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2019 Honda CR-V: New Car Review

The 2019 Honda CR-V sees no changes, which could be considered significant as two major competitors underwent full redesigns this year. Subaru’s Forester was redone to double down on the sort of uber-practicality and well-rounded nature the latest CR-V has so greatly embodied, while Toyota’s RAV4 was reimagined to be more characterful and ruggedly capable — areas the CR-V doesn’t put much effort into.

However, despite these rejuvenated rivals, the CR-V quite simply needs to be on your test-drive list. Its own complete redesign two years ago resulted in more space, better performance, improved fuel economy, a higher level of comfort, better interior quality and more safety features that continue to be among the absolute best in the segment. You name it, the CR-V is probably good at it.

Now, there are always nits to pick. Its infotainment system isn’t the easiest to use and it would be nice if Honda offered a more powerful engine upgrade and/or a hybrid model. Those nits might ultimately make one of its competitors a better choice for you, but when a vehicle is this well-rounded, it needs to be considered.

What’s New for 2019?

The CR-V is unchanged for 2019. It received a full redesign two years ago.

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 hybrid or higher-performance engine option available; tech interface can frustrate

How Much?

$24,350 — $34,150

Fuel Economy

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 rated 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 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. The turbo engine’s main advantage is fuel economy, returning 28 mpg city/34 mpg hwy/30 mpg combined for FWD models. Again, AWD sacrifices one mpg in each cycle.

Standard Features & Options

The 2019 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 FWD or AWD.

The LX ($24,350) comes standard with 17-in alloy wheels, LED running/accent lights, automatic climate control, a height-adjustable driver seat, cloth upholstery, a 60/40-split folding and reclining back seat (with remote "easy fold" pulls in the cargo area), a backup camera, Bluetooth, one USB port and a 4-speaker sound system.

The EX ($27,250) 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, automatic headlights, fog lights, proximity entry and push-button 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, three extra USB ports (one front, two rear), a 7-in touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a 6-speaker sound system with satellite radio. Also included is a package of accident avoidance tech consisting of blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic assist, lane-departure warning and forward-collision warning systems, plus automatic emergency braking, lane-departure prevention, a driver inattention monitor, automatic high beams and adaptive cruise control with traffic-friendly slow-speed follow capability.

The EX-L ($29,750) 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 and is the CR-V’s only factory option.

The Touring ($32,750) steps things up with roof rails, LED headlights, automatic wipers, a hands-free power liftgate, a sound system subwoofer and the navigation system.

Safety

The 2019 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 forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic assist and a driver inattention monitor.

The government gave the 2019 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 most of the compact SUV field as well

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 Mazda CX-5 and the Chevrolet Equinox. There’s also no hybrid model as offered by the Toyota RAV4 and the Nissan Rogue. Nevertheless, the turbocharged 1.5-liter found in most trim levels is arguably the most competitive engine in the segment, boasting class-leading fuel economy, nearly class-leading power (the new RAV4 betters it) and a responsive power delivery that doesn’t draw too much attention to the fact that the engine is turbocharged and connected to a continuously variable transmission. It’s definitely the CR-V engine to get.

As for your passengers, they will enjoy unmatched interior comfort and space for this segment. Rear legroom is greater than all rivals and there are LATCH points in all three rear seating positions, making for an extremely family-friendly SUV. Its abundant cargo capacity and clever front center console make it a stuff-carrying champ. Interior materials quality is also strong — both compared to its predecessor and competitors.

If there’s a downside inside, it’s the touchscreen found in all but the base LX. It’s perfectly functional, and includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but its responsiveness, menu structure and touch-sensitive menu buttons add up to a system that’s less user-friendly than Honda’s latest system (Accord, Odyssey) and those of competitors (Subaru Forester, Toyota RAV4).

Other Cars to Consider

2019 Mazda CX-5 — The CX-5 is a more engaging vehicle to drive than the CR-V and arguably more visually appealing, but can’t match Honda’s utility. Unlike the CR-V and the other competitors below, the CX-5 offers a more powerful engine upgrade this year.

2019 Toyota RAV4 — The CR-V’s longtime nemesis is completely redesigned for 2019. It cedes ground to the CR-V in terms of practicality, but counters with more character and capability. It also offers a hybrid model.

2019 Subaru Forester — If the RAV4 ceded practicality ground, the also-new Forester dug in for battle with a larger cabin (it tops the CR-V’s previously class-leading cargo space), greenhouse like outward visibility, uber-easy infotainment and an abundance of accident avoidance tech.

Used Honda Pilot — If the CR-V still doesn’t have the family-friendly utility you need, a bigger SUV is probably in order. Now that the latest-generation Pilot (the rounded one, not the boxy one) should be finding its way onto used lots, it’s a smart alternative to consider.

Autotrader’s Advice

The base CR-V really doesn’t make much sense unless you simply want the car with the lowest price tag. For about $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.

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