Road Test Review – 2023 Honda CR-V Sport Touring Hybrid – New Styling Hides Green Focused Performance

The compact SUV segment can be a brutal and very challenging place foe automakers to make a profit. This segment is seeing an influx of young buyers who in turn want more from their SUV purchase. The Honda CR-V is one of the strongest selling players in the game, but it was no secret that the outgoing CR-V was starting to show its age and was relying more on its reputation versus offering anything state of the art. Honda is out to change that with the 2023 Honda CR-V which gets new exterior styling and a reworked interior but are all of these changes enough to help keep the CR-V ahead of the pack?


2023 CR-V Sportier Suit Hits The Mark, Will It Age Well?

A major change for the 2023 model year is that the CR-V is debuting a new suit of clothes. Unlike the old one, the new one is beefier looking than before with the front fascia getting new headlights and a front grille that’s bigger than before. The meaner face is a noticeable improvement over the older model and isa glaring example of Honda’s attempt to lure in more young buyers. The lower front bumper have a small set of faux air intakes and a large design line runs along the upper portion of the CR-V’s sides. The rear fascia gets skinny taillights and a roof mounted spoiler though the dual-exhaust tips are not exactly what they seem with the CR-V we had only getting one formal exhaust pipe which is mounted behind the right most tip.

That minor style blemish aside the Sport Touring model also gets gloss black 19-inch alloy wheels with the Sport Hybrid getting slightly smaller 18-inch black wheels with lower trims getting traditional 18-inch alloys. As a whole, the 2023 CR-V is a welcome step in the right direction for Honda but it remains to be seen if the sporty styling will age well over the next few years especially in a segment where rapid evolution and the ability to maintain a certain level of freshness play prominent roles in the long term success or failure of an SUV.


CR-V Interior Has Civic DNA, Is Better Than Ever

Like other Honda models that we have seen over the years, the CR-V’s cabin uses a few design essentials from the current generation Civic. The long unified honeycomb textured air vent snakes its way across the dashboard and into the doors like the Civics while the dashboard design and even the control layout for the infotainment system are also reminiscent of the compact. A partially digital instrument cluster resides in the dashboard with the 7.0-inch digital screen being complimented with an analog speedometer. The front seats have reworked cushioning and Honda claims that they deliver better comfort on long road trips while also offering an improved driving position.

A large center console between the front seats provides an impressive amount of storage while the second row seats feature reclining capability and also offer 0.6 inches more room than the outgoing model a big plus for taller passengers tasked with spending time back there. Our tester also has the ability to swallow 36 cubic feet of stuff with the seats folded down while gas only versions bump it up slightly to 39 cubic feet. A 7.0-inch infotainment system is standard on the LX, EX and Sport models with Sport Turing variants like our example getting the bigger 9.0-inch screen. The larger screen gets wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay but there’s no tuning knob for the radio. Instead, you get a volume knob for the radio and wireless phone charging. A 12-speaker Bose audio system is also available, but buyers will have to move up to the Sport Touring trim to get that particular feature.

Visibility is roughly what you would expect in a typical SUV offering with the good view up front being balanced out by large rear pillars which eat into the rear visibility. That latter item can make backing in and out of tight spots a challenge but this is balanced out by the rear backup camera and sensors.


Fuel Economy Trumps Sportiness In This Honda

Performance for the 2023 Honda CR-V lineup comes from two four-cylinder powerplants with the base engine being the familiar 190-horsepower 1.5 liter turbocharged four-cylinder. Move up to the Sport Touring model and it gets replaced with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that’s paired with two electric motors to produce a combined system output of 204-horsepower. Front-wheel drive is standard on nearly all CR-V models with Sport Touring models getting all-wheel drive standard. Despite the pair of electric motors adding a jolt to the 2.0-liter, it’s clear that this model focuses on fuel economy, not sportiness with our tester making the jog to 60 mph in 7.9 seconds.

While this performance prevents it from being a true performance offering, it does make up for it in fuel economy with models like our example getting an EPA-estimated 40/34/37 mpg in city/highway/combined driving. Front-wheel drive Sport Hybrids get 43/36/40 mpg in the same categories. The suspension is comfortable and while its not as stiff as the Sport moniker would have you think, it should please a wide range of family buyers. As a bonus, Hybrid models can tow up to 1000 lbs which is enough for most recreational type trailers.


Value Quotient

Pricing for the 2023 Honda CR-V hybrid lineup starts at $33,695 for the base Sport Hybrid (all pricing includes the $1,295 destination fee) with the model having the ability to add all-wheel drive for an extra $1500. While that’s an understandable pill to swallow, the one item that left a sour taste in our mouth is that Honda doesn’t make Blind Spot Monitoring standard with the company forcing buyers to part with $550 to add it to the Sport. It’s befuddling especially since a few of its rivals add the technology standard.

Sport Touring models like our tester start at $40,395 and come fully loaded with the optional packages available being limited to styling focused accessory packages. This pricing is right in the thick of it with other fully loaded rivals and Honda claims that the CR-V’s equipment lineup makes it a strong value for dollar play for buyers. The 2023 Honda CR-V is a noticeable improvement of the breed and while we wish that Honda engineers and designers spent more time ironing out some of the minor details, there’s enough here to help keep the CR-V firmly in the minds of SUV buyers.