2020 Honda CR-V — Best compact SUV now with hybrid option

By Jim Prueter

(June 27, 2020) The original Honda CR-V was one of the first vehicles to pioneer the small, car-based SUV segment, back in the mid-1990s. Today the CR-V is the category’s best seller, and the second best-selling passenger vehicle in America. It’s also one of the best among all small SUVs with a roomy interior, loads of standard safety features and amenities, excellent reliability and resale value. Now, for the first time ever, it is offered as a hybrid model.

The CR-V Hybrid uses the same powertrain set up as the Honda Accord Hy
brid, a 2.0-liter 212-horsepower four-cylinder combined with dual electric motors. Since electric motors drive the wheel, it doesn’t use a real transmission, rather what’s called a lockup clutch. It has more power than the non-hybrid trim, which is now powered by a 1.5-liter 190-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder, and a good continuously variable transmission.

The hybrid uses a pushbutton gear selector rather than the gear shift lever found in non-hybrid models. For this review we drove both models with the Touring trim level. Even with more horsepower, the hybrid delivers a combined city-highway fuel economy of 38 mpg while non-hybrid delivers 29 combined mpg.

For 2020, the CR-V exterior styling has been tweaked for a bolder, updated look, including a new face, dark trim in back and new paint colors. Inside there’s a redesigned center console that’s easier to use and has greater storage. Also new
on our Touring models are a heated steering wheel and wireless device charging. For 2020, the Hybrid is available in all the same models as the standard CR-V: LX, EX, EX-L and Touring.

All-wheel drive is a $1,500 option on all trim levels, standard on all hybrid models. The premium for the Hybrid is just $1,200 more than the all-wheel drive non-hybrid CR-Vs. That’s a great deal. But don’t think about following a Jeep off road; it doesn’t have anywhere near the same ground clearance or capability.

The Hybrid felt punchier on acceleration than the gas-only CR-V, thanks to the added torque from the electric motors. In our testing, getting from zero to 60 mph took about seven seconds, and it seemed smoother than the 1.5-turbo engine. 

All CR-Vs now come standard with Honda Sensing, a package of six safety and driver assist features including adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation braking, lane keeping and road departure mitigation.

Overall, to say the CRV-has been a success and a “best-choice” compact SUV would be an understatement. We loved both versions and either is an excellent choice for families who don’t need three-row seating. The cabin is upscale and roomy, with ample cargo space, and comfortable seats, and is well equipped with standard features that most SUV buyers want. We strongly recommend putting CR-V on your “must drive” consideration list.

Vital Stats

Base Price:
Non-Hybrid: $34,750 (AWD Touring)
Hybrid: $35,950 (AWD Touring)

Price as Tested:
Non-Hybrid: $35,845
Hybrid: $37,045

Non-Hybrid: 1.5-liter 190-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder paired with a CVT transmission
Hybrid: 2.0-liter gasoline four-cylinder engine with dual electric motors utilizing a lockup clutch style transmission

Fuel Economy:
Non-Hybrid: 27/32/29 mpg, City, Highway, Combined
Hybrid: 35/40/38 mpg, City, Highway, Combined

Seating: 5

Crash Test Safety Rating: Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, and the highest possible overall 5-star rating from the National Highway traffic Safety Administration.

Where Built:
Non-Hybrid: Alliston, Ontario, Canada
Hybrid: Greensburg, Indiana

Competes With:
Ford Escape
Hyundai Tucson
Jeep Cherokee, Compass
Kia Sportage
Mitsubishi Outlander
Nissan Rogue
Subaru Forester
Volkswagen Tiguan

Fab Features
Available Hybrid model
Upscale, roomy cabin, cavernous cargo area
Advanced safety features and excellent crash test scores
Quiet, comfortable ride