2023 Honda CRV Touring Hybrid
Price: $49,190 CAD
Colour: Canyon River Blue Metallic
North American car buyers have long been in love with SUV’s. They’d been around in various forms for many years, but it wasn’t until the mid 90’s that all of a sudden we decided they were all we wanted to buy. Since then, they’ve slain the sedan, the hatchback, estate car and coupé. They take no prisoners and have no mercy whatsoever. Leading the vanguard of the 90’s SUV offensive were the likes of the Honda CR-V. CR-V stood for “comfortable runabout vehicle”. The key word there is “comfortable”. The first iteration of the CR-V was small, easy to drive and getting in and out was as easy as sliding into a seat at the breakfast table in the morning. This was a revolution and showed us we didn’t need to fold into our Civic’s or Corolla’s and be uncomfortable during our daily commute. It demonstrated that we would never have to stress our knees or back ever again to simply enter and exit the car, and we haven’t looked back since.
The 2023 Honda CR-V is all new. It comes in many trim levels starting around $34,000 CAD for the LX-B with front wheel drive and nearly $50,000 CAD for the top shelf Touring Hybrid model that powers all the wheels. This tester is the Touring Hybrid and it doesn’t disappoint. The fuel economy on this Hybrid system consistently returned numbers between 7-8L/100kms. This means the 40L tank gave me over 500kms. That’s an incredible thing when you consider that this is a proper mid-sized SUV with AWD. I can hear my local Uber driver’s putting down their deposits now. The only thing that bothers me is that if you want the Hybrid system in 2023 you need to pop for the top shelf Touring trim. They are amending that slightly for 2024 and making the Hybrid an option on an extra trim level below Touring. The Hybrid power train is made up of a 2.0L 4-cylinder engine glued to an electric drivetrain that combines for just over 200hp and 247lb/ft of torque. That torque figure is key to the driving experience of the Hybrid CR-V. It motors along very well and if you slip it into Sport mode, it will give you a delightful little kick in the kidneys. If you opt to save yourself a few dollars and get a lower trim level you will get the 1.5L 4-cyl turbo charged engine fitted to a CVT.
This new design is the sixth generation of the CR-V. It’s Honda’s best-selling SUV and while it has gotten bigger over the years it seems to have held onto its core values. The track remains relatively narrow and the overall shape remains a rectangular box. This delivers the CR-V’s pièce de resistance – interior space. There is so much room in this thing I thought I’d fallen into a condominium built in the 1970’s. My oldest son is 5’ 9” tall. He doesn’t fit so well into small back seats anymore. He was the first to point out just how much space we were dealing with in the second row. My youngest son attempted to squeeze him out by sliding the front passenger seat as far back as it would go and reclining the seat. It made no difference. He still had room. I had no idea the CR-V offered so much in the way of interior space. Don’t think for a second that they rob the rear cargo area to create this Xanadu either. The cargo area is plenty big. It handled a Costco shop and four full-sized suitcases during an airport run with no issues. It’s truly impressive.
I criticized the HR-V for lacking in equipment. They couldn’t even give us USB ports in the back seats and the interior design was bland and uninspiring. Clearly Honda showed the CR-V design team the HR-V and said “make it better”. Make it better they have. The interior is chock full of modern materials and equipment we’d expect on any vehicle in the same class as the CR-V. Wireless charging pad, USB ports, heated seats, heated steering wheel, power seats – they’re all here (I know it doesn’t have ventilated seats but I largely consider those mythical, so they weren’t missed). Things like the wire mesh behind which the vents were obscured are fabulous, not to mention the little sticks that control the vents. There is very little piano black trim in the CR-V so the interior should hold up well to the family tasks it was built to tackle.
I struggled for a stretch to find something I didn’t like about the new CR-V. I finally found it the first time I shifted into reverse and got a look at the rear-view camera. This camera produces video similar to the kind we got from the Apollo program in the 1960’s. The video is grainy and horrible. This issue is exacerbated heavily should it be raining when you decide to take your CR-V for a spin and the camera becomes entirely useless. It frustrates me to no end that Honda came so close to perfection with the CR-V and then decided to shaft us with this camera system.
Regular readers will know that my wife is a fickle lady. She likes almost none of the cars I bring home on a weekly basis. We’re currently beginning the exhausting process of selecting her next car now that she has had enough of her 2019 Nissan Kicks. She knows she wants a proper mid-sized SUV. Nothing I’ve driven over the last year has sparked her interest. Then she saw the CR-V. She was smitten with its good looks and generous proportions, then she stepped inside. She loves the look and feel of this car and that back seat blew her mind. She officially shortlisted the CR-V after our week with the car and she didn’t even blink at the rear-view camera. She’s in love.
The 2023 Honda CR-V continues to feed our primal need for the ease and convenience offered by SUV’s. We’ve had our first taste and now we’re addicted. In a market inundated with options you would do well to shop extensively before making your decision. Don’t be surprised however if that process brings you back to one of the OG daddy’s of segment that’s still king.