Lately, we’ve been talking a little bit about what Honda cooks up next, propelled by the excellent new Civic that’s sleek, restrained, yet aerodynamically excellent. We’ve been speculating about the 2023 Accord, which we think will get an intense redesign that takes some notes from the Honda Civic’s playbook. We’ve seen how Honda will play the split, both stylistically and physically, between the HR-V in the US market and the European Vezel only. More importantly, we’ve already seen what to expect from the 2023 CR-V thanks to a patent image leak that is very convincing.
We anticipate that the biggest changes will include the exterior of the new 2023 CR-V – an overhaul similar to the one Honda applied to the compact Civic, which is mechanically very similar to its predecessor but couldn’t look any more different on the outside. Leaked (gray image below), spy photos of the prototypes we’ve seen, and clues from current products, we’ve commissioned these illustrations to show you how we think Honda will rework the CR-V.
While the new, smaller HR-V sounds a little worrisome, we think the CR-V will ditch the active SUV lifestyle inclinations for a more sophisticated look. That means slimmer headlights, a sleeker grille, and stripes that accentuate the extra length that spy shots suggest. While the current CR-V is handsome, it feels short and a little compressed up front when compared to our idea of where it’s headed – in particular, the slim headlights and more traditional grille look a lot more modern than the current CR-V’s face-lift. “visage.
On the outside, the look is a little more sophisticated, but the extra length makes the butt look a little smaller, sturdier on the inside, and a little more defined. A curvaceous D-pillar and steep rear windshield give it some Fastback vibe, capturing some of the Mojo coupe crossovers that are so in vogue these days. A metallic finishing panel under the darker rear bumper adds a bit of zest.
Inside, we imagine the new Civic’s emphasis on simple horizontal elements and an interesting full-width dashboard grille that hides the air vents will appear here. Expect an infotainment system just like the one on the Civic, located above the dashboard, which is a welcome addition because the current CR-V’s screen is too small to compete. With that extra length, the occasional third row might sprout at the rear, giving it more ammo to compete with the Volkswagen Tiguan and Kia Sorento.
under the cover
Expect more of the same here, with the 2023 CR-V adopting powertrains on previous models, with the sort of mild tweaks and enhancements the newer Civic has received. This means that the turbocharged 1.5-liter I-4 will return for study in most versions, and the naturally aspirated 2.0-liter I-4 should return in the hybrid version. It is possible that the PHEV version will first appear in the United States; The current generation CR-V PHEV has already been sold in China by Dongfeng Honda. If a PHEV comes to our market with the new generation, expect something quite similar to the 2.0-liter powertrain in the Chinese market and something close to 40-50 miles of EV-only range.
The CR-V is near the top of a hot white strip now, and it’s been hot for a long time. It’s easy to assume that a taller, more versatile, and more handsome alternative car will keep Honda’s position at the top of the pile. But competition, particularly new models from Hyundai and Kia with bold styling and a wide range of powertrain options, makes the calculus more difficult.
But let’s put it another way: The CR-V has earned so much goodwill that it takes a real bad smell to make an impact on this SUV’s appeal. We believe, in this environment, the biggest challenge for CR-V will be whether there are enough dealers to meet customer demand. However, it remains to be seen if the additional length, potential third row, and additional bruising of the content we presume will decrease when the price is pushed up enough to damage once the production shortage subsides.