Honda CR-V Hybrid test drive

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While the Honda CR-V has been redesigned for 2023, it already looks very familiar. As it looks a bit like a cross between the old CR-V and the VW Tiguan. With a huge Honda Passport grille added. At least the overall look is cleaner than before, except for the super busy front end of the Hybrid versions.

I test-drove the EX-L model a while ago, and the design was definitely cleaner. I am also not a fan of black wheels and it seems to be the only way to get a Hybrid model since these are also standard on the less expensive “Sport Hybrid” and “Sport L Hybrid” versions. (you can even get ghastly looking “Bronze” wheels on the Sport Hybrid & Sport L Hybrid as an $1800 option)

Honda predicts the Hybrid models of the new CR-V will soon represent 50% of the total CR-V sales.

The interior is the same as other CR-V models. And basically the same as the Civic. Although the whole thing is a lot roomier. The seats on my loaded Sport Touring Hybrid model were quite comfortable with more aggressive side bolsters. (Although the headrests still cannot be adjusted forward and that’s still quite a pain on a long trip)

The rear seats and cargo are both very roomy, but I noticed the rear seat folds a bit higher than the cargo area, which is really too bad if you want to go camping and sleep in the car. Sure you can add some padding, but why? Others have no problem offering a flat floor, why not the CR-V?

The new CR-V Hybrid gives a great first impression. The doors feel heavy and solid when you close them. (kie all current Hondas) The interior is mostly of high-quality plastics (although the one-piece center console does feel pretty cheap). The seats are comfortable and the 12-speaker Boze system sounds great. (although it takes forever to be able to adjust the sound once you are listening to something) The car is very quiet when you start and the steering has quite a bit of weight to it, which is really nice. (It’s actually nicer than a Mazda CX-5). The ride feels very solid, a bit firm, but mostly smooth and always comfortable.

Around town, there is enough power to leave the CR-V Hybrid in the Eco mode, although other modes are significantly punchier. Around town and in normal Highway driving, the transition from electric to gas is pretty seamless. Everything seems really good until you encounter a long hill…

Then, things get “Hybrid/CVT weird”. The engine seems to be revving up to 5000 RPM and is definitely not happy doing it. It’s pretty loud and unrefined, and basically, doesn’t seem to add that much power doing it. You realize that it produces much more noise than power. Basically, the CR-V is a great driving car, most of the time. If your commute doesn’t include long uphill drives, you’ll be fine. And will enjoy the benefits of very good mileage. The CR-V AWD Sport Hybrid Touring is rated at 40 MPG City/34 MPG Highway. I can tell you that 40MPG around town is impossible to get, and the best I got was 37, but mostly around 35 while being very, very careful. As usual, real-life highway mileage is much better than the official numbers and I got around 42/43MPG.

The problem is, I was able to get around 27/28 MPG City and 38/40MPG on the freeway with the non-hybrid EX-L last March.

The loaded Sport Touring adds a few things to the EX-L. Like black wheels, the Bose system, and the sportier seats. But the EX-L gives you the choice of a lighter grey/black interior, which to me is much more pleasing than the all-black interior. And I would actually pay extra NOT to have black wheels. On top of that, the standard sound system in the EX-L is surprisingly good too.

The 9 to 10MPG advantage in the city might not be worth the extra $3000 for many. Unless you have to have these black wheels and the fake “sporty look”, red stitching on the seats, and the Bose system.

Conversation 4 comments

  1. I’m so annoyed with Honda. I have a Cx-5 and the lease will end next spring. I wanted to upgrade to a CR-V hybrid…but Honda had to cheap out and not offer ventilated seats, a larger screen for infotainment, a pano roof, or a fully digital instrument cluster. Even though they offer all of those in other markets… . Therefore I’ll be looking elsewhere next spring.

  2. What I would like Honda to do with this is make the gray color interior available with more of the exterior colors, like their blues, have fog lights and silver wheels available as accessories. Its not a bad car in full spec trim… but I’m over the “everything blackout” phase and all black interiors (including roof liners) that they keep foisting on every top trim in every car they make.

  3. Agree, need grey interior with more exterior colors. I get 38 – 39.5 MPG in town.

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