Hybrid crossover with looks for the masses.Honda introduced the fifth-generation CR-V in 2017 and followed the lead of its competition by adding a hybrid model to the 2020 lineup. The all-new 2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid looks to combine everything its gas-only sibling offers with a thrifty electrified powertrain.
Honda’s execution left a little on the plate, as the hybrid system adds a ton of heft and dramatically shrinks its cargo space. These drawbacks hurt the hybrid, but it has plenty of positives going for it.
Style for the masses. When it redesigned the CR-V for 2017, Honda was careful not to break the mold the CR-V has long lived with. This tepid approach resulted in a look that, while modern, erred on the inoffensive side, making the Honda CR-V Hybrid a crossover for the masses.
That said, this for-the-masses approach is rather dull in a class that’s in a coming-of-age point in design. With aggressive looks coming from the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid and the even sportier RAV4 Prime right around the corner, the CR-V Hybrid just looks bland.
Inside, function beats form in the CR-V Hybrid, as Honda pushes everything high up on the dash – including the push button gear shifter – leaving the lower area for storage. While this gives you plenty of space for odds and ends, it’s hardly an eye-grabbing design.
Gobbling up some of this storage space is an available wireless charging pad. While this charger is great in theory, its execution left us desiring much more. Any tap of the brakes sends your phone sliding forward, breaking the charge connection until you stomp in the accelerator to slide it back into place. Also, the USB charger ports are directly behind the charging pad, leaving them partially blocked once you sit a phone on it.
Plenty of power, but feels heavy. The CR-V Hybrid boasts a combined 212 horsepower, which is a 22-hp boost over the base CR-V. While that may seem like a big bump, the extra weight the CR-V Hybrid totes around negates the increased power.
For reference, the CR-V Hybrid Touring AWD we drove tipped the scales at a flabby 3,763 pounds, which is just shy of 300 pounds more than the equivalent gas-only CR-V Touring AWD. This extra heft left it feeling heavy and sluggish off the line and in the corners. Its numb electric power steering didn’t help matters either.
While the heavy feeling is disappointing, the RAV4 Hybrid’s specs are no better. It tops out at 3,800 pounds and has only 219 combined horsepower. Buyers who want a little performance in their lives may want to wait on the upcoming 302-hp RAV4 Prime and its 5.8-second 0-60 mph time.
Despite the heavy feeling, the CR-V Hybrid was a great drive at highway speeds. It cruised over potholes and bumps with little drama and passed with confidence.
While its EPA-estimated 40 miles per gallon city, 35 mpg highway, and 38 combined fuel economy ratings are a decent bump over the gas CR-V. However, they're a touch behind the RAV4 Hybrid’s 41/38/40 mpg (city/highway/combined) split.
All-day comfort, but cargo room is light. The CR-V Hybrid’s front seats are nothing short of marvels. They offer all-day comfort and never force you to squirm around to find a comfortable spot. Even the back seats are quite comfy, plus they offer up to 40.4 inches of leg room, beating the RAV4 Hybrid by 2.6 inches.
Where the CR-V Hybrid takes a nosedive is in its cargo area, which is traditionally one of the strongest points of the standard CR-V. The hybrid only offers 33.2 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seat, or 68.7 cubes with the seat folded. These figures are down 6 and 7.1 cubic feet, respectively, compared to the non-hybrid CR-V.
A lot of this cargo-area loss is in vertical space, which we noted when trying to shove a kid’s 18-inch bike behind the seats. Many tire tracks were left on the headliner.
Its cargo numbers are short of the RAV4 Hybrid by 4.4 cubes with the rear seat up and 1.1 with it folded.
Final thoughts. The 2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid is a logical next step for Honda, as crossovers are the hottest-selling models in the U.S. now, so adding a thriftier hybrid only makes sense. About 95% of the CR-V Hybrid is just as good or better than the standard CR-V, but its cargo room needs serious work. Most automakers have figured out how to incorporate hybrid systems without gobbling up over 20% of its space behind the seats.
All told, the CR-V Hybrid does the job Honda meant it to do: offer a fuel economy boost without a big downturn in performance. Will it be a volume seller? No, but it'll fill the needs of longer-distance commuters who want something with a more toned-down design.
Buyers seeking a more exciting look or who must have tons of cargo space will find what they need in the RAV4 Hybrid. For those seeking an all-electric range or more satisfying straight-line speed, you may want to hold tight for the RAV4 Prime.
Check prices for the 2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid »