Honda HR-V Luggage Test: How much cargo space?

The all-new 2023 Honda HR-V is a dramatically different car than the one it replaced. The outgoing, original HR-V was based on the subcompact Fit hatchback, and among various other elements, inherited the clever "Magic Seat" rear floor layout that granted a huge amount of cargo space relative the car's compact footprint. Under the skin, the new HR-V is a Frankenstein of current-generation Civic bits and previous-generation CR-V pieces, with no Fit DNA present. That means there's no more Magic Seat. It also means that despite being considerably bigger outside, it's not that much bigger inside (although the back seat sure seems more comfortable).

Specifically, the specs say it has the exact same 24.4 cubic-feet of cargo space as before. As I've shown again and again in these luggage tests, though, cargo volumes can be deceiving because it can't take into consideration the fact that a trunk's shape can be more important than the total volume. If you're filling the thing with ping pong balls, sure, they'd be the same. But pieces of actual stuff? Well, I think you know where this is going.

First, a disclaimer: I never luggage-tested the outgoing HR-V, so comparisons to that ends here. But I've tested a substantial number of competing subcompact and midcompact SUVs, and many of those have less cargo space on paper than the new HR-V. In practice, though, the HR-V falls short due to the shape of its cargo area. Not only did it perform worse than many competitors, it couldn't hold as much as a Honda Civic Hatchback ... or sedan.

The HR-V has a competitive amount of depth and width, but it's the cargo area height that's the problem. Many of its competitors are boxy, whereas the HR-V has a more sloped liftgate opening. As usual, boxy is better and sloped means a lot more creative packing, wasted space and frustration for the dude luggage testing.

Here's the angle in question. It made it nearly impossible to stack anything atop a bag at the rearmost portion of the cargo area, or stack the bottom bag on its side rather than belly.

Here's what's going on under the floor. Unlike many competitors, the HR-V does not offer multiple cargo area heights. It would probably be better if it did, as this big foam bin thing seems less useful than a few extra inches of cargo height.

For some reason, the HR-V cargo area is ribbed for your luggage's pleasure.

Alright, let's get to the bags. As with every luggage test, I use two midsize roller suitcases that would need to be checked in at the airport (26 inches long, 16 wide, 11 deep), two roll-aboard suitcases that just barely fit in the overhead (24L x 15W x 10D), and one smaller roll-aboard that fits easily (23L x 15W x 10D). I also include my wife's fancy overnight bag just to spruce things up a bit (21L x 12W x 12D).

If I kept everything to the top of the seat backs, as I prefer to do, the fancy bag would not fit despite all the excess room you see above. If I had a bunch of ping pong balls, it'd be swell.

Also note that this HR-V does not come with a cargo cover, so I didn't even get to do the normal with/without comparison.

Nevertheless, I kept Tetrising ...

There, everything can fit but it wasn't pretty. This was perhaps the seventh try with the tailgate sticking time and time again, or squishing a bag (another Luggage Test no-no).

Here's the visibility with the above cargo arrangement, so it's still OK and the bags wouldn't fly forward in the event of a sudden stop.

So, how does this compare?

The following vehicles could fit the same number of the bags with better visibility and/or greater ease of loading.

Subaru Crosstrek

Nissan Kicks

Mazda CX-30 (barely)

Honda Civic Hatchback

The following SUVs could manage more than the HR-V, sometimes considerably so.

Ford Bronco Sport

VW Taos

Kia Seltos

Only the Chevy Trax, Hyundai Kona and Audi Q3 have been worse in my testing among subcompact and midcompact models. Oh, and the Jeep Compass, but I haven't published that one yet. Sneak preview!

This performance is a shame, because Honda is usually such an interior packaging champ. The Accord, Civics, Pilot and CR-V (old and new, another sneak preview!) have all done very well in luggage testing, largely by keeping a keen eye on practicality despite recent generations being more visually interesting. The HR-V is a departure from the norm, which may be fitting, as it's also a departure visually from the current Honda norm.

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