With its big underbite, the Honda CR-V doesn't make the best impression outside, but its interior quickly reveals itself as a pleasant place to spend some time.
We contend that the CR-V is fresh inside and out and mostly has what it takes to stand out in this crowded segment, so we rate it a 7 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars this year.)
All CR-Vs have a relatively bucks-up look, including the base LX thanks to its LED running lamps and standard 17-inch alloy wheels. Opt for the EX and higher grades and you'll be rewarded with classier 18-inch alloy wheels. The range-topping Touring even boasts its own wheel styling and some added touches like chrome detailing and exhaust pipe finishers to stand out further.
Yet there's no denying that the CR-V casts an awkward shadow. Its front bumper juts out oddly, almost looking like a safety compliance afterthought. The crossover's side profile, meanwhile, looks a lot like its predecessor at the rear. Honda is attempting to build some brand identity with the sharp, upward angle seen in its rearmost roof pillar. At the tail, the CR-V's lamps are mounted very high, almost like we used to see on Volvos. A wide chrome strip runs between the lamps just below the rear window. Below, the crossover's badges are haphazardly placed and even appear to be crooked from some viewing angles since the tailgate actually bulges outward just above the license plate area.
Things are far more conventional inside. The CR-V's dashboard is light on buttons and switches, at least if you opt for EX and above models with their 7.0-inch infotainment screen. Honda has put a new coating on the screen designed to reduce fingerprints, which is nice, but the screen looks like it could take up more real estate on the panel allotted to it. Below, the CR-V's climate control system is simple and intuitive, with heated seat switches on all but the LX.
Honda has worked its cubbyhole magic on the CR-V's console, which has a multi-configurable shelf below the armrest. We've only spent time in the CR-V Touring, which has nice leather trim wrapping seats that look almost sporty but provide just enough bolstering.
The Honda CR-V's exterior is a little quirky, but it gets points for a terrific interior.
Honda has followed several of its rivals into the turbocharging camp with the new 2017 CR-V, and that's all for the better.
Though it's certainly not a sporty choice, the CR-V combines composed handling with a comfortable ride, netting a couple of points above average to bring it to a 7 out of 10 in the performance category. (Read more about how we rate cars this year.)
Under the CR-V’s hood sits a choice of two engines. Base LX models carry over last year’s adequate 2.4-liter inline-4, rated at 184 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque. Opt for any other trim level—EX, EX-L, or Touring—and there’s a 1.5-liter turbocharged inline-4 rated at 190 hp and 170 lb-ft borrowed from the Civic compact sedan range.
That’s not a big improvement on paper, but the torque peaks at a fairly low 2,000 rpm. Honda claims that the turbo motor shaves about 1.5 seconds off of the CR-V’s 0-60 mph sprint.
Like the outgoing CR-V, the latest model makes use of a CVT that can send power to the front or all four wheels.
Underneath the CR-V's more sculpted style sits fluid-filled suspension bushings and a floating rear subframe designed to better isolate the outside world. The crossover’s steering has been retuned to significantly reduce the number of turns lock-to-lock (from 3.1 to 2.3), and larger brake discs with an electric booster improve stopping performance.
Driving the 2017 Honda CR-V
But don’t think of the CR-V as a sporty crossover; that portion of the segment has largely been ceded to the Mazda CX-5 and the Subaru Forester XT. Instead, the CR-V shoots right for the heart of the market.
We put a range-topping CR-V Touring all-wheel drive through its paces around Santa Cruz, California, where the roads are delightfully curvy but not exactly paved with precision. The CR-V’s structure is stiffer, which allows for its suspension to be tuned softer without descending into the pitfalls of slop. MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link setup out back aren’t exactly ground-breaking, yet they worked well to filter out road imperfections on some especially pockmarked pavement we encountered. The CR-V rides softly without tossing heads from side to side on a winding road; in our eyes, it strikes a better balance than even the entertaining CX-5.
In the twisties, the CR-V’s faster steering responds accurately, but feedback is dull and lifeless. There’s little here to stoke an enthusiast’s passion, but that’s not the CR-V’s mission in life. Instead, it’s commendable for its composure even with the wick turned up a bit.
The CVT does a decent job of keeping things in line with the turbocharged CR-V, albeit with some hesitation immediately off the line and an uncouth growl near redline. On the other hand, the CVT does keep the engine within its power band when need, meaning there’s instant grunt on tap for highway passing.
So far, Honda hasn’t let us sample the CR-V LX with its carried-over powertrain, but unless you’re on a firm budget, the turbo engine is probably going to be the way to go.
Although the turbo-4 can sound a little wheezy, the CR-V rides and handles wonderfully.
Ever the master of squeezing a little extra interior room out of a small package, Honda has made an already comfortable crossover even more accommodating with the 2017 redesign.
We've scored it a 9 out of 10, awarding extra points for its front and rear seats, its ability to accommodate five adults, and for its large and flexible cargo space. (Read more about how we rate cars this year.)
Moreover, the CR-V feels very comfortable in range-topping Touring trim, with nearly all of its materials feeling higher-buck than its price tag might suggest.
On all but the LX model, the CR-V includes a 12-way power driver's seat with power lumbar support that we found comfortable on a longer drive. The second row, meanwhile, has an adjustable backrest and a center armrest. The latest CR-V is a couple of inches wider than its predecessor, which aids interior comfort significantly for three adults. While you're probably not going to fit a trio of linebackers in the CR-V's second row, it is suitable for three average size adults, something we can't say about most of its rivals.
In the cargo area, the CR-V features a load floor low enough to accommodate a couple of mountain bikes standing up with their front wheels removed. The floor features a movable panel that can either create a hidden under-floor storage area and a flat load floor with the second row folded or a deeper bay with a larger overall capacity.
There's a similarly high degree of functionality in the first row. In addition to excellent small item storage in the CR-V's door panels, a three-position tray in the center console allows for a wide variety of items to be accommodated.
Our only real complaint is the size of the center console around the gear lever. It's wide and intrudes into the driver's leg space. What looks like a padded knee pad is, instead, a rock hard piece of plastic.
It's hard to figure out how Honda pulled this much interior room and comfort out of such a small footprint.
Honda has made its comprehensive suite of collision avoidance safety tech standard on all but the base trim level of the CR-V for 2017, something we wholeheartedly applaud.
We've given the CR-V a 9 out of 10; the only thing that keeps it from first place is a four-star rollover rating from the NHTSA, something that's typical for crossovers and SUVs since they have a much higher center of gravity than sedans and wagons. (Read more about how we rate cars this year.)
All CR-Vs include the expected front, side, and side curtain airbags, as well as stability and traction control and a backup camera. Models above the base LX—so that's EX, EX-L, and Touring—include as standard the Honda Sensing suite of tech: adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, and road departure mitigation that gently nudges the crossover back into its lane if it begins to drift. Those technologies take advantage of both radar and camera modules integrated into the vehicle's bumper and near its windshield-mounted rearview mirror.
Those models also include automatic high beams, blind spot monitors, and the Touring includes rear cross-traffic alert.
Unfortunately, all that tech is not available on the LX; we'd like to see Honda Sensing as an option on the LX, although it would probably push its price so close to the EX that most buyers would simply step up to the higher-spec model.
The IIHS gives the CR-V top marks—its Top Safety Pick+ score. But that figure only applies to those with Honda Sensing and LED headlights. The LX and EX models with halogen lamps rate only a Top Safety Pick.
Meanwhile, federal regulators at the NHTSA have assigned the CR-V five stars overall, including five for all instrumented tests. Only the rollover test prevents the CR-V from earning the highest possible marks.
Honda includes big safety tech as standard on almost every CR-V.
|Overall Frontal Barrier Crash Rating:||(5/5)|
|Overall Side Crash Rating:||(5/5)|
|Overall Side Barrier Rating:||Not Rated|
|NHTSA Roll-over Resistance Rating:||(4/5)|
|Side Impact Test||Not Tested|
|Roof Strength Test||Not Tested|
|Rear Crash Protection/Head Restraint||Not Tested|
|IIHS Small Overlap Front Test Results||Not Tested|
|IIHS Moderate Overlap Front Test Results||Not Tested|
Honda keeps things fairly simple with the CR-V by offering just four trim levels, only one of which offers a single option.
We've awarded the CR-V extra points for the CR-V's strong value, its well-equipped base model, and for the improved infotainment system standard on most models. It comes in at a solid 8 for its available features. (Read more about how we rate cars this year.)
Once you've narrowed down your ideal CR-V trim level, the only real decision to make is to pick a favorite color.
The entry-level CR-V LX ($24,945) includes a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine and a CVT, plus 17-inch alloy wheels, LED running lamps, automatic climate control, cruise control, a 4-speaker audio system, a backup camera, power windows and locks, keyless entry, and Bluetooth streaming audio.
From there, the CR-V EX ($27,595) adds a 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that's a little more powerful and a little more fuel efficient, as well as 18-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats, automatic headlamps, heated mirrors, a proximity key with push-button start, remote start, a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, a power moonroof, an additional USB port, and a 12-way power driver's seat. CR-V EX models, and all higher trim levels, also include the automaker's Honda Sensing suite of safety tech as standard—automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and lane keep assist, which nudges the crossover back into its lane if it begins to drift.
Those who want leather seats can opt up to the EX-L ($30,095), which also includes a power tailgate, a power passenger's seat, memory for the driver's seat, a Homelink garage door opener, an upgraded audio system, and SiriusXM satellite radio.
Navigation is a $1,000 option on the EX-L; it's the only stand-alone option on the CR-V aside from some dealer-installed accessories like rubber floor mats and mudflats available on all trim levels.
The range-topping Touring ($33,295) adds to the EX-L its own wheel design, a special body kit, side roof rails (crossbars are a dealer-installed item), automatic windshield wipers, LED headlamps, a hands-free power tailgate, and a 330-watt stereo with a subwoofer.
On all models, all-wheel drive adds an additional $1,300.
CR-V comes well-equipped in base LX trim, but the EX is the real bargain here.
Four flavors of CR-V are on offer, and each has its own fuel economy story to tell.
Regardless of model, however, the CR-V is highly competitive and earns a solid 7 out of 10 for its efficiency. (Read more about how we rate cars this year.)
Honda isn't including an automatic start/stop system on the American market CR-V, but its more aerodynamic body cheats the wind well enough to offer improved efficiency on even the LX with its carried-over powertrain.
The CR-V LX with front-wheel drive is rated at 26 mpg city, 32 highway, 28 combined. The all-wheel drive LX comes in at 25/31/27 mpg; it's the thirstiest CR-V, but it is still better than most competitors.
Honda estimates that about 75 percent of CR-Vs will feature its 1.5-liter turbo-4, which means that EX, EX-L, and Touring models with front-wheel drive are rated at 28/34/30 mpg. The all-wheel drive version of those is rated at a still impressive 27/33/29 mpg.
Even the least efficient Honda CR-V is highly competitive.