Honda’s first electrified crossover for Europe

Honda’s first electrified crossover for the European market is the new CR-V hybrid which it introduced at the 2018 Paris motor show. It is the second powertrain option that Honda offers on the Old Continent, after the 1.5-liter turbo shown at the Geneva motor show, and it promises decent performance with excellent economy thanks to its combination of a 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle engine and two electric motors - it also does away with a conventional gearbox.

Instead, it uses a single fixed-gear ratio that sounds quite similar to what the Koenigsegg Regera uses, albeit in a less fancy package - one gear and plenty of electric boost at lower speeds before the engine starts to pick up. Honda offers the CR-V hybrid in both front- and all-wheel drive configurations with the latter only incurring a minimal fuel efficiency penalty.

The North American version of the vehicle will be nearly identical in terms of specs and look to the one revealed in Paris.


2019 Honda CR-V Hybrid
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On the outside, the CR-V hybrid is pretty much identical to any other CR-V variant - that means it gets chunky modern small SUV looks, but it looks toned down and restrained compared to some rival models - its biggest rival is the Toyota RAV4 hybrid, and that model looks edgier and more modern, and alongside it the CR-V looks a bit dated.

But it’s not a bad look by any means and Honda has worked to keep it looking like a CR-V - it will be instantly recognizable to owners of older models bearing the nameplate.

The boldest thing about its design are the huge rear light clusters which not only extend up the C-pillar but also towards the rear part of the side glass and onto the rear hatch as well.

The hybrid doesn’t get any differentiating features over other models in the range, apart from hybrid badges on the front, sides, and rear of the vehicle. All-wheel drive versions also get an AWD badge on the back.

Honda says it tested the CR-V in the wind tunnel and the model even has an active shutter grille system.


2019 Honda CR-V Hybrid
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Honda has kept interior changes minimal for the CR-V hybrid and, aside from the different dials and EV mode button on the center console, below the infotainment screen and climate controls, there are no distinguishing features.

Plenty of bits are shared with the latest Civic, namely the steering wheel, infotainment screen, as well as most of its buttons and gear shifter.

The cabin itself is quite spacious and feels airy, and there’s ample room in all directions for passengers sitting in the front or the rear.

The manufacturer has tried to lift the cabin ambiance slightly with the addition of wood trim on the doors and dashboard, and overall it does feel slightly more upmarket than the Civic. Just like the non-hybrid CR-V, it offers seating for up to seven passengers, although the third row might feel cramped, begging for more knee room; headroom all throughout the cabin is excellent, though.

Honda says that while the two- and three-row CR-V uses the exact same body and wheelbase, seven-seaters have a flattened fuel tank which improves interior space, as well as springs inside the rear seats for added comfort.


2019 Honda CR-V Hybrid
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The Honda CR-V hybrid combines a 2.0-liter, Atkinson-cycle, naturally-aspirated, four-cylinder engine with two electric motors for a combined power output of 181 horsepower and 232 pound-feet of torque (315 Nm). Three driving modes are available: Engine Drive, Hybrid Drive, and EV Drive.

Both front- and all-wheel-drive versions are offered, and opting for the latter only marginally affects fuel efficiency which drops from 44.4 mpg (5.3 l/100km) combined to 42.8 mpg (5.5 l/100km).

Smoothness is another strong point of the CR-V hybrid which Honda promises will seamlessly shift between fully electric driving and gasoline-aided driving all on its own - the model is said to have no driveline shunt either.

Honda has significantly increased body rigidity over the previous CR-V while also lowering the center of gravity - this is said to provide “sporty and stable driving” which is further enhanced by the quick, variable gear ratio electric power steering.

Even engine note was deemed important for this model, which is why it has been specifically engineered to be pleasant on all the different powertrain options.


2019 Honda CR-V Hybrid
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Pricing for the CR-V hybrid has not been announced, but other engine variants are already available starting from $24,250, although in the States if you want the new 1.5-liter turbocharged engine, you’re going to have to step up to EX grade and its $27,050 starting price.


Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

2019 Toyota RAV4 Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Toyota has reinvented its RAV4 for the current generation, bestowing its excellent selling small SUV with daring styling and a more sporty, youthful attitude. And this extends to the new hybrid model too, which looks just as sharp as any other version of the model - the RAV4 hybrid is definitely the CR-V hybrid’s toughest competitor.

The hybrid RAV4 has a 2.5-liter four-pot which is aided by electricity to make 218 horsepower - plenty of power to give a vehicle its size lively performance.

And we’re assured it’s not just designed to look like it drives well since great effort has been put into perfecting its ride and handling. Its center of gravity is lower, it has smaller overhangs than before, and its hybrid drivetrain can send up to 80 percent of its power to the rear wheels.

Read our full review on the 2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Nissan Rogue Hybrid

2017 Nissan Rogue Hybrid High Resolution Exterior
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Nissan Rogue Hybrid is down on power compared to the CR-V and RAV4 hybrids, with only 176 horsepower, and it’s really not enough oomph to give it any kind of meaningful acceleration. It also uses a continuously variable transmission which the Honda has ditched and that further dulls the enjoyment that can be derived from driving it.

It does make up points in the ride comfort department, where it actually excels, its interior is very well screwed together, and materials are pretty good too. But its interior design looks a bit dated compared to that of the newer CR-V and RAV4, and the infotainment can be frustrating sometimes too.

Read our full review on the 2017 Nissan Rogue Hybrid

Chevrolet Equinox Diesel

2018 Chevrolet Equinox Turbodiesel – Driven Exterior
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If hybrids aren’t your thing, but you’re still into efficient high riders roughly the same size as a CR-V, then the diesel-powered Chevrolet Equinox could be for you. It runs a 1.6-liter, turbodiesel, four-cylinder which puts out 137 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque, and is paired to a six-speed automatic gearbox. It can achieve as much as 45 mpg on the highway (more than the advertised 38 mpg).

Performance is leisurely given its relatively low power output, but being a diesel its torque helps motivate the vehicle quicker than you might expect - it takes around 10 seconds to go from naught to sixty, which is respectable given its specs. Other plus points are its decent range of standard equipment, good fit and finish quality and the predictable handling.

Read our full driven review on the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox Diesel


2019 Honda CR-V Hybrid
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The Honda CR-V hybrid proposes an interesting technical solution, with its one-geared transmission and extended reliance on electric boost. Its claimed efficiency numbers are great, and the promised improved refinement and premium feel certainly help make a case for it in the segment.

It is going up against the newer and more daring looking Toyota RAV4 hybrid, but the CR-V has plenty going for it to entice buyers in this crowded sector of the market. Back in 2016, it was the best-selling high rider in America, and it still stands a chance to achieve that performance.

Buyers will still appreciate its fairly restrained look, large cargo area, great ride and handling (with what is said to be the sharpest and most direct steering in its class) and high-quality cabin and plenty of safety features. The only area where it really excels is interior space, but it does plenty of other things well enough that many people find it a perfect fit to their lifestyles.

  • Leave it
    • Doesn’t excel at anything in particular

Further reading

2019 Honda CR-V Hybrid
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Read our full review on the 2017 Honda CR-V Hybrid Prototype.

2017 Honda CR-V High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2018 Honda CR-V.

Andrei Nedelea
Andrei Nedelea
About the author

Ahead of the 2018 Mondial Paris Motor Show, Honda has announced the line-up of products that will be exhibited on its show stand. The cars on display will include the all-new CR-V Hybrid, which makes its debut in European production specification, the refreshed and upgraded HR-V SUV, and a specially-commissioned Civic Type R ‘Art Car’.

Honda’s first hybrid SUV in Europe

Ahead of its European show debut, Honda has confirmed official fuel economy and CO2 emissions for the all-new CR-V Hybrid. Under the combined cycle of the revised NEDC test, the front-wheel drive model of the 184 PS (135 kW) petrol-electric SUV has achieved CO2 emissions of 120g/km and official average (combined) fuel economy of 5.3l/100km (53.3mpg). The all-wheel drive CR-V Hybrid variant has CO2 emissions of 126g/km and average (combined) fuel economy of 5.5 l/100km (51.4 mpg).

The CR-V Hybrid is driven by Honda’s unique i-MMD technology, which intelligently and automatically switches between three driving modes – EV Drive, Hybrid Drive and Engine Drive – to optimise both performance and efficiency.

At the Paris Motor Show, the production-specification debut of the CR-V Hybrid will be joined by the petrol models of the car, showcasing a range of variants including the new seven-seater option. The latest evolution of Honda’s popular compact SUV has been developed as the most practical, comfortable and refined CR-V yet.

A more advanced and elegant HR-V

The refreshed and upgraded Honda HR-V will make its European debut in Paris. The 2019 HR-V features include enhanced exterior styling, updates to the interior and the addition of numerous advanced technologies.

A more substantial interpretation of Honda’s ’Solid Wing Face’ graphic leads the changes to the design, comprising a new, high-gloss dark chrome panel above the front grille. Projector headlight lenses and LED daytime running lights are also now standard across the range. From launch, the 2019 HR-V will be offered with a 1.5-litre i-VTEC engine, but the range will be extended in Spring next year by the option of a sportier 1.5-litre VTEC TURBO or a 1.6-litre i-DTEC diesel.

Civic Type R ‘ArtCar Manga’

In the pursuit of a Civic Type R with a truly bespoke appearance, Honda engaged with Japanese design school, Human Academy Europe based in France, to put a challenge to its students. The competition called for designs that visualised a Manga-inspired ‘Art Car’, with the winning submission to be turned into a full-car wrap.

This remarkable one-off commission will be presented at the Paris Motor Show alongside the Sport Plus model of the Civic hatchback.

Honda’s celebration of motorsport

To celebrate Honda’s commitment to motorsport, the Scuderia Toro Rosso STR13 Formula One car will be displayed, equipped with the RA618H power unit.

Located in the new exclusive LIMITED area of the Mondial Paris Motor show, another star of the Honda Motorsport program, the NSX GT3 will be displayed. The GT3 racer will be showcased alongside a 2018 NSX road car. The GT3 race version competes in high-level series on three continents for Honda’s Customer Racing Programme, and July 2018 saw the NSX name return to the Spa 24 Hours race, 25 years since the previous generation sports car last competed there.

Highlighting Honda’s expertise across a raft of advanced products, the car line-up in Paris will be bolstered by exhibits from the brand’s motorcycle and power equipment divisions.

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