Honda CR-V Hybrid Compact SUV: Still One of the Best

The Honda CR-V Hybrid AWD is fuel-efficient and easy to drive, but always has been. Here's why we like the 2023 model - and hope we'll hand it down to our kids.

Once A Cr-V Fan, Always A Cr-V Fan. Loved Driving The 2023 Honda Cr-V After Owning A 2001 Model In High School. Photo: Allison Bell
Once a CR-V fan, always a CR-V fan. Loved driving the 2023 CR-V after owning a 2001 model in high school. Photo: Allison Bell

This Handsome Car Took Me Back – in a Good Way.

When I was in high school, my parents did one of the best things they ever could have done for me: They sold me their green 2001 Honda CR-V. That car (affectionately dubbed “Rhonda”) would see me through the next decade of my life — the rest of high school, soccer games, college, a few jobs, several good (and bad) dates, cross-country road trips, and my first year of marriage. It literally got me through the most transformational, formative years of my youth, and selling it was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. It felt like I was euthanizing a beloved family pet. I cried when its new owner drove it away, but I still smile every time an old CR-V drives by. 

Nearly two decades later, a CR-V graced my driveway again, only this time it was the 2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid. While much has changed in 20 years, much has stayed the same, so driving it felt very familiar. After a full week, I had one distinct thought: “I hope this is the car my kids get to drive in high school.” 

Related: 2023 Honda CR-V: Get Ready to Love Hybrid SUV Driving

The 2023 Honda Cr-V Hybrid Awd Sport Touring Has A Nice Side Profile. Photo By Allison Bell

The 2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid AWD Sport Touring has a nice side profile. Photo: Allison Bell

Who This Car Is For

  • Younger drivers who need something safe, reliable, and straightforward
  • Older drivers looking for a comfortable daily driver (CR-V stands for “Comfortable Runabout Vehicle,” after all)
  • People who want a simple car that comes with a generous assortment of standard features
  • Anyone who wants to save a few bucks at the pump
The 2023 Honda Cr-V Hybrid Awd Sport Touring From The Front. Photo By Allison Bell

The 2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid AWD Sport Touring from the front. Photo: Allison Bell

What This Car Costs

The 2023 Honda CR-V comes in five different trims: LX ($28,410), EX ($31,060), Sport Hybrid ($32,400), EX-L ($33,710) and Sport Touring Hybrid ($39,100).

  • The non-hybrid models have a 1.5-liter, turbocharged, 4-cylinder engine that makes 190 horsepower and 179 pound-feet of torque.
  • The hybrids (Sport and Sport Touring) make 204 horsepower and 247 pound-feet of torque.
  • All-wheel drive is standard on the Sport Touring Hybrid and can be added for $1,500 on other trims.
  • Turbocharged models have 3 cubic feet of additional cargo space.
  • Hybrid models are estimated to get up to 43 mpg, while turbo models get 29 mpg combined. 
  • All models come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (wireless is available for the top two trims), driving modes, and standard driver assists (blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, etc.). 
  • The top-of-the-line Sport Touring Hybrid (my tester) came with a Bose premium sound system, satellite navigation, a hands-free liftgate, rear-wheel steering, and special “Sport” styling on the grille, bumpers, and leather seats for a grand total of $39,845. 

The CR-V has always been a steady horse in the compact SUV segment and one of the best ones you can buy, in my opinion. I loved driving the Sport Touring Hybrid, but if you want to save a few grand, I imagine that the regular Sport Hybrid driving experience would be pretty comparable. 

Related: USED: What We Love about the 2020 Honda CR-V Midsize SUV

I Really Like The Glossy, Blacked-Out Grille On The Sport Touring Model. Photo By Allison Bell

I really like the glossy, blacked-out grille on the 2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid Sport Touring model. Photo: Allison Bell

Like a (Not-So-Old) Glove

The Honda CR-V may not top the list for punchy vehicles, but 204 horsepower isn’t bad. My feet still remember how hard I had to push the throttle of my ‘01 CR-V to the floor before it revved up to a satisfactory speed, but this newer hybrid version had no such problems. I was pleasantly surprised by its responsiveness at higher speeds and found myself accelerating and braking easily. The whole experience felt a lot like donning a favorite old glove, only this glove now had premium stitching and was somehow even more comfortable. And it was loaded with many more safety features. (The metaphor only goes so far.) Simply put, I really loved driving this car.

Loved How Comfortable The Seats Were In The 2023 Honda Cr-V Hybrid Sport Touring. Photo By Allison Bell

I loved how comfortable the seats were in the 2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid Sport Touring. Photo: Allison Bell

A Few of My Favorite Features

One thing I appreciate about Honda is that their interiors are simple and to the point. They don’t bog you down with a bunch of extra and ultimately unnecessary features — kind of like eating a satisfying meal and stopping just before you have to loosen your belt. 

As a driver, I liked the 9-inch color touch screen that made it easy to access my music and navigation, which are pretty much the only apps I ever use. All controls I need are on the leather-wrapped steering wheel, including the heated steering wheel button, which I think is its most logical location. I also appreciated the adaptive cruise control, the excellent visibility (Honda widened the driver’s view by 4.4 degrees), the Bose audio system, and the wireless Apple CarPlay. But my favorite upfront feature was the large wireless charging pad, which not only had enough space for my phone, keys, and other small items, but it was strong enough to charge through my thick wallet-like case. Very impressive. Not many wireless charging pads have checked that box for me. 

As a passenger, I gushed over the crazy amount of space I had for my legs — particularly width-wise. I couldn’t believe how roomy it felt and told my husband that it seemed like we were in a first-class airline seat. I also took note of the pretty honeycomb-esque design pattern that covered the vents.

Finally, as a mom, I loved that the large, wide-open rear seat hooks made it so easy to install my kids’ booster seats and that the ride was both smooth and quiet. And, unlike my old CR-V, this 2023 hybrid version came with blind-spot monitoring, a collision mitigation braking system, traffic jam assist, lane-keeping assist, low-speed braking control, road departure mitigation, and other state-of-the-art safety features. 

Some Of My Favorite Things Large Wireless Charging Pad, Big Box Of Space For Passengers_ Legs And Honeycomb-Like Design Pattern Over The Vents. Photo By Allison Bell

Some of my favorite things: wireless charging pad, space for passenger legs, and vents with a honeycomb-style pattern. Photo: Allison Bell

Still Recognizable After All These Years

One thing most people can agree on about the CR-V is that it’s a pretty good-looking car with its signature boxy frame. It’s now in its sixth generation, and that sporty exterior makes it look like it’s been training for a triathlon. Some may question whether those Sport Touring interior and exterior styling details are worth the extra cost, and I will say Yes. Yes, they are. The glossy black grille, the exclusive 19-inch black alloy wheels, the roof rails, and those black leather seats combine to transform the humble CR-V into a lean, mean driving machine that still retains its charm

You Get A Semi-Digital Gauge Cluster, A 9-Inch Multimedia Screen And A Roomy Cubby Complete With A Large Wireless Charging Pad Up Front. Loved It. Photo By Allison Bell

The 2023 Honda CR-V has a semi-digital gauge cluster, a 9-inch multimedia screen, and a roomy cubby with a charging pad. Photo: Allison Bell

Rockin’ Out Like the Good Old Days

One thing my 2001 CR-V didn’t have? A premium Bose sound system. That’s another upgrade that I welcomed with pleasure as I cranked my old high school favorites (my friends and I were big classic rock fans) and cruised around the neighborhood. The wireless Apple CarPlay and cute little 9-inch touchscreen were very user-friendly. I made my way through some Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, Queen, Bowie, and Aerosmith before I had to pick up the carpool kids and remind myself how old I was.

Related: Why These Are the Best Family Cars – It’s Not Just About The Kids!

Love That Telltale Squared Off Shape That Makes The Cr-V So Recognizable. Photo By Allison Bell

I love that telltale squared-off shape that makes the Honda CR-V so recognizable. Photo: Allison Bell

It’s the Kind of Car You Want Your Teenager to Drive

Overall, the 2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid Sport Touring made me feel like a kid again. And for that, I’m grateful. It’s good to go back to basics sometimes and be reminded of those carefree days — while enjoying enhanced technology and safety features, of course. 

I still have several years to prepare for my kids taking the wheel, and I imagine that many more updates are yet to come for the CR-V in that time. But I feel pretty confident in assuming that this car will still be on my shortlist when that time comes. If you’re looking for a good, reliable, compact SUV, I believe this is one of the best ones out there. 

Thanks To Big, Easily Accessible Latches, Installing These Crazy Kids_ Boosters Was Crazy Easy. Photo By Allison Bell

Thanks to big, easily accessible latches, installing these crazy kids’ boosters was crazy easy. Photo: Allison Bell

What We Loved

  • Heated front seats
  • Heated steering wheel
  • Simple, easy-to-use multimedia system
  • Generous assortment of standard safety features
  • 12-speaker Bose surround system
  • The fuel economy was pretty great (we averaged around 35 with mostly city driving).
  • Fast-acting dual-zone climate control
  • Comfortable seats
  • Big wireless phone charge with generous storage space
  • Nice, wide box of legroom for front-seat passengers
  • Honeycomb-shaped design pattern around the air vents
You Get 36 Cubic Feet Of Cargo Room In The Back. And The Seats Recline, Too_ Photo By Allison Bell

You get 36 cubic feet of cargo room in the back. And the seats recline, too. Photo: Allison Bell

What You Need to Know

  • 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder engine
  • All-wheel drive is standard on Sport Touring Hybrid only
  • Continuously variable automatic transmission 
  • 40/34/37 mpg for city/highway/combined
  • Regular unleaded fuel
  • 204 horsepower and 247 pound-feet of torque 
  • 1,000-pound towing capacity
  • Hybrid has 36 cubic feet of cargo space, while turbo models have 39
  • It seats five passengers, though two adults would fit more comfortably in the back.
  • Wireless Apple CarPlay glitched a couple of times, but overall, it worked great.

A Girls Guide To Cars | Honda Cr-V Hybrid Compact Suv: Still One Of The Best - Honda Crv Monroney

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Allison is a freelance writer, a mother of two, and the wife of a car-obsessed husband who got her... More about Allison Bell