One-Day Drive

First Drive Review: 2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid is a fuel-efficient RAV4 Hybrid AWD buster

To test the CR-V Hybrid, drivers set off on a course in and around Tucson, Arizona.

Photo by Eileen Falkenberg-Hull

It's this simple. The 2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid delivers a better drive experience than the 2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, when both are equipped with all-wheel drive. If fuel efficiency and traction are two of your primary concerns, the Honda is the best bet, but it isn't perfect.

The exterior of the Honda CR-V Hybrid has some changes from the traditional design of the CR-V. Honda has given the model standard all-wheel drive, five-lamp LED fog lights, unique rear bumper, Hybrid model badging, keyless entry, push-button start, a cargo cover and a long list of safety and driver assist technology. Different trims get different wheels.

2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid See the blue around the "H" logo? That's one of the few indications that the model is a hybrid.Photo by Eileen Falkenberg-Hull

The SUV achieves 40 mpg in the city, 35 mpg on the highway, and 38 mpg combined thanks the combination of its 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and two electric motors. The setup is similar to the system in the 2020 Honda Accord Hybrid and it achieves 212 horsepower and 232 pound-feet of torque. That's significantly more torque than the 2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid and 2020 Ford Escape Hybrid.

Though the CR-V Hybrid feels heavier and more grounded to drive than the CR-V, it by no means seems too heavy for its powertrain. The car has a good power to weight ratio that rarely makes the typical driver wish there was more oomph.

When it comes to all-wheel drive, the CR-V Hybrid is more competent in low-traction situations than the RAV4 Hybrid AWD. When behind the wheel of the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid AWD, the model almost seems to be thinking about keeping you on the road while it operates. In the CR-V Hybrid, this same functionality is more straightforward and visceral for the SUV. This inspires more confidence.

2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid The Honda CR-V Hybrid carries over much of the same front to tail design as the CR-V.Photo by Eileen Falkenberg-Hull

The interior is mostly the same in the CR-V Hybrid and it wins points for straightforward functionality. However, the car's standard shifter has been replaced by the button shifter traditionally found in Acura vehicles and the Honda Odyssey. There are large drive mode buttons to the right of the shifter that actually noticeably change the performance of the SUV. After pressing Sport the throttle allows for a torquier takeoff and longer spans between shifts. Press the Eco button and and pickup slows to allow for a more fuel-efficient experience.

The CR-V Hybrid is slightly less fuel-efficient on paper than the RAV4 Hybrid and Escape Hybrid. It earns 38 mpg combined while the other two get 40 mpg combined.

2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid The new model gets unique badging, including a "Hybrid" tag on the rear.Photo by Eileen Falkenberg-Hull

Honda has given the model best-in-class passenger and interior volume. Sitting side by side with another adult in the front row, it was easy to not have our elbow touch on the center console, even when on the road for hours at a time, taking a more relaxed drive position, and not doing too much to prevent the occasional nudge.

Where the CR-V and CR-V Hybrid falter is in the comfort of their seats. Or, rather, lack of comfort. After about 45 minutes your posterior begins to let you know that it's ready for a break.

2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid Honda's seats aren't too comfortable, but that's not unusual in the segment.Photo by Eileen Falkenberg-Hull

With the 2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid, Honda has done what they do best. They've given buyers who have loved the car a reason to opt for the new technology because of its efficiency and proficiency, while keeping all the features that they want like gobs of cargo space and common sense button placement.

2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid The wheel controls are all laid out the same way they are in the CR-V.Photo by Eileen Falkenberg-Hull

Honda offers the CR-V Hybrid in LX, EX, EX-L, and Touring trim levels. Prices start at $27,750 and wrap up around $36,000 for a top-tier model, not including the $1,120 destination and delivery charge. That's right in line with the Escape Hybrid and below the all-in cost of the RAV4 Hybrid.

The Honda Insight is mostly unchanged from the 2020 model year.

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

The 2021 Honda Insight is mostly unchanged from the 2020 model year. However, there are a few notable improvements.

Honda is making blind spot monitoring and cross traffic monitoring technology available in the low-cost model. The car will also come in a new paint color - Radiant Red Metallic.

It retains its size, fitting between the Civic and Accord in the Honda lineup, with a focus on budget-friendly fuel efficiency rather than creature comforts and family friendliness.

2021 Honda Insight Honda has added the Insight's Radiant Red Metallic job to the options list for the new model year. Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

The Insight continues to have best-in-class passenger space and a high fuel economy rating.

All models come standard with LED headlights, push-button start, and the Honda Sensing suite of safety and driver assistance technology.

The mid-grade Insight EX comes standard with an 8-inch infotainment touch screen, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. The top-tier model gains leather seating surfaces, an 8-way power driver's seat, Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System, dual-zone automatic climate control, and more.

Honda has priced the 2021 Insight starting at $22,930 for the base LX model. The Insight EX starts at $24,810 while the Insight Touring is priced at $28,840. All models carry a $955 destination and handling charge.

The Honda CR-V Hybrid is a competitively priced new entry into the market.

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc.

Honda has brought a new hybrid version of its CR-V to market this year, the 2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid. Aimed to squarely take on the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, the model has a competitive starting price of $27,750.

There are four grades of the 2020 CR-V Hybrid. All trim levels carry a $1,120 destination fee. Here's how they break down by trim level.


2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid LX

2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc.

Honda has given this base model a price tag of $27,750.

It comes standard with the 2.0-liter four-cylinder hybrid powertrain with dual-motor functionality and all-wheel drive. The CR-V Hybrid has Sport, Econ, and EV drive modes. It also comes standard with an electric parking brake. This is the same for all trim levels.

Buyers get automatic LED high and low beam headlights, keyless entry and push-button start, body-color door handles, remote start black exterior mirrors, and 17-inch alloy wheels.

The cabin features a USB port, single-automatic climate control, 5-inch infotainment touch screen, and a four-speaker audio system.

The automaker has make its Honda Sensing suite of safety and driver assistance technologies standard on the CR-V Hybrid, as well as a multi-angle rearview camera with guidelines.

2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid EX

2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc.

The second-tier CR-V Hybrid EX has a starting MSRP of $30,260 and comes with a number of desirable bells and whistles not found on the base LX grade.

In addition to the equipment on the CR-V Hybrid LX, it gets LED fog lights and heated body-colored side mirrors with integrated turn signals. Replacing the 17-inch wheels are 18-inch alloys.

Instead of just one USB port, this model adds two rear USB ports. It also gets dual-zone automatic climate control, a one-touch moonroof, 7-inch infotainment touch screen, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. The driver's seat gets two-position seat memory.

The model adds blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert and the rearview camera has dynamic guide lines that move when the steering wheel moves.

2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid EX-L

2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc.

Honda adds creature comfort and convenience features to the CR-V Hybrid EX-L including a heated steering wheel, ambient lighting, leather seats, power tailgate, a four-way adjustable passenger seat, four additional rear speakers, automatic dimming rearview mirror, leather-wrapped steering wheel, leather-wrapped shifter, and the HomeLink. HomeLink allows users to transfer the capabilities of their garage door opener to the car so they don't have to have the opener on display in the vehicle for use.

The CR-V Hybrid EX-L starts at $32,750.

2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid Touring

2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc.

The CR-V Hybrid Touring is Honda's top-level offering and it starts at $35,950.

In addition to all the features listed for the EX-L model, Honda has given the Touring grade wireless charging, navigation, roof rails, rain-sensing wipers, a hands-free tailgate, and an additional speaker.

The SUV sees the 18-inch wheels of the EX-L replaced with 19-inchers in this model.