Honda has been a proponent of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles for years, with models like the FCX Clarity and then the more simply named Clarity. These vehicles have on paper provided an alternative to fully electric vehicles, since hydrogen fuel cell vehicles also don’t emit any carbon emissions, but the stronger selling point has been that you can refuel a FCEV much faster than you can recharge an electric SUV. Well that works on paper, but the lack of infrastructure makes life with a fuel cell vehicle much more difficult if you don’t live or work near a refueling station.

2025 Honda CR-V e:FCEV

Although the car buying public has largely ignored fuel cell vehicles, a few automakers still have invested some of their R&D money into them with Honda and Toyota being the biggest two. Honda sees a future for hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicles, but it’s going at it a slightly different way than Toyota. While the Toyota Mirai is a more heavily produced fuel cell, Honda’s latest fuel cell vehicle, the 2025 CR-V e:FCEV has a slightly different mission. Honda only plans to build a few hundred of them a year and buyers can only lease one, unlike the Mirai, which you can buy outright.

Why is Honda only making such a small number? That was a big question we had during our introduction of the CR-V e:FCEV at Honda’s headquarters in Torrance, CA. What’s the point of spending the money to develop a vehicle that we’ll likely never see on the road? Well this is where it gets interesting. Honda sees a future for hydrogen being used by big trucks, since like we said earlier a hydrogen powered big rig can get back on the road faster using hydrogen instead if it had a fully electric powertrain.

Since Honda sees big trucks using this technology in the future, it’s using the CR-V e:FCEV has a test vehicle where they can put the technology on the road now and use rear world testing to further develop it. Honda says that after each lease is done it will inspect the vehicle to see how it performed and use any findings to improve the tech.

So there you have it, the CR-V e:FCEV isn’t going to be everywhere, but it serves a big purpose for Honda. Now for the buyer? Honda sees the CR-V e:FCEV as a new vehicle for current Clarity leases that are coming to an end. Several Clarity drivers have even extended their lease to keep the FCEV longer and now they have an alternative that is much better in a lot of ways.

2025 Honda CR-V e:FCEV

Starting with the powertrain, the CR-V e:FCEV is powered by a second generation fuel cell system, which is not only cheaper to build but also more reliable. It’s no secret that there aren’t that many hydrogen refueling stations, so to help alleviate some of that range anxiety, Honda has added a plug-in hybrid setup to the CR-V e:FCEV, which gives it 29 miles of EV range. This means that for your average daily commute, you probably would rarely have to tap into the hydrogen tank, as long as you have access to an outlet. It can be charged using a simple 110-volt outlet. This gives the CR-V e:FCEV an advantage over the Toyota Mirai or Hyundai Nexo. One thing to note is that to access the full power of the powertrain, you will need to also rely on hydrogen, but at least if you’re day is just spent driving around town, the electric portion of the powertrain offers more than enough power.

On the outside, the 2025 CR-V e:FCEV looks pretty identical to the CR-V hybrid, but if you look closer you’ll see that everything from the A-pillar forward is new. The CR-V e:FCEV has a different face than the standard CR-V and overall its almost three inches longer. The wheels and taillights are also different.

2025 Honda CR-V e:FCEV

Inside the differences are also small with the biggest changes being a fully digital instrument cluster compared to the half analog/ digital gauge cluster in the standard CR-V and a push-button shifter. There aren’t too many compromises in comfort either, since only the rear seat is a bit thinner to fit one of the two hydrogen tanks underneath it. The second sits in the cargo area. If you need as much cargo space as possible, then you might not be too happy with the fact that the second tank takes up so much of the cargo space. Honda did add a load-bearing shelf that gives it a flat load floor that’s even with the top of the shelf that sits over the tank.

How does it drive? Honda gave us a quick drive course around Torrance to check it out. Once you press the button, it starts in EV mode and accelerates quickly off the line, but not nearly with the same amount of thrust that you get in a full EV. If you push the accelerator too close to the floor, it will switch to “auto” mode which then lets the powertrain use both the hydrogen fuel cell system and electric system to get you moving down the road. The only had thing is that it is locked in “auto” and doesn’t let you put it back in EV mode unless you restart the vehicle.

On the road the CR-V e:FCEV drives mostly the same as the CR-V hybrid with only slight differences to how it rides, since the rear spring rates are stiffer for the tanks. One thing that we didn’t really see the need for is the sound of the powertrain, which is even more pronounced in Sport mode.

At the end of the day, Honda has succeeded in creating a new fuel cell vehicle off its most popular model, the CR-V. It will easily be more appealing with its more versatile body style and less polarizing styling than the Clarity and Clarity FCX models.

The CR-V e:FCEV will be built at Honda’s Performance Manufacturing Center in Ohio, which is the same place that the Acura NSX was built. Honda hasn’t released any pricing, but we doubt that Honda will have any trouble finding homes for the CR-V e:FCEV. It remains to be seen if hydrogen will ever take off as a viable alternative to ICE or EVs, but at least Honda is trying to get us closer to making it a reality.