Honda’s bestselling model is going hybrid. Announced in 2019, the 2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid is hitting dealerships with a gas mileage rating of 38 mpg combined and a base price of $28,870.
That base price buys a base LX model. The CR-V Hybrid is also available in EX ($31,380), EX-L ($33,870), and Touring ($37,070) trim levels. All trim levels get standard all-wheel drive and a host of driver aids, including: Adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, forward collision warning, and autonomous emergency braking. However, you have to upgrade to the EX to get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The CR-V Hybrid LX carries a $2,320 premium over a non-hybrid all-wheel-drive CR-V (non-hybrid models get front-wheel drive standard). The gap shrinks to $1,225 for the EX, EX-L, and Touring models.
The main reason to buy a hybrid is fuel economy, and in that area the CR-V Hybrid falls a bit short of the competition. The Honda’s 38 mpg combined (35 mpg city, 40 mpg highway) can’t quite match the 40 mpg combined (41 mpg city, 38 mpg highway) of the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid. The CR-V does beat the all-wheel-drive Ford Escape Hybrid’s highway fuel economy rating of 37 mpg, but the Ford surpasses it in the other two categories. The Escape Hybrid is also available with front-wheel drive, achieving 41 mpg combined.
The CR-V Hybrid’s powertrain is based on the one used in the Accord Hybrid, but adapted for all-wheel drive. A 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine works with two electric motors in an arrangement that eliminates the conventional transmission. When extra traction isn’t needed, the rear wheels are uncoupled from the powertrain to save fuel.
Total system output is 212 horsepower. That’s more than you get in a non-hybrid CR-V or Ford Escape Hybrid, but slightly less than the 219 hp of the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.
The Escape and RAV4 will soon be available with plug-in hybrid powertrains as well, allowing drivers to go a greater distance on electric power alone to save even more fuel. Honda hasn’t discussed plans for a CR-V plug-in hybrid, but such a vehicle would be a logical competitor to the Ford and Toyota, as well as a more attractive option than the tepid Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid.
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