|Positives: Stunning redesign both inside and out, sporty and practical interior, tons of space for people and cargo, palpable torque increase, solid driving dynamics, great efficiency and safety.|
|Negatives: Slower than the competition, expensive in higher trims.|
|Bottom Line: This is the best the CR-V has ever been in terms of styling, driving dynamics, technology, and efficiency. It's one of the best mainstream crossovers you can buy right now.|
The CR-V has long been one of the better driving small crossovers in the industry, and that tradition continues with the 2023 model. The superb chassis, excellent steering, and the balance of the CR-V are great reasons why it's so enjoyable to drive, second only to the Mazda CX-5 and CX-50.
Ride Quality: The ride is a nice balance between firmness and compliance.
Acceleration: It's not a brisk sprint, but it's not bad. 0-60 happens in just under 8 seconds, a tad quicker than the gas version by about half a second. We're more impressed by the CVT, which takes some doing. It's decently responsive and doesn't drone like most versions of this transmission type.
Braking: The brakes modulate well, and we had no problem with the feel. There was no mushiness, providing reassurance under hard braking.
Steering: The CR-V Hybrid has very good steering with decent effort and better accuracy than most of the competition. It was also on-center at highway speeds. There's not much feedback coming through.
Handling: Body control is very good, and the CR-V Hybrid feels balanced in the turns.
Honda's in-car technology certainly looks better than the last-generation software, but it's not nearly as polished looking as Hyundai or Kia's. It does, however, work incredibly well and provides easy operation thanks to its simplicity and large icons.
Infotainment System: The 9" dash-mounted color touchscreen is well-positioned and easy to read. Responsiveness is better than the last CR-V's infotainment system, and the navigation of menus is excellent.
Controls: The CR-V does a masterful job with physical controls. The traditional gearshift knob, the large knurled climate controls, and the steering wheel buttons all work very well and limit the amount of distraction when driving.
The new CR-V looks so good, it comes close to unseating both the Mazda CX-5 and CX-50. That's a tall order because we've always considered Mazda to be the cream of the crop when it comes to both exterior and interior styling. The new design language Honda has employed across its model line is worth writing about because it's far more refined than the previous generation of vehicles. The interior might not have the polish and materials quality of either of those Mazda crossovers, but it's still excellent.
Front: The front fascia is the same one that shows up on the Pilot. here it looks great with the big black mesh pattern, triple beam headlights, and the LED eyebrow daytime running lights. It's far less busy than the old one. Even with the Sport Touring trim's almost pointless small silver intake frames in the lower fascia, it still looks great.
Rear: The back of the CR-V looks even better than the front with Volvo-like taillights, great tailgate creases, a sporty roof spoiler, and twin ellipsoid exhaust ports.
Profile: It's nice to see Honda move away from overly complex styling to a simpler but still edgy look. The side view showcases a long crease from headlight to taillight, as well as prominent creasing around the wheelwells. The black wheels on the Sport Touring trim, and the attractive black window trim would look better if the window frames matched. The best aspects are the parallel lines of the D-pillar and the edge of the taillight.
Cabin: It's pretty dark in here, but everything looks great, especially the honeycomb vents and dash trim, the knurled climate control knobs, and the orange stitching on the upholstery. The interior matches the exterior nicely, and it's the best cabin the CR-V has ever had.
The CR-V's interior is very well executed in terms of materials and room. Ergonomics are also improved over the last model, making it a better place to spend time. A family of five will be very comfortable for many miles.
Front Seats: The leather-trimmed seats have good cushioning and decent bolstering. Even the seat cushion has good length for taller adults.
Rear Seats: 40 inches of rear legroom is about a half inch more than the last CR-V. Even the middle position is comfortable.
NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): Sound deadening is better than the old CR-V's cabin, and it's pretty quiet inside.
Visibility: The seating position, large windows, and thin pillar width help provide good visibility in virtually all directions.
Climate: The CR-V's climate system and heated seats work very well. The easy adjustability with the single vent knobs also helps provide good climate comfort for all occupants.
The CR-V performed at the top of crash tests and also provides an excellent suite of safety tech with Honda Sensing technology. It gives the Hybrid the full set with no additional options to pay for.
IIHS Rating: The new CR-V scored a Top Safety Pick+ with only one demerit for an "acceptable" LATCH ease of use.
NHTSA Rating: Not tested.
Standard Tech: Our tester came with the Honda Sensing suite with Adaptive Cruise Control, Collision Mitigation Braking System, Lane Keeping Assist System, Road Departure Mitigation, Traffic Jam Assist. The CR-V Hybrid also comes with Rear Cross Traffic Monitor, Driver Attention Monitor, and a Blind Spot Information System.
Optional Tech: None.
The CR-V has the largest cargo area among the competition, and that includes the Toyota RAV4, Mazda CX-50, and even the big Subaru Outback and Nissan Rogue. The passenger area is also capacious for small storage items.
Storage Space: Honda got rid of the bulky center console from the old CR-V, especially that chunk where the high-mounted shift knob was located. The new CR-V's open front binnacle with the wireless charger is nice and large. There's ample room for a large smartphone, keys, etc. The center armrest isn't long, but it is fairly deep.
Cargo Room: The CR-V gets bigger in the cargo hold with 39.3 cubes behind row two and a whopping 76.5 cubes with the seats folded flat.
Even with more torque than last year, the CR-V Hybrid provides excellent fuel economy with 37 mpg combined. We drove ours in sport mode most of the time, but we still got solid numbers.
Observed: 33.5 mpg.
Distance Driven: 182 miles.
In Sport Touring trim, the CR-V Hybrid gets the top dog audio system. The premium Bose 12-speaker system provides great sound with good clarity and bass. Music sounded wonderful, and phone calls were crisp and clear. At this level, the system is standard equipment, which is a nice touch.