In the automotive big leagues, Honda’s CR-V is supremely utilitarian — a valuable player that can be called on to fill nearly any position with confidence. In our time behind the wheel, the stylish mini SUV impressed with comfort and confidence on both daily commutes and an extended road trip. Like a coveted major leaguer, the CR-V does everything well.
Honda splits its trim levels into two-wheel drive (2WD) and four-wheel drive (4WD), with three basic versions of each: LX, EX and EX-L. The CR-V baselines at $20,700 for the 2WD LX. Stepping up to an EX delivers a moonroof, 17-inch wheels, steering wheel audio controls and an alarm.
Topping out with the EX-L (2WD, $25,500; 4WD, $26,700) adds power-adjusted leather seats, climate control and a 270-watt stereo. Adding a cherry to the top is the EX-L Navi, which adds Honda’s satellite-linked navigation, creating sticker totals of $27,200 (2WD) and $28,400 (4WD). This brings the trim tally to eight.
Under the Hood
All CR-V versions are powered by a single engine: a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder with Honda’s i-VTEC variable-valve-timing technology. The large-for-Honda 4-cylinder is rated at 166 horsepower and 161 lb-ft of torque at 4200 rpm. Mated to a 5-speed automatic transmission, the CR-V is EPA-rated at 20/27 mpg (city/hwy) for 2WD trims, 20/26 mpg for 4WD variants.
The plentiful standard equipment on the CR-V EX-L Navi makes it a standout in the compact crossover class. Our test vehicle had no optional equipment.
The dash-mounted gear selector cleverly opens up useful floor space for purses, backpacks, camera cases and the like, and also adds to the cabin’s airy feel. The seats are plush, leather trimmed, highly adjustable, heated, and feature captain’s chair armrests that come in handy when rolling up the miles. Backseat passengers get reclining seats to help pass the time.
The gauge cluster is a savvy combination of analog dials that frames an electroluminescent tech center, providing feedback on fuel level, engine temperature, experienced fuel mileage and door-ajar status.
On the Road
One mile on the tarmac and it’s immediately apparent why the CR-V is a top seller in this category. With a smooth ride, the CR-V’s suspension tuning is just aggressive enough to handle hard cornering when the feeling grabs you. Though no slot car, the CR-V does all the little things well that one would expect from a compact SUV.
Under the hood, the 166-horsepower engine can find itself taken to task at times, but overall it does a decent job motivating the 3,549-pound CR-V. Hit a hill low in the rev range and the Honda will struggle initially, but once the transmission downshifts and the revs climb so does the CR-V. On an extended trip we registered 26.7 mpg in our Green Tea Metallic tester, and determined the CR-V to be well decked out for its $29,035 sticker.
The Honda CR-V shines with excellent fit and finish and good use of space. As mentioned, the captain’s chair arrangement adds to the overall comfort level, and we were also impressed with the simplicity of the climate control and the easily programmed navigation system. However, we were surprised by the road noise infiltrating the cabin, especially at moderate speeds. Perhaps a quieter compound tire is in the CR-V’s future.
Right for You?
The many strengths behind the CR-V badge make it a top-tier player in the small SUV segment. With prices starting at a competitive $20,700, it also delivers promising numbers in the important fuel-efficiency category. With eight configurations to choose from, the Honda can maneuver into almost any lifestyle and not miss a beat.
Evan Griffey served as an editor of Turbo & High Tech Performance, a pioneering publication about sport-compact tuning. Today Griffey freelances for Import Tuner, Sport Compact Car, Car Audio and Siphon.
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