The 2020 Honda CR-V comes to the party with plenty of feathers in its cap. Our contemporaries in the automotive press hold the CR-V in high regard and we agree with them. That's not to say the CR-V is perfect, but it's pretty close based on our week-long test drive.
Safety & Tech Features
The 2020 Honda CR-V is the best-selling crossover in the United States and has been for two decades. Reviews on the CR-V are mostly positive, with U.S. News & World Report listing it as the best compact SUV for the money in 2020.
Recently, we spent a week with the 2020 Honda CR-V. We believe the CR-V makes a strong case in terms of functionality, fuel economy, driveability, and price. Here is what we found during our test drive.
Honda CR-V: What’s New for 2020?
The front bumper, grille, and headlights are each restyled for 2020. EX and EX-L trims have new alloy wheels while Touring grades receive new 19-inch wheels and tires. On the inside is an updated center console with more storage space and USB ports.
Mechanically, the biggest change is the 1.5-liter turbo for the LX trim, which replaces the existing 2.4-liter naturally aspirated engine. This now makes the 1.5-liter turbo the standard engine for all gasoline-powered CR-Vs. The CR-V also has a hybrid option for the first time in its history.
Trim levels include LX, EX, EX-L, and Touring. All-wheel drive is available for each. Lastly, three new exterior colors join the lineup for 2020: Radiant Red Metallic, Sonic Gray Pearl, and Aegean Blue Pearl.
Our 2020 Honda CR-V Press Vehicle
We zipped around metro Detroit for the week in a CR-V Touring with the new 1.5-liter turbo engine and all-wheel drive. Here is a look at how our press vehicle was equipped.
Technical Features included the 1.5-liter turbo engine, all-wheel drive, four-wheel disc brakes, front MacPherson strut/multi-link rear suspension, and electric power steering. Safety Features included airbags all around, ABS, Vehicle Stability Assist, LED daytime running lights, and the LATCH system for child seats.
Interior Features included leather, premium audio with nine speakers, navigation with voice recognition, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, HD and satellite radio, wireless phone charger, dual-zone climate control with air filtration, and a heated steering wheel, among others.
In terms of Exterior Features, our CR-V had a power moonroof, 19-inch wheels, remote start, rain-sensing wipers, heated mirrors, LED headlights, taillights, and fog lamps, and chrome exhaust tips for good measure. Honda Sensing is standard on every CR-V. The advanced safety package includes adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation braking, lane-keeping assist, and road departure mitigation.
What Does The 2020 Honda CR-V Cost?
The base price for our 2020 CR-V was $34,750. With the destination charge of $1,095, total MSRP came to $35,845. By comparison, the 2020 Honda CR-V starts at $25,050.
Interior Highlights: Initial Impressions
We find ourselves in two minds about the interior of the 2020 Honda CR-V. In terms of functionality, there are no reservations or concerns whatsoever. We made use of the wireless charging pad, navigation, and Android Auto: each performed flawlessly and every CR-V owner will enjoy these features. There’s even a 12-volt power outlet in the center console.
It’s just that the CR-V’s interior is kinda dull. It functions, but it doesn’t really resonate, at least not with us.
While the steering wheels feels solid, the placement of the gear shifter looks odd and tacky. While the heated seats are comfortable, the wood grain trim of our Touring model looked cheap. And while the seven-inch central display will do everything you ask, the graphics, especially on the navigation, look like something out of an early 90s video game.
At the end of our week-long test drive, we remain neutral on the CR-V’s interior. No arguments on functionality or versatility, but it’s hard to get excited about it.
Interior Highlights: Plenty of Room!
Putting the styling critiques aside, the 2020 Honda CR-V will accommodate a family on the go. The Touring trim offers 37.6 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second row. Drop it down, and it jumps to 75.8 cubic feet. By comparison, the 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe offers 35.9 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second row and 71.3 cubic feet when its folded. Families who need every last ounce of cargo space will be happy with the CR-V.
ACE is, in so many words, the CR-V’s safety architecture. It diverts energy away from occupants while minimizing the often unpredictable damage done during a collision with a vehicle of another size. ACE differs from traditional designs in how it directs impact energy to both upper and lower structural elements. All CR-V models are designed with ACE, and we believe in it strongly.
2020 Honda CR-V Engine & Powertrain
Under the hood of our press vehicle was the 1.5-liter turbo engine with 190 horsepower and 179 lb-ft. of torque. The in-line four-cylinder employs direct injection, variable valve timing, and a drive-by-wire throttle system. Honda attaches the engine to a continuously variable transmission.
The blue italics in the above chart denote the engine and drivetrain of our press vehicle.
During an arbitrary 26-mile run, we averaged a combined 29.4 mpg, which is right on par with the window sticker. That run included lower speed driving within the Detroit metro, followed by higher speeds once we exited onto I-94.
How Does The 2020 Honda CR-V Drive?
While the interior doesn’t do much for us, the on-road dynamics of the 2020 Honda CR-V are another story. To say the CR-V is smooth and composed, while true, is also an understatement. It’s one of the most refined crossovers we have ever driven and would enjoy taking it on a long vacation.
During an evening trip down I-75 to nearby Monroe, Michigan, we wanted to just keep going into Ohio. Honda uses a front MacPherson strut and rear multi-link suspension with low-friction dampers for the CR-V. The combination softens the bumps, but on a smoother road, one might think the CR-V is a higher-end Acura. The front and rear stabilizer bars help ease the CR-V around corners while the electric power steering is both agile and responsive.
One critique might be the 1.5-liter turbo engine’s power. Admittedly, there isn’t much spark, but we are not going to judge this too harshly. It had enough for exiting onto the major highways here in the Detroit metro, and that was good enough for us. We had no issues with visibility either when it came to maneuvering around the city.
Should You Buy a 2020 Honda CR-V?
The CR-V has a number of competitors, from the Chevy Equinox and Ford Escape to the Hyundai Santa Fe and Mazda CX-5. We recommend taking those and other similar vehicles for a test drive, but if you come back to the 2020 Honda CR-V we would not be surprised. The way it drives sold us!
Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog and a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association and the Society of Automotive Historians. He serves on the board of directors for the Ally Jolie Baldwin Foundation, is a past president of Detroit Working Writers, and a loyal Detroit Lions fan.
2020 Honda CR-V Gallery
Photos: Honda North America (additional models and trim levels shown).