2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid Has Sharper Looks, More Refinement
The new CR-V sticks to its successful formula while offering more refinement inside and out.
Steven EwingFormer managing editor
Steven Ewing spent his childhood reading car magazines, making his career as an automotive journalist an absolute dream job. After getting his foot in the door at Automobile while he was still a teenager, Ewing found homes on the mastheads at Winding Road magazine, Autoblog and Motor1.com before joining the CNET team in 2018. He has also served on the World Car Awards jury. Ewing grew up ingrained in the car culture of Detroit -- the Motor City -- before eventually moving to Los Angeles. In his free time, Ewing loves to cook, binge trash TV and play the drums.
After releasing a number of teasers, Honda finally unveiled the 2023 CR-V crossover on Tuesday. The sixth-gen CR-V will initially go on sale this summer, with the hybrid variant pictured here joining the lineup before the end of the year.
The CR-V's styling is certainly more evolutionary than revolutionary, but considering this SUV's mass-market appeal, that's just fine. The lines are sharper and the hybrid-only Sport and Sport Touring models have a unique mesh grille, additional front and rear sculpting and rectangular exhaust tips. The Sport rides on 18-inch wheels while the Sport Touring gets 19s, and the non-hybrid CR-V EX and EX-L have 18s, as well. Dimensionally speaking, the new CR-V is 0.4 inches wider and 2.7 inches longer than before, with a 1.6-inch longer wheelbase.
Inside, the CR-V takes a lot of design influence from the new
range, with slim air vents, simple climate controls and an overall layout that's both clean and stylish. Honda says the front passengers are treated to body-stabilizing seats -- perhaps like
"zero-gravity" chairs -- with a 9-liter center console between them. Rear passengers have 0.6 inches of additional legroom than before, and the back bench has eight different recline positions.
The CR-V has always been capacious for its size, and the 2023 model has 36.3 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats. Gas-only models have a load floor that can be lowered to bring total space up to 39.3 cubic feet, and with the rear bench folded flat, total capacity is a generous 76.5 cubic feet.
Every CR-V comes with a 7-inch digital instrument cluster, and EX and Sport trims have a 7-inch touchscreen running the same infotainment software you'll find in other new Hondas. Wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, as are USB-A and USB-C ports. Spring for an EX-L or Sport Touring and you'll get a 9-inch color touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as a wireless charging pad.
Honda expects the hybrid models to make up about half of all CR-V sales, so the company decided to spruce up its gasoline-electric powertrain for 2023. The 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle I4 engine now has direct injection and the electric motors are mounted side by side, allowing for a larger drive motor. Total output is now rated at 204 horsepower and 247 pound-feet of torque, minor increases of 3 hp and 15 lb-ft compared to last year's SUV. The CR-V Hybrid has a higher top speed, too -- 115 mph instead of 86 mph, which won't make a difference in the real world.
The gas-only EX and EX-L variants have the same 1.5-liter turbo I4 engine as before. Honda says the turbo setup is a bit more refined than before, with reduced noise and vibration, and the continuously variable transmission has new logic that simulates real gearchanges at full throttle, for whatever that's worth.
An improved all-wheel-drive system can now send 50% of the engine's available torque to the rear wheels, and it's optional on EX, EX-L and Sport trims, but standard on Sport Touring. Hill-descent control is standard across the board, as is the Honda Sensing suite of driver-assistance technologies, which includes traffic sign recognition, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist and Traffic Jam Assist that combines those last two.
The CR-V will go into production soon and will be built at plants in both the United States and Canada. Pricing and fuel economy information will be available in the coming months, but expect the CR-V to retain its competitive edge in the small SUV class, with a base MSRP under $30,000.