Saturday Road Test – Honda CRV


Honda CR-V 002Honda CR-V 001


Honda CR-V Touring

The Leader

By Ron Amadon

DAMASCUS, MD. – Honda could not ask for more when it comes to sales of its small crossover. The CR-V was the fourth best seller among all vehicles in November, finishing behind three pickup trucks.  Sales are up 10% for the year.

Depending on your definition of what it is, the CR-V is the best-selling crossover, SUV, or car. It even outsold the Toyota Camry last month.

That might make Honda decide to leave things alone for 2015 but it forged ahead with some changes, the biggest regarding the powertrain.

CR-V inherited the 2.4-liter four and CVT from the Honda Accord. It is rated at 185 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm with 181 lb-ft of torque @ 3,900 rpm with front or all-wheel drive as in the test vehicle.

Honda CR-V 006

The new four provided all the power that the typical CR-V owner would expect, and in various on ramp to interstate highway tests I was surprised how quickly it achieved cruising speed albeit with lots of typical CVT generated high rpm engine noise. Things became more tranquil when the goal of 65 mph was reached. But around town, in an effort to achieve the greatest gas mileage, the engine seemed to occasionally lug like it was a manual transmission in search of a lower gear. A solution was to engage the “S” (Sport?) setting on the center console mounted shifter to maintain higher revs.

This is the only power combination offered for 2015. It is EPA rated at 33 mpg highway, 26 city for an overall 28 mpg. I came out with 23.6 mpg for the week mainly in suburban stop and go traffic.

There is also a new top-of-the-line model for 2015 called the Touring. It adds a handy power liftgate, Navi with HD radio, 18-inch wheels, driver’s seat memory, and a host of safety equipment such as adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and forward collision mitigation system. Very handy was the rear view camera and Honda’s brilliant blind spot monitoring system. In the 7” dash mounted screen it displays what might be lurking in your blind spot when you signal for a right turn.

Honda CR-V 005

Inside there was lots of storage here and there for whatever you might be carrying. Yet the CR-V scored some demerits for consolidating audio controls in small buttons to the left of the center screen requiring one to hit a very tiny button on top of the stack to turn it on. There was the saving grace of some duplicate controls on the steering wheel. Ventilation controls were not among those on the screen, thank goodness.

Despite a 10-way power adjustable driver’s seat with power lumbar support, it was somewhat uncomfortable during an all-day drive despite periodic fiddling with the controls. Interior materials fell short of what one might expect in a $33K vehicle.

There was ample room for two adults in the 60/40 split rear seat and they are easy to fold when you need extra cargo space. A rear ventilation vent was also added for 2015. Cargo volume works out to 35.2 cubic feet with the rear seats up, and a generous 70.9 cubes with them down.

Honda CR-V 007

The CR-V was a champ during an afternoon of errand running topped off by a major grocery haul. It was easy to park with good outward visibility and very easy to load, aided by that power liftgate. Also there was a privacy panel to keep spectators from trying to figure out what you plan for dinner that night.

On the highway there was more road and wind noise than expected. Yet, on the blustery days experienced during the test period, the CR-V remained glued to the road, even with a lot of cross currents when passing flat farm country. Handling was better than expected and back country roads could be a bit of fun, again with that shift lever in the “S” mode. The Mazda CX-5 would be more satisfying for enthusiastic operators but it should be noted in fairness that is probably not the CR-V customer.

They are looking for durability, hauling space, ease and economy of operation, quality construction, and exceptional resale value when that day comes. In those categories, the CR-V makes the dean’s list, and is why it remains a best seller, something that is very likely to continue in the New Year.

Kelley Blue Book rated the CR-V a Best Buy, it captured an ALG Residual Value Award and was named Motor Trend’s Sport Utility of the year.

One can get into the CR-V for less cash than the tested Touring model. A base LX with front drive and no options lists for $23,320 with a base EX going for $24,420 and the former top of the line EX-L coming in at $28,020. Our test car with zero options had an MSRP of $33,600 including delivery.










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