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Sunday Drive: Exploring the wild with the 2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid AWD Sport Touring

By Craig and Deanne Conover - | Jun 10, 2023
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Deanne with the new Honda CR-V on top of Lookout Pass as we tried to hike to the point and lookout but were stymied as there was still snow on parts of the very steep trail.
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Deanne sits as we get ready to have lunch at Simpson Springs on the Pony Express Trail after a very dusty drive across the West Desert.
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The 2021 Honda CR-V Hybrid.
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The 2021 Honda CR-V Hybrid.
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The 2021 Honda CR-V Hybrid.
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The 2021 Honda CR-V Hybrid.

Unveiling the perfect opportunity to venture into the great outdoors, the 2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid AWD Sport Touring graced us with its presence during a week with a beautiful Saturday afternoon. With the weather transitioning from winter’s cold grip to the embrace of spring-like temperatures, we couldn’t resist the allure of the CR-V and its promise of thrilling adventures. Our destination? The enchanting beauty of the West Desert, in search of wild horses and untamed landscapes.

The Honda CR-V has enjoyed a long-standing reign on the best-seller list in North America since 1997, and it’s no wonder why. We, like many others, appreciate the nimbleness and convenience of a smaller crossover SUV over larger alternatives. The CR-V’s compact size makes maneuvering through city streets and tight spaces a breeze, while its elevated seating position offers excellent visibility — a true boon for drivers seeking safety and ease of use.

Honda’s media website aptly describes the CR-V as a vehicle perfect for daily life and weekend getaways, aligning perfectly with our aspirations for a quick jaunt into the desert. Equipped with all-wheel drive, we anticipated conquering small hills and stirring up clouds of dust as we followed the old Pony Express Trail toward Simpson Springs for an unforgettable al fresco dinner.

The journey itself proved to be as delightful as the destination, thanks to the abundance of creature comforts and cutting-edge safety features integrated into the CR-V. Honda went above and beyond by including almost every safety feature as standard on the new CR-V, ensuring peace of mind on our off-road escapade. Only the lowest trim level lacks low-speed braking and parking sensors.

Ever since our initial encounter with adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist in an Acura years ago, Honda’s implementation of these systems has continually improved. With the cruise control set and lane-keep assist engaged, navigating Utah’s rugged backcountry roads became a breeze. It felt as though the CR-V was doing all the heavy lifting, allowing us to sit back and truly enjoy the journey.

The Hybrid model of the CR-V introduced a new smart navigation system that proactively adjusts the hybrid powertrain for changes in elevation. This optimization ensures optimal fuel efficiency when ascending and descending hills, allowing us to savor every mile while achieving an impressive combined horsepower of 181 and a torque of 247 foot-pounds. Throughout our weeklong adventure spanning approximately 400 miles, including both backroads and highways, we managed an incredible 38 mpg — an outstanding feat for a vehicle of its class.

For eco-conscious drivers, the CR-V Hybrid offers a new addition: the “B” transmission setting. This setting allows drivers to effectively drive using only one pedal. By utilizing the paddle shifters during braking, the vehicle downshifts and adds resistance to generate more regenerative power for the battery, slowing the vehicle and eventually bringing it to a complete stop with repeated use. We found this system particularly enjoyable to use around town, especially in tranquil neighborhoods, and it became a game for us to maximize power regeneration. After all, regenerated miles translate to free miles in a time when gas prices continue to rise.

Inside the cabin, the new CR-V boasts a host of upgrades, including metallic finishes on various components such as climate control knobs. One particular feature that caught our attention was the honeycomb grill panel, which cleverly concealed the air vents while still allowing air to be directed in different directions for the driver and front passenger. This thoughtful design is sure to reduce cleaning time compared to conventional plastic vents when tidying up the vehicle’s interior.

This year’s CR-V offers more cargo room than ever, a feature that’s important for young families and empty-nesters alike. Whether it’s everyday errands or stocking up on supplies for a quick getaway or a ride with the grandkids, the spacious cargo area proved to be immensely practical.

We were thrilled with the inclusion of a larger 9-inch touch screen for the infotainment system. Its wireless connectivity to our phones, paired with the convenient wireless charger, made for a seamless and enjoyable experience. Navigating through the desert with a good cell signal, it acted as our trusted guide, providing essential information and entertainment along the way.

Out in the desert, the CR-V handled itself admirably during the hour-long journey over bumpy dirt roads, effortlessly tackling a 6,500-foot summit on our way to Simpson Springs for a late lunch. Even encountering a few unexpected mud patches (a rarity in desert driving), the CR-V’s AWD system ensured optimal traction and control, never once faltering.

Our only setback came when we encountered an imposing bank of snow on our alternate route home. Attempting to traverse it would have surely resulted in a rescue mission, as evidenced by a large truck already stuck in the snow’s clutches. Nonetheless, this obstacle did not dampen our spirits, for the new Honda CR-V proved itself as reliable and capable as ever.

As we reflect on our adventure with the 2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid AWD Sport Touring, it’s evident that Honda continues to enhance an already outstanding vehicle. With its unbeatable combination of style, versatility and innovative features, the CR-V is poised to maintain its popularity for years to come.

Base price: $38,800

Destination charge: $1,245

Price as driven: $39,845


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