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2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid Review: Economy and Power in a Single SUV Package

Once derided as a “cute ute,” the 2023 Honda CR-V has grown larger, roomier, more capable, and stylish. It also delivers solid fuel economy — even more so in the new hybrid form that manages not just better mileage but improved performance.

2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid(Photo/Honda)
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Even before setting out for my first drive in the sixth-generation Honda CR-V, I found plenty of reasons to be impressed. The 2023 model is longer, wider, and roomier, with more useful technology than the outgoing crossover.

It also has an upgraded interior. And add to that an updated hybrid drivetrain that provides impressive fuel economy and power in a single package and a new front-wheel drive (FWD) option that sees even more impressive economy numbers.

After spending a week behind the 2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid, I find plenty of reasons to be impressed.

In short: For 2023, Honda has delivered an impressive new version of the familiar CR-V crossover and an upgraded CR-V Hybrid package that retains impressive fuel economy while improving performance. More interior room and a super fuel-efficient FWD option are also impressive 2023 additions to the CR-V lineup, but the new crossover does fall short in a few areas, including not being offered in a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version.

2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid


  • Engine Twin electric motors paired with a 2.0L Atkinson Cycle I4 gas engine
  • HP/Torque 204/247
  • FWD 43/36/40 mpg City/Highway/Combined
  • AWD 40/34/37 mpg City/Highway/Combined
  • Cargo 36.3 cu. ft. (up to 76.5 cu. ft.)
  • Towing 1,000 lbs.


  • More horsepower and torque
  • Improved fuel economy
  • More ruggedly stylish
  • Improved passenger and cargo space
  • Available in FWD or AWD
  • Improved ride


  • Hybrid loses underfloor storage
  • Smaller touchscreen than many competitors
  • No plug-in hybrid option
  • Base model could be quieter
  • Limited range on battery power

2023 Honda CR-V Review: Bigger Really Does Mean Better

The 2023 Honda CR-V is clearly not the same “cute ute” that made its original debut back in 1997. It’s grown larger and more lavish with each passing generation. That’s certainly the case with the newest, sixth-generation crossover. 

All versions of the 2023 model grow 2.7 inches in overall length and 0.4 inches in width. One of the more radical changes to the crossover’s design sees the base of the windshield moved 4.7 inches rearward, 2.8 inches outward, and 1.4 inches lower — a design change that improves visibility, among other benefits.

What may matter most for passengers is that the 2023 model’s wheelbase has been stretched 1.6 inches. The Honda product development team has used that to create a markedly roomier cabin. Rear seat passengers, for one thing, get another 0.6 inches of legroom compared to the outgoing CR-V.

And there’s more cargo space, at 36.3 cubic feet, though the hybrid loses about 3 cubic feet compared to the conventional, gas-powered 2023 Honda CR-V. Cargo capacity on the hybrid more than doubles, to 76.5 cubic feet, with the rear seats folded over.

One downside to the 2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid is the loss of underfloor storage in the cargo area. It had to be sacrificed to make room for the gas-electric model’s battery pack.

2023 CR-V: Improved Power, New FWD Option

2023 Honda CR-V review drivetrain

That might be more acceptable if the lithium-ion pack were bigger than 1.1 kilowatt-hours — not enough to deliver any real range in all-electric mode. Perhaps not, but it is large enough to permit Honda to improve fuel economy and performance. 

There are two electric motors in the new Honda CR-V drivetrain, though one serves simply as a generator, helping capture energy from the gas engine or, when braking and coasting, sending electrons back to the battery pack. The heavy lifting is done by a single AC synchronous electric motor delivering up to 181 horsepower. 

It’s paired with a 2.0L Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder internal combustion engine making 145 horsepower and 138 pound-feet of torque. It might seem confusing because of the way power and torque come on, but the total isn’t the same as adding up the numbers from the gas and electric side of the drivetrain. The overall package musters 204 horsepower and 247 pound-feet of torque — three ponies and 15 pound-feet more than the outgoing crossover. 

In its previous incarnation, the Honda CR-V was available only in an all-wheel-drive configuration. The 2023 model now offers a base, front-wheel-drive option.

2023 CR-V Hybrid: Fuel Economy and Performance

While I didn’t have the chance to run a stopwatch on the 2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid, it is clearly quicker than the outgoing model, turning in a claimed 0-60 time of around 7.5 seconds. That’s at least a second quicker than the all-gas version of the crossover.

Comparing my own numbers and those from media colleagues, however, it appears the CR-V Hybrid is a wee bit slower off the line than the latest-generation Toyota RAV-4 Hybrid.

The fuel economy of Honda’s previous-generation gas-electric package was solid but not benchmark. EPA ratings for the 2023 model are improved: at least if you’re basing that on the new FWD package, which manages to squeeze out 43 mpg in the city and 36 on the highway.

The AWD, at 40/34, actually loses one mpg on the highway compared to the old model’s 40/35 rating.

More Rugged Looks

2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid on dirt road

Early versions of the CR-V had a soft and squishy appearance that earned it a fair bit of derision. More recent models have adopted a sportier and more dynamic shape.

With the 2023 makeover, the Honda crossover shifts to a more classic SUV appearance. It’s not all angles and creases, but by moving the windshield a bit more rearward, with a more upright grille and longer hood, the new CR-V seems more substantial, dynamic, and capable. 

Each trim package, meanwhile, adopts unique design details, including the grille, front fascia, and wheels. That’s also true with the Hybrid line, with each trim undergoing subtle tweaks.

Roomier Cabin With Familiar Details


The cabin should look familiar to Honda fans. The 2023 Honda CR-V borrows many details from the latest-generation Civic line. That’s not a bad thing, and among other upgrades, there’s a newer infotainment system — albeit one that should be a bit larger.

The base package is a mere 7 inches, with the upgrade going to an acceptable 9 inches. I was pleased that the system itself seemed easier to maneuver through. And it gets a tuning knob, though you still have to work with the touchscreen to change radio stations.

The 2023 model’s seating is improved, both front and back. That’s especially apparent if you’re in the back row, where the seats now get eight recline positions. Wherever you sit, the seats are more comfortable and supportive.

Honda makes a big deal out of the new tailgate system, which it claims to be the fastest and quietest ever for a CR-V. Perhaps, but someone of my height (6’2”) still has to stoop a bit to get under it when open.

2023 Honda CR-V: Safety and Technology

While the new CR-V’s basic infotainment system may be shared with the Civics, there is an interesting tweak to the package. Depending upon the trim package, it gets a revised navigation system that can factor in route details to optimize the drivetrain’s energy efficiency.

All versions of the hybrid get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. And there are now more USB ports — both standard USB-A and USB-C. With the bigger touchscreen, you’ll also get a wireless Qi-style smartphone charging pad.

All versions of the sixth-generation CR-V, hybrid and conventional, get the latest Honda Sensing package of advanced driver assistance systems. For 2023, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and traffic jam assist are added to features such as forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control.

2023 CR-V Hybrid: Driving Impressions

2023 Honda CR-V review

With a stiffer body and improved power, there’s a lot to like about the way the 2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid handles and performs. Improvements to the suspension come into play, keeping the crossover more settled in sharp corners.

Improvements to the hybrid’s CVT transmission also help smooth things out, though there can be a bit of hunting between gears at times.

Honda has added new driver modes that let you better respond to road conditions and your driving preferences. These include the prior model’s Normal and Econ modes and the new Snow and Sport settings. The latter not only boost throttle responsiveness but pipes more engine noise into the cabin.

The transmission appears to do less hunting to find the right gear, especially under hard acceleration. And you can switch to the “B” setting to get a bit more regeneration — the amount of energy the hybrid system recaptures during braking and coasting.

That gives you a bit more of the “One-Pedal” driving that many EV owners like. It allows you to slow the vehicle down simply by easing up on the throttle rather than jumping back and forth from the accelerator to the brake. You can adjust the level of regen by using the hybrid’s paddle shifters.

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2023 Honda CR-V Review: Final Word

Honda has come a long way since it introduced the original CR-V more than a quarter-century ago. Today’s model is larger, more refined, more powerful, and, with the 2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid, substantially more fuel efficient.

That the gas-electric drivetrain is more powerful, too, is another real plus for someone looking for a compact SUV at a reasonable price.

You can get into a front-wheel-drive version of the base 2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid Sport for $33,695, which includes $1,245 in delivery fees. Add $1,500 for all-wheel-drive. All other versions come exclusively with AWD.

At the upper end, a fully loaded version of the 2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid Sport Touring will set you back around $40,000, depending upon options.

Paul Eisenstein

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