For a very long time, Honda has made us die with the absence of a hybrid version of the CR-V, which has been released in the United States for several years. Assembled in Alliston, Ontario alongside the Civic, the CR-V is the automaker’s most popular vehicle today. Last year alone, Honda Canada sold 50,935 CR-V units in the country. About 7,000 more than the number of Civics, but 11,000 less than the Toyota RAV4, also made in Ontario.
Although several distribution problems remain, Honda nevertheless wants to continue in Canada sales of domestically assembled products. So don’t be surprised if the market shares of the Civic and CR-V continue to rise while those of the Pilot and Odyssey (made in the USA) fall. Additionally, with the exception of the Civic R Type, 2023 is the first year that no special model sold in Canada originates from Japan. Indeed, with the disappearance of Consciousness and Clarity, we see that all the models sold here are made in North America.
Unfortunately, this strategy, obviously aimed at reducing transportation costs, does not seem to allow the manufacturer to lower the price of its vehicles. At least that’s what we can see from the new CR-V’s list price, ranging from $36,740 to $50,840 (freight and preparation included). The minimum increase is more than $3,000 for each version, making the CR-V a more expensive product than its rivals. Now, do the improvements made to the CR-V justify this price increase?
One thing’s for sure, no one will be blown away by the equipment list that comes with this new version, which is still conservative in front of the competition: there’s no sunroof or ventilated seats, and you have to upgrade to the EX-L version ($45,340) to take advantage and wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, inductive charging for mobile devices and a 9-inch (instead of 7-inch) central touchscreen. The semi-digital instrument cluster (as the speedometer remains analog) seems conservative, while the lack of a 360-degree rear camera is disappointing.
In terms of aesthetics, there are no surprises except for the addition of the Sport version (in name only), which is distinguished by a unique front fascia, rims and roof rails painted in black and a few other tricks. In fact, the design is now more sensible and conventional, making the CR-V a product not known for its beauty, but which can stand the test of time better. Honda is not too daring in terms of interior presentation, which is similar to that of the Civic, and the only interior color is black.
Obviously, the engineers are adapting this new version to the current market trend, where compact SUVs are close to mid-sized ones in terms of size. Widened by 67 mm, the CR-V is therefore similar to the Mitsubishi Outlander and Volkswagen Tiguan in design, although it is less spacious than its predecessor. In fact, the 2023 CR-V loses several tens of liters in cargo volume, a result of this conservative North American design. That said, the level of versatility is still exceptional, considering this possibility to make good use of the cargo space. Honda has also improved the opening angle of the doors as well as the possibility to adjust the backrest of the rear seat, making it easier to install additional seats.
Honda Canada offers five versions of the CR-V. An easier deal than the Toyota RAV4, which has a dozen. It all starts with the base two-wheel drive model that accounts for less than 10% of sales, followed by the equivalent with all-wheel drive, for an additional $2,800. Then come the Sport versions, the EX-L tested for the purpose of this article, as well as the Touring.
Apart from the latter, all models keep a 1.5-liter turbocharged cylinder engine whose power set at 190 horse power does not seem to increase in any way. It is mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission, which works very well. Obviously, requesting high power from a small engine here means an annoying effect of elasticity, but this time it is reduced by a more exciting reaction to acceleration and above all, by a greatly improved sound insulation. Something so interesting about this new CR-V that we have to consider it one of the best product improvements.
The Touring version receives the long-awaited hybrid engine. Unfortunately it is unique to him, while our southern neighbors have the right to two versions of the CR-V hybrid, the latter will arrive a little later in the summer. In short, a more energy-efficient system than the RAV4 hybrid, with about fifteen horsepower lower. Compared to the regular CR-V, this would however save around 20% on fuel, while benefiting from shaftless all-wheel drive.
Remember, Honda is improving its four-wheel drive system on the regular CR-V this year, this time allowing up to 50% of torque to be directed to the rear, while we also benefit from cruise control. The 2023 CR-V also has Snow mode, which we weren’t able to use during this test.
Reminiscent of the Tiguan or even the Volvo XC90, the CR-V lacks personality. On the other hand, it makes up for its road behavior. Of course, the power is normal and the revving is not very exciting, but this is not the main appeal of this SUV. In fact, the CR-V is aimed at families with the advantage of exceptional safety and comfort, a comfortable interior and comfort that is ahead of its predecessor. As mentioned earlier, the soundproofing is such that it almost gives us the impression of a haute couture product, while the comfort of the seats is greatly improved. It’s impossible to get tired at the wheel of the CR-V and not appreciate its handling, benefiting from excellent steering and excellent suspension.
No, the CR-V doesn’t have the soul of a Mazda CX-50. It is not attractive and does not offer the same driving pleasure. However, here is a car that, with its features, definitely helps reduce the stress of everyday life. For its comfort, its versatility, its great ease of driving and its predictable behavior. Note that the 18-inch wheels offered as standard on the petrol models are perhaps a lesser aesthetic choice, but they are more sensible than the 20-inch wheels on the Mitsubishi Outlander or CX-50.
Disappointment of the hybrid
In Toyota’s case, it’s possible to get a hybrid RAV4 for around $36,000. For the Hyundai, you’re at $42,000. And for Ford? About $38,000. A more reasonable amount than what Honda offers, and the CR-V hybrid exceeds the psychological threshold of $50,000. In fact, the equipment of this Touring version ends there. However, most scientific users have nothing to do with all these gadgets… They want to benefit from the best available hybrid technology, for financial and environmental reasons. Unfortunately, Ford, Hyundai and Toyota also sell plug-in versions of their SUVs, unlike Honda.
Surprisingly, Honda Canada expects hybrid electric powertrains to be the choice of many buyers. Information that does not apply to the 2023 vintage, as the offer is again restricted to the Touring version. So this suggests that we can offer more hybrid versions, slowly phasing out traditional petrol models.
Meanwhile, it remains to be seen if the CR-V’s loyal customer base will remain. Because despite its improvements, rising costs – also due to rental and financing rates – risk turning away many buyers who will have little desire or means to shell out between $650 and $900 per month (tax included) for 48 months. .lease for the 2023 CR-V.