Honda CR-V Road Test

First Drive

2017 Honda CR-V Makes a Strong First Impression

Added size, sophistication, and safety bolster the redesigned SUV’s appeal

Overview

For the all-new 2017 Honda CR-V, the automaker borrowed a page from the Civic playbook by adding styling sophistication, more technology, and for the first time, the choice of an uplevel engine. The base CR-V LX is fitted with a 184-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder, essentially carried over from the 2016 model. But the EX, EX-L, and Touring trim levels sport a 1.5-liter turbo engine with 190 hp. Although on paper those engines appear to have similar power output, the turbo reaches its torque peak at a low 2000 rpm. We found this engine in the Civic delivered readily available torque, eliminating the need to rev it high, where the continuously variable transmission (CVT) can become objectionable.

The turbo engine gets the EPA fuel-economy of 29 mpg combined, the same as the subcompact Honda HR-V's ratings in the class, aided by standard active grille shutters to improve aerodynamics. The 2.4-liter gets 27 mpg combined from EPA. The outgoing Honda CR-V and the current Toyota RAV4 both returned 24 mpg overall in our tests. To truly shine, the new CR-V will need to better the Subaru Forester’s 26 mpg.


Impressions

Slightly larger than the outgoing version, the fifth-generation CR-V is 1.4 inches wider and taller, and a smidge longer. The dimensional stretch promises a bit more cabin space. Yet despite the growth spurt, the CR-V weighs about 58 pounds less than before. A hands-free hatch opening on the Touring trim is activated by waving a foot under the bumper.

Based on a Touring model rented from Honda for an early preview, this CR-V feels substantial in scale and substance. The size gains translate to a commodious cabin over the already roomy previous generation.

Handling has improved, with better contained body roll and quicker steering, though it’s not as sporty as a Ford Escape. The ride has also improved, particularly over the 2015-2016 CR-V. Though the suspension skews firm, the ride is compliant and composed.

Crucially, noise is much better managed. The CR-V’s notoriously loud road noise is almost eradicated, contributing to the car’s more substantial and premium feel.

Honda is moving the interior upscale, adding premium trim bits for the high-end trim. The feature we’re most enthusiastic about is the simplest: a physical volume knob. An available 7-inch touch-screen infotainment system offers Android Auto/Apple CarPlay compatibility and Garmin navigation. We’ve been frustrated by the infuriating controls on recent Honda audio systems, so we will be particularly interested to see how this one is executed.

CR's Take

All CR-Vs include a rearview camera. Advanced safety gear such as forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and blind-spot warning come with the EX and higher trims. Thankfully, LaneWatch is gone. That unique Honda feature showed a video feed on the center display every time the right directional signal was on. But LaneWatch was no substitute for an actual blind-spot monitoring system that covers both sides. In addition, the EX, EX-L, and Touring will include adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, lane-departure warning, and lane-keep assist.

As before, the base LX will come with an appealing starting price, but most buyers are likely to opt for the EX and higher for the added convenience and safety features.

Overall, the 2017 Honda CR-V boasts notable improvements throughout that make it very competitive. Plus, the incremental size increase makes the CR-V a viable option for shoppers considering a midsized SUV.

We purchased two versions for testing: the LX AWD with the 2.0-liter engine for $26,245, and an EX AWD with the 1.5-liter turbo for $28,935. We’ll know how the new CR-V truly stacks up when we start testing.


Warranty

All cars come with basic warranty coverage, also known as a bumper-to-bumper warranty. This protects consumers against unexpected problems with non-wear items. Powertrain warranty protects against engine and transmission troubles. Rust through, or corrosion warranty, covers rust to non-damaged components. Roadside aid provides on-location assistance in case of a breakdown and may include limited towing services.

Extended warranties provide peace of mind. Owners of models known to have worse-than-average predicted reliability can mitigate risks with an extended warranty. Generally, we recommend buying a model with better-than-average reliability and skipping this expensive add on. If you do buy an extended warranty, it is key to read the small print to understand what is covered and where you can bring the car for repairs.

Basic (years/miles)
3/36000

Powertrain (years/miles)
5/60000

Rust through (years/miles)
5/unlimited

Roadside aid (years/miles)
3/36000