Looking for a spacious crossover at a good price, with great fuel economy, and available all-wheel drive? Many shoppers are, and we point them to the Honda CR-V Hybrid, our Best SUV To Buy 2024.
Before we extol the virtues of the CR-V Hybrid, consider that the classification of SUV has evolved beyond the old truck-based SUV with up to three rows of seats and a rough and tumble ride with truck-like fuel economy. Blame automotive marketing, search engine optimization, or our own egos, but SUV now serves as an umbrella term for any high-riding vehicle with available all-wheel drive, seating for at least five, and a tailgate. Call it a crossover, call it an SUV, whatever you call it, we call the Honda CR-V Hybrid the best overall package in the automotive world’s most popular segment.
The Honda CR-V Hybrid wasn’t the highest-rated SUV in our unique TCC Rating system (read more about how we rate cars)—some luxury and electric crossovers rate higher—but it excels as being the most practical, value-oriented crossover SUV on sale now.
Redesigned for 2023, the 2024 Honda CR-V earns a TCC Rating of 7.0 out of 10, and rolls into the new year with no real changes except for a $950 price hike and a new mid-grade Sport-L hybrid trim. The 2024 Honda CR-V Sport Hybrid now costs $34,645, including a $1,295 destination fee. That’s $3,850 more than the gas-only CR-V LX base model and its 190-hp 1.5-liter turbo-4. But since the Sport Hybrid is based off the $33,305 EX, the hybrid upcharge is only $1,340 more.
It’s better equipped than the $34,335 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid XLE with standard all-wheel drive, more reliable than the Ford Escape Hybrid, and a better package and much better ride than the similarly priced Hyundai Tucson Hybrid that comes standard with AWD.
2024 Honda CR-V Hybrid
All-wheel drive adds $1,500 to the CR-V’s standard front-drive setup and it loses 3 mpg combined. The EPA rates the front-wheel-drive CR-V Hybrid at 43 mpg city, 36 highway, 40 combined, while AWD versions get 40/34/37 mpg. The RAV4 AWD gets 39 mpg combined, while the Tucson AWD gets 38 mpg, and in our testing the CR-V Hybrid consistently came up short of highway estimates, which is one bugaboo Honda has not improved upon. Four levels of regenerative braking to toggle through on the paddle shifters or with the “B” gear setting in the shifter, but unlike an electric car, there is no one-pedal driving. The CR-V’s direct competitors also offer plug-in hybrid variants with even greater efficiency, but also greater mechanical complexity.
The CR-V Hybrid starts to separate itself from the impressive competition with its new 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine and a pair of electric motors. System output increases to 204 hp and 247 lb-ft of torque, an improvement of 3 hp and 15 lb-ft of torque over the outgoing CR-V Hybrid. It’s not quick, and pales to the RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid, but it’s smooth and it’s quiet. It relies more on electric power from its small 1.4-kwh battery pack, and the motors soften starts and feed in torque under light throttle. The transfer between engine and motor power is so quiet in Eco and Normal modes that it takes a trained ear to catch it, and the simulated gear shifts drop revs after “changing” gears like a conventional automatic.
It handles with the bounding and leaning common to any compact crossover, but it feels more in tune with the road, working with it instead of against it. Honda stiffened the body and stretched it by 2.7 inches and the wheelbase by 1.5 inches, and its wider and slightly taller. It doesn’t drive larger, and instead its front struts and multilink rear suspension does a better job of damping out road scars. Overall, it’s quicker off the line, more responsive, smoother, and quieter than its predecessor, and more composed than its hybrid rivals. It can also tow up to 1,000 pounds.
2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid
2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid
2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid
The CR-V Hybrid’s big gains over the competition happen inside. The roomier interior can seat five, with ample rear headroom and legroom measuring out to 41.0 inches. Rear seats recline for more flexibility, and the Hybrid packaging doesn’t sacrifice much at all. The rear doors open wide, to nearly 90 degrees, and the low cargo floor both simplify getting things in and out. Following the Civic’s interior refinement, the 2023 CR-V Hybrid dons a nice mix of darkened metallic mesh trim, rubberized plastic, and actual climate control dials. It’s understated but calm, and complements the subtle but spacious storage areas throughout.
Honda dials in key tech and safety features to broaden the CR-V Hybrid’s appeal. It comes standard with blind-spot monitors, active lane control, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control that works down to a stop. It rides on 18-inch wheels and dresses up with black trim elements. Standard features include a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, a 7.0-inch digital instrument cluster, keyless start, a sunroof, heated front seats, and a power driver’s seat, as well as dual-zone climate control.
The Honda CR-V Hybrid might not be the most exciting car, but practicality can calm pocketbooks, and that can cause excitement. It’s the total package for the crossover SUV segment.
Read about the segment winners of The Car Connection’s Best Car To Buy 2024 awards, and find out which vehicles took home top honors from our sister sites, Motor Authority and Green Car Reports.