The 2023 Honda CR-V has been redesigned for its sixth generation, and it’s now sold here as a hybrid – an option previously available only to American buyers.
Honda’s hoping that half of all CR-V sales will eventually be hybrids. With the redesigned 2023 Accord, the automaker is working towards that by making the base trim gas-only and all others hybrid. The CR-V is the opposite; of its eight trims, only the top Touring is hybrid, starting at $50,890 including a non-negotiable delivery fee of $2,000. Mine was further optioned with a package of all-weather floor and cargo liners, bringing it to $51,362 before taxes.
The CR-V’s overall shape is the same as before, but it’s slightly longer and wider, and its windshield pillars have been moved back for better visibility. Styling changes include a new grille, LED headlights, and a hybrid-specific fascia and black 19-inch wheels, although it still blends into the scenery rather than stand out.
The cabin design has undergone considerable changes, with a tablet-style centre touchscreen instead of one integrated into the centre stack; an attractive mesh insert that conceals the dash air vents; and the gear selector has been relocated farther down in the console.
The redesigned CR-V hadn’t yet been crash-tested by the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) at the time of this writing, but it achieves the highest Top Safety Pick+ award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). That includes the highest “Good” score in the updated side crash test, which better simulates being struck by a large SUV, and which many models are having trouble acing.
All CR-V trims include such driver-assist technologies as adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, emergency front braking, automatic high-beam headlights, and the back-up camera that’s mandatory on all new vehicles; but this one’s multi-angle and includes guiding lines that show where the vehicle is headed. Meanwhile, the hybrid further adds blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, as well as front and rear parking sensors.
The Touring is well equipped, as you’d expect for the top trim, with the LED headlights, seven-inch customizable digital instrument cluster, dual-zone automatic climate control, and heated front seats that are standard across the lineup. This one further includes rain-sensing wipers, acoustically insulated glass, an auto-dimming mirror, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, leather upholstery, and a wireless phone charger. The seven-inch centre touchscreen on lower trims is upgraded to nine inches in the Touring, and includes an upgraded stereo and embedded navigation. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are wired on lower trims. The Touring can be wireless but it seems to depend on the phone, as my older phone wouldn’t connect without a cord.
Top trims are often annoyingly tech-heavy concerning their controls, but the CR-V Touring is refreshingly simple. The climate is handled with dials and buttons, as are the heated seats. The tablet-style nine-inch touchscreen has a dial for volume; the menus are simple and intuitive; and the voice control for the embedded navigation easily found my destinations. It’s easy to get in and out, and visibility is good.
While some other CR-V trims also offer a power tailgate, the Touring exclusively gives you a hands-free version. Due to its battery placement, it doesn’t have the dual-height floor that’s standard in its gas-only siblings, but it offers 1,028 L of space with the rear seats up. Next to its hybrid rivals, that’s more than the Ford Escape at 974 L and the Kia Sportage at 876 L, but the Toyota RAV4 and Hyundai Tucson have 1,059 L and 1,095 L, respectively. The Honda’s low liftover and wide rear opening make it very easy to stash items inside.
The CR-V’s seats are comfortable and supportive, clad in perforated leather with orange accents in this range-topping trim, and with eight-way driver and four-way passenger power adjustment. The front and rear seats and the steering wheel are heated, but if you’re a fan of ventilated chairs, those are missing. The climate control is dual-zone and it’s easy to adjust the hidden vents thanks to chrome-accented knobs that stick through the mesh panel. The ride is smooth and the cabin is quiet, and it’s a pleasant vehicle to drive.
The gas-only CR-V uses a turbocharged 1.5L four-cylinder engine, while the hybrid trades that for a 2.0L four-cylinder mated to an automatic continuously-variable transmission (CVT). The hybrid system consists of two electric motors, one that drives the wheels and the other that handles energy regeneration; the battery self-charges and doesn’t get plugged in.
On its own, the engine makes 145 hp and 138 lb-ft of torque, but working with the electric motor, the combination produces 204 hp and 247 lb-ft of torque. It’s peppy from a start, moves smoothly through city traffic, and easily handles merging and passing on the highway. All-wheel drive is standard, but unlike other hybrid models like the Toyota RAV4, which uses an electric motor to drive the rear wheels when needed, the Honda relies on a mechanical connection between the front and rear axles, the same as the non-hybrid CR-V and the Ford Escape Hybrid.
Driving Feel: 9/10
The CR-V is equally at home for short trips, where it’s easy to manoeuvre through city traffic, or on the highway where it’s well-planted and confident. The steering is light but not overly so, and the vehicle responds quickly and accurately. It handles curves smoothly, without much body roll, and despite its extra 129 to 202 kg (284 to 445 lb) over the gas-only trims due to its battery weight, it doesn’t feel heavy. The switch between gasoline and electricity is smooth, as is the braking, without the harsh feel that you can still occasionally get with the regenerative braking system that a hybrid uses.
Fuel Economy: 9/10
The CR-V Touring Hybrid is rated by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) at 6.0 L/100 km in the city, 6.9 on the highway, and 6.4 in combined driving (unlike gas-only vehicles, hybrids get better mileage in the city where they can drive on their battery more). It takes regular-grade gasoline.
It’s pretty much on par with its hybrid SUV rivals, where the Hyundai Tucson matches it at 6.4 combined, and the Toyota RAV4 and Ford Escape both ring in at 6.0. By comparison, the gas-only CR-V gets 8.4 L/100 km combined.
The hybrid CR-V comes only in the top Touring trim at a pricey $50,890; its gas-only siblings range from $36,240 to $45,390. It’s well-equipped, but it’s also more expensive than the competition. The Ford Escape Hybrid has four trims that run from $42,444 to $49,474; the Hyundai Tucson’s two trims are $42,024 and $44,424; and the four Toyota RAV4 Hybrid trims are from $36,780 to $47,780, all prices including freight.
Honda wants half of all CR-V sales to eventually be hybrid, and one could ask if that goal might come sooner if another lower-priced trim were slotted in under it – which is how it’s offered in the U.S. The 2023 CR-V Hybrid is comfortable, fuel-efficient, and satisfying to drive, but it’s expensive. Cross-shop it against its hybrid competitors to be sure you’re getting the most for your money.
|Peak Horsepower||204 net hp|
|Peak Torque||247 net lb-ft|
|Fuel Economy||6.0 / 6.9 / 6.4 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb|
|Cargo Space||1,028 / 2,030 L seats up/down|
|Model Tested||2023 Honda CR-V Touring Hybrid|
|Price as Tested||$51,462|
$472 – Protective floor and cargo mats, $472