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Honda adding CR-V Hybrid to lineup, refreshing CR-V's looks for 2020

Honda has added a new CR-V to its lineup for the 2020 model year, the CR-V Hybrid.

Photo courtesy of Honda North America

Do you hear that, Toyota? Honda is coming for you. With the addition of the 2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid to the company's stable, the automaker is more poised than ever to take on the sales competition of the Toyota RAV4, in ways that the Nissan Rogue Hybrid wasn't ready to.

The move is on top of a refreshed exterior design for the 2020 model year across the CR-V lineup, which sees the compact SUV get a bolder and less segmented design in line with the looks of the Honda Pilot, Passport, and HR-V. The Hybrid also gets hybrid model badging, a blue Honda logo in the center of the grille, distinctive bar-type fog lights, and a hidden tailpipe. The CR-V Hybrid Touring trim has a unique rear bumper.

2020 Honda CR-V Rear Exterior The 2020 CR-V has refined fascias.Photo courtesy of Honda North America

Honda has added three new paint jobs for the 2020 model year: Sonic Gray Pearl, Aegean Blue Metallic, and Radiant Red Metallic. The gray and red are available on all models but the blue is exclusively for non-hybrid CR-Vs..

All CR-V EX and EX-L trims, including Hybrid, will ride on newly designed 18-inch wheels with a dark gray and machined finish. CR-V Touring models come standard with a new19-inch wheel.

For 2020, the non-hybrid CR-V is powered exclusively by a 190-horsepower turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder power plant. CR-V Hybrid SUVs get two electric motors paired with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine resulting in 212 total horsepower.

Inside the cabin, the non-hybrid and hybrid CR-V models are also very similar. Hybrid models have their gear shifter flanked by switches for Econ, Sport, and EV drive modes. While Econ and EV are explanatory, Sport is a little more technical. Sport model enhances throttle response and the sound of the exhaust is changed for a sportier note.

2020 Honda CR-V Interior Steering Wheel Shifter Drive Modes Screen The interior of the CR-V Hybrid has a different shifter and new drive modes.Photo courtesy of Honda North America

Honda has change up the instrument panel for the CR-V Hybrid models. Those SUVs get a power-charge monitor and a driver-selectable display for power distribution and regeneration. Like in the Hyundai Ioniq, the CR-V has deceleration paddles where paddle shifters would normally be, allowing for various degrees of harshness.

The automaker has redesigned the CR-V's center console to allow for easier storage. There's also standard Qi wireless charging on Touring trim models.

All 2020 model year Honda CR-Vs will come standard with the Honda Sensing suite of safety and driver assistance technologies including the automaker's Collision Mitigation Braking System with Forward Collision Warning and pedestrian sensing capability, Road Departure Mitigation with Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Adaptive Cruise Control with low-speed follow, and Lane Keeping Assist. Blind spot information, Rear Cross Traffic Monitor, and Auto High Beam headlights are available.

2020 Honda CR-V Interior Seats Folding Back Seat Even in CR-V Hybrid models, the cargo load floor remains flat.Photo courtesy of Honda North America

The 2019 Honda CR-V started at $25,545 and topped off just over $35,000. Pricing for the non-hybrid 2020 CR-V is expected to be similar but hybrid buyers will likely pay a premium for their product.

Expect to see the CR-V and CR-V hybrid in showrooms next year.

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New SUV

New Jeep Compass Coming Soon

The Compass gets a major update for 2022.

Stellantis/Jeep

The Chicago Auto Show is happening now, which means we've already seen a few new models and concepts. Just yesterday, Jeep introduced the new 2022 Compass compact SUV. It gets a new design inside and out, updated tech, and a load of new available driver aids. The Compass' refresh comes as new models from Ford, Subaru and others could cut into Jeep's off-road dominance.

As it was in previous model years, the new Compass is powered by a 2.4-liter "Tigershark" four-cylinder engine that makes 177 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque. It's good for up to 31 mpg on the highway in 2WD models and can deliver a max towing capacity of up to 2,000 pounds in 4WD models. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard for Compass Sport and Latitude 4X2 models, while all others get a nine-speed automatic transmission that can handle the 20:1 crawl ratio setting in the Trailhawk model.

An all-new Latitude LUX trim joins the Compass lineup for 2022 as well. It features leather upholstery, heated front seats, a leather-wrapped heated steering wheel, an eight-way power driver seat, a seven-inch full-color gauge cluster, and the larger 10.1-inch screen.


2022 Jeep Compass The new Compass is more upscale than its predecessor.Stellantis/Jeep


The Compass comes with a class-leading 8.4-inch infotainment touchscreen, but higher trims get an even larger 10.1-inch unit. It offers standard wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and runs Uconnect 5, a colorful, responsive infotainment system with advanced features and tech.

Several new safety features make an appearance, but most are added-cost options. The highway assist system offers a semi-autonomous driving feature, which Jeep says will become available later. Other tech includes traffic sign recognition, standard pedestrian/cyclist automatic emergency braking, a surround-view camera system, parallel and perpendicular parking assist, and a long list of more traditional advanced driver aids like blind spot monitoring and parking sensors.

The Compass lineup for 2022 includes five trims: Sport, Latitude, Latitude LUX, Limited, and Trailhawk. Pricing for the new Compass starts at $26,490, including a $1,495 destination charge. At the top of the lineup, the Trailhawk and Limited models both start at $32,890. It's expected to start arriving on dealers' lots in fall 2021.


2022 Jeep Compass New color schemes highlight the Compass' interior.Stellantis/Jeep

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The CX-5's styling is sharp and clean.

Mazda

Crossovers have clearly become the family vehicle of choice. Minivans and large sedans are far less common than they used to be as buyers opt for the relative plushness and more generous space offered by utility vehicles. That's not a bad thing, but many people will find the increasing levels of sameness in the crossover market to be off-putting.

Thankfully, Mazda is here to help keep things interesting. Its CX-5 takes a different approach than its rivals. Where vehicles like the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V focus on comfort and efficiency over almost everything else, Mazda managed to jam in loads of vehicle feedback and engagement. Behind the wheel, the crossover feels and sounds much more alive and responsive than its competition. Jumping out of a larger vehicle and into the CX-5 felt like a shock at first, as the Mazda's steering wheel delivers real, actual feedback and transmits a picture of what's going on underneath the vehicle, which is something not often seen outside of expensive performance vehicles.


2021 Mazda CX-5 The CX-5's cabin is more upscale than its rivals. Mazda


Engaging Powertrains

The CX-5's base four-cylinder engine is fine, but the turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine is where things start to get interesting. It bumps the standard mill's 187 horsepower to 250 and gives off a pleasing turbo whine under heavy throttle. It pairs almost perfectly with the six-speed automatic transmission and delivers surprising power and torque. My test vehicle's all-wheel drive gave the CX-5 a surefooted feel, and from experience I can say that it's worth the added cost if you live anywhere with legitimate winter weather.

There are a few tradeoffs that come along with the CX-5's level of driver engagement, largely related to interior space and noise levels. While the Mazda's cabin is comfortable and is in no way low-rent, a great deal of wind, road, and drivetrain noise make their way into the vehicle at all times. You could argue that this is just another expression of the CX-5's connection with its driver, and you'd be right in some cases. At many times, however, such as when taking the kids to school or just running to the grocery store, it gets tiresome. Your five-year-old won't care about how good the steering feel is when they have to keep asking you to crank up the volume on their podcast story. The noise level is most noticeable around town with the constant stop and go of traffic.

The other main drawback with the CX-5, at least for families (like mine) that don't travel lightly, is interior space. Thanks to its curves and beautifully sloped roof, the Mazda's cargo hold is not as spacious as some of its rivals, such as the Volkswagen Tiguan, Honda CR-V, or Toyota RAV4. That dramatic shape also makes the rear seat feel tighter than it reads on paper, but thanks to a friendly ride height and large rear door openings, parents will have no issues with loading kids in car seats.


2021 Mazda CX-5 A sloping roofline can make rear-seat headroom challenging for taller people.Mazda


Great Tech and Safety

Mazda bumped the CX-5's infotainment screen size from 7.0 to 10.3 inches across the board for 2021, but there's no touchscreen here. Instead, the system is controlled using a rotary dial and volume know that are mounted behind the gear shifter in the center console. It's a responsive and fairly straightforward process to use and control the system, but scrolling through long menus or trying to wade through several options using the rotary controller becomes tiresome and distracting at times.

The 2021 Mazda CX-5 was named a Top Safety Pick + by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). That award is due in part to the crossover's excellent performance in crash tests, but also comes thanks to its long list of standard advanced driver aids. All models get a rearview camera, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, lane departure warnings with lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, a smart brake support system, and high beam control. My top trim tester also got a driver attention alert system, front and rear parking sensors, and a 360-degree monitor.

It's hard to ignore the quality, value, and fun that the CX-5 brings to the table, even considering how good its competitors have gotten. With a price tag that maxes out under $40,000, the Mazda's driving experience and plush interior should put it at the top of shoppers' lists. Its few drawbacks don't spoil the overall package, and only really present a problem for families of four or more – like mine. Those people, myself included, should be shopping for a slightly larger vehicle, anyway, and for them, there's the Mazda CX-9.


2021 Mazda CX-5 The CX-5 is one of the most fun-to-drive crossovers on sale today.Mazda

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