2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid AWD Sport Touring – Review by David Colman +VIDEO
The Valedictorian of its class
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL
For most Americans, six generations would take their family back to arrival on the Mayflower. For Honda, six generations of CR-V take the company back to 1995. That's when their seminal crossover SUV arrived. It had a wheelbase of 103 inches, a length of 177 inches, a width of 70 inches, and a height of 68 inches. But like the expanding proportions of the average American, today's fully redesigned 6th generation CR-V has grown in every dimension but one: wheelbase is up by 3 inches, length by 8 inches, and width by 4 inches. Only the original's 67 inch height remains consistent.
The current dimensions make for a very useful and effective transportation tool. Carrying five adults in comfort? No problem. Want to slip your full size bicycle into the rear compartment? Use two simple levers to flip down both rear seat backs and stuff the bike in. You won't encounter any intrusive rear wheel arches to get in the way, just a perfectly flat floor to stuff 76.5 cubic feet of cargo over the rear transom. That's 3 cubic feet more cargo space than last year's CR-V afforded.
The CR-V Hybrid Sport Touring we tested represents the flagship of the model line. The CR-V array starts off with a pair of entry level FWD versions designated EX (MSRP $31,110) and EX-L (MSRP 33,760), both powered by turbocharged 1.5 liter four cylinder engines producing 190hp. Add $1,500 for AWD. However, if you desire a Hybrid, Honda offers an intriguing pair of choices. The FWD model is called the Touring, and retails for $32,450. Our test AWD model, the Sport Touring carries a base price of $38,600. All the electrified versions combine a 2.0 liter direct injection petrol motor with a new 4th generation electric motor Hybrid system to produce a combined output of 204hp.
You may be asking yourself, "Why would I want to spend extra for a Hybrid when it only ups total output by 14hp?" The answer lies not in horsepower but in torque. The gas-only CR-Vs make just 179lb.-ft. of torque, while the Hybrids churn out 247lb.-ft., a surge that starts at zero RPM and continues to 2000rpm. That initial burst of sustained pulling power has allowed Honda to tag the 2023 Hybrid with its first-ever tow rating of 1000 pounds. Another major reason for opting for the Hybrid is its excellent fuel economy number of 37MPG Overall, which will generates fuel cost savings of $2,000 over five years.
Daily excursions in our test HR-V Hybrid repeatedly stressed the immediate impact of the new Hybrid system. The Sport Touring model is quite eager to run when you punch the throttle. The whining thrum of the Hybrid package adds an ethereal tone to the proceedings as you launch the Sport Touring CR-V from rest. The 0-60mph run occupies just 7.6 seconds, and the standing start quarter mile sprint takes 16.3 seconds at a speed of 85mph. Honda provides a couple of newly enlarged paddles either side of the steering wheel to manage the CVT transmission. Pull the left paddle for more immediate acceleration, tug the right one to drop engine rpm to a lower level. Honda has also redesigned the regenerative braking system to provide one pedal style electric motoring. An added "B" position on the gear selector allows you to utilize this added gas-saving dimension to your Hybrid travel routine.
Honda stylists have done a knockout job of configuring the Sport Touring model into something special looking both outside and within. Exterior keynotes of this model are its gloss black grill, exterior mirrors, roof rails and 19 inch diameter alloy rims (mounting 235/55R19 Continental CrossContact LX Sport radials). Platinum front air duct trim sets off the otherwise monochromatic face of the Sport Touring model, while a body color/gloss black edged rear spoiler provides the same effect at the rear. Our test Honda was finished in a scintillating shade of Canyon River Blue, a new offering for 2023.
What we liked best about the CR-V was its eminently well designed and useful interior, which was fitted with an abundance of comprehensible switches, toggles and knobs. Honda has taken a much-welcomed and much-needed step away from menu-driven basic controls, saying instead that "close attention is paid to operation of all switchgear, including click and heft of knobs, stalks and switches." For this reason alone, the 2023 CR-V Sport Touring merits ascension to the top pedestal of my car designer Hall of Fame.
2023 HONDA CR-V HYBRID AWD SPORT TOURING
ENGINE: 2.0 liter DOHC 16-valve inline 4 p + AC Motor
HORSEPOWER: 204 HP (Combined)
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 40MPG City/34MPG Highway
PRICE AS TESTED: $39,845
HYPES: Upgraded Chassis Reinforcements and Suspension Members
GRIPES: Flimsy Rear Compartment Floor Cover
STAR RATING: 10 Stars out of 10
©2023 David E Colman