Review: The 2023 Honda CR-V Sport is a hot hybrid SUV
Honda wants you to get hyped about its newest hybrid.
The all-new 2023 CR-V is available with either an entry-level 190-horsepower, turbocharged four-cylinder engine or a 204-horsepower hybrid powertrain.
Honda named all the hybrid models Sport to drive the point home and expects them to account for about half of the CR-V’s sales.
The Sport models also get a 40 mpg combined fuel economy rating with front-wheel-drive and 37 mpg with all-wheel-drive, so they represent a best-of-both-worlds proposition.
Prices for the CR-V start at $29,705, with the Sport coming in at $33,695 and a fully-loaded all-wheel-drive Sport Touring like we tested topping out at $40,395.
That includes leather upholstery, a heated steering wheel and front seats, a 12-speaker Bose audio system and a hands-free power liftgate that opens into the largest cargo area in the compact SUV class. The CR-V is a little longer and wider than the previous edition and has a roomier passenger cabin.
All CR-Vs come standard with the Honda Sensing suite of electronic driver aids that features automatic emergency braking, active lane-centering and adaptive cruise control. The Sport Touring adds a blind spot monitor and low-speed automatic braking control that can detect obstacles between 1 mph and 6 mph and mitigate colliding with them.
The hybrid system operates seamlessly as it switches between gas, electric and combined modes. Unlike older hybrids, you might not even realize it is one, unless you bring up one of the power-flow diagrams on the digital screen in the instrument cluster or touch-screen infotainment system display.
The Sport has a seven-inch screen and the Sport Touring a nine-inch screen, both with volume knobs and hard quick-access buttons to make it easier to operate them while driving. The infotainment system is equipped with either wired or wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, depending on the model.
The CR-V offers Snow, Eco, Normal and Sport driving modes, and the last definitely dials things up. It gives it a noticeable kick and keeps the powertrain in its sweet spot more often to improve its responsiveness.
The ride quality doesn’t change, but it doesn’t have to. The CR-V is very much a Honda and provides a perfect blend of comfort and handling. Body control is excellent on a twisty road, and the suspension soaks up bumps well, even with the relatively low-profile tires on the Sport Touring’s 19-inch wheels.
Real world fuel economy is also right on the money, and the Honda Sensing system takes the edge off of highway driving. It’s one of the few systems like it that allows you to use the lane-centering feature separate from the cruise control. It’s not a hand’s-off feature but really keeps the vehicle planted in the middle of a lane.
The only increasingly common feature that’s missing from the CR-V range is a 360-degree camera system. It does have a backup camera and plays one of the loudest pedestrian alert sounds when you’re reversing in electric mode. The noise sounds something like a chorus, and I doubt it will be the only thing singing the CR-V’s praises.
The CR-V is usually the second best-selling vehicle in the U.S. that’s not a pickup behind the Toyota Rav4, and the new one has definitely taken a step in the right direction to stay hot on its rival’s tail.
2023 Honda CR-V
Base price: $29,705
As tested: $40,395
Type: 4-door, 5-passenger all-wheel-drive SUV
Engine: 2.0-liter four-cylinder with hybrid assist
Power: 204 horsepower, 247 lb-ft
Transmission: CVT automatic
MPG: 40 city/34 hwy