Honda USA has made and sold hundreds of thousands of CR-V models every year since 2007 and it’s by far Honda’s most popular model in the US. The sixth-generation CR-V arrived for 2023. Does it look exciting? No. Does it have speed and excitement? Also no. Is it extremely practical and right-sized? Very much so.
At a Glance
- Roomier interior space for passengers
- Simple tech features are easy to understand, but limited
- Loud and clunky to drive at speed
- Lots of cargo space
The 2023 Honda CR-V is a bit larger and more spacious than it was in the previous generation. Most of the added girth is to allow for more seating room in the crossover and to add a bit of length (1. 6 in/4 cm on the wheelbase) to allow for more crumple zones to improve safety. It is not the first or the last car to increase in size to comply with increased safety standards via crash tests.
Although it is larger, Honda and the Environmental Protection Agency still describe the CR-V as a „compact.“ The Honda CR-V is smaller than a bigger three-row option like the Pilot, but is larger than what most Europeans would consider a C-segment vehicle. While the European Union uses its own measurements for what qualifies as a compact, the EPA uses feet and inches and has different ideas about what is or isn’t compact.
This sixth-generation CR-V is completely redone from the previous model, getting not only new bodywork, but also a completely new interior and improvements to its drivetrain options. The CR-V is still known for its comfort, versatility, and efficiency.
The 2023 CR-V comes in five trim levels. Two of those are hybrids by default. The base model CR-V LX and next-tier EX are both powered by a turbocharged 1. 5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 190 hp (141 kW) to a continuously variable transmission (CVT) – as is the second-to-top EX-L package. Front-wheel drive is standard, all-wheel drive is optional. Fuel economy is rated at 28 mpg (8. 4 l/100km) in the city and 34 mpg (6. 9 l/100km) on the highway. These are just average figures for this segment.
The 2023 Honda CR-V Sport and Sport Touring models switch that to a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with a hybrid-electric system. This outputs 204 hp (152 kW) to a CVT in front-wheel drive with AWD as an option. Fuel efficiency improves to 43 mpg (5. 5 l/100km) in the city and 36 mpg (6. 5 l/100km) on the highway. Adding AWD drops the highway mileage slightly on both the standard gasoline and the hybrid models.
Out in the real world, we drove a 2023 Honda CR-V Sport Touring with the hybrid powertrain. On the highway, it returned 34. 4 mpg (6. 8 l/100km) on our 42-mile (68-km) loop at high altitude. That’s expected given our elevation at 6,400 feet (1,950 m) and occasional crosswinds. We also noted that the hybrid sounded like it was struggling at that altitude and speed (65 mph/104. 6 km/h). The car didn’t seem to be struggling, but its noises gave that impression. It didn’t instill confidence. The steering felt strangely disconnected at these speeds.
Around town, though, the 2023 CR-V was a good drive. It’s not sporty, nor is it exciting. But the car is comfortable and competent. The steering is easy and predictable at low speeds, and the comfort for the driver and visibility are both excellent.
Hauling around three teenagers to various things as a family shuttle, the CR-V really showed us what it’s made for and why it’s a best-selling model. The CR-V is a car that does the job, without a lot of glitz and glam. Controls are where you expect them to be, the CR-V responds as you input, and nothing but driving is required of the person in the left front seat.
One of the biggest improvements to the new CR-V over the previous generation is Honda’s infotainment upgrade. The previous system was cumbersome and a bit pushy. This one is easy to use and simple. It’s not as complex or over-capable like many, so technophiles will probably not find it … er … entertaining. But it’s good for the usual things that most everyone wants: music, occasional navigation, and some vehicle settings. Honda kept its simple and easy to understand knobs for the climate control separate from the screen. Something that consumer surveys have shown to be a popular choice.
For our money, while the turbocharged model may feel quicker, the hybrid model is really the better option. Fuel savings and everyday driving are important factors. The Honda feels quick to launch and is faster out of the gate. The hybrid is loud on the highway, but there’s no longer a compromise in cargo or interior space to accommodate the batteries. In all respects, it’s the better option overall. Sadly, it’s only available in the more expensive trim points. There’s a US$5,000 price difference between the base model and the „base“ Sport Hybrid option.
The 2023 Honda CR-V starts at under $30,000 plus delivery. Our test model in the top-most trim level was over $42,000 with delivery.
Product Page: 2023 Honda CR-V