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First Impressions of the 2023 Honda CR-V: Elegant, Fashionable & Assertive

Image Source: Abdul Razak Latif / Shutterstock
Honda is shaking up its crossover range this year. After the 2023 HR-V made its debut and is now available for purchase, attention has now turned to the CR-V, which stands as the top-selling model in Honda’s lineup. For the 2023 edition, the CR-V has undergone a stylistic transformation with a more refined and robust exterior, along with enhancements to its interior and powertrains.

Externally, the 2023 CR-V presents a more sophisticated aesthetic compared to its predecessor, featuring cleaner contours, a more pronounced grille, and an elongated hood. By moving the A-pillars back by 4.7 inches, the 2023 CR-V exhibits a sportier facade. The latest model is also larger, being 2.7 inches longer and flaunting a 1.6-inch extended wheelbase. A 0.4-inch increase in width further adds to its grounded appearance. While the new design is an improvement over its predecessor, it retains the distinct vertical taillights that hallmark the CR-V identity.

Trim-wise, there are two distinct exterior styles, with the EX and EX-L offering a more conventional look, whereas the Sport and Sport Touring variants opt for a sportier design with aggressive front and rear fascias. Interestingly, the Sport and Sport Touring trims are exclusively available with the hybrid powertrain, with Honda anticipating the hybrid variant to account for up to half of the CR-V sales.

Although the previous CR-V’s exterior stood strong against competitors like the Toyota RAV4 and Nissan Rogue, its interior was starting to show its age. Thankfully, Honda has completely overhauled the interior, drawing inspiration from the Civic and new HR-V designs. Features reminiscent of the Civic’s design language are easily identifiable, such as the honeycomb mesh pattern over the air vents and the similar infotainment system.

Significant upgrades have been made in the technological realm within the CR-V’s cabin. The introduction of a new 7-inch digital instrument cluster, coupled with a traditional speedometer, marks a notable inclusion. However, it’s worth noting that the CR-V forgoes the fully digital cluster seen in the Civic. An even more substantial upgrade is the revamped infotainment system, an area where the previous generation lagged, now boasting a 7-inch touchscreen as standard, with the EX-L and Sports Touring models receiving a larger 9-inch system. The modernized infotainment system is user-friendly, with additional perks such as wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, alongside a wireless charger for the EX-L and Sport Touring trims. The former push-button gear selector in the hybrid variant has been replaced with a traditional gear lever, while the top-tier CR-V Sport Touring boasts a 12-speaker Bose audio system. Overall, the cabin now exudes an upscale ambiance.

The increased wheelbase naturally results in a more spacious interior. Rear legroom has been augmented by 0.6 inches, complemented by reclining seats that offer eight different angles for rear passengers’ comfort. Honda emphasizes that the CR-V’s new front “Body Stabilizing Seats” help reduce fatigue. Cargo capacity has also been enhanced, with 36.3 cubic feet behind the rear seats, expandable to 39.3 cubic feet by lowering the rear floor, and a maximum of 76.5 cubic feet with the rear seats folded.

In terms of powertrains, the 2023 CR-V remains consistent with its predecessor. The EX and EX-L trims are equipped with the familiar turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine, delivering 190 horsepower and 179 pound-feet of torque through a CVT transmission. Honda has updated the engine with a new turbocharger and a 4-2 exhaust port cylinder head, which now allows the torque peak to kick in 300 rpm earlier, improving powertrain responsiveness. The all-wheel-drive system can now allocate up to 50 percent of the torque to the rear wheels, although lacking torque vectoring capabilities similar to the Passport or Pilot.

For those seeking greater fuel efficiency, the CR-V hybrid, available in Sport and Sport Touring trims, emerges as the preferred choice. Featuring a fourth-generation two-motor hybrid system, this variant combines a 2.0-liter Atkinson cycle 4-cylinder engine with dual electric motors, resulting in 204 horsepower (a 3 hp increase) and 247 lb-ft of torque (an increment of 15 lb-ft). The 2023 CR-V hybrid boasts a higher top speed of 115 mph compared to the 86 mph limit of its predecessor. Honda emphasizes that the refined powertrain now enables the CR-V hybrid to tow up to 1,000 pounds.

Despite modest powertrain enhancements, it is anticipated that the driving experience of the CR-V will closely align with the incumbent generation, albeit with slight improvements in responsiveness and efficiency. Suspension and steering adjustments have been made to enhance the driving dynamics and ride quality of the CR-V.

Notably, a Hill Descent Control system now comes standard on the CR-V, capable of being set between 2-12 mph.

On the safety front, the 2023 CR-V is equipped with the Honda Sensing suite as standard, now integrated with a new wide-angle camera and millimeter-wave radar to enhance the collision prevention system. Standard safety features include a blind-spot monitor, Traffic Jam Assist, Traffic Sign Recognition, Adaptive Cruise Control, and Lane Keeping Assist. The Civic’s driver and passenger front airbags, designed to mitigate brain trauma in frontal collisions, have also been incorporated. Furthermore, the CR-V features a rear-seat reminder system and a Driver Attention Monitor.

The 2023 Honda CR-V is scheduled for release this summer, with the CR-V hybrid set to follow later this year.

Image Source: Abdul Razak Latif / Shutterstock

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