If you’re looking for information on a newer Honda CR-V, we’ve published an updated review: 2019 Honda CR-V Review
If you’re searching for a compact SUV, the 2018 Honda CR-V quite simply needs to be on your test-drive list. Its complete redesign last year checked off virtually all of its predecessor’s "needs fixing" and "could be better" boxes, while going a few extra miles in other areas to cement its status as a class leader. If you’re a current CR-V owner, you’ll discover an SUV with a higher-quality interior, better tech features and a more refined driving experience. If you loved it before, you’ll really love it now.
However, if you’re new to the CR-V or compact SUVs in general, know that this Honda’s prime claim to fame is space. There’s more cargo capacity than anything else in the segment, and besides boasting a lot of cubic feet, it makes accessing that space easier. The load height is low, the back seats are lowered by pulling handles in the cargo area, and the front center console is ingeniously designed to stow your various on-the-road items. Passenger space is also superior, with more than enough room for four adults (including better driver seat adjustment) and LATCH points in all rear seating positions for child seats.
And while the CR-V leads clearly on the space front, it’s hard to think of other areas where it fails to be competitive, either. It’s extremely well-rounded, and given that many of its competitors have gone a long time without a full redesign (Toyota RAV4, Subaru Forester, Ford Escape), the 2018 CR-V looks even better. Taking a look at those, as well as the recently redesigned Mazda CX-5 and Chevrolet Equinox, is still recommended, but if your search begins and ends with the CR-V, we certainly wouldn’t be surprised.
What’s New for 2018?
After being completely redesigned last year, the CR-V is unchanged for 2018.
To read more about what changed last year, read 2016 vs. 2017 Honda CR-V: What’s the Difference?
What We Like
Class-leading passenger and cargo space; efficient engines; refined driving experience; clever storage; widely available safety tech
What We Don’t
No higher-performance engine option available
The base CR-V LX trim is powered by a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine that produces 184 horsepower and 180 lb-ft. of torque. Despite being the base engine, that’s actually quite a competitive output and acceleration is relatively strong. Its fuel economy is at 26 miles per gallon in the city, 32 mpg on the highway and 28 mpg in combined driving with front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive (AWD) decreases each figure by one mpg.
Every other trim comes with a 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder good for 190 hp and 179 lb-ft. That output is indeed similar to the base engine, and although the two behave differently, acceleration between the two is ultimately similar. Instead, the turbo engine’s advantage is fuel economy, returning 28 mpg city/34 mpg hwy/30 mpg combined (FWD). Again, AWD sacrifices one mpg in each cycle. See the 2018 Honda CR-V models for sale near you
Standard Features & Options
The 2018 CR-V comes in a single 5-passenger configuration and is offered with four trim levels: LX, EX, EX-L and Touring. All can be equipped with front- or all-wheel drive.
The LX ($24,200) comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, LED running/accent lights, automatic climate control, a rearview camera, Bluetooth, two USB ports and a 4-speaker sound system.
The EX ($27,000) is the trim most people end up with, which isn’t surprising given its dramatic uptick in equipment. It adds the turbocharged engine described above plus 18-in wheels, fog lights, keyless start, remote ignition, rear privacy glass, a sunroof, a cargo cover, dual-zone automatic climate control, an 8-way power driver seat, heated front seats, a pair of second-row USB charging ports, a 7-in touchscreen, a 6-speaker sound system, satellite radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Also included is a package of accident avoidance tech consisting of blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic, lane-departure and forward-collision warning systems, plus automatic emergency braking, lane-departure prevention, automatic high beams and adaptive cruise control with traffic-friendly slow-speed follow capability.
The EX-L ($29,500) adds a power liftgate, leather upholstery, driver memory settings, a 4-way power passenger seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, HD radio and an 8-speaker sound system. A navigation system can be added to the existing touchscreen.
The Touring ($32,700) steps things up with roof rails, LED headlights, automatic wipers, a hands-free power liftgate, a sound system subwoofer and the navigation system.
The 2018 Honda CR-V comes standard with the usual allotment of safety equipment: Antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front airbags, front-side airbags and side-curtain airbags that cover both rows. There are also LATCH anchors in all three rear positions. Every trim but the base LX comes standard with rear cross-traffic alert, blind spot monitoring, lane-departure and forward-collision warning systems, as well as lane-departure prevention and automatic emergency braking. This sort of equipment is usually bundled within separate packages and often restricted to higher trim levels.
The government gave the 2018 CR-V perfect 5-star ratings for overall, frontal and side crash protection. The nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named the CR-V a Top Safety Pick for its top scores in all relevant crash and crash-prevention categories.
Behind the Wheel
If you’re an owner of the previous-generation CR-V, this latest version is bound to feel more grown-up and sophisticated. It has a more comfortable and controlled ride, a quieter cabin and steering that needs fewer corrections when on the highway. Indeed, this observation doesn’t just apply when comparing today’s model to its predecessor, but to the entire compact SUV field as well (especially the popular Toyota RAV4).
As for the engines, both provide sufficient power and acceleration. This isn’t the slow CR-V of old, but the availability of a more powerful engine option would meet a demand met by the Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Escape and Subaru Forester. The turbocharged 1.5-liter found in most trim levels feels a bit stronger when pulling away from a traffic light or when passing in traffic, but really, you’ll be fine with either.
As for your passengers, they will enjoy unmatched interior comfort and space for this segment. Rear legroom, which grew by 2 inches last year, makes for an extremely family-friendly SUV, as does its class-leading cargo capacity and the clever front center console. Interior material quality is also impressive — both compared to its predecessor and competitors — while the CR-V’s touchscreen interface is more user-friendly than that of the Civic. It doesn’t have quite the same functionality of the Accord or Odyssey’s newer systems, but it’s perfectly functional and includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Other Cars to Consider
2018 Mazda CX-5 — The CX-5 was also fully redesigned last year and, like the CR-V, builds upon its successful predecessor. It’s a more responsive vehicle to drive than the CR-V and arguably more visually appealing, but can’t match Honda’s utility.
2018 Ford Escape — The Escape’s updates last year weren’t quite as substantial, but they nevertheless improved its technology and interior versatility. The Escape continues to be sharper to drive than the CR-V and offers a more powerful engine option. Read 2017 Honda CR-V vs. 2017 Ford Escape: Which is Better?
2018 Subaru Forester — The Forester is the most utilitarian in its segment, boasting an abundance of interior space, simple controls, standard all-wheel drive and a highly efficient base engine. Its available turbo engine does provide best-in-class power, though.
Used Toyota Highlander — If the CR-V still doesn’t have the family-friendly utility you need, a bigger SUV is probably in order. Since that may require going used, we’d recommend a Toyota Highlander from 2014 or later. It was a stronger vehicle than the pre-2016 Honda Pilot at the time, but offers similar reliability.
The base CR-V really doesn’t make much sense unless you simply want the car with the lowest price tag. For less than $3,000 extra, the EX trim delivers a massive increase in desirable feature content along with better fuel economy. As the volume-selling trim level, you should also be able to easily find one in the right color and at the right price.