2023 marks an important year for the Honda CR-V. Not only is it the start of a new model generation, 6th to be exact, but it’s also the first hybrid CR-V. At least for us here in Canada. So to find out how good it is, I decided to compare it against the benchmark of hybrid compact crossover SUVs; the 2023 Toyota Rav4 Hybrid.
Engine – Unlike the gasoline-only version of the CR-V, the 2023 CR-V Hybrid uses a naturally aspirated 2.0L 4-cylinder engine which is aided by electric motors. This powertrain has a total output of 204 hp and 247 lb-ft of torque (152 kW & 334 Nm). On its own, the engine produces 145 hp and 138 lb-ft of torque (108 kW & 187 Nm). This hybrid powertrain can only tow 1,000 lbs, 500 lbs less than the gasoline-only version.
The 2023 Toyota Rav4 Hybrid uses a larger 2.5L naturally aspirated 4-cylinder engine with aid from electric motors. Its total output is 219 hp (163 kW) but Toyota doesn’t like to publish torque figures for the total output. What I can tell you is that the engine produces 176 hp and 163 lb-ft of torque (131 kW & 221 Nm) while the electric motors produce 149 lb-ft and 89 lb-ft of torque (202 Nm & 121 Nm). It has one motor next to the engine and one mounted in the back to power the rear wheels. Towing capacity is higher than the CR-V Hybrid at 1,750 lbs.
Between the two, there isn’t much of a difference in how they accelerate. I haven’t been able to find official 0-60 mph times from the manufacturers but Edmunds.com tested both and found that the Rav4 Hybrid can do the 0-60 sprint in 7.8 seconds while the CR-V Hybrid does it in 8.0 seconds. Not much of a difference and to be honest, 0-60 times don’t really matter in cars like these. Both cars let the electric motors provide the instant torque until the engines get into their sweet spots and provide the bulk of the power. Neither will give you the “pinned to the seat” feeling but the speed on the speedometer increases quite quickly. Both cars have Sport modes for slightly sharper throttle responses and a slightly more punchy electric acceleration but neither will beat a Tesla off the line anytime soon.
In everyday driving conditions, they both use a combination of engine and electric motor power to bring the crossovers up to speed. Afterwards, the engine shuts off and both cars try to run for as long as possible just on electricity while at constant speeds. The engines turn back on periodically to provide a bit of acceleration if needed and to recharge the battery.
Speaking of which, the Rav4 Hybrid has an EV only mode which allows you to accelerate more quickly without the use of the engine. However, this mode gets disabled if the speed exceeds 40 km/h or if you push hard on the throttle pedal. But both cars can accelerate from a stop to about 60 km/h just on electricity if the battery is nearly fully charged and if you’re very gentle with the throttle pedal. But it will be a slow acceleration with a few tailgaters behind you.
Fuel Economy – The primary purpose of these crossover SUVs is to provide excellent fuel economy. The 2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid is rated for 6.0 L/100km (39 MPG) in a city and 6.9 L/100km (34 MPG) on a highway. The 2023 Toyota Rav4 Hybrid is rated for 5.8 L/100km (40.5 MPG) in a city and 6.3 L/100km (37.3 MPG) on a highway. I noticed better fuel economy in the Rav4 Hybrid during my time with these cars as I averaged 6.0 L/100km (39.2 MPG) in the Rav4 and 6.7 L/100km (35.1 MPG) in the CR-V.
Transmission – Both crossovers use CVT automatics to control the power of the engines. Between the two, neither is more exciting than the other. But the CVT in the Rav4 Hybrid does allow you to play around with a few virtual gears. You can move the gear selector into the S mode and go up or down to change the virtual gear ratio.
The Honda CR-V Hybrid also has virtual gears but you can’t control them. The computer controls them. The gear selector has a B mode which will provide a stronger regenerative braking mode but this will also turn on the engine.
Braking – The majority of the regen braking is done by the brake pedal in both crossovers. This is a smooth process without a noticeable transition between regen and physical disc braking. This is a good thing. As mentioned in the Transmission section, both have slightly stronger regen braking modes that are tied with the transmission characteristics. But the Honda CR-V Hybrid also has paddle shifters on the steering wheel. These are not for the transmission but rather to control the level of regen braking. There are four different levels however, the car will not keep the last used setting. The mode gets reset every time you press on the throttle pedal again.
Handling – Both crossover SUVs are easy to drive in a busy city. They’re also easy to drive on highways without tiring you out. If you’re looking for a more spirited drive, neither will provide you with that. The Mazda CX-5 or CX-50 are your best bet. When pushed, these crossovers will understeer into a corner and have torque steer when exiting a corner. Though, this is more evident in the Rav4 than the CR-V. Both SUVs are equipped with AWD though in the Rav4 Hybrid this is achieved through the rear electric motor. In the Honda, it’s a more traditional layout with a driveshaft sending power to the rear wheels. In the United States, the CR-V Hybrid is available as a FWD variant as well.
Ride Comfort – This new generation of the Honda CR-V sits on a slightly longer platform than the last. What this means is that not only is there more interior space, but the ride is a bit better than before. The harshness of road bumps is smoothed very well by the suspension. The Toyota Rav4 Hybrid is pretty comfortable too but it is noticeable how much more the shunts of driving over a bump or manhole cover get translated through the suspension and into the seats.
Interior Space – On paper, the Toyota Rav4 Hybrid has more headroom across both rows of seats than the Honda CR-V Hybrid. However, this difference is not that drastic and I found that I had plenty of headroom in the front & back seats of both crossovers. It’s the legroom that is noticeably different, particularly in the back seats. There’s almost an inch more leg space behind my tall 6’4” driving position in the CR-V over the Rav4. Additionally, getting into the back of the CR-V is easier thanks to the nearly 90-degree opening doors. In the front seats, both provide an adequate amount of leg space.
The difference in space continues into the trunks, however just like the rear seat headroom, it’s not that drastic of a difference. The 2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid has 1,028 L (36.3 cu-ft) of space behind the second row while the 2023 Toyota Rav4 Hybrid has 1,062 L (37.5 cu-ft) of space. With the rear seats folded, the CR-V’s cargo capacity increases to 2,030 L (71.7 cu-ft) while the Rav4’s space increases to 1,976 L (69.8 cu-ft).
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – Hands down, the Honda CR-V Hybrid is the quieter and smoother of the two. Tire and engine noises are much more subdued in this crossover SUV than in the Rav4 Hybrid. However, there is a noticeable amount of wind noise right by the top of the driver’s side window whilst driving on a highway. The most noticeable difference between the two is the jolt of the engine turning on. In the CR-V Hybrid, it is absolutely seamless. In the Rav4 Hybrid, it’s smooth but in some instances, you can notice it more often.
Odds and Ends
Pricing – Between the two demo vehicles I have in this comparison, the 2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid is the more expensive. Here in Canada, it is only available as the top Touring trim and it’ll cost you $48,890 CAD ($39,100 USD). In the United States, the hybrid powertrain is also available on the Touring trim but as well as on the Sport trim which will cost you $32,400 USD.
The 2023 Toyota Rav4 Hybrid is available in many more trim levels. The Hybrid LE starts at $34,850 CAD ($30,725 USD) and can go up to $45,850 CAD ($39,030 USD) for the Hybrid Limited. This demo vehicle is the XLE trim with the Woodland package that will cost you $40,180 CAD ($33,525 USD). It’s interesting, however, that in the United States the Limited trim of the Rav4 Hybrid and the Touring trim of the CR-V Hybrid are the same price. But not here in Canada…
Gadgets – Between these two, it’s obviously the CR-V that has more features on it. These include leather trimmed seats and steering wheel, heated seats in all four corners and a heated steering wheel, a power sunroof, power programmable liftgate, a 9” touchscreen with built-in navigation, wireless Apple CarPlay & wireless Android Auto connectivity, wireless phone charging pad, dual zone automatic climate control, and power front seats with driver’s memory.
The Rav4 Woodland only has a fraction of the same features. Some include heated front seats & heated steering wheel, power sunroof, power liftgate, dual zone automatic climate control, an 8” touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay & wireless Android Auto connectivity, and power driver’s seat without memory.
If you opt for the Limited trim of the Rav4 Hybrid, it will be equipped with more gadgets. Some of these include a larger 10.5” touchscreen, wireless charging pad, heated rear seats, ventilated front seats, and surround view cameras. So the Rav4 Limited is better value than the CR-V Touring if you only look at the gadgets. But there’s more to it than that.
Interior Design – The interiors in both vehicles feel well put together. However, once you start touching the different controls and materials, you start to notice why the CR-V is more expensive. The buttons and knobs feel premium, almost like they’re out of an Acura model. The buttons and knobs don’t feel like they’re out of a Lexus in the Rav4. They feel like they’re out of a Rav4 from a few years ago. But at least in both of these cars, the controls are physical and not all embedded into a giant touchscreen like some other manufacturers.
Exterior Design – The Woodland trim of the Rav4 Hybrid adds the 18” bronze alloy wheels, TRD tuned off-road suspension, and Woodland all season floor mats & cargo tray. It gives the Rav4 a bit of a rugged look but the standard Rav4 already looks pretty rugged to my eyes.
The CR-V Hybrid looks aggressive. This Touring trim adds silver trim pieces to the bottom of the front bumper that discerns it from any other CR-V trim level. 19” black alloy wheels are only available on this trim along with dual chrome exhaust tips. I personally like the look of the CR-V over the Rav4 but beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Safety – Both vehicles are well equipped with safety & driver aids as standard. Automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and keep, blind spot sensors with rear cross traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, and so on.
The differences are with the IIHS crash tests. The 2023 Toyota Rav4 received a Top Safety Pick while the 2023 Honda CR-V received a Top Safety Pick+. The Rav4 only received Acceptable marks for an updated front moderate overlap and updated side impact tests.
Warranty – The 2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid is covered by a 3 year / 60,000 km new vehicle and 5 year / 100,000 km powertrain warranty. Hybrid components, including the hybrid battery, are covered for 8 years / 160,000 km. For more information on Canadian warranty, click here. For information on USA warranty, click here.
The 2023 Toyota Rav4 Hybrid is covered by a 3 year / 60,000 km basic and 5 year / 100,000 km powertrain warranty. The hybrid components are covered by an 8 year / 160,000 km warranty while the battery itself is covered by a 10 year / 240,000 km warranty. For more information on Canadian warranty, click here. For information on USA warranty, click here. (Scroll to bottom of page)
Conclusion – So is the new Honda CR-V Hybrid as good, better or worse than the Toyota Rav4 Hybrid? In some ways it is, in others, it’s not. If you have a limited budget and just want a reliable and fuel efficient crossover SUV, the Toyota Rav4 offers many more trim levels at much lower cost and better fuel savings. But if your budget does allow for a $50,000 crossover SUV, the Honda CR-V Hybrid is the way that I’d go. Granted it does not have quite as many features as the Rav4 Limited and it’s not quite as fuel efficient, but the CR-V is more spacious, the cabin is quieter, there are fewer powertrain vibrations, and the controls feel more premium. Whichever way you go, these are both fighting for the top spot of the compact crossover SUV market.
Thank you to Toyota Canada for providing the Rav4 Hybrid. www.Toyota.ca
Thank you to Honda Canada for providing the CR-V Hybrid. www.Honda.ca