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Ars Technica CR-V hybrid review

We’ve not yet driven enough to have our own fuel economy numbers (<50 miles to date), but the Ars reviewer’s result seems implausibly low. How is everyone else finding the fuel consumption?

Ten-month update: At 4,500 miles, we've averaged 37.2 US mpg (44.7 UK mpg or 6.32 L/100km). I monitor the consumption by recording the gallons used to fill the tank each time and miles driven using the odometer. The worst consumption (33.1 US mpg) was a fuel fill on which we mostly drove on 70+ miles/hour Interstate highways through mountains in summer heat. I do not use the "ECON" mode. I'm updating my original post because I still see it quoted in recent posts.
 

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Floatin' Pizza Slices
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Clearly, whoever wrote that "review" didnt know how to drive.

From this forum alone, people are enjoying the fuel savings of the CR-V Hybrid. So his musings are rather pointless and valueless.
 

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38.5 miles to the gallon (US) after it's first fill-up. Perhaps this is a nice site for real-time fuel consumption: Fuelly
 

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Ars Technica CR-V hybrid review

We’ve not yet driven enough to have our own fuel economy numbers (<50 miles to date), but the Ars reviewer’s result seems implausibly low. How is everyone else finding the fuel consumption?
I can’t understand these consumption figures. Fuel economy is very good in my experience and is currently showing 52.5 mpg (imperial).

This is on a mix of roads mainly sitting at a traffic limited 60 - 65 mph. It was mid fifties before winter and dropped slightly with the colder weather.

I’m pretty sure if the majority of my driving was urban as this review claims it would be nearer 60mpg.
 

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Driving short distances in a city in the middle of summer absolutely destroys the MPG number on every car.

Charlie1960, the UK gallon being 20% bigger than the US gallon (4.54 liters v 3.8liters) is always going to cause some fun on these multi national forums.
 

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Floatin' Pizza Slices
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Driving short distances in a city in the middle of summer absolutely destroys the MPG number on every car.
Respectfully disagree on that.

On my 4th Gen (Manual/diesel) CR-V and more recently, my old 1.5T Civic Prestige, in urban driving settings, I was getting 45mpg+ in both cars. Its down to how heavy the accelator is pushed which ultimately forms one, of many variables towards consumption and performance.
 
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53 m/gallon (imperial) is ± 42 m/gallon US according to convertworld.com

The 38 m/gallon I mentioned earlier aren't bad: new engine and we're allowed to drive faster on the motorway than in the US. Daytime 62 m/hr and 80 m/hr between 7PM and 6AM.
 
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I have checked the last two fill ups and the computer is saying average of about 52mpg (uk)
and I think it is more likey to be about a true 48mpg
 

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No mention of the regen paddles in that ARS article. The Fast Lane did a mountain MPG test vs the Rav4 Hybrid, talked about the regen paddles, then said "naw I'm not going to use them". Well what do you expect then?

 

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Ars Technica CR-V hybrid review

We’ve not yet driven enough to have our own fuel economy numbers (<50 miles to date), but the Ars reviewer’s result seems implausibly low. How is everyone else finding the fuel consumption?
I average about 32 mpg. If I drive in a spirited way I get about 24 mpg. If I drive, as my son would say "like I'm driving a sled full of nitroglycerine", I've gotten 42 mpg.
 

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You need a sled with explosives and a mercury switch.
 

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Perhaps when automag reviewers finally understand that the primary goal of Hybrid's is to lower emissions, not increase fuel efficiency, they may actually one day write something worth reading!
 
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Respectfully disagree on that.

On my 4th Gen (Manual/diesel) CR-V and more recently, my old 1.5T Civic Prestige, in urban driving settings, I was getting 45mpg+ in both cars. Its down to how heavy the accelator is pushed which ultimately forms one, of many variables towards consumption and performance.
I think you need to parameterize "short distances" in city driving, and also the the mention of "in the heat of summer" when you're in the UK and basically don't have such a thing by American standards :).

I am a new 2020 CR-V Hybrid owner in Sonic Gray (hi everybody!) and have been watching the trip meter MPG rating like a hawk. Overall the dashboard is telling me I've achieved 33.7 MPG so far.

It's disappointing to me in the early go, but I chalk it up to exactly those two factors. If I drive the car for a significant amount of time, like 10-15 minutes or longer, then the MPGs improve markedly, but many of my typical trips are of the "10 minutes or less of city driving" variety to my parents or to a nearby shopping center within a half to 2 mile range, and the car won't even go into EV mode for at least five minutes.

Meanwhile the air conditioning is running full blast to cool the car to 70F (about 21C) in a reasonable amount of time when it's 90-95F outside and sunny (that's upwards of 35 Celsius). All of it on the combustion engine, no doubt.

For that type of driving, the only really efficient power would be fully electric, I think.

I've also found it difficult to get the ten-bar battery charge display on the left higher than 4 bars. It came to me from the dealer sitting at 3 bars, and at one point I drove it to the top of a steep hill and regeneratively braked (using the paddle control) to the max on the way down, and it got as high as six bars at the end of that. But that's as high as I have ever seen it.

That said, when I drive the car for a longer period of time, like going from Queens to Brooklyn in NYC via the BQE, which is technically a "highway" but is really congested pretty much all the time so that a 15 mile route takes 45 minutes; that trip came out on the trip meter at 40 MPG!
 

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Meanwhile the air conditioning is running full blast to cool the car to 70F (about 21C) in a reasonable amount of time when it's 90-95F outside and sunny (that's upwards of 35 Celsius). All of it on the combustion engine, no doubt.
All of it on the combustion engine, definitely.

I thought that under the circumstances your mpg was pretty good rather than disappointing. Long journeys look OK and I think the AC explains the lower short journey figure.

I'm pretty certain that without an engine an EV would take a fairly significant hit on projected range with the AC blasting away. I'm probably wrong but I assume that EV drivers look at range when gauging car efficiency.
 

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All of it on the combustion engine, definitely.

I thought that under the circumstances your mpg was pretty good rather than terrible. Long journeys look OK and I think the AC explains the lower short journey figure.

I'm pretty certain that without an engine an EV would take a fairly significant hit on projected range with the AC blasting away. I'm probably wrong but I assume that EV drivers look at range when gauging car efficiency.
Well, for THOSE trips I'm getting like 22 mpg. Averaging with the longer trips gets me to 33.7 mpg, and I'm curious to see what it will be like in cooler weather in the Fall.
 

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FYI, many "enthusiast" Hybrid drivers refer to the combustion engine as ICE for short...(Internal Combustion Engine)
 

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I think you need to parameterize "short distances" in city driving, and also the the mention of "in the heat of summer" when you're in the UK and basically don't have such a thing by American standards :).
Of course, short distances of less than 20 miles and in temps of around 20C. As you rightly note, our summers arent as vivid as yours!!
 

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I am a new 2020 CR-V Hybrid owner in Sonic Gray (hi everybody!) and have been watching the trip meter MPG rating like a hawk. Overall the dashboard is telling me I've achieved 33.7 MPG so far.
You need to calibrate "the dashboard." It typically reads low for mpg. My Accord Hybrid, for example, reads about 3% low. If yours is the same, your CR-V is getting about 1 mpg more than you think.

If I drive the car for a significant amount of time, like 10-15 minutes or longer, then the MPGs improve markedly, but many of my typical trips are of the "10 minutes or less of city driving" variety to my parents or to a nearby shopping center within a half to 2 mile range, and the car won't even go into EV mode for at least five minutes.

Meanwhile the air conditioning is running full blast to cool the car to 70F (about 21C) in a reasonable amount of time when it's 90-95F outside and sunny (that's upwards of 35 Celsius). All of it on the combustion engine, no doubt.

For that type of driving, the only really efficient power would be fully electric, I think.
I hate to sound like a broken record, but this is an incorrect impression that most new hybrid drives seem to start with. EV mode does not save gas. At some earlier time, you burned more gas than you needed for driving the car. The excess energy was stored in the battery, and you are using it now.

It is this entire process that saves gas. If you had used only as much gas as the car needs, the ICE might be about 30% efficient the whole time. Instead, it alternates between a higher power level where it is 40% efficient (and burns more gas than it needs), then EV mode where it burns no gas. Even with losses associated with saving the energy, this creates a net savings.

Two other comments:
  1. Those losses in saving the energy become heat. It turns out that the HV battery is most efficient when it is hot. The ICE is also. So the car will try to warm both up at the start of a trip. This can take 5 to 15 miles, depending on outside temperture and how fast you need to drive.
  2. The A/C is never "on the combustion engine." It is run entirely by electricity, from the HV battery. Last summer, I got stopped in a construction zone for about a half hour, in 97° by the dashboard's display. The ICE was off for most of this time, but it came on three times for a minute or two to re-charge the battery. Inside the car, we stayed nice and cool (well, except for under our collars. 🤬😁🤬)
I've also found it difficult to get the ten-bar battery charge display on the left higher than 4 bars.
That's what is is supposed to do. Consistent with the procedure I described above, it isn't meant to be a primary source of power, it just stores it temporarily. All "getting the ten-bars" would do is makes the periods of ICE-on, ICE-off longer. Oh, and wear out the HV battery quicker - it degrades fastest when high or low in charge level. So it stays within about a quarter of the full range of charge. Where that is depends one whether you are in ECON, NORMAL, or SPORT mode.
 

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You need to calibrate "the dashboard." It typically reads low for mpg. My Accord Hybrid, for example, reads about 3% low. If yours is the same, your CR-V is getting about 1 mpg more than you think.
Thanks for your reply, it was very informative and raised or answered several questions I've had in my mind about this car that the user's manual did not talk about!

I haven't had to do my first fill-up yet on this car, but I've always found that dividing total miles since the last fillup by gallons pumped for a fill-up (which assumes that, on average, a fill-up will fill up to about the same max capacity) shows a MPG rating about 1-2 MPG worse than what the car's trip meter showed. That's on older cars, of course, but all Honda/Acura cars (2007 Acura TSX, 2008 Acura MDX).

So the CR-V Hybrid being "too low" in its MPG reading would be very interesting!

I hate to sound like a broken record, but this is an incorrect impression that most new hybrid drives seem to start with. EV mode does not save gas. At some earlier time, you burned more gas than you needed for driving the car. The excess energy was stored in the battery, and you are using it now.

... it alternates between a higher power level where it is 40% efficient (and burns more gas than it needs), then EV mode where it burns no gas. Even with losses associated with saving the energy, this creates a net savings.
I get this; but a short, local drive that only lasts 5-10 minutes still means the car never left that first state of "running the ICE at a higher power level to store power" and never offsetting that with the "EV mode where it burns no gas", right?

So in a "quarantine week" where I do nothing but 5-6 trips like that, it kills my overall "current fillup" fuel mileage reading with a bunch of trips on the trip meter that show in the low 20s for the MPG rating.

In the end, that's the sense I got - (very) short trips yields basically the same MPG as I would get from relying on the ICE alone, even if the underlying mechanism isn't actually operating the car on the ICE alone.

Two other comments:
  1. Those losses in saving the energy become heat. It turns out that the HV battery is most efficient when it is hot. The ICE is also. So the car will try to warm both up at the start of a trip. This can take 5 to 15 miles, depending on outside temperture and how fast you need to drive.
  2. The A/C is never "on the combustion engine." It is run entirely by electricity, from the HV battery. Last summer, I got stopped in a construction zone for about a half hour, in 97° by the dashboard's display. The ICE was off for most of this time, but it came on three times for a minute or two to re-charge the battery. Inside the car, we stayed nice and cool (well, except for under our collars. 🤬😁🤬)
#1 amused me (if that's the right word) that the car told me the engine (which I assume meant the ICE) was not "warm enough" to enter EV mode on startup, when the car was parked in the sun in over 90F weather and my AC was blasting away.

I'm used to thinking that batteries want it COLD, not hot!

[The HV battery] isn't meant to be a primary source of power, it just stores it temporarily. All "getting the ten-bars" would do is makes the periods of ICE-on, ICE-off longer. Oh, and wear out the HV battery quicker - it degrades fastest when high or low in charge level. So it stays within about a quarter of the full range of charge. Where that is depends one whether you are in ECON, NORMAL, or SPORT mode.
Wow, I don't think the manual ever talks about this. It only describes the meter as showing how charged the battery is, and of course if one thinks of it like the fuel gauge meter that mirrors it on the right side, one would assume that maxing it out to the top would be something that should indicate "fully prepared for long trip" or something like that.
 
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