Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A silver 2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid Sport Touring is shown driving past rock faces.

2023 Honda CR-V Buyer’s Guide

There are certain undeniable truths in this world. Death and taxes are unavoidable, chocolate is yummy, and Honda consistently churns out vehicles that win high praise from experts and real-life drivers alike. From the classic Civic to the three-row Passport, Honda’s cars have stood the test of time, and there are few drivers who eschew the brand entirely because it’s just that good. However, critics believe the CR-V model has been somewhat neglected in past years. But this is a new model year, and there are plenty of reasons why you should be excited to check out any 2023 Honda CR-V for sale in your area.

The 2023 Honda CR-V has been completely refreshed and rejuvenated for 2023. After years of delivering more or less the same compact crossover SUV, Honda took heed to the laments of the public, who noted the CR-V was becoming dated, though still a fantastic vehicle for the price point. So why isn’t the SUV community lining up to buy an all-new Honda CR-V? Some critics say that the SUV has become predictable and doesn’t stand out in a crowd, but there are plenty of drivers who enjoy that sort of thing. Let’s take a look at what the 2023 Honda CR-V has to offer before the expert reviews become a reality in the collective subconscious.

Don’t Call It a Comeback

Honda’s CR-V has never really been gone. It’s been one of the best-selling crossover SUVs in the United States since 1997. In fact, it was a repeat winner of MotorTrend’s SUV of the Year, with many experts already preparing for an unheard-of three-peat in its category, despite the lack of enthusiasm for the CR-V in recent years.

Truthfully, Honda went all out in its revival of the CR-V. The base LX model was dropped from the lineup, making the EX the introductory trim. That being said, the LX comes with an intense number of standard goodies, such as a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment center with AppleCarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, heated and power-adjustable front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, and heated exterior mirrors.

Each and every 2023 CR-V includes a full compilation of Honda Sensing safety and driver assistance features, too. This includes Automatic Emergency Braking with a finely tuned camera and radar system for better potential collision prevention, as well as a Blind Spot Information System with Cross Traffic Monitor, Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow, Lane Keeping Assistance, and the Traffic Sign Recognition System. A Rear Seat Reminder and rear seat belt fastening alert are newly included in the lineup, as well.

Climbing up the trims, the CR-V gets a larger nine-inch touchscreen, wireless app connectivity and smartphone charging, 18 or 19-inch wheels, premium audio systems, and leather, wood, and metal interior upholstery and accents. In many ways, the top Sport Touring trim is able to stare some luxury compact SUVs directly in the eye when it comes to features and comfort.

A close up shows the black wheels on a blue 2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid Sport Touring.

All of That Sounds Wonderful…So What’s the Downside?

One area in which some experts believe Honda could go even further is the engine. The 1.5L turbocharged four-cylinder VTEC engine hasn’t changed much, though the continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) that accompanies it has been re-engineered to provide smoother transitions between the gears when accelerating. This engine provides 190 horsepower and 179 lb-ft of torque are more than respectable for darting around town, but some critics feel that the CR-V just isn’t that exciting, especially for a vehicle that has increased in size significantly from previous generations. Even so, this engine can tow up to 1,500 pounds.

Many also say the CR-V hybrid options are the way to go. Equipped with a 2.0L Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine and two large electric motors, Honda announced that 50% of the 2023 CR-Vs sold will be powered by this hybrid system. With an increased combined output of 204 horsepower and 247 lb-ft of torque, the hybrid CR-V models are capable of towing up to 1,000 pounds. Some critics say this is a low towing maximum, but this number is standard for the CR-V and pretty typical for the compact crossover class.

To make the package even sweeter, Honda’s Real Time All-Wheel Drive (AWD) with Intelligent Control System is optional on all trims except the top Sport Touring, which has standard all-wheel drive. Three selectable drive modes, including Normal, Econ, and Snow, are offered on all CR-Vs, while the Sport and Sport Touring trims add a Sport mode to the mix.

There’s also the bonus of saving money at the fuel pump. Given Honda’s long-running standards for emissions and efficiency, it’s no surprise that the CR-V is a modest consumer of fuel, even in the fully gasoline-powered iteration. Fuel figures vary, depending on whether drivers select front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, but the hybrid models offer an average 43 MPG in the city, and 36 MPG on the highway. Gasoline-powered models have a lower fuel economy estimate of 28 MPG in the city and 34 MPG on the highway.

Some experts feel that the CR-V should be even more fuel efficient, in addition to being more performance-oriented. However, the compact crossover segment is loaded with vehicles with less power and worse fuel economy. Many don’t even have a hybrid option to select, either. So, while the CR-V isn’t going to be making top track times or have the same economy as a fully electric vehicle, it was never intended to do so. The CR-V is a reliable, enjoyable SUV with plenty of power for city dwellers and road trippers alike.

The Importance of Comfort

One area in which critics, experts, and drivers are unanimous is the interior comfort of the Honda CR-V. The 2023 model is larger in every sense, from the longer wheelbase to the wider stance. As a result, rear seat occupants get an impressive 41 inches of legroom, making it possible for five adults to enjoy their ride in the CR-V. Not many other SUVs can say this.

Furthermore, the rear seats recline for comfort or can be folded and stashed with a 60/40 split-fold. With all seats occupied, the CR-V has 39.3 cubic feet of cargo space. With the rear seats stowed away, that cargo space jumps 76.5 cubic feet. The rear doors have been designed to make it easier for loading and unloading the rear seat, too, whether that means wrangling a fussy toddler out of a car seat or pulling through a larger piece of furniture from the cargo bay.

A grey 2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid Sport Touring is shown overlooking a canyon.

To Buy or Not to Buy…That Is the Question

The time has come to evaluate the pros and cons of the 2023 Honda CR-V, but it feels unfair to call anything related to the CR-V a “con.” It’s all good news, from bumper to bumper. When it comes to interior comfort and the convenience of extra space, the 2023 Honda CR-V leads the pack, making it hard for imitators to stand up to the brand. The same is true for reliability and ease of use. The CR-V offers plenty of innovative bells and whistles throughout the trims, yet it remains user-friendly, with a clean, streamlined, well-appointed interior. Even the fuel economy aligns with Honda’s environmentally-friendly focus.

We live in an age of SUVs that can double as an apartment or can climb every mountain and ford every stream. For folks who want a comfy, uncomplicated ride in a vehicle that historically holds its value very well and requires very little maintenance, the CR-V offers a “just right” level of all the things real drivers genuinely value. While specialty vehicles hold their own in their particular niche markets, the Honda CR-V is an invaluable option for practical, straightforward drivers who want peace of mind and an enjoyable drive. If that sounds ideal to you, then it might just be time to check out the CR-V at your local Honda dealership.