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 However, the car's standard shifter has been replaced by the button shifter traditionally found in Acura vehicles and the Honda Odyssey.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

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

The BMW 5 Series Sedan delivers more of the expected.

Photo courtesy of BMW

While you ate dinner last night. BMW pulled the curtain back on the seventh generation 5 Series Sedan. The model will come in seven variants when it arrives on dealer lots later this year.

The 2021 BMW 5 Series lineup includes the 530i, 530i xDrive, 530e, 530e xDrive, 540i, 540i xDrive, and M550i xDrive. MSRP pricing for the models is $54,200 for the 530i Sedan, $56,500 for the 530i xDrive Sedan, $57,200 for the 530e Sedan, $59,500 for the 530e xDrive Sedan, $59,450 for the 540i Sedan, $61,750 for the 540i xDrive Sedan and $76,800 for the M550i xDrive Sedan.

The car's front end is noticeably bolder and more streamlined..Photo courtesy of BMW

Here's what you get for your money.

Exterior

As revealed in an earlier teaser image, the 5 Series comes with a redesigned kidney grille up front. It's not the oversized version as seen on the i4 Concept earlier this year. Though not wholly different than the sixth-generation 5 Series, the trained eye will notice that the grille reaches further down into the bumper cover and its slats are more pronounced.

The grille features standard adaptive, slim profile LED headlights on either side with L-shaped daytime running light elements on the side that do dual duty as turn signals.

The car's exterior and interior dimensions are mostly unchanged for the 2021 model year. However, it 5 Series Sedan is 1.2 inches longer, which gives it a more sweeping profile.

At the rear standard dual trapezoidal tailpipe finishers are integrated into the lower bumper and L-shaped taillights feature black edging and three-dimensional lenses.

At the rear, there is a fresh LED lighting design.Photo courtesy of BMW

Buyers opting for the M Sport Package get redesigned front and rear bumpers, larger front air intakes with mesh inserts and a re-sculptured rear diffuser panel to alter the appearance of their model.

The M550i xDrive Sedan features a new aerodynamic kit from the M Sport Package and adds a rear trunk lid spoiler for enhanced functionality and appearance. Its mirror caps are finished in Cerium Grey. The exhaust finishers are black chrome while window surrounds are in high-gloss black.

Paint job options include: Alpine White (standard), Jet Black (standard, not available on M550i xDrive), Carbon Black Metallic, Black Sapphire Metallic, Glacier Silver Metallic (not available on M550i xDrive), Dark Graphite Metallic, Mineral White Metallic, Phytonic Blue Metallic (new for 2021 5 Series), Bluestone Metallic, Bernina Grey Amber Effect (new color), Individual Tanzanite II Blue Metallic (M550i xDrive only), and Individual Aventurin Red Metallic (M550i xDrive only).

Powertrain

The 2021 BMW 530e and 530e xDrive Sedans are powered by a 181-horsepower twin-turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine that is matched with a 107-horsepower electric drive unit. When drivers utilize the Driving Control switch and set the transmission to Sport mode, a new XtraBoost feature delivers an additional 40 horsepower for up to 10 seconds when the throttle is fully depressed. The combined power and torque of the new 530e and 530e xDrive Sedans is 288 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque, an increase of 40 horsepower over previous 530e models.

The car's grille now extends deeper into the bumper.Photo courtesy of BMW

The car can operate in electric-only mode at speeds up to 19 mph. It can get from zero to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds and has a top speed of 130 mph on all-season tires (performance tires take that number to 143 mph).

The 2021 BMW 530i and 530i xDrive Sedans are powered by a twin-turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 248 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. This engine moves the car to 60 mph from a standstill in 5.9 seconds. Its top speed is also 130 mph on all-season tires (155 mph when equipped with performance tires).

The BMW 540i and 540i xDrive Sedans are powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine that delivers 335 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque. It moves the sedans from zero to 60 in 4.9 seconds (4.6 sec. for 540i xDrive) and has a top speed of 130 mph when equipped with all-season tires (155 mph when riding on on performance tires).

The most powerful engine in the 5 Series lineup is the twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 that sits under the bonnet of the M550i xDrive Sedan. It produces 523 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque. The car moves to 60 mph off the line in 3.6 seconds. It too has a top speed of 130 mph when wearing all-season tires (155 when equipped with performance tires).

The car has been elongated for a sleeker body design.Photo courtesy of BMW

All engines are paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission, which has improved efficiency for the 2021 model year.

Drivetrain

The 5 Series Sedan is built on a rear-wheel drive platform. Models with an "xDrive" in their name feature all-wheel drive. Those without are rear-wheel drive.

All-wheel drive includes an electronically controlled multi-plate clutch in the transfer case that works inn conjunction with the dynamic stability control system to adjust power to the transmission to respond to irregular driving conditions and keep the car on the right path. When all-wheel drive is not warranted due to driving conditions, the system operates in a traditional rear-wheel drive mode, allowing for more fuel efficiency.

The weight of the system has been reduced, allowing the car to be more agile.

The M550i xDrive Sedan' come equipped with a standard rear M Sport differential. This system can portion torque in varying degrees to each wheel, depending on what the wheel's needs are.

WIth its model variety, the 5 Series remains a formidable choice.Photo courtesy of BMW

Ride and handling

The 2021 BMW 5 Series Sedans has a standard double-wishbone front and five-link rear suspension. BMW offers the M Sport Suspension, which is available as part of the M Sport Package, and includes specially tuned spring and shock settings plus a 10 mm (0.4 inch) drop in ride height.

The Dynamic Handling Package, optional on the 540i and 540i xDrive Sedans features electronically controlled shocks which use continuously adjustable valves to adjust the damping force at each wheel individually.

M550i xDrive models have the Adaptive M Suspension, which is specially tuned to provide greater poise and agility when pushing the car to its limits. Buyers can opt for the Adaptive M Suspension professional which adds Active Roll Stabilization and Integral Active Steering to the car.

Buyers can add M Sport Brakes with red calipers and M logos to any new 5 Series model. M Sport Brakes with Blue Calipers with M logos are available as an optional on all 5 Series models and are standard on M550i xDrive Sedan.

The front of the model features L-shaped daytime running lights.Photo courtesy of BMW

The four- and six-cylinder 5 Series Sedans come equipped with standard 18-inch alloy wheels with 245/45R18 all-season run-flat tires. Buyers can upgrade to 19-inch alloy wheels with 245/40R19 all-season run-flat tires, 19-inch alloy wheels with 245/40R19 front/275/35R19 rear performance run-flat tires, and 20-inch alloy wheels with 245/35R20 front/275/30R20 rear performance run-flat tires.

The M550i xDrive Sedan is equipped with standard 19-inch alloy wheels with a choice of either 245/40R19 front/275/35R19 rear performance runflat or all-season run-flat tires. Twenty-inch alloy wheels with either 245/35R20 front/275/30R20 rear performance run-flat or Michelin Pilot Super Sport non-run-flat tires are available.

Interior

The high-tech interior of the 2021 5 Series Sedan features a 12.3-inch digital instrument display in front of the driver and a 12.3-inch infotainment touch screen. Center console buttons are none finished in black.

Navigation, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto come standard. Other standard features include: a sport leather steering wheel, keyless entry, universal garage door opener, rearview camera, moonroof, auto-dimming rearview mirror, ambient interior lighting, automatic climate control, park distance control, automatic high beams, satellite radio with a complementary one-year subscription, and a Wi-Fi hot spot with a three-month/3GB trial period.

2021 BMW 5 Series interior features

Photo courtesy of BMW


BMW has upgraded its navigation with a digital cloud-based feature called BMW Maps. The company promotes it as having, "faster route calculations and dynamic recalculation based on precise real-time traffic data. The route is worked out using an anticipatory approach, meaning upcoming traffic along the entire route is factored into the calculation of the expected arrival time. Complete traffic data is now available for more minor roads, too." Users can also see reviews, opening times, and photos of points of interest, their destination, and stops along the way.

Four- and six-cylinder models are finished in Perforated SensaTec upholstery with contrast stitching in Canberra Beige, Cognac or black. M550i xDrive models get standard Dakota leather in Ivory White, Cognac or Black. Nappa leather in Ivory White, Mocha or black is available on all models. The dashboard on the four- and six-cylinder 5 Series can be ordered in an optional Black SensaTec with brown stitching, which is standard on the M550i xDrive.

An Anthracite Headliner is standard on all models with an Anthracite Alcantara Headliner available as an option on the M550i xDrive Sedan.

All models feature standard power front sport seats (M Multi-contour seats on M550i xDrive) with lumbar support and a 40/20/40 split-folding rear seat.

Safety Technology

All 2021 BMW 5 Series Sedans come equipped with standard safety driver assist technology including lane departure warning with assist, frontal collision warning with pedestrian detection and brake assist, blind spot detection, rear cross traffic alert, rear collision preparation, automatic high beams, and speed limit information.

The available Driving Assistance Plus Package adds adaptive cruise control with stop and go, a Level 2 autonomous traffic jam assist function, lane keeping assist with side collision avoidance, Evasion Aid, front cross traffic alert, and Emergency Stop Assistant (can help guide your BMW to the shoulder and bring it to a halt in a medical emergency situation).

The car's navigation system features 3D visualizations of the surrounding area including the objects detected in the path of the vehicle including cars, trucks, and motorcycles. These are shown on the center section of the instrument display. Vehicles within a critical distance are highlighted while graphics showing navigation functions are displayed in tandem. Navigation instructions can also be shown above the 3D view.

The available Parking Assistance Package gives panoramic and 3D surround camera views to assist with parking. According to BMW, here's how it works:

"The system helps identify suitable parallel and perpendicular parking spots and can guide your 5 Series into and out of your selected spot. The included Back-Up Assistant records the last 50 yards driven at speeds below 20 mph and can automatically reverse your 5 Series along the exact path take to help navigate narrow or winding driveways for example. The Remote 3D View function gives drivers the ability to call up a three-dimensional live image of their parked vehicle and its immediate vicinity on their smartphone. The Drive Recorder, a new feature to the BMW 5 Series, uses the cameras of the various driver assistance systems to record video footage from different points around the vehicle, before storing the recordings so they can be either watched later on the Control Display when the car is stationary or exported via the USB port."

The car also includes voice assistant technology, which reacts to "Hey BMW."

The 2021 BMW 5 Series Sedan goes on sale later this year.

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Kia has given the Rio a solid mid-cycle refresh.

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

The Rio is the smallest car in Kia's lineup, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't pack a heck of a punch. The refreshed version of the fourth-generation Rio broke cover today delivering a host of upgrades.

The new model retains Kia's signature tiger nose grille but updates it to fall into like with the new K5 and Cadenza sedans, among others. It pairs with a wider front bumper and new fog lamp housing. Full LED headlamps are standard. Kia has added Perennial Grey and Sporty Blue paint jobs to the roster as well as new 16-inch alloy wheels.

The car is now available with a Perennial Grey paint job.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Under the hood is a new turbocharged 1.0-liter mild-hybrid engine, replacing the current 1.0-liter powers-ant. It features the same 48-volt lithium-ion battery technology that is present in many mild-hybrid vehicles from the Ram 1500 to the 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class. The new engine produces 100 or 120 horsepower, depending on the buyer's choice, the same as the outgoing power plant.

European versions of the car will be available with additional engine options.

The car comes standard with Kia's new clutch-by-wire manual transmission. It works with other car systems to activate Kia's auto start-stop technology while maintaining traditional gearbox characteristics. The engine is automatically switched off when the brake and clutch pedals are simultaneously pressed as the car comes to a stop. When the pedals are released, the engine is turned back on.

Kia has equipped the Rio with a Drive Mode Select system, giving drivers the choice of Eco, Sport, and Normal drive modes.

At the front, the car has design cues in line with the new Cadenza and K5.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

The new Rio is available with an 8.0-inch infotainment touch screen. It has Display Audio or navigation, depending on vehicle specification. The list of standard features includes Bluetooth while wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are available when buyers opt for a model with the larger screen.

Buyers can also get "Phase II" of the UVO Connect telematics system, which includes live traffic information, weather forecasts, points of interest, fuel prices, and details of potential on- and off-street parking – including price, location and availability. It also features online voice recognition, supported by server technologies, which lets users give voice commands, hands-free, to search for nearby points of interest, addresses, weather updates, or send text messages.

The UVO App is compatible with Android and Apple smartphones, and allows owners to activate a range of functions and features remotely. Depending on country, users can remotely send route directions to their car before a journey, check the location of their vehicle, and access vehicle reports and diagnostic notifications.

More details about the system will be released closer to the car's on-sale date.

In front of the driver is a 4.2-inch digital display.

2021 Kia Rio The driver information screen displays information at a higher resolution than in the past.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Owners can choose from a number of interior customizations whose availability depends on the market. The color options add colored seat bolsters, dashboard, and door arm rests, as well as contrast stitching. GT-Line models are offered with a black single-tone interior with white contrast piping and stitching on the seats, and a faux carbon fiber dashboard.

Standard and GT Line Rio models are now equipped with driver and optional front passenger seat height adjustability.

The Rio is also available with a long list of safety and driver assistance features including forward collision avoidance assist with pedestrian, vehicle, and cyclist detection, intelligent speed limit warning, smart cruise control, rear cross traffic assist, rear occupant alert, lane departure alert, and lane following assist.

2021 Kia Rio New color options add contrast stitching to the Rio's seats.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Pricing and an on-sale date will be announced later this year.

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