If you need an idea of how important the Honda CR-V is, keep in mind it’s Honda’s bestselling vehicle in the United States, selling 361,271 units in 2021, enough to make it America’s fifth bestselling vehicle.
Only the Toyota RAV4 and Detroit’s full-size pickup trio outsell it. But the vehicle’s popularity is global, manufactured in 10 facilities worldwide, with Honda’s Ontario, Ohio taking the lead. Along with the automaker’s Indiana facility, Honda has the capacity to build more than 400,000 units annually for the American market.
Nevertheless, the company officials say inventory is at historic lows, with half of all CR-Vs sold before they hit the lot.
The sixth generation of the Honda CR-V gets a simple line-up for 2023, with a choice of a conventional gas-powered driveline in EX and fancier EX-L trim, or a gas-electric hybrid in Sport and top-of-the-line Sport Touring trim. All models can be had in front- or all-wheel drive, except for the Sport Touring, which comes exclusively with all-wheel drive. A continuously variable automatic transmission is standard. Of the CR-Vs being built for the new model year, Honda expects half will be hybrids.
It’s clear that designers looked back to the first Honda CR-V when creating the sixth-generation model. The 2023 CR-V’s new design is boxier than before, but in many ways returns to the simple, clean classic design that is the hallmark of classic Honda design. It also endows the CR-V’s with an overall demeanor that makes it more appealing to those with Y chromosomes. It replaces the soft forms and overwrought proboscis that characterized the fifth-generation model.
But as you might expect, it’s also larger than its predecessor, being 2.7 inches longer overall with a wheelbase that’s 1.6 inches longer and 0.4 inch wider.
The 2023 CR-V’s boxy build also yields noticeably more interior space, although designers were careful to free up as much space as possible. The new model feels far less claustrophobic for front seat passengers, exchanging the cockpit feel for a more horizontal design orientation.
Noticeably, the center console no longer dominates the front row. The instrument panel is similar in appearance to those used for the smaller HR-V and Civic. It features a unique honeycomb texture that makes one wonder how much dust and debris will accumulate behind it over time.
The front seats prove supportive and comfortable, with a commendable amount of headroom. But it’s the rear seat legroom that’s particularly impressive. And Honda added a new lower anchor for child seats, making them easier to locate and use.
Notably, Honda went to great lengths to make the cabin quieter, as most Honda vehicles tend to have noisy cabins at speed. But the use of Active Noise Control, sound absorption materials and thicker side glass have the desired effect, quieting the din that usually permeates Honda cabins.
And it swallows more stuff, with 36.3 cubic feet of cargo room, up 3 cubic feet, growing to 76.5 cubic feet with the rear seats folded.
For 2023, EX and EX-L CR-Vs come with a 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine rated at 190 horsepower and 179 pound-feet or torque. It returns an EPA-rated 30 mpg in combined city/highway driving with front-wheel drive, 29 mpg with all-wheel drive.
Sport and Sport Touring Hybrids get a 2.0-liter Atkinson cycle 4-cylinder engine paired with a traction motor as well as a generator motor that recharges the battery pack. This driveline is rated at 204 hp and 247 lb-ft of torque. Hybrid models are EPA-rated at 40 mpg with front-wheel drive, 37 mpg with all-wheel drive. A continuously variable automatic transmission is standard. Front- or all-wheel drive is offered in all models except the Sport Touring, which gets standard all-wheel drive.
The all-wheel-drive system can split its power distribution 50% front and 50% rear. The company says 70% of sales are all-wheel drive growing to 100% all-wheel drive sales in snowy states.
Towing is rated at 1,500 pounds with gas engine, 1,000 pounds with the Hybrid driveline.
Safety and Technology
Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has crash-tested the 2023 Honda CR-V.
New driver assistance safety systems include Traffic Jam Assist and Traffic Sign Recognition, along with Collision Mitigation Braking, Forward Collision Warning, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keeping Assist, Road Departure Mitigation, Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Information and a Driver Attention Monitor.
When it comes to technology, 7-inch digital instrument cluster and a standard 7-inch multimedia touchscreen, although a 9-inch touchscreen is available. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard — wired for the 7-inch touchscreen, wireless for the 9-inch. Wireless charging is also available.
Honda’s infotainment system seems easier to use than before, particularly with the presence of a volume knob. But the software still lacks any way to direct tune a radio station, forcing you to jab the up or down tuning button multiple times to get to your radio station. The system still lacks the easy functionality that characterizes the best multimedia systems. Certainly, it trails Toyota’s newest system.
Of the two different CR-V drivelines offered by Honda, go for the hybrid. It easily returns its fuel economy numbers and proves to be the better drivetrain. That said, it is a traditional hybrid, not a plug-in hybrid, so it does not run solely on electricity for miles at a time. Honda didn’t engineer a plug-in due to the added weight the driveline brings and the added cost it incurs.
Certainly, the hybrid driveline furnishes sufficient power and the requisite fuel efficiency, with 36 mpg easily being achieved at highway speed. The hybrid setup is responsive, but doesn’t have the effortless instant feeling of torque typical of electrified drivelines.
While setting the driveline into Sport driving mode does make the CR-V’s response livelier, the gas engine becomes unpleasantly vocal when asked to accelerate going uphill. There’s nothing here that another 50 horsepower couldn’t help. Still, most drivers will find it sufficient. The transmission has the feel of a traditional automatic, even though it’s a continuously variable unit.
The CR-V is a reasonably athletic animal, with modest body lean in corners and well-controlled body motions. The steering ratio is perfect, quick enough without being overly sharp, and nicely weighted. But there is no road feel to speak of. Overall, it’s a satisfying drive experience.
2023 Honda CR-V Sport Touring Hybrid Specifications
|L: 184.8 inches/W: 73.5 inches/H: 66.5 inches/Wheelbase: 106.3 inches
|2.0-liter Atkinson Cycle 4-cylinder engine, dual electric motors, CVT transmission and all-wheel drive
|40 mpg city/34 mpg highway/37 mpg combined
|204 horsepower and 247 pound-feet of torque
|Base price: $33,695; As tested: $39,845, including $1,245 destination charge.
The 2023 Honda CR-V is a welcome update, adding room, a more fuel-efficient driveline, and providing a classic Honda sensibility to its design that proves for more tempting than before. While not as much fun to drive as Honda’s sportiest products, it proves adept enough to be judiciously entertaining while remaining practical.
The 2023 Honda CR-V is part of a product cadence that started with the HR-V earlier this year, and continues with a new Pilot later this year. Honda is also planning new hybrid variants of the Accord and Civic.
2023 Honda CR-V — Frequently Asked Questions
Will the Honda CR-V be redesigned in 2023?
Yes. Redesigned throughout, the 2023 Honda CR-V is the sixth generation of Honda’s compact crossover SUV.
When can you buy a 2023 Honda CR-V?
The 2023 Honda CR-V goes on sale in October 2022.
How much will the 2023 Honda CR-V cost?
Prices start at $32,355 for the front-wheel-drive EX with a gas engine, topping out at $36,505 for an EX-L in all-wheel-drive trim. The Hybrid model starts at $33,695 for the front-wheel-drive Sport, and tops out at $39,845 for the Sport Touring with all-wheel drive. All prices include destination charge.