Home Compact SUV Crossover 2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid First Review

2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid First Review

  • CR-V adds hybrid powertrain for the first time
  • System pairs two electric motors with a 2.0-liter engine and all-wheel drive
  • Earns 40 mpg in city, boasts refined driving manners
  • 2020 CR-V lineup is ranked #1 in Compact SUVs
  • Priced from $27,750 plus $1,120 delivery
  • On sale now

One of America’s most popular crossover SUVs since its 1997 U.S. introduction, Honda’s compact Civic-based CR-V for 2020 benefits from a slight facelift, new features and upgraded powertrains, including a new gas/electric hybrid version. Honda’s third application of its two-motor hybrid-electric system (joining Accord and Insight hybrids), the CR-V Hybrid foretells future hybrid Hondas down the road. Honda is targeting two-thirds of its global vehicle sales to be “electrified” and 15 percent to be full battery electric (BEV) by 2030.

For 2020, all CR-Vs now feature standard Honda Sensing safety and driver-assist technology (previously available only on EX and above), and all non-hybrids are powered by the 1.5-liter VTEC Turbo 4-cylinder that was offered in EX and higher trims. Available with front- or all-wheel drive, it pumps 190 ponies through a continuously variable transmission (CVT).

The 2020 CR-V Hybrid model followed a few months later. EX and EX-L trims will get new 18-inch wheels with a dark gray and machined finish, while Touring trims will roll on new 19-inch wheels and tires.

How much does the 2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid cost?

The 2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid starts at $27,750 for the base LX model, which undercuts the hybrid versions of the Toyota RAV4 and Ford Escape. The EX trim level retails at $30,260, while the EX-L carries an MSRP of $32,750. The top-of-the-line 2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid Touring prices begin at $35,590. All prices exclude $1,120 delivery.

The base price for the Honda CR-V Hybrid is $600 less than the 2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, which starts at $28,350 plus $1,120 delivery. The RAV4 Hybrid tops out at  $36,880 plus delivery for the Limited.

The Honda CR-V Hybrid also undercuts the price of the 2020 Ford Escape Hybrid, which begins at $28,255 for a base front-drive model, while a more comparable all-wheel-drive Ford Escape Hybrid begins at $29,755. Both these prices are before the $1,1 95 destination charge.

In addition to being the least expensive of its pack, the Honda CR-V Hybrid is also easier on the wallet as a step up model in its own lineup. At its $27,750 base price, the hybrid CR-V is just $1,200 more than a standard 2020 Honda CR-V LX with all-wheel drive. That makes it something of a no-brainer.

What is the 2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid’s MPG?

The new hybrid CR-V has an EPA fuel economy rating of 40 mpg city/35 mpg highway. The standard, gasoline-powered all-wheel-drive 2020 CR-V is rated at 27 mpg city/32 mpg highway.

Compared to its two main hybrid SUV rivals, the Toyota RAV4 and Ford Escape, the Honda trails them slightly in fuel economy. The Toyota RAV4, which is also all-wheel drive only, is rated at 41 mpg city/38 mpg highway.

The Ford Escape Hybrid is rated at 44 mpg city/37 mpg in front-wheel-drive form, and 43 mpg city/37 mpg highway for all-wheel drive.

Hybrid has standard AWD

Shared with the Accord Hybrid, the CR-V’s two-motor hybrid propulsion system combines two electric motors with a highly efficient 2.0-liter, 16-valve DOHC Atkinson-cycle 4-cylinder. Peak total system output is 212 horsepower.

The 2020 Honda CR-V’s hybrid system, for the first time in the U.S., will be paired with standard all-wheel drive that sends appropriate levels of electric-motor torque to its rear wheels in low-traction conditions. And its compact battery pack and control systems, integrated into what Honda calls an intelligent power unit (IPU), are packaged under the flat cargo floor to retain cargo capability.

Regarding that last point, the CR-V Hybrid doesn’t give up much. It has 33.2 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats and 68.7 cubic feet with the seats folded, vs. 39.2 cubic feet and 75.8 cubic feet, respectively, for the standard model.

Driving the 2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid

Thanks to its electrified powertrain, the Honda CR-V Hybrid is the most powerful CR-V variant as well as the most efficient. It has a total of 212 horsepower and 232 lb-ft of torque, vs. 190 horsepower and 179 lb-ft of torque for the standard gasoline model.

That said, the Honda CR-V’s greatest surprise isn’t necessarily its zippiness. By our seat-of-the-pants impression, it feels about as quick as a standard model, which is adequate for most people’s needs. The real prize of the new 2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid is in its quietness and smoothness that are part of its efficient operation.

Acceleration is seamless, and the CR-V Hybrid has the ability to run on electrons for longer than we expected before the 2.0-liter 4-cylinder gasoline engine switches on. We got up to speeds of around 40 mph or more before the engine kicked in, though that will vary with driving habits, the road and the batteries’ level.

Moreover, when the powertrain switched from battery power to the gasoline engine, the transition is very smooth – and more refined than that of a Toyota RAV4 Hybrid that we tested back to back with the Honda.

As with most other hybrids, the Honda CR-V Hybrid uses an electronic continuously variable transmission (eCVT). And like other hybrids, it can’t get around some of the “rubber band” feeling and droning under hard acceleration. In ordinary driving, however, the Honda CR-V Hybrid is a smooth operator – and because of its ability to drive at higher speeds under electric power only, there’s less of what we’ll call “CVT-ness” than others.

Selectable drive modes

The new Honda CR-V Hybrid has driver-selectable modes: Normal, Sport, Econ and EV.

Sport tailors throttle response and even the way the hybrid CR-V sounds to a more aggressive setting, and it does indeed make this hybrid SUV feel a bit zippier. Conversely, Econ mode dampens the powertrain to optimize economy.

EV mode enables the CR-V Hybrid to operate on electricity alone. This latter mode works at lower speeds; if the speed is too high or there’s not enough juice, the vehicle will display a message and simply operate as usual.

Regenerative braking

In a hybrid, stopping is just as important as starting, if not more so. It also is an indicator of the powertrain’s  overall refinement. And from our first impression, the Honda CR-V Hybrid is the best of the bunch.

Brake feel is excellent, with none of the grabbyness of some hybrids. We also like that, similar to the Honda Accord Hybrid, there are steering wheel-mounted paddles to adjust the level of brake regeneration.  There are four levels in all, indicated by down arrows.

At none, it feels like a traditional vehicle coming to a stop. From there, the regenerative effect has three levels. At its most, there is enough to really help slow the vehicle as you come to a traffic stop or merely want to curtail speed.

Bottom line from our first drive: The Honda CR-V Hybrid doesn’t boast the highest fuel economy numbers of its ilk, but we like its manners more. It’s simply smoother, quieter and more refined.

Honda Sensing safety is standard

The standard Honda Sensing suite of safety and driver-assist features includes Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS) with Forward Collision Warning (FCW) and pedestrian sensing capability, Road Departure Mitigation (RDM) with Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with low-speed Lane Keeping Assist (LKAS).

Also available are blind spot information (BSI), Rear Cross Traffic Monitor (CTM) and Auto High Beam headlights, and the Hybrids will have a new Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System (AVAS) with a front-bumper speaker that audibly alerts pedestrians when operating electric-only.

When does the CR-V Hybrid go on sale?

The CR-V Hybrid is on sale now. It arrived at dealer lots on March 1, 2020.

2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid Inside and Out

 

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