The Honda CR-V, gets an electric boost for the 2020 model year with the addition of the company’s dual-electric-motor hybrid powertrain. In addition, the Honda Sensing suite of advanced driver-assist systems became standard throughout the CR-V range, helping make the popular vehicle both safer to operate and, in hybrid form, very economical when it comes to gasoline.
The 2020 CR-V Hybrid Touring we sampled proved this point squeezing some 40-plus miles out of each gallon of gasoline (topping the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s 38 mpg combined rating; the EPA says it will get 40 mpg in city driving, 35 on the highway).
This mileage figure came during my normal driving mix of highway, suburban and rural conditions found on Cape Cod; I never did anything “special” to eke out additional mileage.
The CR-V was quiet and comfortable throughout the evaluation week, offering plenty of room for four and their stuff, and adequate room for a fifth adult in the middle position of the second seat if the trip was not lengthy.
Hybrid powertrain, chassis and brakes
The CR-V is Honda’s first all-wheel drive application of the hybrid setup; the two-motor hybrid powertrain, shared with the current Accord Hybrid, combines two electric motors with a 2.0-liter, 16-valve DOHC Atkinson cycle engine with greater than 40% thermal efficiency, the highest for any mass-produced Honda engine.
The CR-V’s two-motor system operates without the need for a conventional automatic transmission for smooth and seamless power delivery similar to a pure electric vehicle. The compact intelligent power unit (IPU), containing the hybrid battery pack and its control systems, is mounted under the cargo floor, allowing the new CR-V Hybrid to retain excellent cargo utility, including a 60/40 split fold-flat rear seatback with a flat load floor. Peak total system horsepower is 212, up from 190 HP on the CR-V.
The hybrid system provides the “go” while also assisting in the “stop” through regenerative braking. Several levels of regen braking, to both slow down the CR-V and recharge the battery, can be achieved by using the paddle shifters on the back of the steering wheel. In addition, reducing pressure on accelerator pedal, will also provide regen braking, thus turning the motors into generators.
A four-wheel disc system (ventilated rotors in the front; solid in the rear), with anti-lock (ABS) and electronic brake distribution (EBD), comprise the conventional braking setup on the CR-V.
The brakes operate inside 19-inch machine-finished alloy wheels with gray inserts wearing 235/55 R19 101H tires. Suspension is independent at all four corners, MacPherson-type struts up front and a multi-link double wishbone setup in the rear, with both ends featuring a stabilizer bar.
These pieces, as mentioned, provide a solid, controlled and comfortable ride. The CR-V is not a sports car, but real-world handling is reliable and reassuring. Regardless of the road conditions, the Honda crossover acquitted itself very well. I never felt the need for more power or more grip, even when jumping on the brakes when a car ran a stop sign just ahead of me.
Honda Sensing suite of advanced driver-assist systems (ADAS)
The Honda Sensing ADAS brings the following safety-related features to the CR-V: Collision Mitigation Braking System™ (CMBS™) with Forward Collision Warning (FCW) and pedestrian sensing capability; Road Departure Mitigation (RDM) with Lane Departure Warning (LDW); Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with low-speed follow, and Lane Keeping Assist (LKAS).
In addition, the CR-V Hybrid Touring we drove featured automatic high beams; rear cross-traffic monitor/warning, and blind-spot warning, making this crossover a very well-equipped vehicle in terms of ADAS.
Luxury amenities abound inside and out
Leather covers the important parts of the Touring’s interior – the seats (front are heated and power adjustable) and the steering wheel (heated!).
Once seated, front passengers are presented with a redesigned dashboard dominated by a seven-inch color touchscreen controlling infotainment and general vehicle systems. Infotainment in the CR-V includes navigation, AM/FM/HD/satellite radio; Bluetooth streaming audio and smartphone connection; a CD player, and integrated Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability.
Supplementing the on-screen controls are steering-wheel mounted remotes for infotainment and the voice-activation capability (for audio and navigation). Controls on the wheel also operate the color TFT driver-information interface (DII) center meter display which can show power/charge status, as well as power distribution and regeneration.
Of course, there are cubbies and storage areas throughout the cabin, as well as USB connections to charge and connect mobile devices. The Touring version even includes a wireless charging pad for mobile devices capable of this technology.
Competitive pricing a Honda tradition
The CR-V holds onto its popularity by offering a Honda-quality product at a competitive price. This remains true of the Hybrid Touring version which carried a $35,950 suggested price (including destination/handling) in 2020. The 2021, which does not have any major changes from the previous year, will retail for $36,350.
For compact crossover shoppers desiring hybrid economy, but not the full complement of amenities and features of a Touring model, Honda also offers the EX with a base price of $30,560 and the better-equipped EX-L at $33,150.
The non-hybrid remainder of the CR-V range begins at $25,350 and tops off with the CR-V Touring at $33,650.
Since the CR-V was introduced in 1997, Honda has come to understand the American consumer when it comes to designing a compact crossover. Through five generations, the company has sold some five million of them and a week in the Hybrid Touring showed me why they have been able to do so.