The Undeniable Appeal of the Honda CR-V Hybrid
If you’re familiar with the automotive marketplace, you know that certain cars develop cult followings. Although it may not be the most exhilarating choice, the Honda CR-V has captured the hearts of many. And now, for 2020, Honda has added the highly anticipated CR-V Hybrid to its lineup in an effort to attract even more buyers to their best-selling car.
Earlier this year, we had the opportunity to test drive the CR-V Hybrid, and we were truly impressed by its refined and pleasant character. However, Honda faces tough competition in this segment, with other standout models like the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, Ford Escape Hybrid, and the upcoming Hyundai Tucson Hybrid. While the CR-V Hybrid is certainly a strong contender, it’s crucial to remember that it’s not the only exceptional option available.
One of the key selling points of the CR-V Hybrid is its impressive EPA ratings. With 40 miles per gallon in the city, 35 on the highway, and a combined rating of 38, it outperforms its gas-only counterpart by a significant margin. This means not only improved fuel efficiency but also a powertrain that remains just as easy to live with on a day-to-day basis.
Under the hood, the CR-V Hybrid boasts a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, paired with two electric motors. This combination delivers a total system output of 212 horsepower and 232 pound-feet of torque. While these figures may not be groundbreaking, they perfectly align with the CR-V Hybrid’s purpose – providing excellent fuel economy without sacrificing everyday drivability.
During our testing, we found the engine to be rock-solid, offering a quiet transition between gas and electric power and providing sufficient acceleration to navigate through traffic effortlessly. The transmission, a single-speed direct-drive system, effectively manages the power, which can be distributed between the axles as needed. Ultimately, the CR-V Hybrid exceeded our expectations and outperformed some of Honda’s previous attempts with continuously variable transmissions (CVTs).
However, there are a few areas where the CR-V Hybrid falls short. One of the major drawbacks is the outdated technology featured in the cabin. The 7.0-inch touchscreen and operating system feel antiquated and lack the user-friendly interface found in more modern rivals like the new Accord and upcoming Civic. The menu layouts can be confusing, and the system often freezes with multiple inputs in quick succession. Thankfully, the inclusion of Apple CarPlay partially mitigates these issues.
On the plus side, the CR-V Hybrid comes equipped with an abundance of safety features. Automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, and adaptive cruise control are all standard across all trim levels. During our test, each of these systems performed as intended, although the lane-centering feature could be a bit aggressive at times.
As a whole, the CR-V Hybrid is an impressive crossover. It surpasses its gas-only counterpart in several aspects and stands as one of the best choices in the gas-electric segment. However, with increasing competition in this class, it’s challenging to say whether it would be our top pick. Models like the pricier Toyota RAV4 Prime offer enticing alternatives that may sway buyers seeking the utmost efficiency.
When comparing the CR-V Hybrid to its more contemporary rivals, it becomes clear that Honda has made significant improvements to the interior. The materials used are of higher quality, and the availability of faux wood trim enhances the overall aesthetic. In contrast, Ford’s Escape falls short in terms of interior quality. As for the RAV4, it presents a compelling option with superior efficiency. However, Toyota’s Synergy Drive hybrid system lacks the refinement of Honda’s setup, as the CR-V Hybrid relies less on the gas engine at lower speeds, resulting in a smoother and more seamless driving experience. Those who prioritize ultimate fuel economy might find the RAV4 to be a better fit.
In conclusion, the Honda CR-V Hybrid is an exceptional crossover, representing an evolutionary step forward for the CR-V lineup. It offers impressive fuel efficiency, retains excellent drivability, and includes a comprehensive suite of safety features. While it faces stiff competition from other top contenders, the CR-V Hybrid maintains its status as a solid choice for individuals seeking a reliable, efficient, and well-rounded vehicle.
As the demand for hybrid and electric vehicles continues to grow, Honda’s introduction of the CR-V Hybrid demonstrates their commitment to meeting the evolving needs of today’s consumers. With its undeniable appeal and noteworthy improvements, the CR-V Hybrid stands as a testament to Honda’s ability to create a hybrid crossover that not only competes but excels in the fiercely competitive automotive marketplace.