CHATHAM, Mass. – America’s most popular compact sport utility (SUV), otherwise known as a crossover-utility vehicle (CUV), the Honda CR-V received a complete remake for the 2023 model year which makes it an even more formidable entrant in the largest, most competitive automotive segment.
We recently spent a week in a 2023 Honda CR-V Sport Touring hybrid, a comprehensively equipped five door, combining an internal combustion engine (ICE) with two electric motors (one a traction motor for powering the wheels, the other a generator to replenish the battery). The results were all favorable – quiet, comfortable, technologically advanced, fuel-efficient and excellent value.
Powertrain includes three motors
Honda incorporates a dual-electric motor hybrid system in the 2023 CR-V hybrid models (as well as in Accord hybrids, which we will look at next week) along with a 2.0-liter Atkinson cycle 4-cylinder engine, with direct fuel injection.
The combined output of the powertrain is 204 horsepower and 247 pounds-feet of torque with the CUV’s computers deciding how best to distribute that power between the front and rear wheels.
Nominally a front-wheel drive (FWD) vehicle, the revised all-wheel-drive (AWD), standard in the CR-V Sport Touring, can send up to 50 percent of the power to the rear wheels, adjusting to meet driver needs and road-conditions.
Power is there when you need it; Car and Driver reported 0-60 miles per hour in a rapid 7.9 seconds, more than enough for merging onto highways, scooting around lumbering traffic and zipping along Cape Cod’s winding bayside lanes.
In addition, the new powertrain enables the CR-V hybrid to pull trailers of up to 1,000 pounds; the previous hybrid version was not rated for towing at all.
The excellent performance and new towing capability when compared to previous generations comes without any sacrifice in efficiency. I squeezed 41.9 miles from each gallon of gas during my time behind the wheel, outdistancing the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s rating of 37 mpg (40 urban, 37 highway).
Regen braking adds to chassis capabilities
Honda says the suspension, independent front and rear, received an engineering re-tuning for improved ride, handling and noise suppression. The results are impressive as the CR-V acquits itself quite nicely under a variety of road conditions, never once exhibiting any awkward activity.
The components include MacPherson-type struts up front, multi-link at the rear; stabilizer bars are at both ends (26.6 mm front/13 mm rear).
The power-assisted friction braking system features anti-lock (ABS) and ventilated 12.3-inch rotors in the front and solid 12.2-inch ones in the rear. These operate within 19-inch Berlina black alloy wheels wearing 235/55R19 101H all-season tires.
In addition to the friction braking system described, the CR-V hybrid features regenerative braking which turns the traction motor into a generator to capture the energy produced in retarding the vehicle’s motion to replenish the battery.
Simply putting the transmission selector into the “B” position activates the regen system so when the driver eases up on the accelerator, the regen goes to work. The driver, using the steering-column-mounted paddles can set the amount of deceleration desired up to one-pedal driving (the ability to fully halt the vehicle without the use of the friction brakes.
I love one-pedal driving when motoring around town. I find it easy to adapt to this system and miss it when I am in a non-electric vehicle without it.
Long list of ADAS part of Sport Touring trim level
The 2023 CR-V Sport Touring features the complete Honda Sensing® suite of advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) which means Collision Mitigation Braking System™; Road Departure Mitigation; Lane Departure Warning; Forward Collision Warning; Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow; Lane Keeping Assist; Traffic Sign Recognition; Blind Spot Information; Cross Traffic Monitor; Traffic Jam Assist (Traffic Jam Driving Support Function); Low Speed Braking Control; Auto High Beam Headlights, and Parking Sensors (4 Front & 4 Rear).
In addition, it has vehicle stability assist with traction control and multi-angle rearview camera with dynamic guidelines.
Interior filled with modern tech, conveniences and amenities
Honda upped its infotainment game incorporating a new system with nine-inch touchscreen display at its heart; a new navigation system, and one of the most responsive wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity operations I have experienced.
The audio sources include AM/FM, Sirius XM satellite radio and Bluetooth streaming, all amplified by a 12-speaker Bose® Premium Sound System.
The leather-trimmed power-adjustable front seats are heated as is the leather-wrapped steering wheel. Occupant comfort is further enhanced by the dual-zone automatic climate-control system. And fresh air and light can be increased by opening the standard moonroof.
CR-V popularity easy to understand
A week in the latest iteration of the Honda CR-V Sport Touring provided a solid set of reasons as to why it is the number one entry in the largest, most-competitive segment of the American automotive market.
In Sport Touring hybrid guise, with all-wheel drive, the 2023 CR-V is comfortable, performs well, operates efficiently and is an excellent value. The Sport Touring includes all the features I discussed (and many more I did not) for an all-in price of $39,845 (including a $1,245 destination & handling fee).
Yes, you see a lot of Honda CR-V CUVs on the road which is because they offer American buyers what they want at a reasonable investment.