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Honda CR-V Hybrid (2020 - 2023)

The independent definitive Honda CR-V Hybrid (2020-2023) video review
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    CR-V WITH EXTRA SPARK (some text hidden) SECTIONED_new_hondacr-vhybrid_2022

    By Jonathan Crouch

    Introductionword count: 94

    In a sign of the times, by 2020 the Honda CR-V could only be ordered with a self charging hybrid engine. That change of focus was announced for the 2021 model year, along with a light update inside and out for this fifth generation model. Otherwise though, the essential character of this 'RW1'-series design didn't change. Nor did its primary rival, the Toyota RAV4. The CR-V though, still has a very individual appeal in this MK5 Hybrid form. And Honda hopes that as a result, you'll find this a hard car not to like.

    Modelsword count: 9

    5-door SUV [(2.0 Hybrid petrol) S, SE, SR, EX]

    Historyword count: 438

    Honda's CR-V has long been one of the world's strongest selling SUVs. Sometimes, in a market full of more extrovert rivals, we've wondered why. After all, this has never really been a contender that's jumped out at you from the spec sheet. No. You have to drive it. Use it. Fill it with family. Many of those experienced in doing just that probably won't even look at the alternatives before replacing their second, third or fourth generation CR-Vs with this MK5 model. A car that was improved quite a lot after it first arrived in our market in 2018. The biggest change came for the 2021 model year, when a light update inside and out for this 'RW1'-series design was accompanied by a move to focus the entire line-up on Honda's full-Hybrid self charging powerplant. Creating the car we're going to look at here. Like its predecessors, this crossover, according to its maker, offers a depth of engineering that many other rivals from this period just don't have. It always has, ever since the original version of this 'Compact Recreational Vehicle' pretty much invented its segment back in 1995, with subsequent models in 2002, 2007 and 2012 being pushed ever-more up-market. This MK5 CR-V took a bit of time to get to British shores, the car launched in the US as far back in 2016. It took two further years before we saw it here, a delay perhaps related to the fact that versions of this 'RW1' design for our market are assembled in Japan, rather than being screwed together in Honda's UK Swindon factory like their predecessors. Still, by and large, the wait for this fifth generation CR-V was worthwhile. Honda had thought long and hard about the kind of crossover this MK5 model CR-V should be and as a result, some pretty fundamental decisions were taken in creating it. A seven-seat cabin layout option was introduced; so was a new 1.5-litre VTEC petrol unit. Most significant of all was the introduction of the electrified 2.0-litre self-charging petrol engine that would start the brand's across-the-board switch to e:HEV full-Hybrid powertrains across its entire model range. For the 2021 CR-V model range, the decision was taken in Japan that the focus would switch entirely to that Hybrid engine, which mean the end not only for the conventional 1.5-litre VTEC petrol powerplant but also for manual gearboxes and third row seating options. That change, along with minor suspension and handling tweaks and a light exterior and interior upgrade, created the car we're going to look at here. It sold until Autumn 2023, when the new sixth generation CR-V arrived.

    What You Getword count: 603

    This, apparently, is 'the world's favourite SUV', so a lot of people are going to have an opinion on how this fifth generation version looks. Most should be satisfied. There's plenty of chrome to please the Transatlantic crowd, while wide arches and large wheels pushed closer to the car's extremities help in delivering the required level of kerbside presence. Overall though, there's nothing too controversial here. Perhaps that's as it should be. This car's visual appeal has always been low key and you sense that's exactly the way loyal customers like it. It's pretty hard to spot the changes made to the 2021 model year version of this fifth generation design because there weren't many. The best bet if you're looking to identify this as a facelifted version of this MK5 model is to look at the Honda badge on the grille, which for this updated model gained a blue ring around the H to designate the switch to a Hybrid-only engine range. When it's time to take a seat behind the wheel, you'll note the way that this car offers its driver's seat at a very convenient hip point as you climb in. And inside? Well what appeared quite contemporary back in 2018 seems a little dated now but there's still plenty to like here. The switch to a single Hybrid engine for the entire line-up meant that the old conventional manual and automatic gear levers vanished: instead, Honda provided a selection of big gearshift buttons - P, R, N and D - which like the old gear stick fall nicely to hand on the jutting-out lower console. The 7-inch Honda CONNECT centre screen feels pretty small by current class standards though and the part-analogue, part digital instrument display isn't particularly cutting-edge either, though it does impart quite a lot of information, once you get used to accessing it all. As usual with a Honda, the cabin ergonomics are brilliant - everything's just where you want it - and there's lots of storage space too, principally a huge box between the seats which is big enough to swallow, say, a lap top or a handbag. Families will really like the way that the overhead sunglasses compartment incorporates a convex rear child view mirror so that you can keep an eye on what the kids are getting up to at the back. Little touches like that might really sell you this car. And the back seat? Well this fifth generation model took quite a big step forward from its pre-2018-era predecessor with regards to rear seat space, thanks to a useful 40mm increase in wheelbase length. The wide-opening rear doors make it easy for parents to reach inside and strap up child seats too. Once seated, you'll find that it really is very spacious in the back by class standards. If you're struggling to justify the premium required for a CR-V over what you'd pay for a slightly cheaper SUV that's Qashqai or Ateca-sized, here's where you'll do it. Instead of the relatively cramped conditions offered by models like that, there's room to stretch out a bit, courtesy of a 50mm increase in legroom created by that wheelbase length increase, aided further by slim seat backs and the way you can easily slide your shoes under the chair in front. And the cargo area? Once everything's opened up, you'll find 497-litre of capacity on offer. Once you've flattened everything, a 1,694-litre space is freed up if you load to the ceiling, 62-litres less than the old conventionally-engined version of this model but about the same as you'd get from a competing Toyota RAV4.

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    Category: Hybrid, Plug-in, Electric & Hydrogen

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