What does the sixth-generation Honda CR-V have to do to take back the sales crown from the Toyota RAV4? That's precisely the question the Japanese automaker asked when it set about developing the next iteration of America's most popular SUV from the last 25 years. Underpinned by Honda's enhanced global architecture, the compact crossover has been reimagined in every aspect, with emphasis placed on its styling, handling, practicality, technology, and powertrains, to which end a new, more powerful hybrid variant will become the range-topper for the marque. Longer, wider, and more advanced than ever before, Honda is hoping the new CR-V will help turn it into a true class leader once more. From where we're sitting, it's game on.
See trim levels and configurations:
Revealed in July 2022, Honda says the release date of the 2023 CR-V is this summer, although the hybrid models will launch a little later in the year.
Honda has remained tight-lipped about the price of the 2023 Honda CR-V but has promised great value. It'll need to remain firm on that if it's to steal sales from the Toyota RAV4, which has an MSRP range from circa $27,000 to $38,000. The current CR-V closely mirrors these prices, so expect a small increase over the current price tag. Other rivals it'll face off against include the Mazda CX-5 and Ford Escape.
Honda has dug deep into the cliche terminology to describe the new CR-V as 'rugged and sophisticated' in its redesign. Despite the unoriginal terminology, the design does bear similarities to the Ridgeline pickup and Passport TrailSport. The large grille leads into LED headlights and a shoulder line that runs the length of the body into a new L-shaped taillight cluster. The grille on EX and EX-L derivatives is finished in gloss black with chrome surrounds while the Sport and Sport Touring twins receive an aggressive bumper design with a mesh grille in gloss black. The latter two also receive rectangular exhausts to differentiate them further. All trims get a roof-mounted spoiler, finished in matte and gloss black on the Sport and Sport Touring, respectively. A set of 18-inch wheels finished in Berlina Black are used on the three bottom-level models, while the Sport Touring steps up an inch to 19-inch split five-spoke alloys.
This is more than a rehash of the old design, with drastically repositioned A-pillars moved 4.7 inches rearward, 2.8 inches outward, and 1.4 inches lower while the mirrors have been moved to the doors.
As far as the paintwork goes, the exterior colors of the Honda CR-V haven't been confirmed, but the launch model has been shown off in what appears to be a new dark blue and two shades of gray. Expect white, black, and red to join - staples of the Honda color palette.
Big changes in this case mean a bigger vehicle on the whole. The 2023 CR-V's dimensions have increased by 2.7 inches in length with a 1.6-inch longer wheelbase. An extra 0.4 inches of width has been accommodated by the new design. The total length is 184.8 inches, the wheelbase measures 106.3 inches, it's 73.4 inches wide, and stands 66.6 inches tall. The CR-V's weight remains a mystery, but expect a small gain over the old model's 3,337-pound base figure.
Honda is melding the regular and hybrid lineups into the core CR-V brand with this new generation crossover. The engine in the base Honda CR-V is a 1.5-liter turbocharged engine from the Civic Si, tuned in the EX and EX-L to develop 190 horsepower and 179 lb-ft of torque. The latter arrives 300-rpm earlier than before and has a wider spread from 1,700-5,000 rpm. This engine is paired with a continuously variable transmission and matched to front-wheel drive.
Stepping up to the Sport and Sport Touring increases the engine displacement to 2.0 liters but removes the turbo. The 2.0-liter four-cylinder is an Atkinson cycle motor paired with a new two-motor side-by-side hybrid system. Combined, the system generates 204 hp according to the ISO net measurement - an increase of 3 hp over the old hybrid CR-V - and 247 lb-ft.
Front-wheel drive remains, except for the Sport Touring, which is exclusively all-wheel drive, an option on lesser trims. AWD also adds hill descent control for the first time, in addition to Normal, Econ, and Snow driving modes. Sport and Sport Touring models have a Sport mode, too.
There's no word on 0-60 mph times or the top speed, but the increased hybrid assistance has boosted towing capacity to 1,000 lbs - the first time the CR-V Hybrid has been rated to tow.
This is yet another detail Honda is yet to confirm and will only do so in the months to come before the vehicle launches. But with similar powertrains to the outgoing crossover, we have a strong ballpark to look at. The 1.5-liter turbo models will likely mimic the existing crossover's 28/34/20 mpg city/highway/combined, but with a new hybrid system, the Sport and Sport Touring should improve upon the 40/35/38 mpg of the 2022 CR-V Hybrid.
The 2023 Honda CR-V seats five as it did before, but those in the rear have 0.6 inches of extra legroom and the seatbacks have eight angles of recline. The cargo volume of the Honda CR-V has also increased, and at 36.3 cubic feet in its base configuration, it's the most voluminous trunk the CR-V has ever had. The rear load floor can be lowered on the non-hybrid EX and EX-L versions to increase this to 39.3 cu.-ft, while 60/40-split folding rear seatbacks expand the space further to 76.5 cubes.
Designwise, the CR-V looks familiar, because it shares a lot with the Honda Civic, including the full-width air vent that forms a design element across the dash. Above this, a seven-inch touchscreen (with a volume knob) is standard, although the EX-L and Sport Touring increase the size of this to nine inches, replete with wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, while the latter trim gets a 12-speaker Bose sound system.
Ahead of the driver, a seven-inch digital instrument cluster informs the driver. Practicality abounds, as the front storage tray can accommodate two smartphones side-by-side and houses two USB ports, one A-type and one C-type. The rear-seat occupants have access to two USB-C ports on the Sport and Sport Touring trims.
As for the materials used in the cabin, the EX and Sport both make use of cloth upholstery, but while the EX can be specced in both black or gray (with eight-way driver's seat power adjustment), the Sport is black-only. EX-L and Sport Touring CR-Vs swap cloth for leather. Both the Sport and Sport Touring get a black roofliner and orange contrast stitching.
Lastly, the CR-V has 10 airbags to protect all occupants, and Honda Sensing crash mitigation technology is standard across the range.
The most popular competitors of 2023 Honda CR-V: