Car Review: 2017 Honda CR-V Review By Steve Purdy
2017 HONDA CR-V AWD
By Steve Purdy
The Auto Channel
The bulk of the automobile market these days is the ?crossover’ – car-based SUVs that come in all sizes from subcompacts to big, three-row-seat versions. This week’s new, fifth-generation, front-wheel drive (all-wheel drive available) Honda CR-V, a traditional best seller in its class, represents the compact CUV segment and comes in trim levels from plain-and-simple to all-tarted-up.
Based on the Civic platform, Honda’s East Liberty, Ohio-built CR-V just experienced a full redesign, including all new underpinnings (platform) bringing it up to, and in some cases past, current competitors like Ford Escape, Chevy Equinox, Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage. All are very good at what they do and they tend to leapfrog one another every time each gets redesigned, particularly in terms of technology and infotainment.
The CR-V’s striking exterior styling takes contemporary trends one step further with often-functional drama and an aesthetic quality of which the company can be proud. Deep sculpting all around, LED lighting, brashly styled 18-inch wheels, and an angular profile give it enough visual interest that you’ll not feel like you’re driving a white-bread vehicle. Generous use of chrome and flat black trim punctuate the swoopy, sculpted lines and forward-looking profile. Hidden, but part of the exterior design is Honda’s first use of a grille shutter for both aerodynamics and more flexible engine cooling.
Complex, flowing, attractive styling and design greet us inside as well. The redesigned gauges and readouts in front of the driver are unconventional and pretty cool, I thought. We find considerably improved materials including soft-touch plastics, lots of leather with actual stitching and some faux-stitching, matte-finish wood and just enough shinny bits offer a feel of luxury we did not expect.
Ergonomics disappointed in a few regards like the adjustable steering wheel release tucked so far down the steering column we needed to get out of the car to find it, and the awkwardly designed fuel filler door release. Some of the controls on the 7-inch multi-function display caused us to hunt around more than we thought necessary and there is no tuning knob for the audio. Of course, every new vehicle will have a bit of a learning curve, though some brand’s systems need less learning than others.
Interior comfort is better than many in the class. Because these are small vehicles some are a struggle to get into for a bigger-than-conscionable guy like me. Not the CR-V. Ingress and egress are excellent and the drivers seat adjustment range is better than most allowing it to go down far enough to accommodate me. The rear seat room impressed our passengers. It’s amazing what a couple inches extra legroom can do. The 60/40 folding rear seatbacks work better than most - the seat bases pop forward then the spring-loaded backs release, all with just one pull of a loop. A flat loading surface results, good for an impressive 75.8 cubic-feet of cargo space. With seat backs in position we have nearly 40 cubic-feet of room for our stuff and you can have a hands-free tailgate if you like. That cargo capacity is best in class according to our friends at Honda.
As we alluded earlier in this narrative, infotainment and connectivity get upgraded significantly. Conveniently located auxiliary and USB outlets, a sophisticated satellite navigation system from Garmin, Apple CarPlay and Android compatibility along with voice recognition and smartphone features bring the CR-V in line with everyone else.
The Honda CR-V comes in 4 trim levels beginning with the low-end LX starting at $24,045 and topping out with our test car, the Touring model, starting at $32,395. Our tester is apparently a pre-sale car so the sticker provided did not show actual pricing. It appears, though, that the most, if not all, the generous content is included in that 32+ grand price. It comes with: leather, heated front seats, power tailgate with hands-free release, mat-finish wood trim, full LED headlights, rain-sensing windshield, dual-zone HVAC with air filter, capless fuel filler, satellite navigation with traffic info, power moonroof, remote start, premium audio, driver attention monitor, all the extra sensor-based safety systems like blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation braking and an array of other stuff. All-wheel drive is available and usually costs about a grand extra. That’s always a good option to have in our northern climates.
Two engines power the CR-V lineup, a 2.4-liter, normally aspirated, 184-hp four cylinder fitted only in the lowest trim level and the new 1.5-liter, 190-hp turbo under the hood of our test car. With a decent 179 pound-feet of torque it has enough power for all but the most demanding of drivers but selecting the “Econ” mode saps a good deal of that power leaving us wondering why anyone would want to do that for a couple of miles per gallon. The CVT (continuously variable transmission) is plenty efficient and acts mostly like a conventional transmission except on heavy acceleration during which it becomes a bit buzzy. This turbo powertrain is rated by the EPA at 27 mpg in the city, 33 on the highway and 29 mpg combined on regular fuel for this relatively lithe 3,400-pound CUV. We managed just 27.5 mpg during our week of mixed driving, but I’ll admit I was making no effort to maximize mileage. The 14.0-gallon fuel tank makes for an adequate cruising range.
It terms of driving dynamics the CR-V comports itself well, but does not stand out in this highly competitive crowd. Conventional suspension geometry and tuning offers a good solid ride and we found it to be well balanced between comfort and control. Electric power steering will seldom offer the feel enthusiasts are after but this is not an enthusiast’s vehicle. Rather it’s aimed at those looking for stylish, functional and economical transport that will support an active life style. And, it does a fine job at that.
Honda’s new car warranty covers the whole CR-V for 3 years or 36,000 miles and the drivetrain for 5 years or 60,000 miles.
© Steve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights Reserved
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