2021 Honda CR-V Performance

9.0
Honda CR-V Performance Rating
81
Photos

CR-V Performance

All non-hybrid Honda CR-V models use the same 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that manages 190 horsepower and 179 lb-ft of torque, with power being directed to the front wheels. The CR-V drivetrain setup can be switched out for all-wheel-drive, although this is not off-road-focused 4-wheel drive. Based on independent testing, it will take the CR-V around seven and a half seconds to complete the usual 0-60 mph run. That's reasonable performance for the Honda CR-V especially considering this power plant's superb economy, but the turbocharged Mazda CX-5 with 250 hp provides much better acceleration, slashing about 1.5 seconds off the CR-V's 0-60 time.

If you're on the lookout for rorty V6 power in your SUV, you'll need to consider the bigger Honda Passport. Other engine options in the lineup come in the form of hybrid power: the Honda CR-V Hybrid combines a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with two electric motors to produce a total system output of 212 hp, which is enough for this model to reach 60 mph in around 7.6 seconds, based on independent testing. Unlike the non-hybrid CR-V, the hybrid ships with all-wheel drive as standard. A towing capacity of just 1,500 lbs for the CR-V isn't much, either, as the CX-5 can manage up to 2,000 lbs while the RAV4 can manage up to 3,500 lbs.

2021 Honda CR-V Aft View CarBuzz
2021 Honda CR-V Gauge Cluster CarBuzz
2021 Honda CR-V Engine CarBuzz

Engine and Transmission

The sensible theme that runs through almost every fiber of the Honda CR-V continues with its power plant. It doesn't offer the most powerful or thrilling engine specs in this segment and doesn't aim to hit top speed as quickly as possible, but for the needs of the average compact SUV owner, it doesn't miss a beat. The 1.5-liter turbocharged engine with four cylinders produces 190 hp and 179 lb-ft, with that torque figure on tap from a nice and low 2,000 rpm. This engine is paired exclusively with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) with a Sport Mode. The more powerful CR-V Hybrid combines a 2.0-liter four-cylinder i-VTEC Atkinson-cycle engine with two electric motors. One is a generator/starter motor and the other is a propulsion motor with 181 hp and 232 lb-ft on its own. On its own, the 2.0-liter engine produces 143 hp and 129 lb-ft, but the total system output is 212 horsepower for the Honda CR-V Hybrid. The transmission for the Honda CR-V Hybrid is an electronic CVT.

Performance from the non-hybrid CR-V is fine at low to medium speeds; the crossover gets off the mark with just enough gusto and the CVT is actually one of the more pleasurable iterations of this kind of transmission, ensuring smooth and easy progress. The CR-V manages passing maneuvers confidently and merging onto the highway isn't an unnecessarily sweaty-palmed undertaking. It's really only when you're in more of a hurry that another 20 to 30 hp would be welcome, and flooring it induces the typical engine drone that accompanies CVT 'boxes. The hybrid is even better, with improved low-end torque thanks to the electric motor, making it the more responsive powertrain around town. At higher speeds when the electric motor has done most of its work, it can feel a tad strained, but not terribly so.

Honda CR-V Performance Specs:

Honda CR-V TrimsLXSpecial EditionEXEX-LTouring
Honda CR-V Engines1.5L Turbo Inline-4 Gas1.5L Turbo Inline-4 Gas1.5L Turbo Inline-4 Gas1.5L Turbo Inline-4 Gas1.5L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
Honda CR-V Horsepower190 hp @ 5600 rpm190 hp @ 5600 rpm190 hp @ 5600 rpm190 hp @ 5600 rpm190 hp @ 5600 rpm
Honda CR-V TransmissionsContinuously Variable Automatic (CVT)Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Honda CR-V DrivetrainsAWD
FWD
AWD
FWD
AWD
FWD
AWD
FWD
AWD
FWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

While Mazda's CX-5 is more entertaining to drive, the CR-V still has Honda's love of driving dynamics in its DNA. With good steering feedback and an agile chassis, the CR-V avoids being a boring utility vehicle to drive and betters more popular competition such as Toyota's RAV4. The Honda CR-V's engine is tuned for efficiency, but it gets off the line quick enough to join fast-moving traffic, and Honda's CVT is one of the best in the business. There are no pretend steps to mimic a traditionally geared transmission; instead, it's a smooth and reactive unit that does an excellent job of keeping the engine's revs in the right place for the style of driving being used.

The Sport setting makes the CR-V mildly more reactive to throttle inputs, and the big green Eco button does the opposite while taking more control over drains on fuel economy, such as air-conditioning. Honda's CR-V excels around town with suspension that gives a compliant ride over rough roads without giving into body roll around corners. Honda has upped its game for quieting down road noise, and mixed with the ride quality, the CR-V has become a plusher ride than the pre-facelift model and preceding generations.

CR-V Gas Mileage

As far as non-hybrid compact SUVs go, the Honda CR-V is one of the best for fuel efficiency. The latest EPA-rated figures indicate gas mileage of 28/34/30 mpg for FWD variants across the city/highway/combined cycles, with the AWD versions returning 27/32/29 mpg. By comparison, the most efficient Mazda CX-5 returns 25/31/28 mpg. However, the Toyota RAV4 is just as thrifty as the CR-V with best figures of 28/35/30 mpg from its larger 2.5-liter engine. The CR-V has a 14-gallon gas tank so has a maximum range between filling up of approximately 420 miles.

Our all-wheel-drive test vehicle indicated 29 mpg after a couple of days of running around town and a long freeway run, perfectly in line with its EPA estimates.

For maximum efficiency, the CR-V Hybrid will return an EPA-rated 40/35/38 mpg, which is good but can't quite match the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid's 41/38/40 mpg. With the same-sized tank as the non-hybrid CR-V, the electrified version will travel for around 560 miles on a full tank in mixed driving conditions. An electric-only driving mode is available, but the small 1.4-kWh battery limits range in this mode to just a mile or two - perfect for sneaking in quietly at night.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    14.0 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 28/34 mpg
* 2021 Honda CR-V LX 2WD
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