Honda CR-V Hybrid: Test Drive

Every major automaker has its own pool of environmentally friendly models.

Some bet on hybrids, some not electric vehicles, and some believe in the future of fuel-cell powertrains. Today, we have the Honda CR-V Hybrid.

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Test drives of the Honda CR-V recently have a rather interesting character: it feels like the car is the same, but it turns out to be different in many ways on closer acquaintance. And this time it was the same. After all, the current generation of the SUV is already familiar to us: first, we tested the version with a 2.4-liter engine, then it was replaced by a modification with a 1.5-liter turbo petrol engine, and we received the Honda CR-V Hybrid this spring.

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However, Honda calls this system as i-MMD, and you can also hear the phrase “an electric vehicle that never discharges” in conversations with representatives of the company. Ambitious, you must agree! Well, let's try to understand everything in detail and check whether this is really the case.

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The hybrid version is based on the ”normal" Honda CR-V with an internal combustion engine, Therefore, there are no global differences neither externally nor internally. You will not distinguish the hybrid version from the usual one at a cursory glance, so the easiest way to do this is by the nameplates on the front fenders and on the trunk lid, although there are minimal differences. Remember the dual-pipe exhaust system hat proudly flaunted on the rear end of the 1.5 Turbo version? So, there is only one pipe and much less noticeable.

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It is obvious that the designers did not have the task to select a hybrid version, but on the contrary, it was decided to make it exactly the same. It is not necessary to declare itself as a manufacturer of hybrid cars, including Honda, since the first hybrid with its logo entered the European market back in 1999. And the entire model line included hybrid versions, such as the NSX supercar.

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The main innovations of the Honda CR-V Hybrid, of course, are hidden under the hood and deep inside, so there are no special differences inside either. But let's take a quick look at it!

Interior

The test car was in the Executive configuration, which is considered the starting version for the hybrid. But this is already an average level of configuration for other CR-Vs, so it is equipped very well: leather interior, power front seats, keyless entry, LED headlights, full set of safety and driver assistance systems. You can only envy the Prestige configuration because of a power tailgate and a projection display. There are a couple of other options, but the differences between the configurations are actually insignificant.

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What you pay attention to in the cabin immediately, and it is noticed by those who are not very familiar with the model, is the lack of a conventional gearshift. Instead, there are several buttons. Quite simply and logically, this scheme is also used for the Acura. For more convenience, the reverse mode is enabled by swinging the button, and the “drive” button is the largest.

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As in the ”normal" Honda CR-V, I like the ergonomics here and the fit in comfortable seats, but there is still a little lack of steering wheel adjustment. The dashboard provides maximum information, only now it has an indication of the powertrain operation mode, and the tachometer is replaced by the “wattmeter”. The scales on the edges of the device are now also digital, although they are visually similar to the previous ones.

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A 7-inch infotainment system with Garmin, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto may not be the most modern device, but it is quite convenient for daily use. Well, the Central tunnel is simple and very functional, like many Japanese things. Multiple buttons, sliding lid-shelf, cup holders, a full set of inputs: from the usual “cigarette lighter” to HDMI.

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Owners of the current generation CR-V will agree that the interior is very spacious, and there is a lot of space in length, width, and height. Plus, there is an almost level floor in the back row and a roomy trunk behind it.

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Though, the company had to make small sacrifices and take away 64 liters from him, as well as a niche for a spare tire. After all, there is a lithium-ion battery just behind the rear axle. Therefore, the trunk volume is 497 liters.

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But visually, its decrease is imperceptible, and there are no additional signs either, except these atypical ventilation blinds near the back of the rear seat, but they do not affect the comfort at all. And as compensation for the smaller volume, the trunk received a completely pile upholstery.

Drive

And now let's go! Technically, the Honda CR-V Hybrid is a combination of an efficient 2.0-liter petrol i-VTEC engine, running on the Atkinson cycle, two electric motors (a traction motor and a motor generator), and a lithium-ion battery.

But unlike other hybrids, an electric motor with 135 kW (184 hp) and 315 Nm is the main one: it turns the wheels.

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The petrol engine features 145 hp / 175 Nm and mainly serves to produce energy for the electric motor, which turns the wheels. Well, electric power accumulates in the battery. Moreover, the manufacturer does not even report its volume: it is small and serves as a kind of buffer. So, it turns out “an electric vehicle that never runs out of power”. Well, of course, if you always have such a charge with you in the form of a 2-liter internal combustion engine. Honda calls his technology as i-MMD.

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But there are also nuances. Sometimes, the petrol engine still turns on and drives the wheels directly. This happens on straight, flat sections, when the speed is in the range of 70-120 km/h (in practice, sometimes even higher). It is something like “direct transmission”. It took such a trick for greater efficiency: the engineers calculated that the car is more fuel efficient in this mode than through an electric motor. But the internal combustion engine turns on unnoticeably. However, when it works on a charge, it is audible and requires a little habituation.

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There are three main driving modes. In addition to the usual “Economical” and “Sporty”, there is also “Electric”. If the conditions are favorable, then the CR-V Hybrid will travel up to 2 km on electric power, on a reserve charge. A fairly typical figure for non-pluggable hybrids.

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However, the bet is more on a combination of efficiency and… dynamics. Yes, with a good press of the accelerator pedal, the SUV takes off so cheerfully that you might think that there is a 3-liter unit under the hood here (this is for comparison, to make it easier for you to imagine). It accelerates to the first “hundred” in 8.8 seconds, but if you try, you can even go a little faster. And this is significantly faster than the turbo version, by the way. That one has exactly 10 seconds. So, the CR-V Hybrid is pretty sporty.

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As for other parameters, it is the same as the ICE Honda. So, an unexperienced driver will not feel the difference. At the same time, the full range of assistants always pleases: they help to keep the car in the lane and maintain the distance to the forward car. A hint about lateral movement when driving in reverse also came in handy. The panoramic camera can't always “notice” the car coming across, while the sensors here are very sensitive.

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In conclusion, during the test, the average consumption in the city was 5-6 liters/100 km. Sometimes a little less, sometimes a little more: it will depend on the modes that you prefer. Again, the turbo version had a strong “ten”, which is almost twice as much.

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