Honda's popular CR-V is about to get a little greener, and we're not talking about its paint. A Honda CR-V Hybrid prototype will bow next week in Germany at the Frankfurt auto show and it may be headed to American dealers.
By adding a hybrid option, Honda can compete more fully with both the Toyota RAV4 and Nissan Rogue—both of which already offer hybrid variants—in the heated three-way battle for crossover sales supremacy.
The prototype reveals slightly revised lines, most notably more aggressive wheel arches, sharper lines around the hood, and larger wheels and tires. This is hardly a redesign, however, and the key differences are entirely underneath the skin.
This is the first CR-V to come with an electric motor. While output specifications are yet to be released, Honda says can work in conjunction with its 2.0-liter inline-4 gasoline engine or independently, allowing for a purely electric mode in addition to hybrid and gasoline engine-driven modes.
In hybrid mode, the CR-V Hybrid uses its gasoline engine as a generator, charging the batteries to power the electric motor, which in turn drives the vehicle. As the name would suggest, it’s only in “Engine Drive” mode that the CR-V Hybrid actually connects the gasoline engine to the wheels.
No action is required by the driver to switch back and forth. Honda’s Intelligent Multi-Mode Drive (i-MMD) system selects whichever mode offers the most efficient option at any given time. In everyday city driving, the CR-V Hybrid fluctuates between its EV and hybrid modes, using the engine only during a heavy application of the right foot. On the highway, however, the engine will remain the primary option.
It's not clear how much the CR-V Hybrid would improve upon the standard CR-V's up to 30 mpg combined rating.
The CR-V Hybrid prototype shown at Frankfurt is all but a certainty to come to the United States, though there’s not yet any official confirmation from Honda.