New 2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid crossover debuts with more efficient powertrain for popular utility

One of the most popular crossovers now has one of the most efficient powertrain options.

Honda announced Wednesday its 2020 CR-V compact crossover would offer a hybrid powertrain and all-wheel drive, making it the first hybrid crossover offered by the automaker in the U.S. and the first all-wheel-drive hybrid from Honda. The 2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid will join the Insight hybrid compact sedan and Accord Hybrid mid-size sedan sometime early next year and a refreshed 2020 Honda CR-V would go on sale this fall. Honda didn’t say how much the CR-V Hybrid would cost.  

Honda added that it would soon add hybrid powertrains to all of its “core models” and light trucks in the U.S., which could include the Passport and Pilot SUVs.  

With the CR-V Hybrid, Honda has a competitor for other hybrid crossovers such as the 2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid and 2020 Ford Escape Hybrid. Until this year, Nissan offered a hybrid-powered Rogue and GM offered an efficiency-focused turbodiesel for the Chevrolet Equinox/GMC Terrain.

Honda didn’t offer many details about the hybrid CR-V but said it would use a two-motor hybrid system paired to a 2.0-liter inline-4, same as in the current Accord. Honda said the combined power output would be 212 horsepower in the CR-V hybrid.

Honda’s two-motor hybrid system mostly uses electric motors to supply power to the wheels and doesn’t use a conventional automatic transmission, with the gas engine driving a motor-generator to supply energy to the hybrid batteries. During hard acceleration or in some circumstances, the gas engine can clutch in and help drive the wheels, although propulsion is primarily handled by the electric motors. In the Accord sedan, the two-motor system is EPA-rated up to 48 mpg combined. The 1.5-liter inline-4 in the Insight sedan is rated at 52 mpg combined. Honda didn’t say what the CR-V might be rated when it goes on sale next year, but said it plans to improve by 50 percent on the CR-V’s city rating of 28 mpg, which would put the CR-V Hybrid’s city rating close to 40 mpg.

The 2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid in AWD gets 40 mpg combined. 

For the 2020 non-hybrid CR-V, Honda said it would offer its 1.5-liter turbo-4 on all trims, including the base version, which replaces a naturally aspirated 2.4-liter inline-4 from outgoing versions. The 1.5-liter turbo-4 makes 190 hp and was EPA-rated in the low-30s combined last year, which was already near the top among compact crossovers for efficiency. It will be offered in front- and all-wheel drive. 

In addition to restyled front and rear bumpers for the new crossover, the 2020 Honda CR-V will get a new center console with more storage space and hybrid models will get a redesigned pushbutton shifter in addition to hybrid-specific badges inside and out. A 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility is available in most models, though not standard everywhere.

All CR-Vs will come standard with Honda’s suite of active safety features and driver-assist features in 2020, dubbed HondaSensing, that includes automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, active lane control, and lane-departure warnings. Blind-spot monitors and automatic high beams will be spend-up safety options.

Other options will include power-adjustable front seats, rear USB ports, a digital instrument cluster, remote start, and heated front seats.

Honda didn’t say how much the CR-V would cost when it goes on sale later this year, although it’s likely to cost more than 2019 versions, which started at $25,545.