Pros: Honda reliability; comfortable driving position; big interior space
Cons: Outdated powertrain; uninspired looks
What's New: Unchanged for 2013 model year
The 2013 Honda CR-V is a compact, 5-passenger crossover vehicle that builds on the success of its predecessors. The CR-V was an early player among crossovers, arriving in the U.S. in 1995. The 2012 model introduced the current, fourth-generation version of the CR-V, and the 2013 model is unchanged.
The latest CR-V still offers shoppers more than it did when it arrived as a 2012 model. It's now rated five stars for safety by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the federal agency that handles vehicle crash tests.
The 2013 CR-V is available in LX and EX versions with various available options, including full-time all-wheel drive, leather and navigation. The fourth-generation CR-V uses an updated version of the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine and 5-speed automatic transmission found in the third-generation model.
Comfort & Utility
The CR-V's interior is not much like that of any other crossover on the market. Other small crossovers' interiors replicate the space and utility of larger SUVs, but the CR-V's interior is more like that of a three-quarter-scale Honda Odyssey minivan. Front passengers enjoy a tall seating position yet have plenty of headroom. The gearshift juts out from the center of the dash much like the minivan, and beneath it Honda includes several storage spaces. Between the two front seats is a large center console storage unit with sliding top, which, again, is just like the Odyssey.
In the back, the CR-V resembles a more conventional crossover and features a 60/40 split rear seat that folds almost flat. With the rear seats up, the CR-V provides 37.2 cu ft of storage space. With the rear seats folded, that space is increased to a substantial 70.9 cu ft.
The fourth-generation CR-V LX model has more standard equipment, including air conditioning, cruise control, Bluetooth, an intelligent Multi-Information Display, remote entry, a multi-angle rearview camera, a 160-watt, 4-speaker audio system and motion-adaptive electric power steering.
The CR-V EX has an upgraded 6-speaker audio system, power moonroof and 17-inch alloy wheels.
The CR-V EX-L adds a leather-trimmed interior, 10-way power driver's seat, dual-zone climate control and 328-watt 7-speaker audio system with XM satellite radio. Available features for the CR-V EX-L include the Honda satellite navigation with voice recognition and traffic features or a rear DVD system. Oddly, you can't have both navigation and rear entertainment in the CR-V, however.
Performance & Fuel Economy
The 2.4-liter inline-4 engine in the 2012 CR-V produces 185 horsepower and 163 lb-ft of torque. Although these power output numbers are higher than for the third generation, fuel economy has actually improved slightly. A selectable Econ mode changes the way the CR-V accelerates to make it more efficient. Honda's Eco Assist feature is also included. It uses "green" visual cues around the speedometer to indicate when the vehicle is being driven most efficiently. The EPA-estimated fuel economy rating for the front-wheel-drive CR-V is 23 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. The all-wheel drive CR-V is rated at 22 mpg city/30 mpg highway.
Every 2013 CR-V has standard electronic stability control, ABS with brake assist, side curtain and front side airbags. There is also an occupant position detection system on the passenger's side, and the front seats help reduce injury severity in case of an accident.
Both 2- and 4-wheel-drive versions of the 2013 CR-V earned a top 5-star rating in government crash tests. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) also rated the 2013 CR-V a Top Safety Pick for the highest possible scores in each of its crash tests.
With significant size and weight but only modest, 4-cylinder power, the CR-V may not sound equipped to deliver a thrilling driving experience. And because it's a popular seller, it may not turn heads in a valet stand like a premium brand vehicle. But the CR-V isn't intended to be either a performance or luxury model. Instead, it delivers reasonably peppy acceleration, good handling and a pleasurable ride. From the driver's seat, it feels both spacious and solid, and, especially with 4-wheel drive, the CR-V delivers confidence in virtually any weather.
Other Cars to Consider
Mazda CX-5: Starting at $20,695, the 2013 CX-5 is the newest addition to the crossover market. The base CX-5 features Mazda's 2.0-liter SKYACTIV 4-cylinder engine and a 6-speed manual transmission. Impressively, the CX-5 is rated at 35 mpg on the highway.
Ford Escape: Starting at $22,470, the Escape is another redesigned-for-2013 compact crossover and a best-seller in the category. Ford also offers a hybrid version of the Escape and high-tech extras like an automatic parallel parking feature.
Chevrolet Equinox: Starting at $25,015, the Chevrolet Equinox is a surprise contender on the compact crossover game. The Equinox is bigger than the CR-V but just as fuel efficient thanks to its 6-speed automatic transmission. For those that prefer more power, Chevy offers a V6.
Customers who are looking for a roomy, fuel-efficient crossover with proven reliability will be happy with the CR-V, which starts at $22,695. We recommend upgrading to the better-equipped EX-L, priced at $27,545, to get features like leather, a moonroof, automatic climate control and upgraded audio. We'd stick with the 2-wheel-drive version, but opt for the rear entertainment system over navigation. So equipped, our 2013 Honda CR-V EX-L would have a window sticker price of $28,245.