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Honda CR-V Hybrid 2023 First Drive Review: A Perfect Hybrid For Future

Image Source: VanderWolf Images / Shutterstock

The sixth-generation 2023 Honda CR-V just went on sale, but if you’ve been holding out for the CR-V Hybrid, the good news is that it is scheduled to arrive at dealers this month. The CR-V Hybrid returns for its second generation with sportier styling and an improved hybrid powertrain.

Honda expects that the CR-V Hybrid will account for 50 percent of all CR-V sales, which is a big, but easily attainable goal, considering how good the CR-V Hybrid is. In many ways the hybrid is the version to choose due to its sportier styling than the gas powered CR-V. The CR-V Hybrid stands out with its unique front and rear fascias, a more distinctive grille, polished stainless steel exhaust finishers and black roof rails. The Sport trim level gets black 18-inch alloy wheels, while the Sport Touring version rides on black 19-inch alloy wheels.

The new sheetmetal gives the CR-V Hybrid a more sophisticated look, but the changes to its cabin are even more noteworthy. The CR-V’s interior gets many of the same minimalistic design details as the Civic and HR-V, including the honeycomb mesh. The simplistic design looks great and the interior is wrapped in high-quality materials.

The tech has been improved with a new a new 7-inch color display in front of the driver, that serves as the digital power flow meter next to the physical speedometer. We’re still wondering why the CR-V doesn’t get the fully digital instrument cluster as the Civic, but either way the new display is an improvement. A 7-inch touchscreen is standard on the CR-V Sport with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, while the CR-V Sport Touring gets a 9-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Sport Touring trim also adds a wireless charger, A Bose audio system and a Wi-Fi hotspot. The good news is that the new infotainment system is a vast improvement, with more modern graphics and better functionality.

The interior is also a bit bigger than the last generation with 0.6-inches more rear legroom and rear seat passengers will also enjoy the rear seatbacks that now recline in eight different angles, up from two.

Under the hood there’s the fourth-generation of Honda’s two-motor hybrid system. The system combines a 2.0-liter Atkinson cycle 4-cylinder engine that’s mated to two more powerful electric motors. The powertrain generates 204 horsepower and slightly more torque at 247 pound-feet. The powertrain also includes new high- and low-speed lockup ratios for direct engine drive on the highway and in the city, which makes it feel more responsive and also allows for a 1,000 pound towing capacity. The previous CR-V Hybrid didn’t have a tow rating. All-wheel drive is available on the CR-V Sport, but standard on the higher Sport Touring trim level.

The improved low end torque from the electric motor gives the CR-V Hybrid an extra boost when taking off from a stop. With your foot pressing the accelerator to the floor, the gas engine powers up and there is a bit of noise, but it’s an improvement over the last generation. There’s also a new maximum-regen “B” setting that helps slow the CR-V Hybrid more to recuperate energy when you lift your foot from the pedal. The CR-V Hybrid offers four drive modes: Normal, Econ, Snow and Sport, but you’ll notice there isn’t an EV mode like the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.

The CR-V Hybrid is rated at up to 43 mpg city, 36 mpg highway and 40 mpg combined, which is an improvement over the front-wheel drive gas-powered CR-V that’s rated at up to 28 mpg city, 34 mpg highway and 30 mpg combined.

On our drive around the hills of Santa Barbara we noticed how much more lively the powertrain feels. The good news is that it’s also a lot quieter than the last generation, thanks to additional sound absorbing material throughout the cabin. Honda also improved the suspension, so the CR-V Hybrid now feels more planted to the road and refined with little body roll and pretty good steering feedback.

On the safety front, the CR-V Hybrid now gets the same improved safety technology as the Civic and HR-V. It has an improved forward collision warning system and an updated adaptive cruise control system. There are also four additional airbags: two knee airbags at the front and rear side airbags.

Now for the pricing, the 2023 CR-V Hybrid starts at $33,695, including destination for the Sport trim level, which is $1,340 more expensive than the non-hybrid CR-V EX. The CR-V Hybrid has a higher starting price than the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid at $30,910 and the Hyundai Tucson Hybrid at $31,045. All-wheel drive adds an extra $1,500, although it’s standard on the Sport Touring, which is priced at $39,845.

At the end of the day the 2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid is an improvement over its predecessor with its more sophisticated styling, vastly improved interior and updated powertrain. If you’re trying to decide which CR-V to get, the CR-V Hybrid is the clear choice with its sportier styling and more efficient powertrain.

Image Source: VanderWolf Images / Shutterstock

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