The 2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid returns with a roomier interior, better standard features, more torque, greater efficiency, and even a dose of style inside. The second-generation CR-V Hybrid improves on the popular compact crossover in nearly every way, making it the CR-V to buy and the most complete Honda crossover SUV. Is it enough to knock out the four other finalists for The Car Connection Best Car To Buy 2023?
The redesigned 2023 Honda CR-V grows 2.7 inches longer and the wheelbase stretches by another 1.5 inches for more passenger and cargo space. It’s a bit wider and taller as well. Honda keeps stretching their sizes, so the new HR-V is closer in size to the old CR-V, and the new CR-V nudges into Passport territory. It still blends into the crowd as a CR-V but shares the Passport’s broader stepped grille with razor-thin running lights wedged under a hood cut by twin flanks. The Hybrid models, identified as Sport and Sport Touring, sport black exterior trim pieces, 18-inch wheels, and rectangular exhaust finishers, and other macho blocky flourishes.
All those sporting elements pair up with a new 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine and a pair of electric motors that boost total output to 204 hp and 247 lb-ft of torque, an improvement of 3 hp and 15 lb-ft of torque over the outgoing CR-V Hybrid. Under 15 mph and a light foot, the 1.4-kwh battery pack feeds the motors for electric drive, but mostly drivers will rely on four drive modes to balance their needs. The transfer between engine and motor power is so quiet in Eco and Normal modes that it takes a trained ear to catch it, and the simulated gear shifts drop revs after “changing” gears like a conventional automatic. It handles with the bounding and leaning common to any compact crossover, but it feels more in tune with the road, working with it instead of against it. It’s quicker off the line, more responsive, smoother, quieter, and it does all of this more efficiently.
The EPA rates the front-wheel-drive CR-V Hybrid at 43 mpg city, 36 highway, 40 combined, while AWD versions get 40/34/37 mpg. In our testing, we consistently came up short of highway estimates, which is one bugaboo Honda has not improved upon. There are four levels of regenerative braking to toggle through on the paddle shifters or with the “B” gear setting in the shifter, but unlike an electric car, there is no one-pedal driving. For the first time, the CR-V Hybrid can tow up to 1,000 pounds.
The roomier interior can seat five, with ample rear headroom and legroom measuring out to 41.0 inches. Rear seats recline for more flexibility, and the Hybrid packaging doesn’t sacrifice much at all. The rear doors open wide, to nearly 90 degrees, and the low cargo floor both simplify getting things in and out. Following the Civic’s interior refinement, the 2023 CR-V Hybrid dons a nice mix of darkened metallic mesh trim, rubberized plastic, and actual climate control dials. It’s understated but calm, and complements the subtle but spacious storage areas throughout.
Standard features on the CR-V Hybrid include a heated 8-way power driver seat, a 7.0-inch (Sport) or 9.0-inch (Sport Touring) touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The top Sport Touring has wireless phone charging and connectivity. Every 2023 CR-V comes with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, an updated adaptive cruise control that works down to a stop, active lane control, traffic sign recognition, and a driver attention monitor, as well as a historically strong safety record.
Honda expects the CR-V Hybrid to be the volume model, and it should be starting at $33,695 with front-wheel drive, or $35,195 with AWD. We’re still debating if that’s enough to win our top prize, however.
We’ll announce the winner of our Best Car To Buy 2023 award on Jan. 4, 2023, when we also crown the champs at Motor Authority and Green Car Reports.
- Ford F-150 Lightning: The Car Connection Best Car To Buy 2023 finalist
- IIHS: Most small crossovers fail to protect rear passengers
- Acura Integra: The Car Connection Best Car To Buy 2023 finalist
- Subaru recalls 2019-2022 Ascent SUVs for increased fire risk
- Best Car To Buy: Past winners