and functionality?
The HR-V’s cargo volume is greater on paper at 24.4 cubic-feet (pictured below left). In our real-world testing, though, the HR-V underwhelmed due to an angled liftgate opening that robs it of functionality. We still managed to fit six suitcases, but it wasn’t easy. We have not tested the Corolla Cross (pictured below right). On paper, it has 24 cubic-feet of cargo space behind its back seat with front-wheel drive and 21.5 cubic-feet with all-wheel drive or a hybrid powertrain. The Hybrid also loses its spare tire. If hauling stuff is important to you, look to any of the following competitors: Ford Bronco Sport, VW Taos and Kia Seltos.
Which is safer?
Neither was fully crash tested by the NHTSA at the time of this writing. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave both the best-possible rating of Top Safety Pick+. Only their headlights received something other than a top mark, but were still rated the second-best “Acceptable.”
In terms of safety equipment, they are equally equipped apart from the HR-V getting rare rear side airbags. Both come standard with forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability and lane-centering steering assist. Blind-spot warning is standard on all but their base trim levels. Despite having the same features, we broadly consider Honda’s system to be better executed.
Which gets better fuel economy?
Welcome to the win column Corolla Cross! It gets 31 mpg city, 33 mpg highway and 32 mpg combined with front-wheel drive, and then 29/32/30 with all-wheel drive. It also offers something no other brand does in this segment apart from Kia: a hybrid powertrain. The Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid, pictured below in S and XSE trim levels, returns an exceptional 45/38/42 with its standard all-wheel-drive system.
The HR-V’s fuel economy is 26/32/28 with FWD and 25/30/27 with AWD. This is not only lower than the Corolla Cross, but more than many rivals.
Which is more powerful?
This question is like asking “which of these tortoises is faster?” The Corolla Cross and HR-V are two of the slowest new vehicles on sale today, and worse, are saddled with continuously variable transmissions that result in loud, unpleasant droning noises. The Toyota does have more power at 169 horsepower versus 158, and 0-60 testing has shown it to be about a half-second quicker. Both are in the 9-second range, which again, is really slow. On the upside, the Corolla Cross Hybrid improves things as it produces 196 horses and slices two seconds of the 0-60 time. This combination of power and efficiency makes the Corolla Cross Hybrid the most appealing powertrain of this pair, and probably provides the biggest reason to buy the Toyota instead.
Which is better to drive?
The Corolla Cross Hybrid’s extra power probably gives it the leg up here, but when comparing gas-only versions, we’d rather drive the HR-V. It is impressively refined for the segment with a more substantial, sophisticated feel to the way it goes around a corner and sops up bumps. The steering is slow and you definitely won’t enjoy yourself behind the wheel as you might in a Civic or even CR-V. The gas-only Corolla Cross is resoundingly blah to drive, and the “sport-tuned” suspension of the Hybrid doesn’t exactly make things zestier. It also doesn’t hamper the experience.
Which is more comfortable?
As mentioned above, the HR-V has a more substantial and sophisticated feel to the way it goes down the road. We also slightly prefer its seats and driving position, but of course, that’s a matter of personal preference best discovered during test drives.
Are there versions that stand out more than others?
Easy, the Corolla Cross Hybrid. Its fuel economy and performance represent the main reasons to not only choose it over the HR-V, but other SUVs in its segment. The Hybrid is also exclusively available in sport trim levels (S, SE and XSE), which include a sport-tuned suspension (a relative term), LED exterior lighting and sharper looks including different front-end styling. The XSE is pictured below.
When was the last time they were redesigned?
The HR-V was completely redesigned for 2023, and you can read about the changes in our first drive review. The Corolla Cross was all-new for 2022 and received its infotainment system upgraded for 2023. The Hybrid also debuted in 2023.
Which is cheaper and offers more equipment?
Prices are virtually identical – it’s almost like its product planners were keeping track of what the other company was doing! The HR-V EX-L costs more than the range-topping XLE, but after sitting in both, you’d probably agree it should cost more. It also has a bit more standard equipment (alloy wheels versus steelies, for instance). Corolla Cross Hybrid pricing is about $2,000 more than a comparably equipped gas-only Corolla Corolla Cross or HR-V. This seems reasonable, especially when you consider it includes all-wheel drive and a significant performance improvement.