What Does the ECON Button Do on a Honda CR-V

What Does the ECON Button Do on a Honda CR-V?

When I first bought my CR-V, the green ECON button was something I’d not seen before in a car. I soon got used to it though, and with a little bit of research clearly learned what ECON mode does in a Honda CR-V. Here’s all you need to know… 

What does the ECON button do on a Honda CR-V? The ECON button in a CR-V adjust various elements of how the car drives and operates to maximize fuel economy. This includes limiting acceleration, lowering RPMs, and adjusting climate control to reduce fuel usage.

That’s the very basics of what the ECON button in a Honda CR-V does, but to truly get the best use out of it and to maximize fuel economy, scroll down. I will explain when you should use ECON mode, whether you can leave it on, and even how much gas or MPG you can save.

What does ECON mode do in Honda CR-V?

The ECON button with the green leaf was a bit of a mystery to me when I first drove my new Honda CR-V, but no more. I now use it always daily, and in fact, sometimes I will even leave the ECON button. Let me explain why below.

You will find the ECON button typically on the center console of your CR-V or to the side of your steering wheel. It might be green and round, or on newer models is square with the green ECON logo printed on it.

honda CRV econ button
Your Honda CR-V ECON button might look like this.

But what does the ECON button do on a Honda CR-V exactly when pressed?

Well, the bottom line is that it is designed to save you gas as an economy feature. When you press the Honda ECON button, the vehicle enters ECON mode which then activates specific performance elements to reduce how much fuel you use.

These include throttle response, air conditioning, transmission response, and cruise control. 

When to use Honda ECON button

Now you know the basics, when should you use the Honda ECON mode? Well, I must admit, I tend to leave my on a lot of the time, but the reality is I shouldn’t in some rare cases. Here’s when to use the Honda ECON button:

  • When you are driving at steady speeds on highways.
  • When you are driving in normal city and urban driving situations.
  • When you are driving in locations where the road terrain remains relatively flat.
  • When you are driving without towing anything else.
  • When you are not using the air con for consistent lengths of time.

When you should not use the Honda ECON button

Whilst the Honda CR-V ECON button is great for saving the engine’s effort and gasoline, there are certain situations where it’s advisable to not activate the economy mode. These include:

  • In extremely hot weather when the air con is in use constantly.
  • While entering and exiting the highway.
  • Overtaking other vehicles on the road and you need fast acceleration.
  • When towing a large load.
  • When driving on uneven terrains.

Can you leave the ECON button on?

To conclude, the Honda CR-V ECON button is designed to improve your vehicle’s fuel consumption, but not on all roads or in all driving conditions. As a result, it’s important to appreciate that ECON button mode doesn’t need to be on all the time.

To re-cap, don’t leave the ECON button on when it’s very hot and the vehicle hasn’t yet cooled down. In cases like this, let the car drive for a few miles before you considering going into economy mode.

honda CR-V Econ light
ECON Mode is on when you see this green light appear.

Is it better to drive with the ECON on or off?

It is fine to drive with ECON Mode on. You can quite feasibly leave ECON on all the time with no engine damage, engine troubles, unnecessary maintenance, or other issues. But this is providing you know what situations require it turning off as I described above.

So those are the basics on what the ECON button does on a Honda CR-V, but if you’re curious, here’s how it works and where those fuel savings are being made.

How does the Honda ECON button work? 

Honda invented the ECON button due to a shift in attitudes and science regards the environment. As a result of the concerns around the damage cars do to the planet, manufacturers started to research ways to enhance gas economy, vehicle efficiency, and limit pollution. 

For consumers, fuel consumption also plays a role in attempts to reduce their spend on fuel.

The following performance features are activated in a Honda CR-V when the ECON button mode is pressed, bringing the vehicle into optimum operation to maximize fuel efficiency.

1. Air conditioning 

Air conditioning, no matter how pleasant it is, increases fuel consumption. When the CR-V ECON button is pressed, the air conditioner operates more efficiently, using less energy to keep the cabin temperature steady.

If you’re driving on a hot day and want to use your Honda CR-V’s handy ECON button, turn it off first and let the car cool down with full A/C power. Then select ECON mode for a more relaxing and cost-effective cruise.

Ideally, you should only activate ECON mode when the weather is cool and fair.

CR-V Econ button pressed green light
Press the Honda ECON button for improved fuel economy.

2. Throttle response

When you press the CR-V ECON button, the throttle slows down at the same rate that your vehicle accelerates, saving you fuel.

For optimal performance, the speed should stay unaffected at extremely low or very high speeds.

Drivers in ECON mode will still enjoy predictable acceleration from a stop and have full throttle when needed to help minimize potential on-road crashes by keeping the normal throttle response at the beginning and end of the throttle or gas pedal.

Fuel efficiency is enhanced by changing the throttle response in the mid-range of the throttle while driving down the highway or speeding through city streets.

You will notice is, as when you start to push down on the gas pedal, it will feel like it’s harder than it normally would be.

3. Transmission 

The ECON button on a CR-V also makes the transmission to shift into the next gear sooner by reducing the shift points, keeping RPMs lower and in a more economical range. You will feel and hear it as you drive… subtle differences in feel and sound, but they can make a difference to how much fuel is used.

When the vehicle slows down, the transmission in ECON mode will likewise wait longer to downshift since it wants to stay in the most efficient range of lower RPMs.

4. Cruise control

When cruise control is turned on, your vehicle will shift frequently to keep up with the cruise speed. The ECON button, once pressed, reduces the frequency with which the transmission switches between gears to save gas.

Because the engine needs to burn more fuel at lower gears than at higher gears, frequent gear changes increase fuel consumption.

Enabling the Honda CR-V ECON mode when traveling at low speeds, either on poor roads or in traffic jams, is not recommended. The transmission will be required to shift more frequently in these situations, undermining the purpose of the feature.

So, that’s how the ECON button on a CR-V works and what it does. But just how truthful is the marketing behind the functions? 

Let’s look a bit closer, as some people will have their doubts on whether the ECON button really does save on gas.

Does the ECON button save money on gas?

Yes, it does, and there is some research to back the claim up too. This is exactly what Honda developers envisioned when they created the ECON button.

As previously stated, the ECON mode controls several vehicle functions to enhance fuel consumption and efficiency. With a lower engine load, the engine consumes less fuel than under normal operating circumstances.

Below are some figures from an MIT student’s master’s thesis showing the estimate of possible oil savings from speed limit laws on highways.

Honda CR-V ECON mode mpg
Using the CR-V ECON button might help you save gas.

The above graph simulates fuel usage vs cruise speed for steady-speed driving. As you can imagine, if the ECON button can limit that, it will save gas money.

Handy Hint: Here’s how to isolate a rattling noise when you are sat idling.

Honda CR-V ECON mode mpg

Taking that one step further, a recent exchange on a forum asked readers what their Honda CR-V ECON mode mpg was, and many responded with examples. I’ve included some of those below. 

“With the ECON mode off and the Engine Idle Shut Down was deactivated, I got 23.2 mpg. In comparison, with the ECON mode on and the Engine Idle Shut Down on (to get maximum fuel economy), I got 24.0 mpg which was a 3.4% mpg improvement.”

“In my 2014 CR-V the ECON button is most efficient when driving long distances. When driving distances longer than 30 miles I average 37 to 40mpg with it on versus approximately 33mpg with it off. I’m a daily driver of a minimum of 50 miles per day and notice a difference with the ECON on.”

It’s worth noting that there were also many people who commented saying they had not seen any difference in their Honda CR-V mpg with the ECON mode switched on.        

Related questions

You might also want to know more, so I did some additional research into how the Honda CR-V ECON button works.

In what other ways does the Honda ECON button help save money on gas?

One other way the Honda ECON button helps save money on gas is by reducing pedal power. This is in addition to all the above-mentioned car components that the ECON button affects to conserve gas. 

When ECON mode is enabled, the car saves energy by using less and altering the transmission’s power. You will find that it accelerates more quickly and rides more smoothly.

Can using the ECON button slow down your car?

Due to the high gas consumption of high-speed driving, the ECON button allows the vehicle to automatically slow down and avoid high speeds.

Does using the ECON button hurt the car’s engine?

Nothing will harm the vehicle’s engine when the ECON button is activated.

This approach will save money on the car’s maintenance and make driving a more pleasant and gentle experience. The ECON button simply regulates the amount of power generated or fuel spent by the engine.

How much gas does the ECON button save on a Honda CR-V?

When you use the ECON button, the vehicle shifts to an energy-saving mode, increasing fuel efficiency by one to two miles per gallon.

How fast can I drive while using the ECON button?

When it is engaged, the Eco freewheel function is activated. Click a gear picker in the D range to select gear. It is estimated that the car will take between 30 and 40 minutes to move. Speeds range from 65 to 140 km/h (40-87 mph).

How to turn off ECON mode on Honda CR-V?

To turn off the Honda CR-V ECON Mode, you simply press the ECON button. When it’s activated you will see a green icon and lighting on your dash, when turned off, the green lighting will disappear.


I want to slightly temper expectation on the benefits of the Honda ECON button. Since I published this post, I have seen other people saying they have not seen their mpg reduce significantly with the ECON button switched on.

However, there are some more scientific research pieces which I will be updating this post in the coming weeks, so please do visit back to see what was found out about using the Honda CR-V ECON mode.

More simple car guides…