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 HybridSee 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 HybridThe 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 However, the car's standard shifter has been replaced by the button shifter traditionally found in Acura vehicles and the Honda Odyssey.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 HybridThe 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 HybridHonda'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 HybridThe 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.

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Honda is nearing the unveiling of its first electric vehicle, the Prologue, and today the automaker gave us our first glimps of the new vehicle. It's just a sketch, but Honda did share some production details and information on its product roadmap.

Honda DealerHonda plans to sell half a million EVs by the end of the decade. Honda

Honda says the Prologue will be an adventure-ready SUV "capable of satisfying everyday driving and weekend getaways with a strong hint of the well-received Honda e in the front fascia." The SUV was developed in Honda's Design Studio in Los Angeles, and was designed with an eye on Honda's global EV models. Honda said it focused on aerodynamics and fine-tuning the body to reducelines and improve range.

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The Odyssey Sport slots into the Honda catalog between the EX-L and Touring trims. It comes with gloss-black exterior trim and black 19-inch wheels outside, and black leather with red stitching inside. The cabin comes with red accent lighting on the dash and in the footwells, and the roof pillars and headliner are both black. Under the hood, the Odyssey Sport gets the same 3.5-liter V6 from years past. It makes 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque, and comes paired with a ten=speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive.

2023 Honda Odyssey SportThe Sport comes with dark exterior trim and unique leather upholstery with red stitching inside. Honda

All Odyssey models come with Honda Sensing safety equipment, which includes adaptive cruise control and pedestrian detection. The 2023 van hasn't been crash-tested yet, but the 2022 model earned a Top Safety Pick + award, so it's likely the new model will be rated similarly.

Honda Service Pass is a new program for 2023+ Honda vehicles. It covers routine scheduled maintenance for up to two years or 24,000 miles, whichever comes first. Under the program, buyers get free oil changes, tire rotations, and multi-point inspections.

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