Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A grey 2020 Honda CR-V Touring is parked on a rooftop city parking garage.

Big Changes for the Honda CR-V

Already the best-selling compact SUV in the country, the Honda CR-V reinvents itself for the 2020 model year with new styling, more standard safety features, a new engine, and a hybrid option. So, nothing changes, really, the 2020 Honda CR-V is still the most compelling compact SUV on the market. Fresh off its 2019 Best Buy award from Kelley Blue Book (KBB), however, Honda decided the CR-V just wasn’t quite good enough.

Of course, that’s not true at all, and these are all very welcome changes. Just looking at the new CR-V, you get a sense of the scope of the overhaul. The CR-V looks more athletic than previous generations, tougher, like it’s ready for some serious weather, including snow or a little mud, even. Ground clearance has been improved to 7.8 inches for front-wheel drive models and 8.2 inches for all-wheel drive models. This isn’t the sensible crossover you’ve come to know. It’s a little dangerous now too.

With the option of rolling on 18- or 19-inch wheels now, you won’t be able to blend in as well as with previous generations. You will definitely stand out from the crowd with the new front bumper, blackout grille and round LED fog lights. While the CR-V has always been known as the sensible purchase, the crossover you really should buy, all things considered, now you can feel good about it, as it appeals to both sides of you: the adventurous and the practical.

Speaking of practical, Honda did not just win the Best Buy award for the CR-V. They also won Best Value and Most Refined in the KBB 2019 Brand Image Awards, which cited Honda’s “sterling reputation for quality” as one of the main reasons it came out on top for the second consecutive year. Not to mention the Best Brand award. So, yes, buying a Honda is a smart thing to do.

Honda is known for its stellar reliability and high resale value, so purchasing a Honda is always a good idea, and the CR-V is no exception. But now the CR-V is even more fun to drive, so there’s really no reason not to buy one.

A grey 2020 Honda CR-V Touring is driving on a suburban street.

Finally, A Hybrid Option

Sometime in 2020, expect a hybrid option to be released. This will feature a 2.0-liter Atkinson cycle 4-cylinder, dual electric motor, which is estimated to get a combined fuel rating of around 44 mpg. This is based on Honda’s claim that it will have a 50 percent increase in EPA city fuel economy over the non-hybrid. You can also expect 212 horsepower and 232 lb-ft of torque from this engine. All-wheel drive will be standard on the hybrid.

If you’ve always wanted to help save the environment and have an aversion to gas stations, this is a great option. The price premium is estimated at $1,600 more than the non-hybrid for the hybrid option, which is a steal when you consider the amount of money you will be saving at the gas pumps. Not only do you get Honda’s impeccable reliability and incredible resale value, but you also get better gas mileage than Toyota’s RAV4 hybrid.

Honda Sensing Standard for all Trim Levels

For the 2020 model year, another exciting change concerns the Honda Sensing suite of driver assists. Already one of the better driver-assist systems, how could Honda possibly improve on this? They made it available to everyone at all trim levels. So now you know when you buy a new CR-V that it will be included in the price and you don’t have to worry about haggling with the dealer about it.

These driver assists include forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist, low-speed automatic emergency braking, automatic high beams, and adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow. The CR-V already has one of the best crash-test ratings possible, so this is another feature that will be really attractive to families.

Knowing that Honda has made this standard for all trim levels shows a commitment to safety. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the CR-V five stars, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) named it a Top Safety Pick for 2019. And now you will have a whole suite of driver-assists to help prevent collisions from happening in the first place.

New Engine

There are only two powertrain options for the 2020 Honda CR-V, and one of them is the hybrid option mentioned earlier. The other is a 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder with 190 horsepower and 179 lb-ft of torque. This is the first turbocharged engine for the CR-V, and it is a good one. While it won’t break any strongman records for towing—it maxes out at 1,500 lbs—it is a very refined and smooth engine paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission. This provides a measured ride you won’t find in the racier engines, and with its eager steering and responsive braking, you have the makings of a composed and quiet commute.

Fuel economy is another advantage of this engine. You can expect 34 mpg on the highway, with the all-wheel drive (AWD) option only losing a gallon or two, and 28 mpg in the city versus 27 mpg for the AWD model. The CR-V is among the best in its class for fuel-efficiency. This is just another reason why the CR-V finds itself at the top of so many top-ten lists and why it’s hard to say no to such a well-rounded and refined SUV.

A blue 2020 Honda CR-V Touring is driving in a dark tunnel.

Other Standard Features

So now that we’re all sold on a CR-V let’s take a look at what else comes standard, so we’re better prepared when we walk into the dealership and try to pretend we don’t want one. The 2020 Honda CR-V has four trim levels: LX, EX, EX-L, and Touring. The base model LX includes single-zone automatic climate control, 6-way manual-adjust driver’s seat, cruise control, a rearview camera, and a 4-speaker/160-watt audio system with a 5-inch color screen and Bluetooth wireless connectivity. And, of course, Honda Sensing.

That’s a lot of standard options. If you decide to go for the EX, you can expect: a 12-way-power driver’s seat with 4-way-power lumbar, rear privacy glass, dual-zone climate control, moonroof, heated front seats, push-button start, and 7-inch-display audio/infotainment system. Also standard are heated side mirrors, blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, variable wipers, LED fog lights, and auto up/down power front windows.

With the EX-L, you add leather seating, a 4-way power-adjustable passenger seat, a power tailgate, HomeLink universal garage-door opener, auto-dimming rearview mirror, and 8-speaker audio system. The Touring model adds LED headlights, a hands-free tailgate, navigation, roof rails, a heated steering wheel, rain-sensing windshield wipers, wireless charge pad, dual chrome exhaust outlets, and a 9-speaker/330-watt premium audio system.

Best of the Best

Considering all of the upgrades and additions, it might be hard for a competitor to pry the crown from the 2020 Honda CR-V. If you are in the market for a compact crossover SUV, it is hard to look past the CR-V for all of its refined competence and measured practicality. With the addition of the hybrid option, there’s really no reason to look anywhere else. And now that it is a little dangerous, it’s simply irresistible.