Honda hopes to chip away at the Toyota RAV4’s sales lead with the re-engineered 2023 CR-V that looks more grown up and is 2.7 inches longer than the model it replaces.
The hybrid powertrain relied on one electric motor in the previous CR-V and now will use two.
The trim offerings are greatly simplified for the '23 CR-V, which will be produced at three North American plants.
Honda has a lot riding on this summer’s launch of its all-new sixth-generation CR-V, which is revealed this morning, goes on sale this summer, and factors into Honda’s electrification strategy with a new hybrid powertrain that is expected to account for half of all CR-V sales.
The CR-V helped popularize the car-based compact crossover when it first arrived to the US market in 1997, one year after the Toyota RAV4. For many years, the CR-V and RAV4 have duked it out for leadership in the midsize CUV segment as tracked by Wards Intelligence. In 2021, this was the most popular vehicle segment in America, with 2.8 million units delivered—edging out even total sales for all pickup trucks.
Last year, Honda sold 361,271 fifth-generation CR-Vs (which launched in 2016), coming in second behind the current RAV4 (which launched in 2018). Through June this year, Honda has sold 116,602 units of its fifth-gen CR-V, while Toyota has already topped 200,000 RAV4 deliveries for the same period.
Honda hopes to chip away at the RAV4’s lead with the re-engineered and restyled CR-V that looks more grown up and is 2.7 inches longer (to 184.8 inches overall) than the model it replaces, with a wheelbase that is 1.6 inches longer (to 106.3 inches) and width that grows by 0.4 inches (to 73.4 inches).
Honda was shooting for “rugged and sophisticated” in its restyled CR-V, which is based on the automaker’s enhanced global architecture. The new CR-V launches this summer, while the hybrid arrives later in the year. Stay tuned for pricing info, but it likely will start under $30,000.
From the side, the new CR-V has a prominent beltline and stands more upright, as does the front end, with the hood appearing to be longer and flatter than the previous hood, which angled downward more steeply. The new dimensions tell the story: The base of the A-pillars has moved rearward a sizeable 4.7 inches, as well as outward 2.8 inches and lower by 1.4 inches. Honda says this “radical repositioning” greatly improves outward visibility.
Honda isn’t disclosing curb weight just yet, but additional dimensions confirm the new CR-V has gotten bigger, with the most cargo room in the model’s history—36.3 cubic feet behind the rear seats, which means an extra 3.1 cubic feet in the hybrid. With the 60/40-split rear seats folded, cargo space expands to 76.5 cubic feet. Also, rear passengers will get an extra 0.6 inches of legroom, and those rear seats will now feature eight angles of recline to improve comfort.
Both powertrains, channeled through a CVT, carry over from the previous CR-V, with modifications. The same base engine is the 1.5-liter 4-cylinder rated at 190 hp, reaching its peak at 6000 rpm—slower than the 5600 rpm in the ’22 CR-V. Honda says the tweaked engine (with a new high-response turbocharger and 4-2 exhaust port cylinder head) also generates 179 lb.-ft. of torque as early as 1700 rpm—300 rpm sooner than the old model—and runs quieter now.
The upgraded powertrain is all hybrid: a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter 4-cylinder paired with a two-motor hybrid system to churn out a total 204 hp—actually a step down from the 212 hp in the previous CR-V hybrid.
Despite its spec sheets for the ’22 and ’23 CR-V hybrids, Honda claims the new model adds 3 hp, based on ISO net metrics. The spec sheets also show the new hybrid gaining torque through its traction motors—from 232 lb.-ft. to 247 lb.-ft.
Honda considers this new two-motor configuration as its fourth-generation hybrid system, and for the first time it now offers up to 1000 pounds of towing capacity.
The trim packaging for the new CR-V is similar to the previous model, but much simpler. The ’22 CR-V could be purchased with the 1.5-liter turbo in five different trims (LX, Special Edition, EX, EX-L, and Touring) while the hybrid was offered in Hybrid EX, Hybrid EX-L, and Hybrid Touring models.
Now, there are only four trims, and the showroom sales staff and factory workers must be eternally grateful: All 1.5-liter turbos are marketed as EX and EX-L, while all 2.0-liter hybrids will be sold as Sport and Sport Touring trim. With the new model, Honda expects hybrids to account for about half of all CR-V sales. An updated Real Time all-wheel-drive system is available on all grades and standard on Sport Touring models, and can now send up to 50% of engine torque to the rear wheels.
Inside, the CR-V maintains Honda’s emphasis on straightforward functionality, a modern look and feel, and high-quality materials, including the distinctive aluminum honeycomb mash that spans the width of the instrument panel and hides the air vents—same as in the Civic sedan.
The driver and front passenger get new “body-stabilizing seats” for better comfort and reduced fatigue over long drives, and the steering wheel angle is more sedan-like for a sportier driving position. Honda claims the new center console between the front seats is the largest in its class, with 9 liters of space.
CR-V customers must have fairly predictable interior preferences: the only color offerings are gray/tan and black—in fabric or leather—although orange contrast stitching is standard in Sport and Sport Touring hybrid trims.
In front of the driver is a 7-inch digital instrument panel that includes a digital power flow meter for the hybrids as well as user-selectable functions for Honda Sensing settings and other vehicle information.
The standard touchscreen positioned above the center console measures 7 inches diagonally on EX and Sport models, with physical knobs for volume and tuning. Stepping up to the EX-L and Sport Touring trims gets you a 9-inch touchscreen with a physical volume knob, as well as wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Since 2006, Honda has produced more than 5 million CR-Vs in North America, and those numbers will continue piling up as the new CR-V is built in three regional plants: East Liberty, Ohio; Greensburg, Indiana; and Alliston, Ontario, Canada.
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