It's one of the more frequently asked questions on consumer car sites: why aren't there any hybrid crossover utility vehicles?
The Ford Escape Hybrid reigned alone in that segment from 2004 through 2012. Then Ford simply walked away from the segment, replacing it with the underwhelming C-Max Hybrid without all-wheel drive.
It took until last year for the 2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid to arrive, quickly racking thousands of sales each month; it was followed this year by the 2017 Nissan Rogue Hybrid.
DON'T MISS: 2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid: Gas Mileage Review
Now, halfway around the world, a Honda CR-V Hybrid has debuted at the Shanghai auto show. And we have to suggest that it seems a likely bet for sale in the U.S.
The hybrid CR-V uses Honda's two-motor hybrid system, already employed by the Honda Accord Hybrid mid-size sedan—and promised for more vehicles by Honda's U.S. arm.
UPDATE: Green Car Reports reached out to Honda North America for comment, and received the follow response:
We have already announced our intent to electrify core volume models, including light trucks. CR-V will logically be a part of that, and we'll announce timing for the U.S. at a later date.
That's as close as any maker will get to saying, "Yep, it's coming here too," before the actual announcement.
2017 Honda Accord Hybrid
The CR-V Hybrid shown in Shanghai will go on sale in China during the second half of this year.
It will be manufactured by Dongfeng Honda Automobile, a joint venture with a local automaker of type that's essentially mandatory for any non-Chinese company that wants to sell affordable models in volume to Chinese buyers.
READ THIS: 2017 Nissan Rogue Hybrid: gas mileage review
Honda's press release for the hybrid CR-V says little about the powertrain beyond its use of the company's "Sport Hybrid" two-motor hybrid system.
That's the one presently used in the Honda Accord Hybrid, and the company has said it will be used in other U.S. vehicles in the future.
2017 Honda Accord Hybrid
With corporate average fuel economy standards in place to rise steadily through at least 2021, the arrival of hybrid crossovers was an obvious next step for automakers—since heavier, bulkier SUV-like vehicles start with lower fuel efficiency than sleeker, lighter sedans and hatchbacks with the same interior volume.
The 2017 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is rated at 32 mpg combined, and the Nissan Rogue Hybrid comes in at 33 mpg combined with all-wheel drive or 34 mpg combined with front-wheel drive.
Those are the EPA ratings Honda would have to meet or beat.
The powertrain used in the 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid is rated at a combined 212 horsepower between its 2.0-liter Atkinson Cycle 4-cylinder engine and the electric drive motor, which itself is rated at a maximum output of 135 kilowatts (181 hp).
Along with the Ford Escape, which so far remains entirely hybrid-free, the Honda CR-V and the Toyota RAV4 sit at the top of the compact-crossover sales charts in the U.S. The Nissan Rogue has surged to join them in the last few years as well.
At the Shanghai auto show, Honda also said it would start sales of a "new electric vehicle" that will developed as a "China-exclusive model," though what that vehicle is remains to be seen.