Honda has unveiled its first electrified light truck for North America, in the form of the 2020 CR-V Hybrid crossover.
The new hybrid will be available in the same trim levels as the conventional engine CR-V, with the full suite of Honda’s safety and driver-assist technologies. It also comes standard with automatic climate control, LED headlights with auto high beams, smart entry and push-button start and comes only in AWD.
The Hybrid is distinguished from the rest of the stable by a blue-accented Honda grille badge and unique bumper treatment at the other end, and “hybrid” badges on the grille, front fenders and tailgate. Inside, there’s a unique gauge cluster, shift-by-wire gear selector and push-button driving modes for Sport, Econ and EV.
Power comes from the third generation of Honda’s award-winning 2-motor hybrid system, first seen on the 2017 Accord Hybrid. The generator motor starts the 181-hp 2.0-litre 4-cylinder Atkinson-cycle engine (with stop/start) and runs off the engine to help charge the 1.4 kWh battery; the 135-kW propulsion motor helps boost net horsepower to 212.
The battery is located under the cargo floor, and is cooled by cabin air drawn through a fan located to the right of the rear seatbacks
The CR-V starts off in EV mode, with the engine decoupled, and remains that way under light acceleration, during cruising and under braking. In Hybrid mode, the engine powers the generator motor to provide electricity to the propulsion motor, providing crisp acceleration while extending driving range. At higher cruising speeds, the engine drives the wheels directly with the propulsion motor aiding acceleration.
Like the Insight and Accord Hybrid before it, the CR-V Hybrid does not use a conventional transmission, rather relying on the motive force from either the propulsion motor or engine to drive the wheels through four fixed ratio gears and a lock-up clutch. The result is quicker and more predictable throttle response and improve fuel-efficiency.
The paddles on the steering wheel controls the regenerative braking through four levels (the four fixed ratio gears) with the right paddle (+) increasing regenerative braking and the left one (-) decreasing it. An instrument cluster gauge displays the level through chevrons, with the default being one (starting with every start-up).
Cabin quietness is realized through a mix of active and passive sound control, through insulation and sound-absorbing materials, and Active Noise Cancellation. Also, the 2020 CR-V Hybrid has a speaker mounted on the front bumper that emits a distinct audible alert when the vehicle is running on electricity.