Honda has found continued success with its hybrid lineup (the Insight, Accord Hybrid, and Clarity Plug-in Hybrid) as well as its popular CR-V crossover, so we're surprised it took this long to marry these two strong suits. Starting in the spring of 2020, crossover shoppers looking for fuel-efficiency will have the option to purchase the refreshed Honda CR-V with a hybrid engine. The long-awaited move shows Honda's dedication to electrification and is another step towards their goal of making two-thirds of global automobile sales from electrified vehicles by 2030. Is the hybrid model worth waiting for or should you take advantage of year-end deals for the 2019 CR-V? Here's what we know so far about the new CR-V Hybrid's exterior, interior and powertrain.
The exterior changes to the 2020 Honda CR-V aren't dramatic, but the subtle updates make the compact crossover look slightly more aggressive and upscale. All 2020 trims get broad openings for the fog lights which are fully integrated into the bumper and a more prominent chrome grille. While the gas models get round LED fog lights, the Hybrid is set apart with distinct bar fog lights with 5-LEDs. Other Hybrid-specific features include special badging and a distinctive blue Honda logo in the center of the grille.
The CR-V Hybrid also gets a unique rear bumper and hidden tailpipes. All trims get new 18-inch wheels with a dark gray and machined finish standard, and the Touring trim offers larger 19-inch wheels. The blue accents on the Hybrid are subtle touches to set it apart from the gas models but if you're looking for a dramatic difference to the CR-V's styling, you won't find it for 2020.
Looking at the new CR-V's interior, the distinctions for the Hybrid are more about function than style. The most prominent difference is the new push-button gear selector which lets you select from Econ, Sport or EV modes. Econ mode maximizes fuel efficiency, Sport mode is more aggressive, and EV mode uses only electric power when the battery has enough charge. Hybrid models get an Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System which is a speaker on the front bumper that alerts pedestrians of the approaching vehicle. The volume varies depending on the vehicle's speed and proximity to the pedestrian. Finally, an instrument panel unique to the Hybrid shows your power/charge status.
The minor changes to the exterior and interior for the CR-V Hybrid are just the icing on the cake which is the new hybrid engine. The 2.0-liter 4-cylinder gas engine and two electric motors will offer up 212 horsepower and 232 lb-ft of torque. The CR-V Hybrid has a clear advantage in both power and torque over the 190 horsepower and 179 lb-ft of torque gas models. Honda promises the new CR-V Hybrid will be quicker off the line and get significantly better fuel economy than the gas model which gets 27/33/29 (city/highway/combined). Honda has not released any official fuel economy numbers for the Hybrid, but the automaker anticipates a 50% improvement in fuel economy. If this prediction is correct, it will boost the combined fuel economy number to over 40 mpg which is a substantial improvement.
Should you continue to wait patiently for the 2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid? Shoppers looking for a comfortable and spacious crossover with the added benefit of fuel savings can't go wrong holding off until the new crossover hits dealerships next spring. Unfortunately, there are a few missing details such as fuel economy numbers and pricing that would help you determine if the Hybrid is right for you or if you should go with the 2019 gas-powered CR-V. A third option is to consider the CR-V's competitors that can already be purchased with a hybrid engine like the Nissan Rogue Hybrid, Ford Escape Hybrid, and Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.