CR-V proves hybrid power the way to go …
A few years back I declared hybrids the way to go until all-electrics gained more range and the infrastructure to remotely recharge electrics grew substantially. Nothing has changed my mind and if anything the growth of quality hybrids makes my point all the stronger.
This week’s drive proves that point in electrons!
Only a few months back I tested Honda’s popular small SUV, the CR-V. It’s a top-seller and pretty much leads a closely contested market segment. I feel the hybrid version of its top-level Touring model should be its top-selling model.
The Touring comes with AWD, a $1,200 bump on the various trim levels and yet the hybrid costs just $37,070, barely beyond the average price of a new car these days.
Yet the Touring is fully equipped with all the safety doodads you expect, all the comfort you demand and the performance you’ll need. Touring does all that without adding any costly options.
Let’s get right at the hybrid system, because that’s really the difference between this model and the previously tested Touring with its new 1.5-liter turbocharged I4 that delivers 190 horses and 179 lb.-ft. of torque along with decent fuel mileage.
The hybrid features a 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle I4 with hybrid electric motor that when combined provide up to 212 horsepower. Naturally the hybrid electric power is quiet and instantaneous so city driving is a breeze and fairly lively.
Need more oomph? Well, tromp the accelerator and the gas engine will smoothly engage after the electric got your CR-V rolling and you’re up to highway speeds in a respectable run-up down an entry ramp. Acceleration is smooth and seamlessly slips between electric and gas. Plus the interior remains quiet with little motor or engine noise. The only time you notice the electric whine is at low speeds, mostly while backing up.
Here in the hybrid regenerative braking and coasting recharges the batteries and this is NOT a plug-in, so you don’t have to futz with a power cord.
Otherwise, the hybrid CR-V is the same great little people mover as its gas-only version reviewed in May.
Handling is fine with good road feel and fairly quick steering, making the CR-V easy to park and maneuver in tight spots. There’s no major body lean in tight turns and the AWD system assures this Honda will be sure-footed in winter.
Ride is decent too with just a little jiggle on our rough Midwest roads. But it’s well-controlled and delivers no severe jolts. I feel the hybrid, which is a couple hundred pounds heavier than the gas-only model (batteries add weight) actually rides a bit nicer than the gas-only model. Both have MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link suspension in back.
Safety is something Honda has taken seriously by adding Honda Sensing, its safety suite, as standard equipment to the CR-V, among other models. The system includes the likes of forward collision warning with pedestrian sensing, low-speed emergency braking to thwart city driving fender benders, lane departure warning and assist, plus automatic high-beam headlights and smart cruise control.
To that the Touring adds a head-up display, multi-view camera, rear cross-traffic monitor, driver attention monitor, rain-sensing wipers and blind-spot information system.
Touring also comes with a heated steering wheel, 19-inch tires and wheels and a wireless phone charging system easily found on the console, just under the dash’s center stack. Easy in, easy out! Just remember to press the “on” button to activate the charger. There’s a light to indicate that it is working.
Inside my interestingly colored light blueish-gray test ute was a fine interior with black perforated leather seats, black dash and gray headliner. The dash is well laid out, but there is a fake metal wood-look trim that seems oddly out of place. It doesn’t resemble real wood at all and cheapens the overall look. I think a matte chrome or textured chrome trim would look much more sophisticated.
Dash controls are all easy to see, get at, and understand and a wide easy-to-use touchscreen sits atop the dash. That has a navigation system and satellite radio. Nav is standard on Touring as is a hands-free power hatch, LED headlights, roof rails and a 9-speaker 330-watt premium stereo. A small sunroof also is standard on the Touring.
Heated seats are too, as are two memory settings for the power driver’s seat. Seat bottom cushions are fairly flat with a more contoured back, which would aid comfort on longer drives. But I found the seat’s bottom cushion to feel hard and tushie tiring after about an hour.
The front passenger’s seat also is powered and there’s plenty of head and legroom front and rear. In fact, rear seat legroom is surprisingly spacious for a small ute, especially one with decent cargo room behind that split rear seat. Most hybrids lose some cargo room to battery storage and that’s true here.
Honda says there’s 33.2 cubic feet behind the rear seat, down from 39.2 cubic feet in the gas-only model. If you fold those rear seats down the space is 68.7 cubic feet, down from 75.8 in the gas-only version.
A couple little things to note on the interior. One, the tilt/telescope wheel lever that allows adjustment is way back on the steering column and a bit awkward to get at. Also, the fuel door release lever in the foot well isn’t easily reached unless you are already outside of the car. That’s a bit surprising. Many vehicles don’t even require a release now and most are just next to the driver’s seat by the seat base.
Yet as I said about that gas-only version, there’s an awful lot to like about the CR-V. The hybrid model raises gas mileage to near the top of the Likes list. I got (a drumroll please) 43.9 miles per gallon in a week’s test on city streets and the highway. The EPA rates the hybrid at 40 mpg city and 35 highway, so for the second time in as many weeks I beat the EPA numbers, a rarity.
By way of comparison I got 28.6 mpg in the gas-only model, which was rated at 27 mpg city and 32 highway by the EPA.
For the record, a base hybrid starts at $27,750 and the tested Touring lists at $37,070 including delivery fees. You can surely find happiness between those figures. Remember gas-only models cost about $1,200 less, but if you drive your cars much, or keep them for 7-8 years as most folks do now, the hybrid will more than pay for itself with its better fuel economy.
So again, price, performance and practicality in a small SUV = Honda’s CR-V. I prefer the hybrid!
FAST STATS: 2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid Touring
Hits: Handsome with quiet interior, good smooth power, nice handling and ride. Nicely laid out dash, easy touchscreen, Honda Sensing safety system, heated front seats and wheel, sunroof, power hatch and wireless phone charger.
Misses: Odd metal-look wood trim on dash and doors, and seats feel hard after 1-hour+ ride.
Made in: Greensburg, Ind.
Engine: 2.0-liter I4/hybrid, 212 horsepower
Transmission: CVT automatic
Weight: 3,763 lbs.
Length: 182.1 in.
Wheelbase: 104.7 in.
Cargo: 33.2 – 68.7 cu.ft.
Tow: 1,500 lbs.
MPG: 43.9 (tested)
Base Price: $37,070 (includes delivery)
Major Options: None
Test vehicle: $37,070
Sources: Honda, kbb.com
Photos: Mark Savage