The 2023 Honda CR-V is slightly bigger, offering more interior room and cargo space.
New hybrid powertrain with a combined output of 204 horsepower.
Reworked interior with nine-inch infotainment touchscreen.
Honda’s compact crossover is one of the best-selling vehicles both in Canada and in the United States, so it obviously goes without saying that it’s a critical model for the company’s success in North America. The fully redesigned 2023 Honda CR-V has just been fully revealed with a new exterior design, a reworked interior and a new hybrid system.
First and foremost, it’s worth noting that the outgoing generation of CR-V also sported a hybrid powertrain, but it wasn’t available in Canada. That will change for the sixth-generation compact crossover.
The U.S. market gets a simplified lineup with four trim levels instead of the previous eight, including EX, EX-L, Sport and Sport Touring. All-wheel drive is available on all four variants. The Canadian market also gets LX, EX-L, Sport and Touring grades, with AWD optional on LX, standard on the other three trims.
The vehicle’s wheelbase has been stretched by about an inch and a half, while overall length is up by 2.7 inches, width is up 0.4 inches and height is virtually unchanged. The CR-V will get a new interior, with a dashboard design clearly inspired by the one found in the current-generation Honda Civic. A seven-inch infotainment touchscreen will come standard, while a nine-inch display, a Bose 12-speaker stereo as well as wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will be available the CR-V’s uplevel trims.
Honda promises better outward visibility due to reshaped A-pillars and outside mirrors, and the vehicle bears a slightly more rugged look with a mesh grille pattern, 17- to 19-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and, in the case of the Sport and Sport Touring, gloss black accenting, rectangular exhaust tips and unique bumpers. Inside, rear-seat occupants get a smudge more legroom and longer reclining seatback travel for enhanced comfort. Cargo space is greater than ever with 36.3 cubic feet or 1,028 litres with the seatbacks in place, 76.5 cubic feet or 2,166 litres with the seats folded down.
Base trim levels of the 2023 Honda CR-V will keep the existing turbocharged 1.5L inline-four engine, which develops 190 horsepower and 179 pound-feet of torque. However, the automaker claims it’s more refined and boasts improved emissions performance, thanks to a new turbocharger and revised port cylinder heads. The 1.5L engine’s torque now peaks from 1,700 to 5,000 rpm, while the outgoing gen’s mill peaked between 2,000 and 5,000 rpm. The engine is still managed by a continuously variable automatic transmission, which is now said to be quieter and emit less vibration, in addition to simulating the gear changes of a conventional automatic tranny at wide-open throttle.
Offered in the Sport and Sport Touring U.S. trims as well as the Touring Canadian trim, the hybrid powertrain consists of a 2.0L inline-four engine and two electric motors, for a total output of 204 horsepower and 247 pound-feet of torque. There are no exhaustive details about the hybrid setup yet, but the outgoing one delivered 212 horsepower and 232 pound-feet.
The Real Time AWD system, standard on the Sport Touring trim and optional on the rest in the U.S., also gets revisions. It’s still a reactive setup that favours the front wheels in normal driving conditions, and can quickly shift up to 50 % of available torque to the rear wheels. The CR-V also gets Hill Descent Control for the first time, giving the crossover a hint of off-road cred. The driver can select a downhill speed of 2 to 12 mph (3 to 20 km/h). Three drive modes are offered on EX and EX-L trims, including Normal, Eco and new Snow settings, while the Sport and Sport Touring grades add a fourth mode called, well, Sport.
The suspension has been revised to make the CR-V more fun to drive and enhance driving dynamics, according to the company. It also states that the 2023 Honda CR-V is safer, thanks to a revised Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) architecture, improved side-impact protection as well as a stiffer structure. The Honda Sensing suite of advanced safety gizmos gets improved cameras, blind spot monitoring is now standard across the board, and a new Driver Attention Monitor will trigger an alarm whenever it senses that the driver isn’t paying attention to the road ahead or dozing off.
The 2023 Honda CR-V will be built in two U.S. assembly plants (Ohio and Indiana) in addition to one Canadian plant (Ontario), and will once again rival the Toyota RAV4, the Hyundai Tucson, the Nissan Rogue, the Subaru Forester, the Ford Escape, the Kia Sportage, the Chevrolet Equinox, the Mazda CX-5 and many others. Pricing is not yet available, are neither are fuel economy numbers, but the CR-V trim levels with the turbo 1.5L engine will go on sale this summer, followed later this year by the hybrid-powered variants.