A lot has changed since the Honda CR-V was first introduced to the US market in 1997. And even though they no longer come with a built-in picnic table, tailgate mounted spare tire, and column shifter, the CR-V is still Honda’s best selling model. Considering how loyal Honda owners are, it would take some serious sacrifices to push buyers towards the competition. Lucky for them, and for any potential buyers, the 2023 CR-V makes an incredibly strong first impression that should have their rivals taking note.
Honda was wise not to mess with success. On the outside, the CR-V appears to borrow some styling cues from its larger brethren: the Passport and Ridgeline. This more aggressive fascia is a welcome departure from the blobby, softer front end found on the recently released HR-V. It should also give insight into the next generation Pilot, although Honda hasn’t even begun to tease that yet.
Around back, the CRV retains vertical taillights, which have been a design staple since the first generation. Although now they do feel more Volvo-esque than ever thanks to their thin, delicate design. Visibility looks to be excellent, as all windows appear massive and there’s no dramatic sloping roofline to worry about.
Stepping inside, the now familiar interior of the 2022 Civic and 2023 HR-V appears to mostly carry over yet again. Depending on trim level, drivers can expect either a 7.0” or 9.0” tablet-like touchscreen infotainment system featuring the latest technology. A physical volume knob is still present, as are physical climate controls. Anyone that previously considered the last generation Hybrid model will no longer have to deal with a weird button shifter, as it appears that all models now use a traditional gear lever.
Higher trim models will enjoy Wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, as well as a premium Bose sound system. Blind Spot Monitoring is now standard across all trim levels, as is hill-descent control. Adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and pre-collision braking are also expected to be standard regardless of trim.
For 2023, Honda has shaken up trim levels. LX is no longer available. Instead, buyers can now choose from EX, EX-L, Sport, and Sport Touring. The EX and EX-L will use the last generation’s turbocharged 1.5L 4-cylinder paired with a CVT transmission. The torque curve and transmission have been improved to help reduce drone and vibrations. Stepping up to the Sport or Sport Touring will get you the 2.0L 4-cylinder hybrid setup, also paired with a CVT. Although down a few horsepower compared to the last generation, torque is up, and the setup is now rated to tow 1,000 pounds. Front wheel drive is standard across the board, except for Sport Touring, which will come with AWD.
To help improve ride quality, the new platform features a 1.6 inch wheelbase increase, which should also help increase back seat passenger comfort. The entire body is 2.7 inches longer than before, as well as 0.4 inches wider, which allows for an improvement in cargo capacity. This actually lets the hybrid trim offer the same cubic capacity as the standard gas-engine, a rarity in the hybrid field. Honda also claims that improvements in steering feel and suspension tuning will actually make this crossover fun to drive. The verdict is still out on that one.
Pricing is yet to be announced. The previous generation’s LX trim stickered at $28,045, with the EX coming in at $30,355. Expect a slight bump across the board, as well as a couple grand increase for opting into the hybrid variant. Expect to see the new EX or EX-L CR-V at your local showroom in the next few months. But, if you want a hybrid, it’ll be a little longer yet.