With two big names in compact SUVs getting fully redesigned in 2019 (the Toyota RAV4 and the Subaru Forester), Honda felt the need to give the CR-V a facelift. Along with revised styling, the 2020 Honda CR-V adds a more efficient turbocharged 1.5-liter mill as the new base engine, dropping the 2.4-liter, and Honda Sensing is now standard on every trim.
If you’re in the market for a compact crossover, the CR-V quite simply needs to be on your test-drive list. It has few faults and does just about everything well, with an efficient powertrain, a ton of interior space, a comfortable ride, and a lot of safety features. You name it, the CR-V is probably good at it.
Now, there are always nits to pick. Its infotainment system isn’t the easiest to use, and it would be nice if Honda offered a more powerful engine upgrade. Those complaints might ultimately make one of its competitors a better choice for you, but when a vehicle is this well-rounded, it needs to be considered.
What’s New for 2020?
The CR-V got a nice mid-cycle refresh for 2020. Updates include standard Honda Sensing driver-assistance tech on every trim, updated styling and the 1.5-liter turbocharged engine, which replaces the outgoing naturally aspirated 2.4-liter engine as the base engine. A hybrid option has been added for 2020, it gets 40 mpg in combined city and highway driving. The top-end CR-V Touring now comes with wireless charging. See the 2020 Honda CR-V models for sale near you
What We Like
Class-leading passenger and cargo space
Lively and efficient base engine
Refined driving experience
Generous standard safety tech
New hybrid option
What We Don’t
No higher-performance engine option available
Tech interface can frustrate
The sole engine option in the non-hybrid 2020 CR-V is a 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that’s good for 190 horsepower and 179 lb-ft of torque. The fuel economy is impressive, returning 28 miles per gallon in the city, 34 mpg on the highway and 30 mpg in combined driving for front-wheel-drive models. Adding all-wheel drive sacrifices one mpg in each cycle.
The hybrid CR-V used two electric motors combined with a 2.0-liter gasoline engine. It gets 40 mpg city / 35 highway / 38 mpg combined.
Standard Features & Options
The 2020 CR-V comes in a single, 5-passenger configuration and is offered with four trim levels: LX, EX, EX-L, and Touring. All can be equipped with FWD or AWD. AWD is a $1,500 option on every trim. One interesting little note, exterior color Aegean Blue Metallic is available exclusively on non-hybrid models.
The LX ($25,050) comes standard with 17-in alloy wheels, LED running/accent lights, automatic climate control, a height-adjustable driver seat, cloth upholstery, a 60/40-split folding and reclining back seat (with remote “easy fold” pulls in the cargo area), a backup camera, Bluetooth, one USB port and a 4-speaker sound system. Also included is the Honda Sensing package of accident avoidance tech, which consists of lane-departure-warning and forward-collision-warning systems, plus automatic emergency braking, lane-departure prevention, and adaptive cruise control with traffic-friendly, slow-speed follow capabilities.
The EX ($27,560) is the trim most people end up with, which isn’t surprising given its uptick in equipment. It adds blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic assist, plus 18-in wheels, automatic headlights, fog lights, proximity entry and push-button start, remote ignition, rear privacy glass, a sunroof, a cargo cover, dual-zone automatic climate control, an 8-way power driver seat, heated front seats, three extra USB ports (one front, two rear), a 7-in touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a 6-speaker sound system with satellite radio.
The EX-L ($30,050) adds a power liftgate, leather upholstery, driver memory settings, a 4-way power passenger seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, HD radio, and an 8-speaker sound system.
The Touring ($33,250) steps things up with roof rails, 19-in wheels, LED headlights, wireless charging, a heated steering wheel, a hands-free power liftgate, 9-speaker premium audio, dual chrome exhaust finishers, rain-sensing windshield wipers, ambient lighting and a navigation system.
Hybrid versions of the CR-V are offered in all the same trim levels above but the pricing is different. A hybrid LX starts a $29,000 and a Touring hybrid is a little more than $36,000. The hybrid does get a slightly different look but you’d be hard-pressed to spot it. The front and rear treatment are unique to the hybrid and the interior is a little classier with a push-button transmission/gear selector and switches for “Econ,” “Sport,” and “EV” modes. The instrument panel is also unique to the CR-V Hybrid including displays for power/charge status along with a few driver-selectable views to show power regeneration and distribution. The hybrid version also gets steering wheel-mounted paddles that can increase or decrease the level of energy re-captured when slowing down.
The 2020 Honda CR-V comes standard with the usual allotment of safety equipment: antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front airbags, front-side airbags and side curtain airbags that cover both rows. There are also LATCH anchors in all three rear positions. Every trim comes standard with forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, road-departure mitigation, and adaptive cruise control. Every trim but the base LX model comes with blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic assist.
The government gave the 2020 CR-V perfect 5-star ratings for overall, frontal and side crash protection. The nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named the CR-V a Top Safety Pick for its top scores in all relevant crash and crash-prevention categories.
Behind the Wheel
If you’re an owner of the previous-generation CR-V, this latest version is bound to feel more grown-up and sophisticated. It has a more comfortable and controlled ride, a quieter cabin and steering that needs fewer corrections on the highway. Indeed, this observation doesn’t just apply to comparisons between today’s model and its predecessor, but to most of the compact SUV field as well.
The turbocharged 1.5-liter found in every non-hybrid 2020 CR-V is arguably the most competitive engine in the segment, boasting class-leading fuel economy, nearly class-leading power (the new RAV4 pulls ahead) and responsive power delivery that doesn’t draw too much attention to the engine being turbocharged and connected to a continuously variable transmission. The fact that this is now the base engine for the CR-V makes this Honda even more competitive than before.
As for your passengers, they will enjoy unmatched interior comfort and space for this segment. Rear legroom is greater than that of all rivals, and there are LATCH points in all three rear seating positions, making for an extremely family-friendly SUV. Its abundant cargo capacity and clever front center console make it a stuff-carrying champ. Interior material quality is also strong — compared to both its predecessor and its competitors.
If there’s a downside inside, it’s the touchscreen found in all but the base LX. It’s perfectly functional, but its responsiveness, menu structure, and touch-sensitive menu buttons add up to a system that’s less user-friendly than Honda’s latest system (Accord, Odyssey) and those of competitors (Subaru Forester, Toyota RAV4).
Hybrid versions are the quickest. The two electric motors combined with the gas engine produce more than enough acceleration and “Sport” mode enhances that. It doesn’t feel like a sports car but there is enough forward thrust to make the CR-V Hybrid fun.
Other Cars to Consider
2020 Mazda CX-5 – The new CX-5 is a more engaging vehicle to drive than the CR-V, and it’s arguably more visually appealing, but it can’t match Honda’s utility. Unlike the CR-V and the other competitors below, the CX-5 offers a more powerful engine upgrade and even a diesel.
2020 Toyota RAV4 – The CR-V’s longtime nemesis, the Toyota RAV4, was completely redesigned for 2019. It cedes ground to the CR-V in terms of practicality, but it counters with more character and capability.
2020 Subaru Forester – If the RAV4 ceded ground in terms of practicality, the also-new Forester dug in for battle with a larger cabin (it tops the CR-V’s previously class-leading cargo space), greenhouse-like outward visibility, uber-easy infotainment and an abundance of accident-avoidance tech — not to mention standard AWD.
Used Honda Pilot – If the CR-V still doesn’t have the family-friendly utility you need, a bigger SUV is probably in order. Now that the latest-generation Pilot (the rounded one, not the boxy one) should be finding its way onto used lots, it’s a smart alternative to consider.
We love that Honda Sensing and the turbocharged 1.5-liter engine are now standard on every CR-V, but the mid-range EX trim is still the one to get. For less than $3,000 extra over the base model, the CR-V EX adds a lot of content, like an upgraded infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, some extra safety tech, a moonroof, heated seats and plenty of other features that put it in the sweet spot of value in this Honda’s model range. The hybrid is the most rewarding to drive. Thanks to the two-motor setup, acceleration is very brisk. Find a Honda CR-V for sale