Skip to main content

2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid Sport Touring - Sublime and Satisfying

We test the new 2023 Honda CR-V’s top trim and find ourselves amazed by the new industry leader.

The all-new 2023 Honda CR-V is a remarkable five-passenger crossover SUV. Let’s be very careful not to use the word “compact” with reference to this vehicle any longer. With 109 cubic feet of passenger volume and more than twice the cargo capacity of a large sedan, nothing about the CR-V is small anymore.

2023 Honda CR-V Sport touring image courtesy of Honda

We’ll run down what makes the new CR-V special as best we can, but the new CR-V Hybrid Sport Touring is greater than the sum of its many good parts. Honda has a vehicle here that works. It’s jelled. It’s a whole. We’re out of ways to tell you that the vehicle is one that you feel very satisfied with when using it. Sublime can be defined as “transcendent excellence,” so that’s how we titled this review.

2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid Sport Touring - What Is It?
The new CR-V s a roomy five-passenger crossover SUV intended primarily for on-pavement driving. It has ample passenger space in all five seating positions and a very large and easy-to-use cargo compartment. Hybrid means it has the newly-updated fuel-sipping and torquey powertrain - with no CVT - and it comes standard with AWD and a lot of great luxury features.

2023 Honda CR-V Sport touring image courtesy of Honda2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid Sport Touring - What Powers It?
The new 2023 CR-V Hybrid uses a dual-motor system to provide power along with a 2.0-liter gas engine. You don’t plug it in. Honda does not offer a CR-V with a plug yet. Power is decent, and the most in the CR-V family, but the torque is delicious. 247 lb-ft and it feels like it is always available.

The CR-V Hybrid is most often powered by its electric motors. The gas engine serves these motors by providing electricity. Electricity is also gained when braking. Under certain circumstances, the gas engine can also directly power the front wheels. Here is how Honda describes those scenarios. “...high-efficiency Atkinson-cycle i-VTEC gasoline engine provides propulsion via a high capacity lock-up clutch. In this parallel hybrid mode, motive power is sent directly from the engine to the drive wheels. This allows the hybrid system to use both the gasoline engine and if needed, the electric propulsion motor to provide power to the wheels.”

During normal operation, the CR-V Hybrid feels just like an EV to this EV tester. It also sounds a lot like one. Unless you decide to push the CR-V around for some odd reason, it is almost always silent. Drive with the windows down, and you don't hear an engine. Instead, you hear the federally-mandated “singing of angels” EV safety sound. Believe us when we tell you, you won't miss the annoying engine sound.

The powertrain of this hybrid would easily be our choice over the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, which is a lot more noisy in operation.

2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid Sport Touring - Best New Feature For 2023 - Hill Descent Control
We noticed that Honda's new CR-V has hill descent control added to this new generation. This is a system that helps you travel down slippery slopes (like iced-over driveways) more safely. We have used it many times on many different models, and it works great. We can't wait to see it on Honda's Ridgeline and Passport!

2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid Sport Touring - How Does It Drive?
Our single favorite thing about the new CR-V Hybrid was its satisfying driving experience. When you use the CR-V as a mature adult driver, it is so satisfying it is hard to explain. First, it is very quiet. Maybe the quietest Honda we have ever driven. It is also smooth as silk. The engine is perfect for its mission. The throttle feels spot-on, the torque is simply ideal. You don’t need to push the engine to make the CR-V Hybrid Sport Touring go quickly about its business. The electric motors propel you just as in a battery-electric vehicle.

Steering is good. A little on the boosted side, but we like that. Brake feel is perfectly dialed in. You never feel any regenerative oddness. Best of all, over normally broken pavement, the CR-V never makes any fuss. Ride comfort is very good. Hit a huge bump and things feel solid.

2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid Sport Touring - Is It Really Sporty?
There are multiple drive modes one can opt for. Snow looks very promising. It being spring, we didn’t get a chance to see how it helped in the white stuff. We tried out Sport, but could not really justify using it. The CR-V is already giving you the perfect balance of power and torque in all situations. It’s a direct-drive EV with a gas engine providing power. How does tapping Sport alter its personality for the better. It can’t change the RPMs of anything.

Where is a person going to be sporty in a CR-V? In the pickup line at school? On suburban roads to the town center? While sitting at a traffic light next to a 650 hp German sporting SUV costing four times that of a Honda and not arriving at its destination any sooner? It’s getting harder and harder to understand why “Sport” needs to be part of the discussion with great daily drivers and utility vehicles. This is not a knock at Honda, so much as us being tired of the name Sport being tacked onto every type of vehicle under the sun.

So is the CR-V sporty? Well, are any of the SUVs its size and price really sporty? However you answer is as good an opinion as ours. It’s not a Mazda CX-30 Turbo kind of a crossover. And that’s fine by us.

2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid Sport Touring - Interior and Included and Missing Features
The 2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid Sport is so well-equipped it is darn near a luxury vehicle. We love Honda’s new interior design, now found on all of its recently-updated models such as the Civic, Accord, and Pilot. The materials are upscale, and the design is modern and uncluttered.

Perhaps our most pleasant surprise was a heated steering wheel. We were also very happy to see wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. A perfect combination of physical buttons for volume and HVAC functions, paired with voice and the touch screen for other items, made us think the new CR-V’s infotainment system is perfect. Please never change a thing! A+ would not be an exaggeration.

The power and heated front seats were super comfy. One seems to sink back into them, yet they are not soft in a negative way. Hard to describe. Give them a minute on your test drive, and we are sure you will be won over.

The rear seat area is huge. Legroom with the front seats back is still plentiful, the width is acceptable for three across, and the headroom is spacious. During a rainy afternoon, I sat in the back and ate lunch while I waited for a child to finish an activity. I didn't even bother to move the front seats up. The rear seats are much roomier than most crossovers in this class.

Missing was a spare tire. Half the usual spare tire space was replaced by part of the vehicle battery. The non-hybrid CR-Vs still have a spare, as does this vehicle's arch-rival, the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid. The only other things we would want on any luxury vehicle would be ventilated seats and a resistive element windshield de-icer system.

2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid Sport Touring - Energy Cost
The Hybrid trims of the CR-V have an approximately 25-30% lower energy cost than the turbocharged/CVT-equipped versions. Having driven the Hybrid, we can’t imagine going back to a normal gasser. Honda recommends but does not mandate 91-octane fuel. Using today’s average fuel costs in America, the CR-V will cost owners about $1,500 in gas. Where I live, the CR-V Hybrid would cost less in energy than a fully-electric vehicle would (Metro Boston with no available off-peak charging offered and an electricity cost of about $0.30 per kWh). I know because I do the math every time I test an EV. 30 MPG is the break-even point for energy costs.

The CR-V Hybrid earns a respectable 37 MPG Combined rating from the EPA. We saw exactly that over 100 miles of suburban and highway driving. Like nearly every hybrid we test, the EPA’s estimation is spot on.

2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid Sport Touring - How Much Does It Cost?
The vehicle we tested cost $39,845, including the Honda destination and handling charge, but not including dealer add-ons, dealer doc fees, or dealer markups. With inflation at about 8 or 9% annually, this is equivalent to a $35K vehicle just a year or two ago. Or equivalent to a vehicle priced just over $30K a few years back. Seems like a great deal to us if you can actually drive one off the lot for $40K. Honda says that the base CR-V now starts at just under $30K.

2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid Sport Touring - Conclusion
Honda’s reputation for quality and reliability, coupled with two years of included maintenance, mean that the value proposition is also very strong with this new CR-V. If on-road use is your intention and you are looking for a vehicle that can cost less than a fully-electric vehicle to power, the CR-V Hybrid is a slam dunk. It is extremely satisfying to use as intended and a pleasure to be behind the wheel of. Its generous cargo space and passenger compartment make it an easy pick in its segment. The 2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid Sport Touring is one spare tire short of perfection.

John Goreham is an experienced New England Motor Press Association member and expert vehicle tester. John completed an engineering program with a focus on electric vehicles, followed by two decades of work in high-tech, biopharma, and the automotive supply chain before becoming a news contributor. In addition to his ten years of work at Torque News, John has published thousands of articles and reviews at American news outlets. He is known for offering unfiltered opinions on vehicle topics. You can follow John on Twitter, and TikTok @ToknCars, and view his credentials at Linkedin

2023 Honda CR-V Sport touring images courtesy of Honda, except for the image of the young lady sitting in the second-row seating area, which was taken by the author.


david (not verified)    May 9, 2023 - 4:18PM

hello, thanks. this was lame.
one the one hand, EPA ratings are for 91 octane.
on the other hand, 91 octane costs a lot more that 87 octane.
so what is the point of buying that hybrid???
again, super lame analysis and conclusion