New Honda CR-V Hybrid 2023 review

The Honda CR–V e:HEV offers plenty of practicality and comfort, but it struggles to stand out

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.5 out of 5

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The new CR-V’s price reflects not only an increase in size, but also a move upmarket. However, at almost £50,000, customers can rightfully put rivals like the BMW X3 and Volvo XC60 into the mix, at which point, Honda’s flagship becomes harder to justify. It’s spacious and comfortable, but otherwise struggles to stand out in any one area. Still interested? You certainly won’t be left wanting for standard kit – the CR-V is exceptionally well appointed inside and out.

Honda's product range is expanding. Its SUV line-up alone now spans four distinct models, but with the latest ZR-V almost identical in size to the outgoing CR-V, where does that leave the maker’s venerable flagship?

Bigger in every dimension, the CR-V has taken a step upmarket. On size alone, the Honda is longer than a Nissan X-Trail, Skoda Kodiaq or Kia Sportage. But with prices starting from a scarcely-believable £45,985, the CR-V is also much more expensive.

We’ve already driven the fleet-friendly plug-in but now we’ve been thrown the keys to the regular hybrid. However, unlike rivals, whereas the PHEV is front-driven, the e:HEV is all-wheel-drive-only.

Both versions of the CR-V use the same 2.0-litre petrol engine. Yet even this hybrid version feels overwhelmingly electric; the engine powers a pair of motors, rather than directly driving the wheels, so you get a pleasing punch when you put your foot down. The 4x4 system keeps things in check, however, with zero loss of traction even over loose surfaces.

The standard-fit 18-inch alloy wheels are wrapped in plenty of rubber so the ride feels well cushioned, though road noise is noticeable at higher speeds. Refinement is otherwise very good, however, especially around town.

The hybrid system works well on the whole. The innovative stepped transmission feels a bit more like a conventional automatic than a CVT, though it’ll still whine like one if you ask for full power. Otherwise, the engine is only really noticeable when it kicks in at idle – though that only really happens during prolonged waits, or in particularly heavy traffic.

But despite the fact there isn’t a huge amount of body roll, the steering is demonstrably vague – so much so, you never feel hugely connected with the driving experience. This is a car you can get into and go, but it’s not one you’ll relish driving quickly – a BMW X3 (yes, now on par size and price-wise) is much sharper.

Make no mistake, though – the CR-V is now an impressively practical car. The e:HEV isn’t as spacious as the PHEV, but the Advance model’s 579-litre boot is still one of the biggest in this class. It feels massive inside, and the rear doors open to very nearly 90 degrees – making it incredibly easy to load kids (and adults!) into the back.

Quality is a bit of a mixed bag. There are fewer scratchier materials than you’ll find in the smaller but similarly-priced e:Ny1, but the doors close with a tinny sound that distracts from the CR-V’s newfound premium billing. The cabin layout is suitably user-friendly, but the small screen fails to stack up in this part of the market. The Volvo XC60’s Google-powered portrait display, for example – despite showing its age in places – gives off a more upmarket vibe.

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We tried the pricier of the two e:HEV trims, but even Elegance (from £45,895) comes well equipped. All cars get those aforementioned 18-inch wheels and the touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, LED lights and a panoramic roof. 

Advance (£48,995) adds a head-up display, 360-degree cameras, ventilated front seats and heated rear seats, plus a Bose premium stereo. The PHEV only comes in Advance Tech guise (£53,995), with the changes limited largely to the more complex powertrain. These versions also get Honda Parking Pilot, and app connectivity to monitor and control charging.

Model: Honda CR-V e:HEV 2.0i-MMD Advance
Price: £48,995
Powertrain: 2.0-litre 4cyl petrol, plus 2x e-motors
Power/torque: 181bhp/335Nm
Transmission: Single-speed auto, four-wheel drive
0–62mph: 9.5 seconds
Top speed: 116mph
Economy: 42.8mpg
CO2: 151g/km
Dimensions (L/W/H): 4,706/1,942/1,684mm
On sale: Now
Deputy editor

Richard has been part of the our team for over a decade. During this time he has covered a huge amount of news and reviews for Auto Express, as well as being the face of Carbuyer and DrivingElectric on Youtube. In his current role as deputy editor, he is now responsible for keeping our content flowing and managing our team of talented writers.

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