The driving experience is mixed

We know this transmission is more efficient around town, but unfortunately our first drive was almost entirely highway. And immediately we encountered bad manners. The first hill forced the engine to dig in, keeping the revs steady and bringing a less-than-stellar engine note into the cabin. Whenever we encountered lean, the engine felt like it was being overworked to provide power.

Things did not improve on the slopes either. It’s great that Honda includes variable brake regeneration in the hybrid drivetrain, but when the battery is drawing energy (such as when going downhill), the electric motor whines loudly—very loudly. We actually thought it was the engine that had started again, but it was actually the electronic engine that made its presence known. The hybrid powertrain is supposed to be smooth and quiet. More often than not, the CR-V Sport Touring was neither of those two things.

And that’s a shame, because the short time spent on the streets of the city was a completely different story. From stoplight to stoplight, the car was quiet and calm, spending an impressive amount of time in electric mode. It’s a great car to drive around town, and the 13 extra mpg (city figure) over the gas-only model is a huge gain.

Edmunds says

The good news is that Honda’s best-selling car is better, with a comfortable interior and a livelier exterior design. The bad news is that we still prefer the gas version over the hybrid. Our real-world fuel economy testing may be convincing enough to change that soon, but after this first drive of the hybrid, we don’t see enough of a change to recommend it.