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The Honda CR-V Hybrid is more important than you think

The Honda CR-V is Honda’s best-selling vehicle. It was also the best-selling crossover in America for 2 years in a row. Needless to say, it has been a hit. And now, Honda is releasing the first ever hybrid version of the CR-V. It might seem like a boring and simple product extension, but it’s massively important both for Honda and the car world in general.

Up until now, the go-to name in the Hybrid world has, of course, been the Toyota Prius. Of course many other vehicles have been hybridized over the last 5 years, many of them mainstream bestsellers like the Honda Accord, the Porsche Cayenne, and the Ford Fusion. But although the cars they were based on sold in huge numbers, those hybrids never really moved off the lots in any appreciable numbers. When someone said “hybrid,” you and everyone else thought of the Prius.

Those cars were never the CR-V however. The Honda CR-V is basically a suburban institution. 43 new CR-Vs are sold every hour in this country, and probably trade at twice that rate on the used market. The CR-V is quite literally the mid-sized SUV that all others are judged by. I should know — it’s my job to do the judging.

For Honda to hybridize its most popular vehicle tells me three things: it believes hybrid has a brighter future than pure electric, the technology and execution will be superb, and this thing is going to sell like gangbusters. Indeed, given the fact that the Hybrid CR-V is going to improve gas mileage by 50% over the pure gasoline model, I won’t be surprised if non-hybrid versions become rarer than a profit from Uber.

For the best-selling SUV hybrid to go hybrid is a massive data point in the trend towards electrification. The Toyota Prius was introduced and immediately sold like crazy, but no other hybrid – whether hybrid-only cars like the Honda Insight or converted hybrids like the Toyota Camry – has really taken off. The Prius was a bit like a one-hit-wonder or a genre-defining band that created a new category. Well now the rock star is coming out with their version, and the mainstream will never be the same again.

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Adam Kaslikowski
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