TUCSON, Ariz. – The CR-V has been the segment’s top seller since its introduction, moving more than 5 million units in the past 23 years. For Honda, its sales juggernaut accounted for more than a quarter of the automaker’s 2019 total and a whopping 60 percent of its CUV sales. With the 2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid, however, the brand is stepping into territory where few have ventured before. The Nissan Rogue Hybrid has come and gone. The Ford Escape Hybrid first arrived way back as a 2005 model, but disappeared for a generation until returning this year. The Toyota RAV4 waited 20 years to debut its hybrid, but now in its second generation, has actually become Toyota's best-selling hybrid model. That alone represents a strong case for the CR-V Hybrid, not to mention the dearth of competitors. We get Honda and others dragging their feet, though. Hybrid powertrains are not cheap to produce, and they're at their most efficient in smaller, lighter vehicles like sedans and hatchbacks, which can see EPA ratings of more than 50 mpg (see Honda Insight). But after personally experiencing a rather dismal fuel economy return while road tripping with a regular ol’ 2020 Honda CR-V, I was eager to see how much gas and money the first CR-V Hybrid could save. To compare the CR-Vs, all gas-powered models are equipped with a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that is mated to a CVT. Power is rated at 190 horsepower and 179 pound-feet of torque. Both front-wheel and all-wheel drive are available. The 2020 CR-V Hybrid, by contrast, is all-wheel-drive only and produces a combined output of 212 hp and 232 lb-ft of torque, making it the CR-V's forever-awaited performance upgrade. Shared with the Accord Hybrid, the CR-V system can operate as either a series- or parallel hybrid. Most of the time, it's a series hybrid, meaning the wheels are exclusively powered by the electric drive motor. The 2.0-liter four-cylinder is there to replenish the battery, which results in acceleration that feels and sounds more like an electric car than a RAV4 Hybrid does. However, it also means the gas engine can come on at times that don't correspond with what your right foot is doing. There is an exception to this, though: Under certain circumstances, such as when on a steady highway cruise, the engine can in fact connect to the front wheels for greater efficiency. This is when it's a parallel hybrid. For comparison sake, the RAV4 Hybrid is strictly a parallel system, directly powering the wheels with its electric motors, gasoline engine or a combination of both. They also differ in their all-wheel-drive systems. Whereas Toyota effectively achieves AWD by putting an electric motor on the rear axle, Honda uses the same mechanical transfer case and propeller shaft as the gas-only model. Our drive of the 2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid Touring took place in the desert flats of Tucson, Ariz. Aside from the occasional roller coaster-derived country road, there wasn’t much in terms …
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|MPG||40 City / 35 Hwy|
|Transmission||1-spd CVT w/OD|
|Power||143 @ 6200 rpm|
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