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.

Honda claims that the turbo engine will boast the highest EPA fuel-economy ratings in the class, aided by standard active grille shutters to improve aerodynamics. Official ratings haven’t been released yet. 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.

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.  

2017 Honda CR-V

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.

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 trim. In addition, the EX, EX-L, and Touring will include adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, lane-departure warning, and lane-keep assist. No current competitor matches this level of equipment.

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

The Honda CR-V will be built in East Liberty, Ohio; Greensburg, Ind.; and Alliston, Ontario. It goes on sale in December.  

2017 Honda CR-V interior