Craveworthy? The 2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid
The CR-V is just two letters from the word "crave". But has the CR-V ever been craved? Respected, yes. Admired, perhaps. Certainly liked enough by people to be among the best-selling small crossover SUVs year in and year out for a good many years.
2023 brings us an all-new CR-V and it's obviously a lot more interested in being in style than its rounded, softish predecessor. Like big brother Pilot and middle child Passport, the CR-V appears to have been hitting the gym, with bigger, blockier shoulders and some creases in the sheetmetal that suggest muscles. The vehicle is 2.7 inches longer, with a 1.6-inch longer wheelbase.
While the gasoline-powered CR-Vs keep their 190 horsepower output, the CR-V hybrid actually makes eight fewer horsepower than last year's model. Honda says there are upsides: "The fourth-generation two-motor hybrid-electric system made at TMP-O features a new arrangement, switching from coaxial motors of the same size stacked on top of each other to a two-motor parallel axis system with engines of different sizes mounted side-by-side. The new system also includes new high- and low-speed lockup ratios for direct engine drive on the highway and in the city. Altogether, the new design improves responsiveness for a sportier driving feel and creates a more relaxed driving environment at highway speeds. It also allows for a higher sustained top speed, improves fuel economy and enables up to 1,000 pounds of towing."
As before, our verdict is that its speed is adequate for the type of vehicle (7.6 seconds 0-60) and the hybrid continues to post strong EPA fuel economy estimates (40 city/34 highway/37 combined).
Going boxier and adding to the wheelbase helps the CR-V's cargo carrying capability. The new model can carry 39.3 cubic feet of stuff with the rear seats in place compared to the old one's 37.6. Fold those seats down, and it's a cavernous 76.5 cubic feet, a more modest improvement on the last gen's 75.8.
Rear seat legroom remains the same, but it didn't really need improvement. Very few small vehicles can boast of 40.4 inches for the folks in the back to stretch their legs.
The '23 CR-V also gets treated to a new instrument panel---very much along the lines of the one in the '22 Civic that has also spread to the new-for-'23 Accord. Instrumentation is low and out of the way, the rest of the dash (apart from the infotainment screen) is even lower, sightline are brilliant and the vents are covered in that really cool mesh that runs the width of the car, with toggles to control the direction of airflow and real, honest-to-God knobs to control temperature, fan speed and like that. There are five trim levels of CR-V this year, three of them gasoline-powered (LX, EX and EX-L) and two of them hybrids (Sport Hybrid and Sport Touring Hybrid). Ours was the top-of-the-line Sport Touring, which carries a base price of $39,845 including destination. That buys pretty much every amenity Honda offers, with leather-trimmed seats, steering wheel and shift knob, wireless Apple Car Play and Android Auto, a 12-speaker Bose premium audio system, wireless phone charger, dual-zone automatic climate control with air filtration, heated steering wheel and heated front seats, a power moonroof and Honda's complete active safety suite all standard.
And---that's it. One price and done, with the window sticker's bottom line reading $39,845.
That price tag is by no means cheap, but it stays on the sane side of 40 grand and undercuts the CR-V Hybrid's direct competitor, the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid. The most recent one of those we tested, a 2021 model, came in $2,643 higher. With two years of price increases, the gap is undoubtedly wider than that. Honda is on a product roll right now, and the CR-V joins a list of newly updated, very desirable---maybe even craveable---vehicles.