2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid Review: Mind Games

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn

Fast Facts

2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid AWD Sport Touring

2.0-liter inline four hybrid with synchronous permanent-magnet electric motor(204 total system horsepower)
Continuously-variable transmission, all-wheel drive
Fuel Economy, MPG
40 city / 34 highway / 37 combined (EPA Rating)
Fuel Economy, L/100km
6.0 city / 6.9 highway / 6.4 combined. (NRCan Rating)
Base Price
$40,395 US / $51,023 CAN
As Tested
$40,395 US / $51,023 CAN
Prices include $1295 destination charge in the United States and $2133 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.

Conversation icebreakers and clickbait listicles often start with a similar conceit - a hypothetical question meant to get you thinking and talking. The listicle, of course, answers these questions in a way alternately designed to enrage the reader or to promote whatever crap is being sold by the shady owners of the website that week, but it’s a great method of encouraging conversation.

Among car people, of course, these rhetorical questions hover around one’s ideal garage. For example, given a mythical million dollars, choose five cars. Or pick an automaker and take three cars from anywhere in their history. One that gets me as one who doesn’t buy cars often, of course, is the “forever” car. Buy one car now that you have to drive for the rest of your life.

A sports car, of course, is first in mind for these exercises - but then I recall that I’m old and getting older. No matter how many miles remain on my personal odometer, there’s no denying that the redline will someday come. So comfortable and long-lasting are the primary considerations. And when longevity is a concern, Honda is usually top of mind. The 2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid isn’t flashy, nor is it fun to drive. But if I’m rolling the dice on a forever car, I want one that I know will be with me to the bitter end.

As I said, however, it isn’t flashy. It’ll never impress the neighbors if that’s important to you. Somehow the styling has become even more bland and anonymous compared to the previous generation, which is saying something for any midsized crossover which is generally the domain of the anodyne. It’s inoffensive, clad with the de rigueur black plastic on the wheel wells and rockers. The hexagonal detailing to the grille is handsome, at least, making the front view a bit more interesting than some. Get used to seeing it, as the parking lots will soon be filled with CR-Vs.

The interior is mostly black and plain, though the orange/red stitching on the leather seats on this Sport Touring trim does lighten the mood a bit. The texture on the dash seems to remind me of the hexagonal grille, too, making things a bit more lively. It’s a straightforward, comfortable place to spend a day or a lifetime, with easy-to-use controls and Thank God real knobs for volume and the essential HVAC functions. Wireless Apple Carplay and Android Auto supplement the easy-to-use baked-in infotainment should you prefer good old-fashioned terrestrial radio or the satellite equivalent to whatever playlist you’ve cooked up. Wireless phone charging mates with plenty of nooks and spots to stash your stuff while in motion.

Driving the CR-V Hybrid is as one would expect from the best crossover in the business - comfortable and simple. It’s not an engaging drive, that's for certain - while the steering is direct and the suspension is well-damped, the car simply disappears around you. You don’t think about it. You won’t find yourself seeking twisty backroads, but neither does a long day in the saddle make you beg for a massage. The CR-V Hybrid simply does exactly what the driver and passengers need, no more no less.

The 204 horsepower listed above is a combined total-system number between a 147 hp four-cylinder and a 181 hp electric motor. It’s not a rocketship, but neither will you find yourself lagging at a stoplight or tricky highway merge. Honda’s CVT works nicely here, too, combining the strengths of both power systems and laying the horses down without drama. 

I do worry, however, about a number way up there at the top of the page - the MSRP. Forty grand is a hard number for me to wrap my head around, as it would have purchased one damned fine luxury car or midrange sports car when I started driving in the (oh, God, I’m old) mid-Nineties. Today, forty thousand dollars is south of the average transaction price for a new car. There is a ton of value here when you figure in fuel savings and impressive resale value typical to a Honda-badged vehicle, but it’s a lot to swallow. Fortunately, there may be a way around that.

You see, I’m cheap. And I live very near the CR-V’s assembly plant in East Liberty, Ohio - an area that (knocks wood nervously since I’ve moved the snowblower to a storage unit) doesn’t see a great deal of winter accumulation all that often. As such, I’d be VERY tempted to eschew the all-wheel drive on this Sport Touring trim, opting instead for the Sport Hybrid with front-wheel drive. This would save $6,150 on the as-delivered price, and net a nice round 40 mpg EPA combined fuel-economy rating. 

Either way, it’s hard to go wrong with the 2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid. It’s a smart choice, whether it’s your forever car or just your next family hauler. 

[Images: © 2023 Chris Tonn/TTAC]

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Chris Tonn
Chris Tonn

Some enthusiasts say they were born with gasoline in their veins. Chris Tonn, on the other hand, had rust flakes in his eyes nearly since birth. Living in salty Ohio and being hopelessly addicted to vintage British and Japanese steel will do that to you. His work has appeared in eBay Motors, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars, Reader's Digest, AutoGuide, Family Handyman, and Jalopnik. He is a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, and he's currently looking for the safety glasses he just set down somewhere.

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2 of 39 comments
  • Chiefmonkey Chiefmonkey on Apr 17, 2023

    I guess I'm among the minority who sees the new design as a nice improvement? I've absolutely hated the CR-V since 2007. For the first time I could see myself driving one had I the need for such a vehicle.

  • Larry Larry on May 05, 2023

    So we have a 2019 CRV Touring and love it. Love it so much that we ordered a 2023 CRV Hybrid. We ordered the 2023 without seeing one as they were so hard to find. But as soon as one came on the lot we went to look at it and honestly not impressed. Why did Honda take the panoramic sunroof away. Also fog lights are gone. Top line vehicle with no vented seats? Needless to say we canceled our order and kept our 2019 Touring.

  • Varezhka I have still yet to see a Malibu on the road that didn't have a rental sticker. So yeah, GM probably lost money on every one they sold but kept it to boost their CAFE numbers.I'm personally happy that I no longer have to dread being "upgraded" to a Maxima or a Malibu anymore. And thankfully Altima is also on its way out.
  • Tassos Under incompetent, affirmative action hire Mary Barra, GM has been shooting itself in the foot on a daily basis.Whether the Malibu cancellation has been one of these shootings is NOT obvious at all.GM should be run as a PROFITABLE BUSINESS and NOT as an outfit that satisfies everybody and his mother in law's pet preferences.IF the Malibu was UNPROFITABLE, it SHOULD be canceled.More generally, if its SEGMENT is Unprofitable, and HALF the makers cancel their midsize sedans, not only will it lead to the SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST ones, but the survivors will obviously be more profitable if the LOSERS were kept being produced and the SMALL PIE of midsize sedans would yield slim pickings for every participant.SO NO, I APPROVE of the demise of the unprofitable Malibu, and hope Nissan does the same to the Altima, Hyundai with the SOnata, Mazda with the Mazda 6, and as many others as it takes to make the REMAINING players, like the Excellent, sporty Accord and the Bulletproof Reliable, cheap to maintain CAMRY, more profitable and affordable.
  • GregLocock Car companies can only really sell cars that people who are new car buyers will pay a profitable price for. As it turns out fewer and fewer new car buyers want sedans. Large sedans can be nice to drive, certainly, but the number of new car buyers (the only ones that matter in this discussion) are prepared to sacrifice steering and handling for more obvious things like passenger and cargo space, or even some attempt at off roading. We know US new car buyers don't really care about handling because they fell for FWD in large cars.
  • Slavuta Why is everybody sweating? Like sedans? - go buy one. Better - 2. Let CRV/RAV rust on the dealer lot. I have 3 sedans on the driveway. My neighbor - 2. Neighbors on each of our other side - 8 SUVs.
  • Theflyersfan With sedans, especially, I wonder how many of those sales are to rental fleets. With the exception of the Civic and Accord, there are still rows of sedans mixed in with the RAV4s at every airport rental lot. I doubt the breakdown in sales is publicly published, so who knows... GM isn't out of the sedan business - Cadillac exists and I can't believe I'm typing this but they are actually decent - and I think they are making a huge mistake, especially if there's an extended oil price hike (cough...Iran...cough) and people want smaller and hybrids. But if one is only tied to the quarterly shareholder reports and not trends and the big picture, bad decisions like this get made.