2023 Honda CR-V
Bigger, But Is It Better?
The small crossover continues to be the largest and fastest growing automotive segment out there, and the Honda CR-V has been a part of it since the beginning. 2023 sees the start of a 6th generation of this perennial best-seller and benchmark. It certainly is bigger. Let’s see if it’s better too!
Who would have thought back in 1997 when we first drove a Honda CR-V, that a quarter century later, the small crossover segment, that it helped create, would be the largest, most competitive, and still fastest growing automotive segment going. For 2023, there’s an all-new CR-V, looking to maintain its place as the segment’s best seller over those last 25-years.
It is noticeably bigger than before, and we can appreciate that makes it easier for things like loading car seats in the now very spacious back row through the larger door openings. But it also feels heavier and not quite as peppy on the street as previous CR-Vs. Still plenty solid, with a fine overall mix of handling with decent ride quality, though the suspension seems to have been tuned a tad firmer.
But the greatly increased comfort of the front seats makes up for it. And as before, there’s a commanding view of the road with great visibility all around.
As for specifics on the size boost, it adds 2.7-inches of length on a wheelbase stretched by 1.6-inches, and this CR-V is about half an inch wider.
LX and EX trim use a 190-horsepower 1.5-liter turbo-4, and while it doesn’t feel underpowered, we much prefer Honda’s latest hybrid setup used in Sport and Sport Touring grades.
This 2.0-liter based hybrid rates 204-horsepower and 247 lb-ft. of torque. It essentially replaces the transmission with an electric motor. Linear Shift Control simulates gears, plus, you can adjust the amount of regen braking with steering wheel mounted paddles, just like pure EVs.
So, much like the original Accord Hybrid, CR-V hybrids are now the sportier choice, and look the part too with gloss black trim, two-tone rear spoiler, black roof rails, and polished stainless-steel exhaust tips.
Following the Pilot’s lead, a taller front end lends a more truck-like vibe than before.
This is the 4th gen of Honda’s 2-motor hybrid system, and it is quite good; just as we noted in our review of the latest Accord Hybrid, you spend noticeably more time on battery power than before.
Engine noise doesn’t always directly correspond to throttle inputs, but for the most part, it remains quiet, unless you really get on the throttle.
That was the intention for our trip to Mason Dixon Dragway, where the hybrid eased off the line with gracefulness more than eagerness, hitting 60 in 7.4-seconds and clearing the ¼-mile in 16.1-seconds at 85 miles-per-hour.
It was very solid and composed through our cone course too with very little body roll. Turn-ins are sharp with nice tight steering.
All-wheel-drive is available on all CR-Vs but comes standard with Sport Touring and can now send more power to the rear wheels than before for a true 50/50 split.
Despite minor fading, the brakes performed well in panic stops, with typical Honda refinement, stopping us from 60 in just 115-feet.
This latest CR-V’s interior is more business-like than flashy, but the honeycomb vents and digital gauge display spice things up nicely.
Big controls for climate, and a row of hard buttons along the infotainment screen are a nice improvement and very easy to master. A 7-inch touchscreen is standard, with a 9-incher available.
There are multiple ways to monitor the hybrid’s energy power flow, along with an added Snow drive mode, and new hill decent control.
Cargo capacity was already a CR-V strong point, but they’ve made improvements there as well. Space is up slightly to 39.3 cubic-ft., maxing out at 76.5 with rear seatbacks folded.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the hybrids are 43-City, 36-Highway, and 40-Combined with front-wheel-drive, 40-City, 34-Highway, and 37-Combined with all-wheel-drive…all very realistic numbers.
They earn a much better than average Energy Impact Score burning 8.0-barrels of oil yearly, with 3.9-tons of CO2 emissions.
Pricing starts with LX trim at $29,705, with all-wheel-drive a $1,500 option, and works up to Sport Touring which comes with AWD for $40,395.
At first glance, it may appear that Honda is playing it close to the vest here with the 2023 Honda CR-V as there are no major departures from prior success. But look deeper, and you’ll find the kind of evolutionary improvements that do indeed keep Honda buyers coming back year after year. Which will definitely be the case with this new CR-V.
- Engine: 2.0-liter 4-cylinder
- Torque: 247 lb-ft.
- 1/4 Mile: 16.1-seconds at 85 mph
- EPA: 43 City / 36 Highway / 40 Combined
- Horsepower: 204
- 0-60 mph: 7.4 seconds
- 60-0 Braking: 115 feet (avg.)