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

Image Source: VanderWolf Images / Shutterstock

The 2023 Honda CR-V just got launched in its sixth generation, but for those interested in the Hybrid version, it is set to hit dealerships this month. The CR-V Hybrid comes back for the second time with a bolder look and an upgraded hybrid powertrain.

Honda anticipates that the CR-V Hybrid will make up 50 percent of all CR-V sales, a target that seems achievable given the high appeal of the CR-V Hybrid. The hybrid version stands out with sportier styling compared to the gas-powered CR-V. It showcases unique front and rear fascias, a distinct grille, polished stainless steel exhaust finishers, and black roof rails. The Sport variant features black 18-inch alloy wheels, while the Sport Touring model rides on black 19-inch alloy wheels.

The new design gives the CR-V Hybrid a more refined appearance, but the changes to its interior are even more impressive. The CR-V now shares several minimalistic design elements with the Civic and HR-V, including the honeycomb mesh. The simple yet elegant design is complemented by high-quality materials throughout the cabin.

The technology has been enhanced with the addition of a new 7-inch color display in front of the driver, serving as the digital power flow meter beside the physical speedometer. Although not equipped with a fully digital instrument cluster like the Civic, the new display is a step up. The CR-V Sport comes with a standard 7-inch touchscreen featuring wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, while the CR-V Sport Touring boasts a 9-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Sport Touring trim also offers a wireless charger, a Bose audio system, and a Wi-Fi hotspot. The updated infotainment system displays more modern graphics and improved functionality.

The interior has been slightly enlarged from the previous generation, providing an additional 0.6 inches of rear legroom. Rear seat passengers will also appreciate the newly added feature that allows the rear seatbacks to recline in eight different positions, up from two.

Under the hood, the CR-V Hybrid is powered by the fourth generation of Honda’s two-motor hybrid system. The powertrain comprises a 2.0-liter Atkinson cycle 4-cylinder engine paired with two more potent electric motors, producing 204 horsepower and 247 pound-feet of torque. The powertrain now includes new high- and low-speed lockup ratios for direct engine drive on highways and in cities, enhancing responsiveness and enabling a 1,000-pound towing capacity (a new addition). All-wheel drive is an option on the CR-V Sport and standard on the higher Sport Touring trim level.

The added low-end torque from the electric motor provides an extra boost to the CR-V Hybrid during acceleration. The gas engine kicks in when the accelerator is fully pressed, leading to some noise, though it’s an improvement over the previous generation. There is also a new maximum-regen “B” setting that assists in slowing down the CR-V Hybrid to recover energy when you lift your foot from the pedal. The CR-V Hybrid offers four drive modes: Normal, Econ, Snow, and Sport, however, lacks an EV mode like the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.

The CR-V Hybrid achieves up to 43 mpg in the city, 36 mpg on the highway, and 40 mpg combined, representing an improvement over the front-wheel-drive gas-powered CR-V which achieves up to 28 mpg in the city, 34 mpg on the highway, and 30 mpg combined.

During our test drive in the hills of Santa Barbara, we observed a livelier powertrain performance. Moreover, the new iteration boasts significantly reduced cabin noise thanks to additional sound-absorbing materials. Honda has also enhanced the suspension, resulting in a more stable ride with minimal body roll and good steering feedback.

In terms of safety features, the CR-V Hybrid now includes the same advanced safety technologies found in the Civic and HR-V, such as an improved forward collision warning system and updated adaptive cruise control system. Additionally, two knee airbags at the front and rear side airbags have been added.

As for pricing, the 2023 CR-V Hybrid starts at $33,695, including destination charges, for the Sport trim level, making it $1,340 more expensive than the non-hybrid CR-V EX. The starting price of the CR-V Hybrid is higher than that of the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid at $30,910 and the Hyundai Tucson Hybrid at $31,045. Adding all-wheel drive costs an additional $1,500, but it comes standard on the Sport Touring variant, which is priced at $39,845.

In conclusion, the 2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid represents a significant improvement over its predecessor, featuring refined styling, a vastly upgraded interior, and an improved powertrain. If you’re considering which CR-V to go for, the CR-V Hybrid stands out as the preferred choice with its sportier aesthetics and more efficient powertrain.

Image Source: VanderWolf Images / Shutterstock

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