We’re at a fairly experimental time when it comes to car design, particularly with interiors. All kinds of displays and buttons and arrangements are being tried, all in an effort to stand out. And while it’s great from a style standpoint, sometimes we’re left wanting for something simpler, something that just works. And that’s what you get in the 2023 Honda CR-V. But don’t take that for it having a boring interior. It’s still handsome, it just happens to be highly functional, straightforward, and of a high quality.
Open the door to the CR-V Sport Touring (only available as a hybrid), and you’re presented with a dashboard that doesn’t look much different than that in the Honda Civic, which is a good thing. It’s a low, lean dash with a full-width screen hiding the vents and keeping the aesthetic uncluttered. Not only does this dash design help the interior feel open, it genuinely sits low enough that it helps give an excellent view out the windshield.
The use of piano black plastic is refreshingly restrained, simply placed around the air vent screen to add a different texture, and there are glints of chrome that pop on the control knobs without feeling flashy or gaudy. The rest of the dash is mostly soft-touch plastic, which feels decent, but does feel a little bit behind some other competitors that are offering nice upholstered panels such as Mazda and Mitsubishi.
The simple, approachable vibe continues with the controls. While not the most elegant, the touchscreen infotainment system is perched atop the dash and close to the driver. That makes it easy to glance over and read it, and its closeness makes it easy to reach. The Sport Touring picks up the larger 9-inch display, which makes the already-large, color-coded icon buttons even easier to discern. And while it does lose the tuning knob, the volume one remains along with Home, Back and skip track/station buttons on the left side. If you’re only going to have a few physical buttons, these are great ones to have, especially the Home button for going in between the car’s native system and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. Toyota’s new system lacks one and it’s a constant source of frustration.
Sitting below the center air vents are the dedicated, physical climate controls for which we’re hugely grateful. And they also go a long way to elevating the feel of the cabin. The crispness of the knurling and the shine of the chrome would look just as good in an Audi or BMW. They feel just as good, clicking over with precision and a delicate, almost metallic sound. Honda may not have gussied up every part of the cabin, but it definitely put money where you’ll most frequently notice.
And really, you’ll get all of this in any CR-V, not just the Sport Touring. The only real dash difference across the line is a lack of a couple buttons for features, the screen size and the leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter (available on Sport Hybrid and up).
The instrument cluster is a split between an analog speedometer dial and a small color info screen that can display a tachometer, fuel economy, power distribution and other driving information. It’s nothing special, but it’s clear and easy to read.
Moving onto the seating, and the CR-V continues to impress. The Sport/hybrid trims, including Sport Touring, all get nifty orange contrast stitching with the Sport Touring featuring leather upholstery. They’re quite comfortable with firm, but not intrusive bolsters and plenty of padding. A slightly deeper seat base would be nice for those with long thighs, but it’s still comfortable enough. There’s plenty of adjustment between the power seat (on all but the base CR-V) and the steering wheel to find a comfortable position for looking out through the CR-V’s generous glass area. Actual space for legs, head and hips are all excellent, too, for people large, tall, skinny or short.
The rear seats are just as good. They’re certainly a bit more flat and firm than the front seats, as so many rear seats are, but the leg room is incredible, enough to rival large luxury sedans. Headroom is, literally, no slouch either. The adjustable recline adds to the comfort.
Cargo space on the other hand is good, but it’s not class-leading. It’s the same regardless of the powertrain, which is convenient, but at 36.3 cubic feet, it’s not as spacious as Kia Sportage or Toyota RAV4. The hybrids also lack a spare tire, which those competitors have. You can take a deeper dive into the cargo area with our Honda CR-V luggage test.
The CR-V may not have an interior that stuns in pictures or shocks friends with techno gimmicks. But it will wow you on a regular basis, impressing you with quality, comfort and convenience that you’ll never get tired of.