NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The 2023 Honda CR-V is an enormous deal. It helped set up its section a quarter century ago and has been a benchmark for it ever since. It is Honda’s best-selling mannequin by a broad margin. Final yr, Honda bought practically 100,000 extra CR-Vs than Civics. After which there’s the truth that this latest model is actually the most important instance but, an improve that’s amongst many enhancements that helps preserve the CR-V towards the highest of the compact SUV mountain (one which’s fairly tall at this level). After spending a restricted period of time with the common, non-hybrid mannequin, we will say that the 2023 CR-V remains to be a superb alternative, and it is an enchancment over earlier than, however we’re not prepared to offer it the compact crown outright.
Our time with the CR-V was restricted to an EX-L model with the turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder. No hybrids had been obtainable on the time, however other than its powertrain and a few minor styling tweaks, the SUV pushed for this evaluate in Nashville is similar one because the hybrid we’ll drive within the close to future.
Regardless of the powertrain, each 2023 CR-V is considerably greater than its predecessor. This might be a spotlight of the brand new mannequin. Honda added 2.7 inches to the size general, and 1.6 inches between the wheels. It is 0.4 inch wider, too. Cargo house behind the rear seats hasn’t significantly grown at 36.3 cubic toes (proper between the outdated gasoline mannequin and hybrid mannequin), however fold these seats down, and the CR-V has an enormous 76.5 cubic toes. That provides it probably the most most house within the section.
The place the house is de facto noticeable is within the passenger space. The entrance occupants have loads of house in each route, and it is simple to discover a comfy seating place. The seats themselves, lined in leather-based within the EX-L, have thick padding, are sizable, and have good facet bolstering that gives simply sufficient safety that you do not really feel like you are going to spill out of them. The rear seating is much more spectacular. There’s oodles of leg- and knee room, amplified by a stunning quantity of house beneath the entrance seats for toes. The seats are firmer and flatter than the fronts, however nonetheless comfy, and so they’ll recline by as much as 10 levels. It could be simple to kill hours on a protracted journey snoozing behind a brand new CR-V.
One other massive enchancment is the general inside design. Should you’ve been in a brand new Civic or HR-V, you have mainly been within the CR-V inside, and that is factor. It has a low sprint that helps each with visibility and making the cabin really feel spacious and ethereal. Every part is made out of a pleasant mixture of soft-touch plastics with completely different grains. The bodily controls for the local weather management system are welcome, too, and so they really feel impressively strong and costly.
That being mentioned, the outdated CR-V’s inside wasn’t unhealthy. Its infotainment system, on the other hand, was abysmal. The brand new one fortunately has upgraded to the system used within the Civic, Accord and Acura Integra. On the bottom EX, it incorporates a 7-inch touchscreen with quantity and tuning knobs. On the EX-L, it comes with a 9-inch display and only a quantity knob. In contrast with the outdated system, it is vastly extra responsive with a higher-resolution display and colorful, easy-to-touch icons. Menus aren’t overly deep and we didn’t expertise the kind of glitches always suffered by the outdated system, both. It is now one of many higher touchscreen infotainment techniques, particularly when in comparison with the Toyota RAV4. The Hyundai Tucson’s and Kia Sportage’s are nonetheless higher.
Whereas the CR-V inside is without doubt one of the greatest round (if missing among the aptitude of a RAV4, Sportage or Mazda’s CX-5 and CX-50), the driving expertise is fairly common. It shares underpinnings with the brand new Civic (and due to this fact the entrance finish of the new HR-V), which is noticeable within the strong really feel and pretty mild really feel. The suspension tuning is sort of comfy and though that ends in a good bit of physique roll, it is not wallowy. Just like the HR-V, although, the steering is a disappointment for a Honda. it has little suggestions, is sort of sluggish and requires a stunning variety of mid-corner corrections. The CR-V would not flip in significantly rapidly, both. “Enjoyable to drive” has hardly been a predominant cause so many of us have bought CR-Vs through the years, nevertheless it’s been responsive sufficient to maintain individuals from attempting the competitors. That will have modified.
Honda touted efforts to enhance quietness and refinement within the new CR-V. It does appear to be an enchancment, nevertheless it’s behind the impressively quiet machines from Hyundai and Kia. Tire noise is omnipresent, offering a light-weight hiss at many speeds. The engine, whereas easy, can get buzzy at larger rpms. No less than highway and wind noise are stored nicely beneath management.
As for that engine, the 1.5-liter turbocharged inline-four is just about carried over from the earlier mannequin together with the usual steady variable automated. It as soon as once more produces 190 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque, which is hardly inspiring, however acceleration is at the very least ample and the bar is sort of frankly low for the section. The CVT is the weak level. It makes an attempt to imitate some automated transmission behaviors, however the revs rise and fall atypically in its Regular mode, making the engine really feel sluggish and fewer responsive. Popping the transmission into its Sport setting improves issues and retains the revs up extra, nevertheless it would not make the CR-V really feel a lot quicker, and it does enhance the noise. As for fuel economy, the CR-V is strictly as environment friendly as earlier than, delivering 28 mpg within the metropolis, 34 on the freeway and 30 in mixed driving with front-wheel drive. The all-wheel-drive model will get 29 mpg mixed. The hybrid is sort of a bit extra environment friendly, although nonetheless near the earlier mannequin at 43 mpg metropolis, 36 mpg freeway and 40 mixed with front-wheel drive, and 40/34/37 with AWD.
Fuel economy could also be virtually unchanged, however pricing isn’t. The CR-V obtained a good bit dearer, partially as a result of the entry-level LX trim has been discontinued. The brand new base mannequin is the EX, and it begins at $32,355 with front-wheel drive and the included vacation spot cost. All-wheel drive provides one other $1,500. This new worth makes it the costliest choice within the mainstream compact section, with rivals such because the Toyota RAV4, Kia Sportage, Ford Escape, Subaru Forester, Mazda CX-50 and lots of extra all beginning beneath $30,000. Some even provide customary all-wheel drive. And that severely hurts the CR-V’s worth proposition, regardless of its spectacular quantity of actual property.
Unquestionably, the brand new CR-V is a serious enchancment over its predecessor, and it is a robust competitor in some key areas. It is extra spacious than earlier than with high quality supplies, comfy seating and easy-to-use know-how. However a mediocre driving expertise and excessive worth preserve it from being the section’s most suitable choice. Preserve the CR-V in your shortlist, however do not let or not it’s the entire listing.