The Honda CR-V has been providing drivers with an exceptional crossover SUV since it premiered as a very utilitarian but dependable model back in 1997. Since then, the CR-V has been redesigned five times, and the 2023 Honda CR-V marks the beginning of the sixth generation of this crossover. However, if you are looking for a Honda CR-V for sale, you will now find more than a traditional gasoline engine under the hood. This is because Honda seems to be pushing the hybrid model of the CR-V.
This could be a signal that the days of the conventional gas Honda CR-V may be coming to an end with this sixth generation. The hybrid version of the CR-V is still relatively new but has quickly taken off. It was first introduced for the 2020 model year and was built on the same platform as the fifth-generation CR-V with the gas engine. The difference was clear right off the bat, with the Honda CR-V Hybrid providing improved fuel economy.
A New Design Levels the Playing Field
The one drawback of the 2020 CR-V Hybrid was that it cut into the cargo space of this vehicle. Where the gasoline-powered fifth-generation CR-V provided 39.2 cu.ft. of trunk space, choosing the hybrid version reduced this to 33.2 cu.ft. This was even more pronounced with the rear seat folded down. The standard 2020 Honda CR-V provides a very impressive 75.8 cu.ft. of space behind the driver’s seat. Choosing the CR-V Hybrid decreases this number to 68.7 cu.ft. of cargo space.
Honda has leveled the playing field with the new 2023 CR-V. Regardless of which model you choose, you will get an impressive 39.3 cu.ft. of trunk space. This is slightly more for the gasoline model but significantly more for the CR-V Hybrid. The difference becomes even more pronounced when you fold down the rear seat, with the 2023 CR-V providing an impressive 76.5 cu.ft. of cargo space, significantly more than the 2020 CR-V Hybrid.
There is also more passenger space in the new CR-V, with a full 106 cu.ft. for you and your passengers to stretch out in. One of the best things about Honda is that its designers are skilled at equally apportioning the interior space between the CR-V’s two rows. You can see this with legroom, where the front-row passengers have 41.3 inches of room, and those in the back get an almost equal 41 inches. The 2023 Honda CR-V is one of the few models where the hybrid doesn’t sacrifice any interior space for the benefit of added fuel economy.
The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same
Honda has upgraded the hybrid powertrain for the 2023 CR-V. It still features a 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle I-4 gas engine paired with a high-torque electric motor. The gas engine has a dual overhead camshaft configuration and variable valve timing to improve engine efficiency. The electric motor is powered by a 1.1 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. This battery is recharged by a generator fed by the gas engine and regenerative braking.
The electronic continuously variable transmission (E-CVT) blends the performance of the electric motor and the gas engine to yield a combined 204 hp and 247 lb-ft of torque. This represents an increase in torque and a slight decrease in horsepower over the 2020 model. Nevertheless, the 2023 CR-V Hybrid can go zero to 60 mph in 7.9 seconds with a top speed of 111 mph.
Interestingly, the conventional 2023 Honda CR-V features the same engine as last year’s model, even with the other changes in the vehicle. This engine is a 1.5-liter turbocharged I-4 with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). This CVT is different from the E-CVT on the CR-V Hybrid, which needs to blend the performance of two different power sources. This engine has a DOHC configuration with VTEC and dual variable timing control to boost performance while improving fuel economy. Honda has given this engine direct fuel injection to deliver up to 190 hp and 179 lb-ft of torque.
The fact that Honda decided to improve the hybrid powertrain while leaving the gas engine alone for the 2023 CR-V could lead one to conclude that Honda has chosen to emphasize hybrid power for the CR-V going forward. It does make one wonder about the future of the conventional gas-engine CR-V.
Changes in Trim Levels May Be a Clue to the Future
For the outgoing CR-V, Honda offered drivers a choice of five different trims for the conventional gas version and three different trims for the CR-V Hybrid. However, that has all changed with the latest generation. The 2023 Honda CR-V comes with five different trims. Three are for gasoline models, while two are for the hybrid powertrain. Honda has retained the LX, EX, and EX-L trims of the conventional gas CR-V while eliminating the Special Edition and the Touring. Meanwhile, the CR-V Hybrid is available in the Sport and Sport Touring trims.
The key differences between the various trims come down to comfort and convenience features. For example, the EX-L and Sport Touring add wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, leather-trimmed seats, a Qi-Compatible wireless phone charger, and a nine-inch touchscreen infotainment system. Every trim except the LX and EX comes with a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, with the Sport Touring also featuring a 12-speaker Bose premium sound system.
Every 2023 Honda CR-V comes with the Honda Sensing suite. This standard package features an amazing array of driver-assist features that will make driving the CR-V safer than ever. The only feature that isn’t standard is the Blind Spot Information System. However, it is available as an option on every trim except for the LX. This will make it easier to change lanes on the highway by letting you know if there is another vehicle traveling in your CR-V’s blind spot. This can be a key feature as many highway accidents occur when a driver changes into another lane.
Excellent Fuel Economy Across the Lineup
One thing that has helped the CR-V stand out among so many other crossover models on the market is its exceptional fuel economy. The sixth generation of this model continues the tradition with a little twist. The 2023 CR-V with the base gasoline engine is rated for up to 30 MPG combined if you have front-wheel drive. This is the standard configuration on the LX, EX, and EX-L trims. If you choose the available Real Time All-Wheel Drive with Intelligent Control System, you will get better traction, although the rated fuel economy slips to a still respectable 29 MPG combined.
In the past, the CR-V Hybrid has only come with all-wheel drive. This has changed for 2023, and the Sport trim now comes standard with front-wheel drive, with the all-wheel drive system available as an option. If you decide to stick with front-wheel drive, the hybrid is rated for up to 40 MPG combined. Opting for all-wheel drive will still deliver a rated 37 MPG combined. The 2023 Honda CR-V Sport Touring continues to come standard with all-wheel drive.
What Does the Future Hold for the Honda CR-V?
The fact that Honda has chosen to limit the top trims of the 2023 CR-V to hybrid models increases the suspicion that the base gas engine may not be much longer for this world. This suspicion is enhanced by Honda’s decision to upgrade the hybrid powertrain while leaving the gas engine on the conventional models the same. Still, Honda continues to give you the choice of gas or hybrid power for the 2023 CR-V while making the choice easier by providing a model that has the same dimensions inside and out, no matter which powertrain option you choose. No matter which powertrain you select, you are sure to get a reliable and efficient SUV.