Smoothly styled Honda CR-V Hybrid

The hybrid version of the 2020 Honda CR-V maintains standard styling. (Bud Wells photo)

Heading south on a Monday morning on U.S. 287 aboard the new 2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid Touring crossover, Jan and I turned toward Lafayette and into the Indian Peaks subdivision. The sharply restyled Honda looked right at home amid the well-manicured yards and overall landscaping beauty.

After going in circles through much of the neighborhood, we stopped long enough to photograph the CR-V, which is the most recent model to join the gas/electric hybrid market.

When it comes to the gas/electrics, the CR-V is late to the game among compact crossovers; Toyota, Ford, Nissan, Chevy and others have been there for months, some for years.

Late it may be, but the CR-V Hybrid is the first gas/electric Honda SUV crossover in the U.S.

The underhood area of the Honda CR-V Hybrid is busy and crowded. (Honda)

The CR-V hybrid uses the same powertrain as the Honda Accord Hybrid midsize sedan. It combines an Atkinson-cycle 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder engine with two motor-generators and a 1.4-kWh lithium-ion battery pack, which is positioned beneath the rear seats. The gas engine and electric motors generate 212 horsepower and 232 lb.-ft. of torque. Transmission is single-speed, and often, on acceleration, emits some whining, like other CVT-equipped autos.

Gear control is from a rather awkwardly designed push-button shifter on the center console. Driver may select from three drive modes – Eco, sport and EV (full electric power). Honda has added its Acoustic Vehicle Alert System as a noisemaker to gain attention of pedestrians when the vehicle is driving in normally all-quiet EV.

The standard Honda CR-V gasoline version has led sales of compact SUVs/crossovers in six of the past 10 years and was either second or third in the other four years. The new CR-V hybrid comes in at a $1,200 price premium over the traditionally powered models; a difference that in many instances might take approximately four years to overcome, based on the hybrid’s fuel savings.

In a week’s worth of driving with the new hybrid, the CR-V averaged 39.6 miles per gallon. Its EPA estimate is 40 in the city, 35 on the highway; heavy usage of the electric motors in lower speeds is responsible for the higher rating for city maneuvering. Two months ago, I reviewed the gasoline-only version of the CR-V Touring; it averaged 26.6 mpg in lots of snow and icy conditions.

The CR-V Hybrid is a great handler and is easy to park with responsive steering and 104.7-inch wheelbase. Its all-wheel-drive system sends torque to its rear wheels in low-grip situations. It rides on Continental CrossContact 235/55R19 tires. Suspension is MacPherson struts in front and multilink at the rear.

Sticker price on the well-equipped CR-V Touring Hybrid is $35,590, including Honda Sensing safety features – adaptive cruise, collision-mitigation braking, lane-keeping assist and road-departure mitigation. The CR-V is built in Greensburg, Ind.