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Head-to-head Comparison Test: 2017 Honda CR-V vs. 2017 Toyota RAV4

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Head-to-head Comparison Test: 2017 Honda CR-V vs. 2017 Toyota RAV4

As much as “buy American” enthusiasts like to lament the heydays of Ford, Chevrolet, Chrysler and the like, the U.S. family car market has long been dominated by two companies based in Japan: Honda and Toyota.

However, instead of the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry duking it out for the attention of mom and dad, those midsize sedans have steadily lost ground to their small SUV counterparts: the CR-V and the RAV4.

These two vehicles are the founding fathers of the crossover market and though they’ve abandoned the rugged, athletic appearances that defined their younger years (R.I.P. spare tire mounts) for safer, more fuel efficient body styles, both have remained the cream of the crop in the segment.


Gone are the days of ‘Camry vs. Accord,’ and here to stay is the new title fight: ‘CR-V vs. RAV4.’ (Joanna Tavares)

So, we decided to put them to proverbial “Pepsi/Coke Challenge,” except, rest assured, we weren’t blindfolded… or hanging out with Kendall Jenner.

Instead, Associate Editor Brian León and I drove the CR-V and RAV4 back to back to determine which one of these top sellers is actually the best small crossover on the market.

Both vehicles provide ample interior room, a healthy amount of cargo space and comfortable driving experiences, but while these two models might be neck and neck on the sales charts, one stands head and shoulders above the other, in our eyes, when it comes to overall value.

SECOND PLACE: 2017 Toyota RAV4 Platinum


Toyota’s RAV4 has yet to overtake the Camry in terms of overall sales, but a lot of that is due to strong fleet numbers for the Camry. Rest assured, it will soon enough. (Joanna Tavares)

Total Points: 155/200

Final Rating: 7.8

Kyle: Some relationships are love at first sight while others grow over time through shared experiences. The same can be said with cars.

Nothing about the RAV4 screams out for attention and it’s not going to make hearts swoon during hot laps, but it doesn’t have to for Toyota to sell 350,000 units in year. What makes this vehicle endearing is its ability to deliver ample utility and safety in a no-nonsense package.

It also doesn’t hurt that you can get into one for less than the cost of most Camrys (Camries?).

With a charming, “cinnamon” Softex leatherette interior, the RAV4 I tested invited me in and kept me comfortable with padded, adjustable front and rear seats. Once inside, drivers can be comforted further by the fact that every RAV4, regardless of trim level or additional packages, comes with not only endorsements from the nation’s top safety monitors, but also the Toyota Safety Sense suite of semi-autonomous driving assistance features.


The RAV4’s handsome dashboard design and optional cinnamon leatherette are definite highlights, but beneath the surface, there’s not much to love. (Joanna Tavares)

Add to that a relatively spacious cargo area with a 60/40 flat-folding rear bench and a bevy of small item storage spaces, ranging from the cavernous box in the center console to the ledge carved out above the glove box just for front seat occupants to place their phones, keys, etc., and you’ve got a boat-load of utility packed into a vehicle that still fits comfortably in a standard garage.

If the goal of a crossover is to offer more capability than a sedan in a more presentable package than a minivan, the RAV4 certainly meets that standard. However, this compact crossover isn’t winning any beauty pageants and its age is becoming apparent in more places than its squinty front fascia.

Technologically speaking, a fully-loaded RAV4’s 7-inch infotainment screen offers all the industry standards: navigation, satellite radio, Bluetooth capabilities, hands-free operation and smartphone connectivity, as well as a few extra features that are available in other vehicles, though not quite as ubiquitously, such as weather and traffic updates. However, upon using these features, I found their interface appeared dated compared to some of the RAV4’s closest competitors. Also, Toyota continues to boycott Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, saddling drivers with its homegrown and less intuitive Entune system.


Toyota’s 7-inch Entune system could use a serious ‘tune up’ (pun intended) for the next generation. (Joanna Tavares)

Toyota also remains committed to making you operate cruise control in all of its vehicles through a wand that juts out from the steering column at an angle that makes it tough to avoid brushing the top of one’s leg while navigating some highway curves. It would be less intrusive and, frankly, more visually appealing if the automaker would just do as nearly all of its competitors do and bake these controls into its steering wheel.

Also, the RAV4 offers next to nothing in terms of driving character. Steering is feathery light, body roll kicks in on the simplest of curves and the 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine offers a meager 176 horsepower. Not to say performance is a key factor for many buyers in the small crossover segment, but in comparison to the surprisingly fun CR-V, it’s yet another L for Toyota.

For 2017, Toyota’s RAV4 has a few surface-level issues, including body style and cargo capacity, as well as some less obvious elements, such as infotainment technology and driving dynamics, that keep it squarely behind the all-new CR-V. However, it’s still a darn good vehicle and one that might just win over your heart, if you let it.


The RAV4’s driving dynamics won’t be setting anyone’s hair on fire anytime soon, but it may just win you over in the long run. (Joanna Tavares)

Brian: I’ll be the first to admit that the RAV4 is at a bit of a disadvantage in this comparison seeing as the CR-V is all new for this year, but as there will still be hundreds of thousands of buyers cross-shopping these two exact vehicles, we’d be remiss if we didn’t make it clear which one is superior.

The RAV4 comes close to matching the cargo-hauling prowess of the CR-V, as it actually had the old model bested in that category, boasting 38.4 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 73.4 cubic feet with them folded flat. Unfortunately, those reclining rear seats can only be folded down by operating the levers on either side of the car, meaning you have to circumnavigate the rear of the vehicle just to get those seats down. The CR-V, by contrast, can fold its seats flat with just two handles in the rear cargo compartment.

Where the RAV4 wins in this category, however, is the inclusion of a surprisingly low load floor and cube-shaped storage area, which makes hauling heavy stuff – and lots of it – as easy as it would be in many larger vehicles.


The RAV4 actually bested the old CR-V in terms of overall cargo space, and it holds up well to the new one, with a low, flat load floor that makes moving heavy items in and out a breeze. (Joanna Tavares)

Technologically, it’s still behind the times, especially the ancient (or at least ancient-feeling) Entune infotainment system, but the inclusion of Toyota’s Safety Sense P system across the range as standard is a breath of fresh air, giving you automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, lane departure alert with steering assist, automatic high beams, and dynamic radar cruise control.

I share Kyle’s thoughts on the powertrain, though I must add that fuel economy is likely to underwhelm too, at only 24 mpg combined for all-wheel-drive models. Thankfully, it seems the RAV4 is fairly true to this figure, but the CR-V boasts 29 mpg combined, even if that is a little generous after several miles of real world driving. What’s the point of having a small, underpowered four cylinder if it isn’t even going to be particularly efficient? At least you can have the RAV4 as a hybrid, unlike the Honda…


Rear seat space is generous, if slightly tighter than the Honda, and I love the functionality of the lever used to recline the rear seats, but having to use both levers on either side of the vehicle to lower the rear seats flat is an oversight. (Joanna Tavares)

However, what really places this people-hauler in second place is the overall build quality; not just is it a major step behind the new CR-V, but many other competitors offer superior fit and finish too, including the Kia Sportage, Hyundai Tucson, and Mazda CX-5, among others. In comparison, the RAV4 feels slightly hollow, and there are rattles and shakes that shouldn’t be occurring on a vehicle with less than 10,000 miles on it so far, not to mention one that’s pushing $40K.

Which reminds me: our RAV4 Platinum test vehicle with all-wheel-drive rung in at a whopping $37,919 all included, which makes it over $3,000 more than the CR-V, which feels more solid overall by a fairly wide margin. That’s entirely too much, even for a loaded RAV4, and it begs the question of what you’re actually getting by spending a couple of extra thousand dollars when the Limited trim rings in at a few thousand dollars less. From what I can tell, you’re paying up to $3,000 more for the platinum just to get a foot-activated tailgate, body-color cladding instead of plastic trim, and a heated steering wheel. I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether or not that’s worth it.


The RAV4 is largely a victim of its age in this circumstance, but also by some mistakes by Toyota in the first place. Build quality is inferior, and there’s no reason a top-tier RAV4 should cost almost $38,000. (Joanna Tavares)

Summing Up:

  • Pros: Toyota Safety Sense as a standard feature; spacious cargo area with low load floor; proven reliability; affordable base MSRP; hybrid model available.
  • Cons: Technology feels dated; disappointing fuel economy ratings for AWD variant; bland driving dynamics; hefty price for (not many) added features.
  • Conclusion: The RAV4 is getting old, but it’s still one of the best small crossovers on the market. Head-to-head, it can’t quite best the all-new CR-V, but with its advanced standard safety features, it might be the better bargain buy.

Vital Stats:

  • Test Vehicle: 2017 Toyota RAV4 Platinum AWD
  • Price as Tested: $37,919
  • Powertrain: 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder engine; 6-speed automatic transmission
  • Power Rating: 176 horsepower and 172 lb.-ft. of torque
  • Fuel Economy Rating: 24 mpg combined
  • Safety Rating: NHTSA 5-star overall and IIHS Top Safety Pick+

FIRST PLACE: 2017 Honda CR-V Touring


Honda’s CR-V is the best-selling SUV in America, and with a completely-redesigned and wholly-improved new model, it’s poised to stay that way. (Joanna Tavares)

Total Points: 169/200

Final Rating: 8.5

Brian: It’s hard to think of a vehicle that can do almost every single thing you ask it to do with more competence than the Honda CR-V.

Need to haul five people and an equal amount of stuff all at once? No problem. Want to have all-wheel-drive capability for inclement weather while still pushing close to 30 mpg overall? Sure thing. Need a comfortable and quiet ride for the hellish commute to and from work? Done and done.

I humbly submit the Volkswagen Golf GTI as the only other vehicle to do so many things so well while still ringing in at under $35,000, but when it comes to what most American buyers want and need, the numbers don’t lie: they want CR-Vs, and lots of them.

The Honda CR-V has been the best-selling utility vehicle in America since 2012, and has only been on the market since 1997, and though it trails the heavily-marketed Nissan Rogue this year so far, The CR-V outsold both Honda’s own Accord, the RAV4, and the Toyota Camry last year, all without shifting a single vehicle through fleet sales.


There’s less to celebrate about the interior design than the exterior… except for the happy addition of a volume knob. (Joanna Tavares)

For 2017, Honda’s completely overhauled their best-seller, and it desperately needed to be better than before to keep the company’s perch atop the SUV sales heap. Fortunately, it is better, in almost every measurable way, and that gives it a distinct advantage over the aging RAV4.

We’ve outlined all of the reasons why the new CR-V is wholly improved over the old one in our full ratings and review, so consider this a more succinct summary.

Sporting a sleeker and more modern design than the outgoing CR-V, the new version looks better from seemingly every angle, from the more aggressive front maw to the boxier rear end, thankfully doing away with the humpback style of the 2016 and earlier model. Handsome 18-inch wheels are standard from the mid-tier upward, and the plastic body cladding and chrome detailing looks great when paired with an interesting hue, like the excellent Molten Lava Pearl red-orange paint job our test vehicle was finished in.


Honda’s infotainment system can be a pain to use with such a slow processor, but the ability to default to Apple CarPlay or Android Auto is a welcome addition, and something the RAV4 lacks. (Joanna Tavares)

Inside, the cabin design is more conventional, but you may notice the addition of a volume knob as a sign that Honda’s designers have truly been listening to our cries of anguish. The tan leather upholstery is soft and supple, and the tall, supportive seats are a pleasure to sit in for extended periods of time, even if there’s still no passenger seat height adjustment. Also, it’s so quiet in the CR-V, you could hear a pin drop… or your kid drop their favorite toy, more fittingly.

Honda’s infotainment system still fails to impress, despite the addition of a volume knob. With a Garmin-sourced navigation system and some connectivity apps, the entire system is plagued by a horrendously slow processor that can make operating it a hair-pulling affair, and why can’t I easily scroll through satellite radio channels with a simple menu? Or better yet, a tuning knob…

Still, the addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone projection is a welcome improvement, and I often defaulted to using CarPlay instead of Honda’s system while on the road.


Cargo space is arguably the CR-V’s strongest suit, boasting numbers to match many larger crossovers and the ability to load four large suitcases side by side and stacked under the rear tonneau cover. (Joanna Tavares)

Cargo space increases slightly over the outgoing model too, boasting a whopping 39.2 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats and 75.8 cubic feet with them folded flat, which can be accomplished with the ease of pulling just two handles, something the RAV4 distinctly lacks.

What’s more, the CR-V starts to look like an absolute bargain, even fully loaded, with a top-tier sticker of just under $35,000, while the optioned-out RAV4 came in at almost $40,000. Unfortunately, you’ve got to step up to the EX trim from the base LX to get Honda’s active safety technology suite, but you’ll likely want the extra kit anyways.


A fully-loaded CR-V gets you basically all the features you and your family would ever need in a vehicle costing less than $35,000. (Joanna Tavares)

Kyle: The moment I stepped into the new CR-V, I knew this wasn’t a fair fight.

From the real leather encasing the driver’s seat to the more substantial and heavily weighted steering wheel, everything about the CR-V felt more premium than the RAV4 I’d just spent the previous few days tooling around town in, despite both being fully spec’d out and the Toyota costing $3,300 more than the Honda.

Punching the gas and stretching the legs on CR-V’s 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine felt almost sporty in comparison to the RAV4, particularly when the turbocharger kicked in. In reality, the crossover made just 190 horsepower and was, under most circumstances, fairly unimpressive with its continuously variable transmission. But I was starved for personality and the RAV4 could make a conversation with Ben Stein feel like an afternoon with Cosmo Kramer.

With its new dual-pinion, variable gear ratio electric power steering, the CR-V feels more direct and balanced on the road, handling curves and corners much more fluidly and precisely than its rival. Supple MacPherson front strut and rear multi-link suspension handle blemished city roads with ease and deliver a pleasantly quiet driving experience.


All CR-Vs from the EX trim upwards ride on these handsome 18-inch alloy wheels as standard. (Joanna Tavares)

BY
Kyle Campbell
Brian Leon
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Saturday, April 8, 2017, 9:00 AM

As much as “buy American” enthusiasts like to lament the heydays of Ford, Chevrolet, Chrysler and the like, the U.S. family car market has long been dominated by two companies based in Japan: Honda and Toyota.

However, instead of the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry duking it out for the attention of mom and dad, those midsize sedans have steadily lost ground to their small SUV counterparts: the CR-V and the RAV4.

These two vehicles are the founding fathers of the crossover market and though they’ve abandoned the rugged, athletic appearances that defined their younger years (R.I.P. spare tire mounts) for safer, more fuel efficient body styles, both have remained the cream of the crop in the segment.

2017 Honda CR-V and 2017 Toyota RAV4
Gone are the days of ‘Camry vs. Accord,’ and here to stay is the new title fight: ‘CR-V vs. RAV4.’ (Joanna Tavares)

FOLLOW THE DAILY NEWS AUTOS ON FACEBOOK. ‘LIKE’ US HERE.

So, we decided to put them to proverbial “Pepsi/Coke Challenge,” except, rest assured, we weren’t blindfolded… or hanging out with Kendall Jenner.

Instead, Associate Editor Brian León and I drove the CR-V and RAV4 back to back to determine which one of these top sellers is actually the best small crossover on the market.

Both vehicles provide ample interior room, a healthy amount of cargo space and comfortable driving experiences, but while these two models might be neck and neck on the sales charts, one stands head and shoulders above the other, in our eyes, when it comes to overall value.
SECOND PLACE: 2017 Toyota RAV4 Platinum

2017 Toyota RAV4 Front Left Quarter
Toyota’s RAV4 has yet to overtake the Camry in terms of overall sales, but a lot of that is due to strong fleet numbers for the Camry. Rest assured, it will soon enough. (Joanna Tavares)

Total Points: 155/200

Final Rating: 7.8

Kyle: Some relationships are love at first sight while others grow over time through shared experiences. The same can be said with cars.

Nothing about the RAV4 screams out for attention and it’s not going to make hearts swoon during hot laps, but it doesn’t have to for Toyota to sell 350,000 units in year. What makes this vehicle endearing is its ability to deliver ample utility and safety in a no-nonsense package.

It also doesn’t hurt that you can get into one for less than the cost of most Camrys (Camries?).

With a charming, “cinnamon” Softex leatherette interior, the RAV4 I tested invited me in and kept me comfortable with padded, adjustable front and rear seats. Once inside, drivers can be comforted further by the fact that every RAV4, regardless of trim level or additional packages, comes with not only endorsements from the nation’s top safety monitors, but also the Toyota Safety Sense suite of semi-autonomous driving assistance features.
2017 Toyota RAV4 Dashboard
The RAV4’s handsome dashboard design and optional cinnamon leatherette are definite highlights, but beneath the surface, there’s not much to love. (Joanna Tavares)

Add to that a relatively spacious cargo area with a 60/40 flat-folding rear bench and a bevy of small item storage spaces, ranging from the cavernous box in the center console to the ledge carved out above the glove box just for front seat occupants to place their phones, keys, etc., and you’ve got a boat-load of utility packed into a vehicle that still fits comfortably in a standard garage.

If the goal of a crossover is to offer more capability than a sedan in a more presentable package than a minivan, the RAV4 certainly meets that standard. However, this compact crossover isn’t winning any beauty pageants and its age is becoming apparent in more places than its squinty front fascia.

Technologically speaking, a fully-loaded RAV4’s 7-inch infotainment screen offers all the industry standards: navigation, satellite radio, Bluetooth capabilities, hands-free operation and smartphone connectivity, as well as a few extra features that are available in other vehicles, though not quite as ubiquitously, such as weather and traffic updates. However, upon using these features, I found their interface appeared dated compared to some of the RAV4’s closest competitors. Also, Toyota continues to boycott Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, saddling drivers with its homegrown and less intuitive Entune system.
2017 Toyota RAV4 Infotainment
Toyota’s 7-inch Entune system could use a serious ‘tune up’ (pun intended) for the next generation. (Joanna Tavares)

Toyota also remains committed to making you operate cruise control in all of its vehicles through a wand that juts out from the steering column at an angle that makes it tough to avoid brushing the top of one’s leg while navigating some highway curves. It would be less intrusive and, frankly, more visually appealing if the automaker would just do as nearly all of its competitors do and bake these controls into its steering wheel.

Also, the RAV4 offers next to nothing in terms of driving character. Steering is feathery light, body roll kicks in on the simplest of curves and the 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine offers a meager 176 horsepower. Not to say performance is a key factor for many buyers in the small crossover segment, but in comparison to the surprisingly fun CR-V, it’s yet another L for Toyota.

For 2017, Toyota’s RAV4 has a few surface-level issues, including body style and cargo capacity, as well as some less obvious elements, such as infotainment technology and driving dynamics, that keep it squarely behind the all-new CR-V. However, it’s still a darn good vehicle and one that might just win over your heart, if you let it.
2017 Toyota RAV4 Profile
The RAV4’s driving dynamics won’t be setting anyone’s hair on fire anytime soon, but it may just win you over in the long run. (Joanna Tavares)

Brian: I’ll be the first to admit that the RAV4 is at a bit of a disadvantage in this comparison seeing as the CR-V is all new for this year, but as there will still be hundreds of thousands of buyers cross-shopping these two exact vehicles, we’d be remiss if we didn’t make it clear which one is superior.

The RAV4 comes close to matching the cargo-hauling prowess of the CR-V, as it actually had the old model bested in that category, boasting 38.4 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 73.4 cubic feet with them folded flat. Unfortunately, those reclining rear seats can only be folded down by operating the levers on either side of the car, meaning you have to circumnavigate the rear of the vehicle just to get those seats down. The CR-V, by contrast, can fold its seats flat with just two handles in the rear cargo compartment.

Where the RAV4 wins in this category, however, is the inclusion of a surprisingly low load floor and cube-shaped storage area, which makes hauling heavy stuff – and lots of it – as easy as it would be in many larger vehicles.
2017 Toyota RAV4 Cargo Space
The RAV4 actually bested the old CR-V in terms of overall cargo space, and it holds up well to the new one, with a low, flat load floor that makes moving heavy items in and out a breeze. (Joanna Tavares)

Technologically, it’s still behind the times, especially the ancient (or at least ancient-feeling) Entune infotainment system, but the inclusion of Toyota’s Safety Sense P system across the range as standard is a breath of fresh air, giving you automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, lane departure alert with steering assist, automatic high beams, and dynamic radar cruise control.

I share Kyle’s thoughts on the powertrain, though I must add that fuel economy is likely to underwhelm too, at only 24 mpg combined for all-wheel-drive models. Thankfully, it seems the RAV4 is fairly true to this figure, but the CR-V boasts 29 mpg combined, even if that is a little generous after several miles of real world driving. What’s the point of having a small, underpowered four cylinder if it isn’t even going to be particularly efficient? At least you can have the RAV4 as a hybrid, unlike the Honda…
2017 Toyota RAV4 Rear Seat
Rear seat space is generous, if slightly tighter than the Honda, and I love the functionality of the lever used to recline the rear seats, but having to use both levers on either side of the vehicle to lower the rear seats flat is an oversight. (Joanna Tavares)

However, what really places this people-hauler in second place is the overall build quality; not just is it a major step behind the new CR-V, but many other competitors offer superior fit and finish too, including the Kia Sportage, Hyundai Tucson, and Mazda CX-5, among others. In comparison, the RAV4 feels slightly hollow, and there are rattles and shakes that shouldn’t be occurring on a vehicle with less than 10,000 miles on it so far, not to mention one that’s pushing $40K.

Which reminds me: our RAV4 Platinum test vehicle with all-wheel-drive rung in at a whopping $37,919 all included, which makes it over $3,000 more than the CR-V, which feels more solid overall by a fairly wide margin. That’s entirely too much, even for a loaded RAV4, and it begs the question of what you’re actually getting by spending a couple of extra thousand dollars when the Limited trim rings in at a few thousand dollars less. From what I can tell, you’re paying up to $3,000 more for the platinum just to get a foot-activated tailgate, body-color cladding instead of plastic trim, and a heated steering wheel. I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether or not that’s worth it.
2017 Toyota RAV4 Rear Right Quarter
The RAV4 is largely a victim of its age in this circumstance, but also by some mistakes by Toyota in the first place. Build quality is inferior, and there’s no reason a top-tier RAV4 should cost almost $38,000. (Joanna Tavares)

Summing Up:

Pros: Toyota Safety Sense as a standard feature; spacious cargo area with low load floor; proven reliability; affordable base MSRP; hybrid model available.
Cons: Technology feels dated; disappointing fuel economy ratings for AWD variant; bland driving dynamics; hefty price for (not many) added features.
Conclusion: The RAV4 is getting old, but it’s still one of the best small crossovers on the market. Head-to-head, it can’t quite best the all-new CR-V, but with its advanced standard safety features, it might be the better bargain buy.

Vital Stats:

Test Vehicle: 2017 Toyota RAV4 Platinum AWD
Price as Tested: $37,919
Powertrain: 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder engine; 6-speed automatic transmission
Power Rating: 176 horsepower and 172 lb.-ft. of torque
Fuel Economy Rating: 24 mpg combined
Safety Rating: NHTSA 5-star overall and IIHS Top Safety Pick+

FIRST PLACE: 2017 Honda CR-V Touring
2017 Honda CR-V Front Right Quarter
Honda’s CR-V is the best-selling SUV in America, and with a completely-redesigned and wholly-improved new model, it’s poised to stay that way. (Joanna Tavares)

Total Points: 169/200

Final Rating: 8.5

Brian: It’s hard to think of a vehicle that can do almost every single thing you ask it to do with more competence than the Honda CR-V.

Need to haul five people and an equal amount of stuff all at once? No problem. Want to have all-wheel-drive capability for inclement weather while still pushing close to 30 mpg overall? Sure thing. Need a comfortable and quiet ride for the hellish commute to and from work? Done and done.

I humbly submit the Volkswagen Golf GTI as the only other vehicle to do so many things so well while still ringing in at under $35,000, but when it comes to what most American buyers want and need, the numbers don’t lie: they want CR-Vs, and lots of them.

The Honda CR-V has been the best-selling utility vehicle in America since 2012, and has only been on the market since 1997, and though it trails the heavily-marketed Nissan Rogue this year so far, The CR-V outsold both Honda’s own Accord, the RAV4, and the Toyota Camry last year, all without shifting a single vehicle through fleet sales.
2017 Honda CR-V Dashboard
There’s less to celebrate about the interior design than the exterior… except for the happy addition of a volume knob. (Joanna Tavares)

For 2017, Honda’s completely overhauled their best-seller, and it desperately needed to be better than before to keep the company’s perch atop the SUV sales heap. Fortunately, it is better, in almost every measurable way, and that gives it a distinct advantage over the aging RAV4.

We’ve outlined all of the reasons why the new CR-V is wholly improved over the old one in our full ratings and review, so consider this a more succinct summary.

Sporting a sleeker and more modern design than the outgoing CR-V, the new version looks better from seemingly every angle, from the more aggressive front maw to the boxier rear end, thankfully doing away with the humpback style of the 2016 and earlier model. Handsome 18-inch wheels are standard from the mid-tier upward, and the plastic body cladding and chrome detailing looks great when paired with an interesting hue, like the excellent Molten Lava Pearl red-orange paint job our test vehicle was finished in.
2017 Honda CR-V Infotainment System
Honda’s infotainment system can be a pain to use with such a slow processor, but the ability to default to Apple CarPlay or Android Auto is a welcome addition, and something the RAV4 lacks. (Joanna Tavares)

Inside, the cabin design is more conventional, but you may notice the addition of a volume knob as a sign that Honda’s designers have truly been listening to our cries of anguish. The tan leather upholstery is soft and supple, and the tall, supportive seats are a pleasure to sit in for extended periods of time, even if there’s still no passenger seat height adjustment. Also, it’s so quiet in the CR-V, you could hear a pin drop… or your kid drop their favorite toy, more fittingly.

Honda’s infotainment system still fails to impress, despite the addition of a volume knob. With a Garmin-sourced navigation system and some connectivity apps, the entire system is plagued by a horrendously slow processor that can make operating it a hair-pulling affair, and why can’t I easily scroll through satellite radio channels with a simple menu? Or better yet, a tuning knob…

Still, the addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone projection is a welcome improvement, and I often defaulted to using CarPlay instead of Honda’s system while on the road.
2017 Honda CR-V Cargo Space
Cargo space is arguably the CR-V’s strongest suit, boasting numbers to match many larger crossovers and the ability to load four large suitcases side by side and stacked under the rear tonneau cover. (Joanna Tavares)

Cargo space increases slightly over the outgoing model too, boasting a whopping 39.2 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats and 75.8 cubic feet with them folded flat, which can be accomplished with the ease of pulling just two handles, something the RAV4 distinctly lacks.

What’s more, the CR-V starts to look like an absolute bargain, even fully loaded, with a top-tier sticker of just under $35,000, while the optioned-out RAV4 came in at almost $40,000. Unfortunately, you’ve got to step up to the EX trim from the base LX to get Honda’s active safety technology suite, but you’ll likely want the extra kit anyways.
2017 Honda CR-V Profile
A fully-loaded CR-V gets you basically all the features you and your family would ever need in a vehicle costing less than $35,000. (Joanna Tavares)

Kyle: The moment I stepped into the new CR-V, I knew this wasn’t a fair fight.

From the real leather encasing the driver’s seat to the more substantial and heavily weighted steering wheel, everything about the CR-V felt more premium than the RAV4 I’d just spent the previous few days tooling around town in, despite both being fully spec’d out and the Toyota costing $3,300 more than the Honda.

Punching the gas and stretching the legs on CR-V’s 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine felt almost sporty in comparison to the RAV4, particularly when the turbocharger kicked in. In reality, the crossover made just 190 horsepower and was, under most circumstances, fairly unimpressive with its continuously variable transmission. But I was starved for personality and the RAV4 could make a conversation with Ben Stein feel like an afternoon with Cosmo Kramer.

With its new dual-pinion, variable gear ratio electric power steering, the CR-V feels more direct and balanced on the road, handling curves and corners much more fluidly and precisely than its rival. Supple MacPherson front strut and rear multi-link suspension handle blemished city roads with ease and deliver a pleasantly quiet driving experience.
2017 Honda CR-V Wheel
All CR-Vs from the EX trim upwards ride on these handsome 18-inch alloy wheels as standard. (Joanna Tavares)

Thanks to its reduced engine size and continuously variable transmission, the CR-V also offers a significant improvement on the fuel economy front, giving it the win in both performance and efficiency.

Despite its relative advantage, if you’re looking for true driving dynamism, I suggest you look elsewhere (perhaps the Mazda CX-5); this is still a crossover SUV, after all. Acceleration leaves a little something to be desired and the rubber banding effect of the CVT goes unmitigated, though Honda’s transmission handles itself better than many under normal driving circumstances.

Honda still requires an upcharge to get its Honda Sensing advanced safety suite—which includes adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assistance, automatic crash mitigation, forward collision and blind spot warnings, and so on—for its compact crossover. What’s more, rear parking sensors are extra, and there are no front parking sensors whatsoever… a little ironic for something with the name “sensing” right in it.

However, that package comes standard on its EX trims and higher, which runs about $2,600 more than the base LX. This can be viewed two ways: 1) Honda has done a good job making its best safety features affordable or 2) Honda is being stingy by not including them in all models like Toyota. Take your pick.


Both the CR-V and RAV4 earn top safety accolades, but the CR-V performed slightly better in the NHTSA tests than the RAV4. (Joanna Tavares)

Although both the RAV4 and the CR-V earn top accolades from both the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for 2017, the CR-V performed just a bit better, earning five-star ratings in the driver and front passenger crash tests, while the RAV4 got four-stars in each. Not much to squabble over, but it’s something.

On the tech front, CR-V has the clear advantage by being refreshed, although it also helps its case by offering Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Toyota might end up winning that bet in the long run if it can make its Entune system as user-friendly and capable as the brand-new packages, but for now Honda takes the win by taking the easy way out.

A lot of people, including Brian, have showered Honda with praise for finally giving the CR-V its volume knob back, which I’ll admit was a good move. However, I’m not letting them off the hook without pointing out how silly the knob looks just tacked on to an otherwise smooth infotainment system. My vote would be to place it under the screen or make the screen narrower and position the knob just to the side of it. At this point, it almost seems passive aggressive in its lack of elegance.

Nitpicking aside, the 2017 CR-V is a rock-solid vehicle and represents money well spent by Honda. It offers more comfort, a better driving experience and more cargo room than the RAV4 without sacrificing on the safety front. What more do you need?


By improving its best seller in almost every measurable way, Honda has cemented its place atop the small SUV heap. (Joanna Tavares)

Summing Up:

  • Pros: Improved styling; improved comfort; improved cargo space; improved ride and handling; improved engine.
  • Cons: Still not much fun to drive; infotainment system can be downright infuriating; no hybrid model (yet).
  • Conclusion: A volume knob (and an improvement in almost every possible facet) make what was already a critics’ and buyers’ favorite even stronger, and the new vehicle to beat in America’s most cutthroat segment this side of the pickup truck market.

Vital Stats:

  • Test Vehicle: 2017 Honda CR-V Touring AWD
  • Price as Tested: $34,635
  • Powertrain: 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder; continuously variable transmission (CVT)
  • Power Rating: 190 horsepower and 179 lb.-ft. of torque
  • Fuel Economy Rating: 29 mpg combined
  • Safety Rating: NHTSA 5-star overall and IIHS Top Safety Pick+


With a new RAV4 on the way in a few years, Toyota will have a chance to take back the crown, but for now, it resoundingly belongs to Honda’s excellent CR-V. (Joanna Tavares)

First Drive: 2017 Honda CR-V

All-new, fifth-generation compact SUV has its fuel-sipping sights set on segment-leading status

Date: December 2, 2016
Source: Driving.ca
Author: Andrew McCredie

  • 2017 Honda CR-V

JORDAN RIVER, B.C. — Since it’s debut in North America two decades ago, the Honda CR-V has been a performer of Olympic-like proportions. Not only has it been on the podium most of those 20 years as a top-three segment leader, like the global sporting event, a new model has come around every four years.

For Canadian sales, the 2016 CR-V is wearing the bronze medal, with the Ford Escape capturing silver and the Toyota RAV4 on the top of the podium. For Honda, that’s simply not good enough for a vehicle that is made in this country and has captured gold in the past.

So, with the four-year cycle of the fourth-generation CR-V complete in 2016, the all-new fifth-gen is out this month – and it’s clear the 2017 CR-V is in it to win it. Honda is the first to admit that the outgoing model had a … well, not necessarily flabby, but certainly not flattering exterior physique when posing beside the muscular and aggressive-looking new-gen RAV4 and Escape.

Likewise, the CR-V’s cabin was dated, both in design and content, and certainly not up for the challenge of competing with the tech-brimming Escape and the sophisticated style of the RAV4 interior. And finally, the performance of the 2016 CR-V just didn’t cut it in either sprints or marathons with those top two contenders.

So, Honda engineers and designers went back to the gym and worked out some of the styling and performance tips from the company’s current gold medal segment performers — like the the Civic and the HR-V — to sculpt an all-new CR-V that the company believes is ready to take on all comers and reclaim the gold.

To make it, in their words, “the Civic of the segment.”

And so Honda gathered automotive journalists from across the country on the southern edge of Vancouver Island this week to unveil the all-new 2017 model, and lunchtime chatter after the morning drive seemed to indicate Toyota and Ford will be hearing footsteps in the coming year in the subcompact SUV segment.

A segment, by the way, that is the largest by volume in Canada and shows no indication of giving up that title anytime soon. And so Honda has brought its A-game to this redesign, and have addressed all the shortcomings — perceived and otherwise — of the outgoing CR-V.

2017 Honda CR-V

The bland exterior has been replaced with a toned and taut new body, with muscular wheel arches and all-new LED lighting front and rear. The plain interior is now a sophisticated space with luxury level trim quality, sculpted design elements and all the tech goodies the competitors offer.

And improvements to the chassis — new from the ground up — combined with a peppy turbocharged four-cylinder engine have replaced the boring performance of the outgoing model with a more dynamic driving experience. The new 1.5-litre turbo-four — the same block as the 2016 Civic — but 190 horsepower and 179 lb.-ft. of torque at 2,000 rpm, compared to the Civic at 173 horsepower. The transmission is a continuously variable unit with a feature called G-Shift control

Thanks to that new bold body style, the new CR-V looks bigger than the 2016 model. It is, but only slightly longer, wider and taller, and its ground clearance has expanded by 38 millimetres. The most important increase is that of a 40-millimetre-longer wheelbase, which translates into 53 millimetres being added to rear seat legroom. That larger size also allowed for bigger rear seats. Those seats also underwent a redesign, so that they now fold flat to create the best-in-class flat cargo space at over 1.8 metres.

And accessing that cargo space has been improved too, as Honda has taken a page from Ford and developed a hands-free power tailgate – though did their competitor one better by creating a tailgate height adjustment, a helpful thing for shorter drivers and if you are opening the tailgate in a garage with a low ceiling.

2017 Honda CR-V

Honda also took the advice of its current gen CR-V owners, many of whom voiced their displeasure at the touchscreen volume control for the audio system. That’s something all new model Hondas have, and while it might seem to be a ‘tech-friendly’ way to adjust the volume, in practice it is a real pain. Bring back the dial, owners pleaded. And Honda listened! Expect to see that humble little volume dial — the kind you twirl between your fingers — to make its way into the rest of the fleet in the coming years.

New standard features include remote engine start, dual-zone climate control, an electric parking brake, rear USB charging ports, a front passenger seat with four-way power adjustment, plus a driver’s seat with eight-way power adjustment and four-way power lumbar support.

In terms of trims and pricing, the base front-wheel-drive CR-V LX starting at $26,690, while the top of the line model is the AWD Touring with a price tag of $38,090. In between are the EX and EX-L trims, both AWD models.

According to Honda, 90 per cent of CR-V buyers in this country will opt for an AWD model. Those Canadian buyers will also be able to get some Canada-only content in the top two trim levels, in the form of a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats and a massive panoramic sunroof.

Driving Impressions

Our drive route took us from the Oak Bay suburb of Victoria up to the surf mecca of Jordan River, then back down and over the Malahat Highway to Brentwood Bay. So, a very diverse day of driving, with a good mix of city streets and highways, some decent elevation changes and even some twisty blacktop to test out the new chassis.

I came away from the day’s drive with a number of lasting impressions. First, I still find myself surprised at how impressive sub-2.0-litre engines are today. Sure, this little 1.5 four-banger is turbocharged, but it never left me feeling underpowered nor did it rev high to complain about the effort.

Second, I was equally astounded at the gas economy figures I recorded on the four legs of my drive, ranging between 50 and 90 kilometres. Not using the ‘Econ’ mode, I posted 7.2, 7.1 and 6.3 L/100 kilometres on three of the legs, and on the last – from Brentwood back to Oak Bay up and over the Malahat – using ‘Econ’ mode, 7.2. Honda claimed the 2017 CR-V would have class-leading fuel economy, and my numbers certainly back that up.

img_9298

Third, the cabin was very quiet, this despite being warned that due to the winter tires on all the testers, road noise might not be true to all-season tires. And finally, this compact SUV was fun to drive. Which also shouldn’t come as much of a surprise as the RAV4 and Escape are also fairly fun.

All that said, I did find the centre console to be a pain on my right knee as it intrudes a little into that space. I could adjust how I sat so it wasn’t an issue, but I know from experience that on a long haul I would find this quite uncomfortable.

One quibble, though, and not a major one.

I won’t go as far as awarding the gold medal before seeing the rest of the competition in full stride, but it must be said that the Honda CR-V will be moving up a step up, or possibly two, on that podium.

Honda Tops List of Best SUV Buys Under $25K

Source : The Detroit Bureau – March 04, 2016

Honda CR-V

New vehicle sales are still red hot and sport-utility vehicles are among the vehicles generating the heat these days, in particular compact SUVs.
Small SUVs offer buyers a lot of upside: elevated ride height and four-wheel drive capability as well as good gas mileage allowing buyers to hedge against a return to gas prices above $3 a gallon some day.

Picking up on the Trends!
Perhaps their best selling point is the selling price: a well-equipped small SUV can be had for less than $25,000.
“The country is having a love affair with small SUVs right now, and Kelley Blue Book visitors are especially infatuated,” said Jack R. Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book’s KBB.com.

“Balancing an SUV’s elevated driving position, superior cargo versatility and available all-wheel drive with the efficiency and affordability of a mainstream sedan, today’s small SUVs offer multifaceted appeal. It’s no wonder that it is one of the fastest-growing segments in the auto industry.”
In fact, there are more than a dozen choices in that segment and selection, which is best can be a dizzying task.
However, KBB.com’s editors have taken the time to drive all of the offerings and provide a top 10 list of what they think are the best choices and the Honda CR-V came out on top. Not surprisingly, it’s also one of the group’s top 16 Best Family Cars of 2016.
“The CR-V was again an easy pick for this top spot,” one of the editors noted. “Honda’s small SUV is roomy, reliable, refined, efficient and just about everything else you might be seeking from a small SUV.”

The rest of the top 10 included:

  • Mazda CX-5
  • Hyundai Tucson
  • Kia Sorento
  • Subaru Forester
  • Honda HR-V
  • Toyota RAV4
  • Nissan Rogue
  • Jeep Renegade
  • Jeep Wrangler

Perhaps the biggest surprise on the list is the Tucson.

“A no-show on this list last year, Hyundai’s small SUV grabs the number three slot this year on the strength of a complete redesign that makes it more refined and even more stylish,” the site said.

First Drive: 2015 Honda CR-V Touring

There’s more than meets the eye in Honda’s refreshed CUV

BLUE MOUNTAIN, Ont. — If you want to know a man, don’t bother walking a mile in his shoes. Never mind J.K. Rowling’s advice of watching “how he treats his inferiors.” And Googling his every post on social media is a complete waste. Facebook and Twitter are increasingly — as Linkedin has always been — just our professional faces digitized, a constantly refreshed curriculum vitae if you will, highlighting only those specific aspects of our personal life that we’re willing to share with people we barely know. Hardly what one would call a window into the soul.

If you really want to know someone, what you really need is their cellphone. In this, the mobile age, the iPhone is that most personal of devices, the one that never leaves our side, the last thing we see before going to sleep and the first thing we check when we wake up. Marshall McLuhan’s message is just as apropos today as it was 50 years ago. And, for our generation, the medium has a four-inch touchscreen.

So, for instance, I know that Hayato Mori is not just another cookie-cuttered, two-dimensional management drone. Oh, Honda Canada’s senior manager of product planning and business development is outwardly the epitome of Japanese efficiency and decorum; no detail of Honda high-techery is beyond his grasp, no market analysis not immediately at his fingertips. But beneath that well-accoutered veneer of corporate respectability beats the heart of a rebel. An aging — he is after all 44 years old — rebel perhaps, but there’s a little of the Marlon Brando somewhere in there.

How do I know? Why, his phone, of course, which you would know, if you were sitting beside Mori in his new CR-V as he patiently describes Honda’s latest “linking” technology, completely chock-a-block with ’90s hip hop and rap. Surf all the channels his Aha app has bookmarked and you’ll find Hip Hop Throwbacks, Hip Hop Resurrection, ’90s Hip Hop and a compendium of seemingly every Internet radio station devoted to Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac. Driving around in a steadfastly mainstream CR-V with the nattily attired Mori listening to the big bass beat of Hypnotize is to have yet one more stereotype demolished.

And the reason for this illumination is that Mori (graciously, considering this intrusion) offered up his phone to showcase one of the new-for-2015 CR-V’s signature technologies, HondaLink. Designed, at least in the CR-V’s case, as a low-cost alternative to onboard computer systems, HondaLink allows the cost conscious CR-V owner to use their cell phone’s computing power in place of a high-priced onboard infotainment system.

Thus, by hooking up Mori’s iPhone 5 — no simple task as it not only requires a typical Apple “lightning” connector but also a speedier HDMI cable for all the data to be transferred — to the centre-console-mounted LED screen, the dashboard becomes an extension of his persona. The most important “app” offered (all are available through iTunes) is, of course, the navigational aid, an option typically costing $1,000 or more and, in the specific case of the CR-V, only available on the top-of-the-line $35,790 Touring edition. Hook up your phone and not only do you have a cheaper directional widget, but considering the power of the modern mobile, probably a more powerful one as well. HondaLink also offers the Aha music app — where I discovered Grand Master H’s secret hip-hop obsession — and a few other apps, but it will be the navigation system that is the biggest benefit to CR-V owners.

As novel and cost-effective as the new HondaLink system is, it is hardly the only high-tech feature ladled into this year’s mid-model-cycle makeover. Indeed, if there’s a theme to the 2015 CR-V — besides styling revisions that make it look less like a wimpy minivan and more like a butch SUV — it’s that Honda is using its remake as a showcase for its new suitcase of high-techery.

Besides HondaLink, the ’15 CR-V features a suite of driver-assisting technology called Honda Sensing. Onboard cameras and radar offer the becoming-commonplace-but-not-at-this-price adaptive cruise control system, which automatically maintains a set distance to the car in front, a Forward Collision Mitigation apparatus which automatically applies brakes in the case of a collision and Lane Keeping Assist which gently guides you back into your lane if the CR-V goes walkabout. The most popular of the new technologies, however, is the LaneWatch system we first saw on the Accord, a camera mounted on the passenger-side mirror expanding the driver’s field of vision from the 20 degrees typical of most mirrors to a whopping 80 degrees. It’s a novel system, extremely useful and my vote for technology of the year.

Less noticeable — especially if you’re just perusing the specification sheet — is that the CR-V’s engine is also all-new for 2015. Oh, it still tops out at 185 horsepower, but dig deeper and you’ll discover that it’s been Earth Dreamed, Honda’s rather pretentious appellation for its eco-friendly internal combustion technologies. So, while yes, the 2.4 litres remains the same, the little four-banger is now direct injected, the compression ratio has been raised to a motorcycle-like 11.1:1 and has some new fangled offset-cylinder technology. It’s enough for Honda to claim, despite the stagnant horsepower, an increase in performance thanks to the 18 pound-feet bump in torque (for a total of 181 lb.-ft.) and 16% better fuel economy (when comparing this year’s five-cycle testing with an estimate from last year’s two-cycle tested model). Honda claims the CR-V will be the most parsimonious sport-cute in its class.

Part of that significant improvement comes from the continuously variable transmission (CVT) that replaces the outdated five-speed automatic. With a 33% wider gear ratio spread, not only does the new CR-V have more jump off the line, but it also revs lower on the highway (contributing to the comparatively frugal 7.2 L/100 km highway rating for the all-wheel-drive Touring edition). Best of all, unlike most such transmissions, Honda’s CVT doesn’t transform the CR-V into a loud rasping rattletrap (when accelerating, typical CVTs keep the engine’s rpm constant which can be extremely annoying, especially on four-bangers). Indeed, below 4,000 rpm, you’d never know the CR-V’s 2.4L is hooked up to anything other a conventional transmission, the highest compliment one can pay to a continuously variable version.

Indeed, like most Hondas, there is precious little about the CR-V to denigrate. It is not a stylistic leader, but the 2015 refresh has minimized the maudlin. The engine, on paper no more powerful than before, feels decidedly peppier and is more frugal to boot. The interior, especially on my Touring model, is vastly upgraded with swaths of leather, a premium audio system, soft-touch materials and, of course, all that high-tech gadgetry. That the Touring edition, the pinnacle at the top of the CR-V lineup, is fully optioned out at $35,790 also represents something of a bargain; some of its competitors — even from supposedly budget-oriented brands like Hyundai and Jeep — regularly top-out over $40,000. And, of course, lesser models such as the $29,970 SE and $31,790 EX offer that cost-effective HondaLink system.

With or without hip hop.

A primer on Honda’s new Earth Dreams Technology

It is, as defined by our often-eccentric French cousins, an internal combustion engine deliberately unbalanced. An engine in which the pistons are, again, deliberately out of line with the crankshaft that they ride on. The technology, désaxé (literally “unbalanced in our other official language), deliberately renders an engine asymmetric, upsetting its natural balance and causing more vibration. And, yes, Honda has incorporated it into the new-for-2015 Honda CR-V’s “Earth Dreams” 2.4-litre inline four.

Along with a new direct-injection system and a higher, 11.1:1 compression ratio, said Earth Dreams — I think I will keep repeating this rather pretentious appellation until even Honda’s MBA’ed marketing mavens realize they’ve over-reached themselves — eng

ine also offsets its pistons some 8.0 millimetres from the crankshaft centreline. However, there is a method for this seeming mechanical madness; beyond the added vibration that results (which the Earth Dreams uses balancing shafts to quell), having piston and crank out of line greatly reduces friction.

Pictures telling a thousand words, it’s rather easy to see that, in the conventional engine to the left, when the piston is being forced downwards by the combustion forces, the connecting rod’s angularity causes some of the resultant force to press the piston sideways against the cylinder wall. More angularity equals more friction and hence poorer fuel economy.

The second orientation has the connecting rod parallel to the piston and cylinder. No side thrust. No friction. Improved fuel economy. Honda says the Earth Dreams version of the 2.4L is some four percent more efficient than the engine it replaces. Overall, Honda Canada says the 2015 CR-V’s fuel economy is improved some 16% thanks to other new technologies like the new continuously variable transmission. The company also expects the AWD version’s 8.3 L/100 km overall fuel economy (in the new 5-cycle rating system) to be best in class.

Article Information

  • Source: driving.ca
  • Author: David Booth
  • Date Posted: October 22, 2014

2015 Honda CR-V is the 2015 Motor Trend SUV of the Year

Dynamic Do-Over: Honda Takes Another Swing at its Fourth-Gen CR-V, and Connects

Honda has had to take a couple of mulligans lately. When the ninth-gen 2012 Civic launch fizzled, the car got a do-over for ‘14, bringing much-needed styling and powertrain upgrades. Similarly, the fourth-gen 2012 CR-V missed the small-overlap crash-test boat, earning a “marginal” rating that nixed its chances at the coveted Top Safety Pick ranking. It also drew criticism for being less fun to drive than its rivals, due in part to its quaint old five-speed automatic. The fix: a 2015 reboot, and a second chance. We’re open-minded about second chances – mid-cycle fixes earned the 2010 Fusion our Car of the Year calipers – so let’s see how Honda’s redemption-edition CR-V stacks up against the criteria.

Advancement in Design

In nine pages of compiled notes from nine judges, the few references to the CR-V’s exterior design ranged from MacKenzie’s “Not the most beautiful or innovative C-segment SUV design, but not the worst, either,” to Evans’ “Not a big fan of the latest styling updates.” Then again, design was low on the priority list this time around for a vehicle that continually outsells its rivals to rank as the best-selling entry CUV ever. And at least nobody reviled it, as some did the chrome-beaked Cherokee. The interior design is equally staid, but its ergonomics generally drew praise, except for the infotainment system, which was universally reviled for its lack of knobs, unintuitive function, and graphics that don’t match those on the other various screens. Our youngest judge, Seabaugh, reckoned that his peers would liken the difference between the CR-V and Jeep systems to that of “an old T-Mobile Sidekick and an iPhone 6.” It does boast a segment-first HDMI input, but none of us can imagine wanting to sit in a parked CR-V and watch a movie on a dash screen that’s smaller than an iPad.

Engineering Excellence

Ah, now here’s a criterion Honda can sink its teeth into. Powertrain revisions tasked with improving the fun quotient include a new “Earth Dreams” 2.4-liter engine that gets direct injection and a commensurate compression bump from 10.0:1 to 11.1:1, along with a new, lighter die-cast aluminum block (with the same bore and stroke) and myriad friction reductions. Horsepower still peaks at 185, but does so 600 rpm earlier (at 6400), with torque jumping from 163 lb-ft at 4400 rpm to 181 lb-ft at 3900 rpm.
That engine is hooked to a continuously variable automatic much like the Civic’s, about which we’ve sung nothing but hosannas. This unit employs a torque converter and a “G-design Shift Logic” strategy that combine to feel completely “normal” in gentle everyday driving – no rubber-bandiness. But nail the gas to pass and the trans delivers a snappy downshift to a ratio near the power peak. “CVT is very good, especially in Sport mode – keeps revs in the sweet spot and doesn’t fake shift like Outback and Rogue,” noted Kiino. This new setup shaves 0.6 second off our last AWD automatic CR-V’s 0-60 time, at 8.5 seconds. That’s still mid-pack in the class, but accompanied by that trademark Honda engine wail, it feels downright sporty. Lieberman welcomed Honda’s “return to form as a company known for making some of the best engines in the business.”

Nail the gas to pass and the trans delivers a snappy downshift to the power peak.

The chassis also underwent a thorough rethink with a new front subframe and lower control arms, revised spring and damper rates all around, and new bushings, anti-roll bars, and geometry (a half-degree less camber and 0.6-inch wider track front and rear). The steering ratio tightens from 16.7:1 to 15.6:1. Seabaugh, frustrated with the last CR-V, enthused, “This feels like a Honda should, with light steering, great feedback, and competent handling chops. It’s way more fun than any compact crossover ought to be.” Evans concurred: “You can kind of fling it around like a Fiesta ST. It’s fun in that way.” And Kiino complimented the ride/handling trade-off, noting that “it feels planted but never harsh.”

Performance of Intended Function

The entry CUV’s job is easily defined: help a small family haul its gear anywhere with ease and confidence in any weather. Nobody expects these CUVs to scale the Rubicon, and our CR-V’s aggressive tire treads and on-demand AWD handled our steep, silty gravel hill with minimal fuss. Like its little brother, the Fit, the CR-V boasts savvy packaging. “The second-row legroom and load space are excellent in relation to the vehicle’s footprint,” MacKenzie noted. Indeed, the CR-V’s ratio of interior to exterior space tops those of the RAV4, Forester, Escape, Rogue, and CX-5. But more important than sheer size is the ease with which that space is utilized. Expanding the cargo hold from 35.3 to 70.9 cubic feet is as easy as pulling two levers in the cargo hold, setting in motion a purely mechanical series of flips and folds of the rear seatbacks to render a nearly flat (and low) load floor. There are bag hooks, tie-downs, and a small net in back, and the side doors open nearly 90 degrees for easy access. On the negative side, there are no power outlets of any type in the rear seat or cargo areas; the optional power tailgate is driven by a motor that occupies a giant goiter on the driver’s side D-pillar (the strut mounted screw jacks are state-of-the-art); and as Evans noted, “There’s a lot of wind and road noise on the freeway – louder than most of the other vehicles here.”

Efficiency

The switch to direct injection and a continuously variable transmission with a 33 percent broader ratio range than the old five-speed should boost fuel efficiency pretty notably, and indeed the combined 26/33 mpg EPA city/hwy figures represent an improvement of about 12 percent. But our Real MPG results are disappointingly similar to those of our last CR-V automatic with AWD: 20.6 city/28.7 highway/23.6 combined mpg, compared with last year’s 20.5/28.9/23.6 (its EPA ratings were 22/30/25), so it’s unclear whether you’ll realize all that improvement. We eagerly await a chance to test out another not-so-early-build example.

Safety

Here again, there’s been no official IIHS testing to report, but we’re told the engineers reinforced the CR-V’s occupant compartment with additional hot-stamped high-strength steel, and modified the engine compartment crash structure to better absorb the energy in small-offset crashes. Presuming their computer simulations have accurately predicted what IIHS will measure soon, the Top Safety Pick hurdle should be cleared. The available Honda Sense suite of camera/radar-based safety gear, including Collision Mitigating Braking Support, Lane Departure Warning, Lane-Keeping Assist System, and adaptive cruise control, are the “plus” cherry on top. LKAS had every editor raving. “An amazing piece of technology for the segment,” said Seabaugh. “The steering straightens you out; it doesn’t send you ping-ponging down the road,” concurred Loh. The LaneWatch camera we’ve seen on Odyssey, Accord, and Civic arrives here too, displaying a blind-spot view of the right side of the car whenever that turn signal is on. LaneWatch comes with the EX trim level, but you have to pop for the new top-level Touring trim ($32,350-$33,600) to get Honda Sense goodies.

Value

Whatever you spend on a CR-V, IntelliChoice reckons you’re getting a pretty good deal. It rates the current car Excellent in terms of cost of ownership, with five-year total operating costs averaging $32K-$35K – $4300-$4500 less than the class average. Honda’s legendary resale value is largely responsible. Comparing the current CR-V’s costs with the averages in our August 2013 Big Test of a similarly equipped Ford Escape, Mazda CX-5, Subaru Forester, and Toyota RAV4, the Honda depreciates 13 percent less, with maintenance, repair, and insurance costs averaging 10 percent less.

Conclusion

Some years, a vehicle wins our calipers almost unanimously. This year our jury entered the final discussion split almost down the middle. After two hours of contentious debate, the CR-V’s stellar value, engineering, and safety features combined with the cheerful way it performs its intended functions earned Honda the win. Arguments such as these tipped the balance: “The CR-V shows you don’t have to lose the fun factor when buying something economical,” said Lago. “A careful rework of a best-seller, executed with typical Honda thoughtfulness,” echoed MacKenzie. Score another win for redemption.

Article Information

  • Source: Motor Trend
  • Author: Frank Markus
  • Date Posted: October 22, 2014

Honda CR-V

Since its introduction to the North American market in 1996, the Honda CR-V has been a consistently strong seller for the Japanese company and, as things turned out, one of the most reliable cars on the road. In 2007, Consumer Reports ranked it as the second-most-dependable compact SUV on the market, and it is sold in countries around the world.

Not hard to understand why. The CR-V was, and is, the epitome of driver-friendliness. Easy to drive, comfortable, dependable, affordable, thrifty and versatile. It’s not the kind of vehicle that makes you sit up and bark, but for mainstream buyers, it’s exactly what the doctor ordered.

In 2007, the CR-V underwent some changes. It became more powerful and larger, got a restyling job and was more refined than before. It was offered with 2WD or AWD, and fuel consumption on the AWD was only a titch higher than the FWD version.

Engine output was now up some six hp over 2006, and transmission choice was a five-speed automatic only. Honda called the AWD system on the CR-V “Real Time” 4WD and it was about as unobtrusive as these arrangements get, with a front-drive bias until the wheels need more traction, at which point a power takeoff unit located adjacent to the transmission sends more torque to the back wheels via a driveshaft. This was definitely not a heavy-duty 4WD setup, but it has always done the job.

Aside from its almost ironclad dependability, one of the CR-V’s strongest selling points has been its drivability and user-friendliness. From the beginning, this has been one of the most car-like SUVs on the market, and it is no surprise that a sizable proportion of CR-V buyers are female.

It’s also safe to say that most typical CR-V buyers place reliability and value for money over things like engine displacement, towing capacity, or how quickly you can get from zero to 100 km. Then, as now, the CR-V is the compact-ute for people who don’t really care about cars. Coincidentally, one of my neighbours bought a CR-V new in 1997 and sold it last year, with almost 400,000 trouble-free kilometres on the odometer. “It was still running like a clock when I sold it,” she said.

The CR-V came in two basic trim levels in 2007: LX and EX. Equipment level was reasonably high on the LX, and you got air conditioning, power door locks, power seats, tilt/telescoping steering, remote keyless entry, 60/40-folding rear seats and a full roster of safety features for its $27,700 base price. You could also order things like leather interior, heated front seats and a DVD-based navi system with the top-of-the-line EX-L model. One handy little feature: front-seat armrests.

With the rear sets folded down, the CR-V provided some 2,064 litres of total cargo space. This was less than the same vintage of Toyota RAV4 or Hyundai Santa Fe, but for most people in this market, it was all they needed. Honda has known from the beginning what compact SUV buyers look for and the CR-V has always given it to them.

No safety recalls to report either from Transport Canada or the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. NHTSA, however, does list 12 technical service bulletins for this vintage of CR-V. These include windshield wipers that won’t “park” correctly, front-seat issues and incorrect labelling. There was also that false odometer reading class action suit with some vehicles, but Honda dealt with it.

Tagging the 2007 CR-V as a “Best Bet,” Consumer Reports has good things to say about this compact SUV virtually right across the board. It gets the magazine’s highest marks for predicted reliability, although road noise is a common complaint from owners. Comments include: “rough ride,” “body trim is fragile” and “uncomfortable front seats.”

Aside from some minor gripes regarding lacklustre performance, market research firm J.D. Power gives the 2007 CR-V high marks in virtually all categories. As well as garnering this organization’s awards for “Most Dependable Compact Multi-Activity Vehicle,” “Highest Ranked Multi-Activity Vehicle In Initial Quality” and “Most Appealing Compact Multi-Activity Vehicle,” the 2007 CR-V get top marks from J.D. Power for overall dependability.

No great surprise then to learn that the CR-V has held its value well. You’ll be lucky to find a base 2WD model for less than $16,000 these days, and a well-appointed EX-L fetches at least $20,000.

Article Information

  • Source: Globe and Mail
  • Author: Ted Laturnus
  • Date Posted: August 11, 2010

Recession Proof Cars: Honda Fit and CRV

While we’re all griping about yet another handout to the least-deserving, worst-performing businesses in this country, there’s something especially galling about this one to many of us who cover the auto biz. See, while we often get accused of rooting against the domestics, that’s a downright lie. The problem isn’t that American carmakers can’t build great cars. They can. That’s just the point. They can and they do: the Ford F-150, Chevy Silverado, and Dodge Ram are all superior to their Japanese competition. But then look at what cars are actually selling in this economy, and you see examples like the Honda Fit. Why do we have to rely on Honda to give us a successful small car like the Fit or the Civic, although Ford can sell the Focus, the Ka, and the Fiesta in Europe—models that are so much better than the domestic versions? We’ll get fuel-efficient economy cars, if Ford lives long enough to bring them to market. Those European Fords are fine examples of management understanding how to make great cars—but not seeing how to get them to market faster than their competition.

But there are some good deals out there in this recession; cars that are worth the price and will hold their value. And in spite of our exasperation, we don’t advise buyers to to ignore the American brands. Our outlook is more nuanced than that, although unfortunately for the Wee Three’s sake, it’s still not the story they want to read. Here’s the breakdown, and the logic behind it.

Gold Standards: Brand Equity, Reliability, Resale

Gold standards are just what they sound like: Cars in high demand now and likely to be so in the future. That means that although a car is never a wise investment (unless you have the means to mothball a Ferrari for 30 years), the depreciation hit won’t be as dire as it would be with a less beloved model. Depreciation also correlates to reliability, so these are also cars seen as more reliable (according to Consumer Reports.com). There’s another factor at work; these are cars from makers that aren’t in dire straits. Face it: the residual value of a marque plummets when a carmaker dies (Daewoo anyone?).

Gold Standards: Honda Fit

For a time this summer, when gas prices nationwide crested above $4 a gallon, used Fits were as costly as new ones, which is absurd since it makes way more sense to keep spending a little bit more for gas to fill your jalopy than to eat someone else’s depreciation hit (a few grand in the first year of a Fit’s life in a normal market). Still, this car should remain popular for some time because its cabin is flexible enough to move a lot of stuff, just like with a small wagon, the gas mileage is terrific (27/33), the driver has great visibility, the ride is fun, and the trim grade is high—all attributes that are too rare in the subcompact sector. Sealing the deal are standard safety features like ABS and airbags, decent rear-seat legroom and tons of headroom.

Gold Standards: Honda CR-V

The CR-V is a standout in an increasingly competitive segment. The Saturn Vue is a great example of a new sleeper in midsize crossover category—but the Honda is just a hair better. Mostly this comes down to slightly smoother feel from the drivetrain (comparing four-cylinder engines in both), a more tidily laid out cockpit, and slightly better fuel economy. Both the Honda and Saturn are fun to drive, but the CR-V has shown more consistent reliability over the years. Then again, you can get two different hybrid versions of the Saturn—not an option with the Honda.

Article Information

  • Source: Newsweek
  • Author: Michael Frank
  • Date Posted: December 24, 0208
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