It is said that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication, and sometimes this point cannot be argued. We really loved the Honda CR-V Hybrid for being a quality SUV offering just the right amount of size, space and fuel economy. Everything has been engineered with Honda purpose for ease of use and reliability. Boasting 37 mpg overall without the need to plug it in, it should be in anyone’s list of SUVs to look at. What startled me is to see how simplicity aligns with the American public’s vehicle demands. The CR-V has been America’s best-selling SUV over the last 25 years.
Mike Kistemaker of American Honda said, “As America’s outright best-selling SUV of the past 25 years, the Honda CR-V has played a critical role in our past, but what’s significant about the all-new CR-V is the important role it will play in our future – with the CR-V hybrid to represent about 50 percent of sales. More stylish, more rugged, more tech and more fun-to-drive, this sixth-generation CR-V will be best in class in a large segment where that really matters.”
Powering the Hybrid
The CR-V is motivated by a 2.0-liter engine, hybrid system and CVT transmission. The hybrid system uses two motors that are mounted side by side, a new configuration that allows for the use of a larger propulsion motor with increased torque output. Combined system output is a claimed 241 hp (a 3 hp increase from the old model), while the traction-motor peak torque rises to 247 lb.-ft. of torque (up 15 lb.-ft.).
According to Honda, the hybrid-electric system is more refined at highway speeds. The package is whisper quiet. It also now allows for towing. Nothing much – only 1,000 pounds. But at least you can now tow a motorcycle, Jet Ski or U-Haul trailer without worry.
To make the CR-V sound and respond more like a traditional non-hybrid car, it uses Linear Shift Control technology. Honda says this elevates the driving experience by mimicking the vehicle speed-linked rev feel associated with a conventional drivetrain shifting gears at wide open throttle. The new hybrid-electric system also allows for a substantial increase in continuous maximum speed – which climbs from 86 mph to 115 mph. So in states like Montana it becomes a more viable choice.
No one is going to mistake the new CR-V for a Bentley Bentayga, but it looks good, especially with the 19-inch blacked-out wheels and grill featured on the Sport Touring models. It is a more aggressive look. The front and rear facias and grille mesh are highlighted with gloss black accents. The lower bumper design is gloss black, as is the underside of the rear spoiler. The windshield has been extended and pushed out to provide great visibility while still looking stylish.
The interior has been designed to have the most cargo room in the model’s history, with 36.3 cubic feet available behind the rear seats. You’ll easily be able to make monthly hauls to Costco without having to flip the rear seats down.
I really like the metal honeycomb mesh – a design cue that originated in the Civic. It conceals the HVAC vents so it looks like one cohesive design element. According to Honda, new front Body Stabilizing Seats reduce fatigue over long drives, and the steering wheel angle is more sedan-like for a more comfortable, sportier driving position. Between the front seats is the largest center console bin in its class.
Tech with Ease
A 9-inch central display controls infotainment and navigation. And it features a knurled volume knob in the right spot! Previous Hondas were using buttons to toggle the volume until customer complaints came in. Everything works easily. There is a choice at the bottom of the screen for the six app buttons that you use most frequently.
When you find a good musical selection and want to crank the tunes on that knurled volume knob, it’s connected to a Bose 12-speaker audio system. The system features Bose Centerpoint technology and SurroundStage digital signal processing. It does a nice job of imaging and soundstaging. It does not get very loud, but it is a great platform for an amazing aftermarket sound system complete with a real standalone subwoofer. The large cargo area will be able to swallow it and still leave room for groceries.
On the safety front, the full suite of Honda Sensing is onboard. Adaptive cruise control uses a new wide-angle camera and millimeter-wave radar. Blind spot detection, low-speed braking control and traffic sign recognition are here, as well as more natural responses for existing features, such as adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow, and lane keeping assist.
The Honda CR-V Hybrid is easy to live with as part of its theme of simplicity. Its cabin is really a nice place to spend time. Fully loaded, the package comes in under $40K, which in today’s market, with all the features onboard, is a bargain for an SUV that will serve you well for years to come.