The Honda CR-V has been one of the most popular compact crossovers for years in the US, but while other automakers have released hybrid versions of their crossovers, Honda hasn’t until now. Honda has finally introduced a CR-V hybrid, which is aimed right at its longtime rival, the Toyota RAV4 hybrid. The CR-V hybrid is now the fourth hybrid model in Honda’s lineup, which includes the Accord, Insight and Clarity plug-in hybrid.
After spending a week with the 2020 Honda CR-V hybrid, we found the CR-V hybrid to be the best CR-V to buy, since it feels more refined, has good fuel economy all with an easy to swallow price tag.
The CR-V hybrid is powered by a Atkinson-cycle 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with two motor-generators and a 1.4 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. The hybrid powertrain generates a combined 212 horsepower and 232 pound-feet of torque, which is the same as the Accord hybrid. This also means that the CR-V hybrid has more power than the standard CR-V with its 190 hp and 179 lb-ft. If you want to compare, the RAV4 hybrid has 219 hp and the Ford Escape hybrid has 209 hp.
The hybrid parts add 201 pounds to the CR-V hybrid’s curb weight, which explains why the CR-V hybrid doesn’t really feel any faster than the standard CR-V. But on the road the CR-V hybrid does feel a bit more solid thanks to a slightly firmer suspension.
The CR-V hybrid also comes standard with all-wheel drive, but it’s different than the RAV4 hybrid with its electric motor that powers the rear wheels. Instead the CR-V hybrid uses the same all-wheel drive system as the standard CR-V.
Just like in the Accord, the four-cylinder engine acts mainly as a generator, but in some instances a clutch engages to let the four-cylinder engine power the wheels. For the most part the electricity generated by the engine is sent to the electric motors that then move the CR-V down the road, but some of the electricity can also be sent to the battery pack as well.
There is an electric-only EV mode, but given the small battery size, the CR-V hybrid can only travel a mile or two in electric mode. To help send more energy back to the battery the regenerative braking system has four modes. We tried all four modes, but none of them will bring the CR-V to a complete stop like in some EVs.
The CR-V hybrid’s battery is placed beneath the rear cargo floor, which means that the spare tire has been deleted and the load floor can no longer be lowered to give you extra cargo space. The CR-V hybrid has up to 33.2 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seat up, compared to 39.2 cubic feet in the standard CR-V.
Around town the hybrid powertrain is quiet and smooth, which makes the CR-V hybrid feel more refined than the non-hybrid CR-V. Then you add in the extra low-end torque that the electric motor provides and the CR-V feels more responsive. The powertrain has a nice punch from a stop thanks to the the electrified parts, which also helps it get from 0-60 mph slightly faster than the conventional CR-V.
The CR-V hybrid is rated at 40 mpg city, 35 mpg highway and 38 mpg combined, which is a nice jump from the standard CR-V with all-wheel drive, which is rated at 27/32/29 mpg. The CR-V hybrid is not as fuel efficient as the RAV4 hybrid, which is rated at 41 mpg city and 38 mpg highway or the Escape hybrid with its 43 mpg city and 37 mpg highway rating.
The CR-V hybrid doesn’t look much different than the standard CR-V, with the exception of some hybrid badges. The entire 2020 CR-V lineup did get refreshed front and rear fascias and a new center console with extra storage. Inside the CR-V hybrid does have a unique gauge cluster and a pushbutton gear selector, which feels more modern than the regular CR-V’s shift lever.
There’s only one thing that we wish was updated, the infotainment system, since its graphics look dated, but you can easily bypass that by turning on Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. The Accord offers a much more better infotainment system, so it’s a disappointment that it’s not offered in the CR-V.
The 2020 CR-V Hybrid starts at $28,970, which is only a slight increase over the price of the standard CR-V LX AWD, which is priced at $27,770.
At the end of the day, the 2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid is a great hybrid crossover with very little compromises compared to the standard CR-V. We actually prefer it over the standard CR-V, since it’s not only more fuel efficient, but it feels more refined. In the fuel economy race, the CR-V Hybrid does fall short compared to its main competition, the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, but fuel economy specs aside, the CR-V Hybrid is easily the best CR-V to date.