After over 10 years of reviewing automobiles, it is very rare that we get a vehicle for a week that we have never driven. So it was this week with the new Honda CR-V Hybrid. The fact that it now comes as a hybrid is a huge deal not only for Honda but for a public that is snatching up mid-sized SUVs like they were about to become extinct!

Being a hybrid, however, is not the only new experience for us; this was also our first week ever with the mid-sized Honda Ute. As the CR-V continues to run neck-and-neck with the Toyota Rav4 in sales figures here in the U.S., we were excited to finally have a week in the very popular Honda.

We took complete advantage of the week, using it for many errands, to get to work and just a plain old Sunday drive to get to know and understand what so many folks love about the mid-sized SUV. To start out the week, Deanne and her friend Cindy Ovard spent most of the day Friday and Saturday traversing Utah Valley for the annual Utah Home Builders Parade of Homes.

This year, the Parade was down in the number of homes but they were spread from Payson to Eagle Mountain, with the Honda taking it all in stride getting the gals to over 14 homes over the two days. On Sunday, with still over half a tank of gas left, we figured that it was necessary to see if we could run down the tank somewhat and see if a longer trip would decrease our mpg for the week.

We ended up in Nephi, heading west from there up State Road 132 and then taking Route 1812, cutting over to Highway 6 just south of Eureka. It was a beautiful hot drive out in the dessert and took us about two and a half hours to run the loop from Springville.

Ever since our first experience back in 2015 with the Honda Sensing safety system that includes what we think is one of the best radar cruise controls with lane keep assist on the market, we were happy to see it performs even better now. Back then, it came on a very high-end Acura TLX and now Honda is putting these features on more and more of their vehicles. In fact, this year all CR-V models come with this suite of safety features.

This also includes forward collision mitigation along with pedestrian detection and lane departure warning. Our favorite feature remains to be the radar cruise combined with the lane keep assist. We love the way it works more in combination with the driver and gently nudges the SUV back on course, and if the driver wants to take more control the system allows for it.

On some other vehicles we test drive, these combined systems can seemingly take more control of the steering and sometimes fight against where we want to move the vehicle, especially if it is a little more to the left or right when passing a large truck or the like on the freeway. We have even had times when they would follow the wrong lines or marks on the road thinking that was the proper lane to travel in and making it harder for us to get the vehicle in the right place.

Not so with the Honda. They just seem to have gotten the technology working better and better each year, with it now seemingly being even more in sync with the driver and allowing for the least bit of input from us, but still keeping us within the lane of travel!

On the propulsion side, the new hybrid CR-V comes with a 2.0-liter gasoline engine combined with two electric motors that can provide energy to the rear wheels. This two-motor combination allows Honda to not have use for an automatic transmission, instead delivering power to the rear wheels just as if the CR-V were a completely electric SUV.

This is important as it allows for all kinds of electric only and combined power distribution for the all-wheel drive, and allows for the most efficient use of the gasoline engine. Combined, the power output is 212 horsepower, which is more than what comes with the 1.5-liter turbocharged engine in a regular CR-V.

So how did we do after almost 500 miles of all kinds of driving? The CR-V came in at 39.8 mile per gallon. We were over 40 until we took the road trip down through Eureka, having to use the freeway and other highways. The Honda will do much better around town in the mileage department as it can use the electric motors even more.

Outside, the CR-V has received updates that provide a more upscale, even rugged look for the small SUV that should ring more with men as they are out looking for new rides. The fog lights are now fully integrated into the bumper along with very distinctive dark tinted taillights.

The CR-V also gets that new push-button gear selector that was introduced a few years ago in the Acura NSX. That alone made us feel more sport-like whenever we drove the CR-V. This button is flanked by three buttons for EV, Econ or Sport mode — yes, the small SUV will go around the neighborhood in all-electric or “stealth” mode at lower speeds.

Interesting point here: If driving in electric only mode, there is an “Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System” that is designed to give off an audible alert to pedestrians that varies in volume depending on speed and is very hard to hear on the inside of the CR-V. What a great thing to add, as it can be hard for kids to hear autos with no engine sound at all.

We spent most of the week in Econ mode to see how high we could push the mpg readout. A 7-inch touch screen completes the dashboard and was easy to use. In our test ride, the center driver console was also digital, adding the upscale and futuristic appeal of the interior.

The Honda CR-V should continue down its path of being one of the bestselling SUVs on the market as it continues to grow and evolve into the future. It made for a great first time impression with us and would definitely make the list when we are looking for a new SUV.

Base price: 35,950

Price as driven: 35,950

Craig and Deanne Conover have been test-driving vehicles for over eight years and have had the opportunity to drive many makes and models. They receive a new car each week for a weeklong test drive and adventure. They both love having the unique opportunity of trying out new cars. They reside in Springville, Utah.

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