Some exciting news from Honda this year comes from a new hybrid CR-V that posts impressive numbers across the board and, just as important, connects the dots growing families want in an SUV.
Gone are the days that hybrids meant bulging fenders, limited cargo, cramped seating and big price tags. You’d be hard-pressed to tell the gasoline version from the new hybrid were it not for a few interior changes and three tiny nameplates.
Pros: Awesome fuel economy, cabin storage and dresses up nicely.
Cons: Loud under acceleration dated infotainment system, limited towing capacity.
Like it or not, in 10 years Honda is forecasting two-thirds of its global sales electrified with 50 percent of those numbers being hybrids.
A base LX Hybrid can be in your driveway for $28,870. Other trim levels include the EX Hybrid ($31,380), EX-L Hybrid ($33,870) and Touring Hybrid (($37,070).
The takeaway on the engine is straightforward. The hybrid has 22 more ponies than its gasoline sibling consisting of an Atkinson cycle engine and two electric motors. All-wheel-drive is standard on all hybrids and torque is sent to a continuously variable transmission.
Positioned between the compact HR-V and larger Pilot, our Touring Hybrid tester delivered a compliant ride with little body roll, precise electric power steering and robust regenerative brakes that are adjustable with steering wheel mounted paddles. That’s right. Paddles regulate the amount of brake drag not the conventional shifting of gears on most non-hybrid vehicles.
Our independent testing of the zero to 60 mph sprint recorded a noisy 8.1 second time compared with its non-hybrid’s half-second quicker post.
Inside the CR-V hybrid is a nice place to be with form fitting power adjustable seating and plenty of leg and headroom in all four corners. Add tasteful faux wood door and dashboard panels, satin finishes and opulent leather available in upper trim levels and the hybrid takes on a refined look and feel.
With fold-flat second-row seating, cargo space is segment-leading although the hybrid model gets a tire repair kit in place of a spare tire and loses under floor storage available in the gasoline version. That’s because a 1.3-kW-hr lithium-ion battery is positioned under the cargo floor where the tire had been housed.
The hybrid’s cargo area with second-row seats in their upright position yields 33.2 cubic feet and 68.7 cube with the second-row seat folded flat, slightly less than the gasoline version.
A pet peeve of mine has long been the stern female voice used in all Honda navigation systems when compared with rivals’ softer tones. Her rigid voice continues in the hybrid.
The hybrid’s fuel economy is a bright spot. Our testing in economy mode consistently recorded 43 miles per gallon in city driving and 38 mpg highway, besting EPA numbers by nearly 10 percent and exceeding rivals’ RAV 4 and Ford Escape.
Honda safety sensing equipment is tops in its segment with automatic emergency braking, road departure mitigation, blind spot monitors, rear cross traffic alert, lane keeping assist, pedestrian detection and full stop/start adaptive cruise.
What was reviewed
Engine: 2.0-liter four-cylinder hybrid with two electric motors.
EPA mileage: 40 city; 35 highway; 38 combined. Our testing was higher.
Assembled: The CR-V hybrid is assembled in Greensburg, Ind. U.S./Canadian parts content – 55 percent; major source of foreign parts, Japan – 20 percent. Country of origin, engine – USA and transmission – Japan.
Crash test ratings: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration awarded the CR-V hybrid a five-star overall rating out of a possible five stars. It received five stars for side crash and driver side frontal crash, four stars for passenger protection frontal crash and four stars for rollover protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (awarded the hybrid a Top Safety Pick for 2020 and gave the SUV its highest rating of “Good” in small and moderate overlap crashworthiness, side, roof strength, head restraints and headlight illumination and “Superior” in crash avoidance and mitigation – vehicle to vehicle and vehicle to pedestrian.
Warranty: 3-year/36,000-mile basic; 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain; 8-year/80,000-mile hybrid component
Len Ingrassia has been an automotive columnist for 25 years and is a former daily and group newspaper editor on the East Coast and Midwest.