Honda Kicks Base Engine to the Curb, Adds Hybrid for 2020 CR-V

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
honda kicks base engine to the curb adds hybrid for 2020 cr v

A slew of changes are on the way for the Honda CR-V’s mid-cycle refresh, though you might not be able to spot them from across a parking lot. For sure, there’s the obligatory tweaks to the compact CUV’s front and rear fascia, but the big news lies in its powertrain.

There’s still a choice of two propulsion sources, just not what greeted buyers for 2019. It seems Honda’s run away with the hybrid crown for too long.

For 2020, the CR-V gains an available hybrid powertrain sourced from the Accord Hybrid. In this guise, the CR-V joins Honda’s two-motor hybrid system with a thermally-efficient Atkinson-cycle 2.0-liter four-cylinder. Combined output is 212 horsepower, and yes, you can get it in AWD.

While EPA efficiency figures remain out of reach for now, Honda predicts a 50-percent hike in city fuel economy. This vehicle, as well as Ford’s returning Escape Hybrid, could spell big trouble for Toyota’s segment-leading RAV4 Hybrid.

You’ll be able to tell the Hybrid apart from its gas-only brethren by a blue Honda logo, trim-specific bar-type foglights, a hidden tailpipe, and boastful bodyside badging. Three drive modes (Econ, Sport, and EV) and a special driver information display greet Hybrid drivers; a low-speed warning sound will be audible to pedestrians when you’re in electric-only mode. How fast a driver can go in this mode, and for how long, remains to be seen.

Regular CR-Vs gain round foglights fully integrated into the bumper, underscored by a curving length of chrome, but don’t expect to see the base 2.4-liter four-cylinder make a return appearance. For 2020, the 184 hp, 180 lb-ft mill gives way to a standard turbo 1.5-liter across the non-hybrid trim range.

The 1.5L makes 190 hp and 179 lb-ft, sent to either the front or all four wheels via a continuously variable automatic.

Further changes can be found at each corner. For 2020, redesigned 18-inch wheels become the norm on EX, EX-L, and Hybrid trims, with the top-flight Touring gaining 19-inch hoops. Inside, the only standard alteration is a redesigned console storage bin. As you move up the trim ladder, niceties mount, though all CR-Vs contain Honda’s Collision Mitigation Braking System with Forward Collision Warning (FCW) and pedestrian sensing capability, Road Departure Mitigation with Lane Departure Warning, Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with low-speed follow, and Lane Keeping Assist.

Features like blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and auto high beams are not standard kit, but they’re available for those who can’t live without full peace of mind.

Arriving later this fall (CR-V) and early next year (CR-V Hybrid), the refreshed model does not yet carry a list of price tags. Expect these to roll out closer to the on-sale date.

[Images: Honda]

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2 of 33 comments
  • Deneb66 Deneb66 on Sep 20, 2019

    Not a fan of the dash/instrument cluster. Looks like a gaming console. Can we have analog gauges back please?

  • Jeff S Jeff S on Sep 20, 2019

    Good to see the addition of hybrids to the CRV but I agree with others that the design of the newer CRVs are ugly and I am not a fan of digital dashes. I would be more interested in a hybrid than a turbo. Will keep our 2013 CRV.

  • Mike Beranek Any car whose engine makes less than 300 ft-lbs of torque.
  • Malcolm Mini temporarily halted manual transmission production but brought it back as it was a surprisingly good seller. The downside is that they should have made awd standard with the manual instead of nixing it. Ford said recently that 4dr were 7% manual take rate and I think the two door was 15%.
  • Master Baiter It’s hard to make predictions, especially about the future. It will be interesting to see if demand for Ford’s EVs will match the production capacity they are putting on line.
  • Brett Woods 2023 Corvette base model.
  • Paul Taka Hi, where can I find 1982 Honda prelude junkyards in 50 states