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2015 Honda CR-V: First Drive Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Colin Ryan October 2014

The 2015 Honda CR-V can get 34 miles per gallon and now comes with extendable sun visors. Those two facts alone should keep this popular compact crossover SUV at the top of its tree.

The CR-V has been refreshed with what's known as a midgeneration revamp for 2015. This often just means a redesigned nose and tail or once-optional equipment being made standard, but this is not the case for the CRV in 2015.

The basic frame has been revised for extra strength as part of Honda's bid to obtain a Top Safety Pick Plus rating from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS). There's also a new engine, which uses direct fuel injection for more torque and a few more miles between gas stations. A new Touring trim tops the range, and the nose and tail have been redesigned along with the center console.

Embrace the Changes

Current CR-V owners hardly have much to complain about. Up to this point, the main gripe has been with the sun visor, which provided insufficient shade. This has been corrected in the 2015 model; the visor can extend that extra few inches to ensure the sun stays out of the driver's eyes.

A continuously variable transmission replaces the outgoing 5-speed automatic, which is not the most exciting option. The reason the CR-V is so attractive to so many drivers is its good (never bad, seldom great) marks across the board, with the possible exception of its focus on safety.

For example, extra sound insulation has resulted in a more tranquil cabin. It's not silent, but it is quieter. There's not much road noise in general, but you will hear every bump in a bad surface. You'll also feel those bumps, because although the ride quality is generally OK, it could be better.

A new 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine brings the same 185 horsepower as the outgoing unit, but the torque rises from 163 to 181 lb-ft. Torque influences the rate of acceleration, and if the transmission were any slower in its responses, that extra muscle would be less noticeable. As it is, however, it provides sufficient push. Fuel consumption of 27 mpg city/34 mpg highway and 29 mpg combined is at the superior end of the segment.

Speaking of superior, the new Touring trim enjoys many safety features found in luxury vehicles, such as collision mitigation. At speeds up to 40 mph, though, it's more like collision prevention, thanks to automatic braking. Touring also includes lane departure warning and lane keeping assist.

This latter system reads road markings and acts as an electronic hand on the steering wheel to keep the CR-V in the center of the lane, even through mild bends. This does not mean that it frees up the driver to eat or put on makeup, but it can be useful on long trips where the radar-based adaptive cruise control and other electronic aids can help a driver keep on top of things. Honda says it can even detect crosswinds and react accordingly.

High Vents and Other Highlights

The rear air-conditioning vents have been relocated to a height that passengers will find particularly cool. Around the back is an ergonomically pleasing low load floor, while the rear seats can fold down just by pulling a couple of handles: one for each side of the 60/40 split.

LaneWatch -- one of our favorite safety features from our long-term 2013 Honda Accord -- uses a camera in the passenger-side mirror and sends video to the screen in the center console. This feature is useful for turning right when, for example, a cyclist might be coming up the inside.

The 2015 Honda CR-V starts at $23,350 including destination. Trim levels are LX, EX, EX-L (with leather and upgraded audio), EX-L Navi (add navigation) and the aforementioned Touring, which gets 18-inch alloy wheels and a power liftgate. Even EX trim gets a 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat, heated front seats, 17-in alloy wheels and LaneWatch. Front-wheel drive is the basic setup over the whole range, but all-wheel drive is an option in all trims.

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Used 2015 Honda CR-V FWD LX
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Used 2015 Honda CR-V AWD Touring
Used 2015 Honda CR-V
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Used 2015 Honda CR-V AWD LX
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Used 2015 Honda CR-V AWD EX-L
Used 2015 Honda CR-V
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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2015 Honda CR-V: First Drive Review - Autotrader