Honda’s sixth-generation 2023 CR-V compact crossover is bigger, sportier and will feature two new hybrid trims positioned at the top of the lineup that the Japanese automaker hopes will entice half of all buyers to go green.
In addition to new fuel-sipping hybrids, the latest CR-V represents a major advance over the outgoing model in terms of style, ruggedness, tech and driving dynamics, according to Mike Kistemaker, assistant vice president of Honda sales at American Honda. Kistemaker says the CR-V, the No. 2 compact crossover last year after the Toyota RAV4, has played an important role for Honda in the past and will continue to do so in the future.
Honda is boosting output of gasoline-electric versions of the 2023 CR-V substantially because the company expects the two new hybrid trims — the Sport and Sport Touring — will represent half of all sales. Through the first six months of 2022, about 22 percent of all CR-Vs sold in the U.S. were hybrids, according to data from Motor Intelligence.
The hybrid push with the CR-V is the first tangible sign of a “serious electrification effort on Honda’s part,” according to Ed Kim, president and chief analyst of AutoPacific. “Going 50 percent hybrid on Honda’s top seller is aggressive, and by sheer numbers, the carbon emissions savings for its U.S. lineup will be significant,” Kim said.
The two hybrid trims are not only aimed at luring new buyers at a time of record gasoline prices, they are also designed to keep the CR-V competitive with the RAV4. The two rivals dominate the compact crossover segment, now the largest in the industry.
“RAV4 has a very strong hybrid mix and that’s one of the attributes that has propelled it to the upper ranks of the sales charts,” Kim said. Through June, the hybrid variant represented 43 percent of RAV4’s U.S. sales, according to Toyota Motor North America.
Sales of the RAV4, the top-selling vehicle in the U.S. that is not a pickup, topped 407,700 in 2021. CR-V notched 361,271 sales last year.
“With an even stronger mix and presumably more competitive pricing to support it, CR-V should be even more competitive than the current model and more competitive against RAV4,” Kim said.
The CR-V Sport and Sport Touring hybrid trims will be powered by a new, fourth-generation two-motor hybrid-electric system. The 2.0-liter, inline four-cylinder delivers 204 hp and 247 pound-feet of torque.
Horsepower drops from 212 on the outgoing model, but torque increases more than 10 pound-feet, giving the CR-V a 1,000-pound towing capacity. That’s an upgrade from the current model, which is not rated to tow.
The Sport can be equipped with front- and all-wheel drive; the Sport Touring comes only with awd.
The gasoline-powered EX and EX-L models also get an updated front-wheel drive, turbo 1.5-liter engine refined for better emissions performance. Awd can be added to both models.
Honda did not disclose fuel-efficiency ratings for the 2023 model, but the current CR-V, when equipped with fwd, has an EPA rating of 28 mpg in city driving, 34 mpg on the highway and 30 mpg combined. Adding awd drops city and combined fuel efficiency by 1 mpg and highway by 2 mpg.
Output for the gasoline models remains the same at 190 hp and 179 pound-feet of torque. Peak torque arrives 300 rpm earlier, between 1,700 and 1,500 rpm, which improves response. Engine noise also has been reduced.
Just like the recently launched, second-generation HR-V subcompact crossover, the CR-V will feature standard Hill Descent Control, giving the driver control on slippery or steep roads when driving between 2 and 12 mph. A Snow mode joins the Normal and Econ modes, and the top-shelf Sport Touring adds a Sport mode.
Consumers will find generous space enhancements in the new CR-V. Overall length is increased by 2.7 inches with a 1.6-inch longer wheelbase. A slightly wider track gives the crossover a broader appearance.
Styling on the new CR-V aligns with Honda’s new design direction found on the Civic and HR-V that includes a low horizontal beltline, long hood and LED headlights. The 2023 CR-V’s large, upright grille can also be seen across Honda’s light-truck lineup and is likely to be featured on an update coming on the three-row Pilot. Both Sport trims have more aggressive front and rear fascias, including a mesh grille design, black wheels and rectangular exhaust finishers. All trims come with 18-inch wheels except for the larger 19-inch wheels on the top-shelf Sport Touring.
The base of the A-pillars have been pushed nearly 5 inches rearward, 2.8 inches outward and 1.4 inches lower. The side mirrors also have been moved below the window panel to the door, increasing visibility.
The CR-V interior undergoes a complete redressing with higher-quality materials and less surface reflection in the instrument panel to reduce visual distraction. A honeycomb mesh that conceals the air vents spans the dash for a sleeker, less cluttered look.
The new proportions allow for more space between the front and rear seats as well as a tad bit more legroom for rear passengers, and the seats offer eight angles of recline.
Behind the back seat of both the gasoline and hybrid models is 36.3 cubic feet of cargo space. That is an improvement for the hybrid models, which previously only offered 33.2 cubic feet of space. The rear load floor also can be lowered, increasing stowage to 39.3 cubic feet, and the 60/40 split in the seatbacks add additional loading flexibility. With the rear seats folded flat, cargo space expands to 76.5 cubic feet.
The EX and Sport get cloth upholstery, and the EX-L and Sport Touring both offer leather. Both Sport models have distinct orange contrast stitching on the seats, console, wheel and shifter. Honda says new “body stabilizing” seats reduce fatigue over long hauls and that the steering wheel’s angle is now more sedan-like.
The 2023 CR-V gets a larger 7-inch touch screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility as well as a 7-inch information display behind the wheel with a digital tachometer. The speedometer remains analog. A USB-A and USB-C port are built into the front storage area. The two Sport trims adds two rear USB-C ports.
The CR-V EX-L and Sport Touring get a larger 9-inch touch screen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility and a wireless charging pad. The CR-V Sport Touring adds a 12-speaker Bose premium audio system.
Safety also is a large consideration for the new CR-V. The driver and passenger front airbags have been reengineered and redesigned to minimize brain trauma in angled frontal collisions. Honda also added standard knee and rear-passenger side airbags, increasing the number of airbags from six to 10.
Honda’s Sensing suite of advanced driver-assistance technologies is standard and features a new camera and radar that have a wider field of view that Honda says improves the system’s ability to recognize objects and therefore enhances the performance of the collision mitigation features.
The CR-V lineup now gets standard blind spot monitoring, traffic jam assist, low-speed braking control and traffic sign recognition. Honda also made improvements to the existing adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow and lane-keeping assistance systems. Driver attention monitoring and reminders for rear seat belts and rear passengers or cargo also are new to CR-V.
The 2023 CR-V EX and EX-L gasoline-powered trims will go on sale this summer. Honda says the hybrid models will follow later in the year.