2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid Touring new car reviews

Honda debuted a refreshed CR-V last year, but that's not all the manufacturer touted at the auto shows. It also added a hybrid powertrain to the fifth-generation crossover.

Available only with all-wheel drive, the CR-V Hybrid makes do with a 181-horsepower, 2.0-liter inline-four that gets an electric bump to 212 horsepower.

It's worth pointing out that, on paper, this hybrid CR-V Touring is almost identical to the non-hybrid version we drove not too long ago. The obvious difference: the addition of electric power.

Keep reading to find out what kind of difference hybrid power makes to the CR-V.

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J.G. Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak
Production/Art Director

I had to go back and look at my review of the regular, non-hybrid Honda CR-V to confirm that, no, I was not blown away. In hybridized form, the vehicle is basically the same as our previous tester, but finally showing the fuel economy that a car in this class should. I say 35-ish mpg during my week, which was mostly around town driving, and somewhat under what Honda says an average driver should be seeing.

That’s certainly better than the sub-30mpg I was seeing in the gas-only version, and probably worth the additional $2500 on the sticker, especially since that number will likely hold much of its value through to resale or trade.

Still, the CR-V, while agile and competent, is very much the third-best vehicle in this class behind the Toyota RAV-4 and Hyundai Tucson. The Tucson lacks a hybrid option, which keeps it from challenging the Toyota for ultimate class dominance, but at the moment a Honda badge is no guarantee of an easy win. It’s a good C, but in this segment right now it takes a GREAT car to compete.

My quibble points with the Honda are mostly minor, and there’s a lot of things it does well. The seat/pedal/wheel arrangement is difficult to get perfect. And while perfection is a high goal, stepping out of the previous week’s exceptional VW Atlas into the CR-V really highlighted how much of a difference there is when seating position is off by just a fraction of perfection. The combined 212 hp from the 2.0-liter gas motor and hybrid system has a bit more punch than the gas-only motor, but the CVT seems easy to confuse around town, which is where a hybrid should shine. It’s feature-rich, but the retro-inspired Honda gauges are beginning to outlive their nostalgic novelty after a few years of being integrated into the Honda ecosystem.

Again, much like the gas-only version, the hybrid CR-V is good, but greatness seems to gently elude it based on the cumulative tiny shortcomings of numerous items.

The saving grace for the CR-V is that I can safely categorize most of my quibbles with the CR-V into personal differences. My lack of enthusiasm for the seating position may be highly personal, and someone with different driving habits may form a better bond with the CVT and drivetrain dynamics than I did. So if you’re in the market, this is definitely a car you want on your shopping list to fairly compare to its market mates. For me, though, Toyota and Hyundai are still ruling the small SUV roost.

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