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How We'd Spec It: 2023 Honda CR-V

Should you get the CR-V hybrid or stick with the standard CR-V turbo? It depends

2023 Honda CR-V EX-L in red in front-quarter view
  • Honda simplifies the redesigned 2023 Honda CR-V lineup.
  • All trims come with an impressive set of safety features, and some versions have standard hybrid power.
  • Each of the five 2023 CR-V models is compelling, but we like one more than the others.

There is a redesigned 2023 CR-V at your local Honda dealership, improved in nearly every way over the best-selling version it replaced. From its tidier yet more rugged styling and modern interior to its comfier seats, next-generation technology and improved safety features, the 2023 Honda CR-V is an excellent choice in a compact crossover SUV.

Better yet, Honda is making it easier to choose a new CR-V. The lineup is much simpler than it used to be, with five trim levels and take-it-or-leave-it powertrain choices. In the sections below, we’ll break everything down so that you can decide which version of the CR-V is best suited for your lifestyle.

The recommended spec

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2023 Honda CR-V interior

The 2023 Honda CR-V EX-L is our recommendation based on Edmunds’ testing. While the EX-L doesn’t have Honda’s improved two-motor hybrid powertrain, its turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine is surprisingly potent and smooth in everyday driving.

In addition, for a reasonable surcharge that lands the CR-V's price in the mid- to upper $30,000s, the EX-L includes numerous upgrades over the LX and EX models. The highlights are leather seats, an upgraded infotainment system with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless smartphone charging, an upgraded audio system, a power liftgate, and front and rear parking sensors.

The budget-friendly alternative

2023 Honda CR-V rear

If saving money and keeping your payment as low as possible is the goal, check out the 2023 Honda CR-V EX. The CR-V EX looks like the EX-L on the outside, sitting on identical 18-inch alloy wheels and featuring dark-tinted rear privacy glass. So, nobody will know you chose the more affordable version unless they open a door. On the inside, the EX has cloth seats and a smaller infotainment system with a 7-inch rather than a 9-inch touchscreen. You’ll also need to use a cable to operate Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and to charge your devices.

Stick with a standard paint color (our favorite is the new Meteorite Gray Metallic) and front-wheel drive, and a CR-V EX runs about $33,000, including the destination charge.

The sporty and (theoretically) more efficient choice

2023 Honda CR-V front

Honda isn’t offering a separate lineup of CR-V Hybrids in 2023. Instead, the improved two-motor hybrid powertrain comes standard in the Sport and Sport Touring trims, the latter featuring standard all-wheel drive. Both hybrid-powered trims have trendy black wheels and sportier styling cues, with the CR-V Sport Touring including exclusive features like a navigation system, a Bose premium audio system, a heated steering wheel and a hands-free power tailgate.

According to Honda, the fourth-generation two-motor hybrid powertrain produces 204 horsepower — 14 more ponies than the standard 1.5-liter turbo — and peak torque output of 247 lb-ft. The official EPA fuel economy ratings range from 37 mpg to 40 mpg in combined driving, depending on whether or not you get the AWD system.

In Edmunds' testing of the new CR-V hybrid, we found that real-life fuel economy in city and highway driving didn't come close to the EPA's combined estimate. However, the more time you spend driving at lower speeds (where the electric motor can take over propulsion), the more efficient this version of the CR-V is. As far as acceleration goes, the hybrid scoots to 60 mph in about the same amount of time as the 1.5-liter turbo-four, getting up to speed in around 8 seconds.

Edmunds says

We’re impressed with the redesigned 2023 Honda CR-V. However, many of this compact crossover’s rivals have dramatically improved recently, and though it remains a strong choice, the CR-V is no longer the standard bearer in the segment.