Expert review written by the Kelley Blue Book vehicle review editorial team.
Dominating the compact SUV segment for as long as one can remember, the new-for-2012 Honda CR-V intends to retain its sales crown with a host of new refinements. In addition to Honda’s legendary reputation for reliability, the 2012 CR-V boasts an all-new design, improved fuel economy and a more upscale interior.
You'll Like The 2012 Honda CR-V If...
While a bounty of changes inside and out endow the 2012 Honda CR-V with a new level of user-friendly appeal, this latest incarnation retains its signature car-like driving feel and superb flexibility while delivering even better fuel economy.
You May Not Like The 2012 Honda CR-V If...
Anyone hoping that Honda would break tradition and finally offer the CR-V with an optional V6 engine and available three-row seating like the Kia Sorento and Toyota RAV4 will be disappointed.
A comprehensive redesign brings more contemporary visual flair and greater functionality to the entire 2012 Honda CR-V package, along with even better fuel economy. It also gains a host of new features, including an available rear-seat entertainment system and an upgraded "intelligent" version of the optional Real Time all-wheel drive.
A complete redesign gives the 2012 Honda CR-V’s passenger compartment a more sophisticated overall look and feel, highlighted by a smartly sculpted dash, restyled gauges and new switchgear. Revised front seats that offer greater comfort and support flank a more accommodating center console with bigger cupholders and a much larger covered center stow bin that houses USB and auxiliary inputs as well as a 12-volt power point. Although the 2012 CR-V’s overall interior dimensions are largely unchanged from the previous model, its best-in-class cargo area now offers a bit more space than before with the rear seat up, but marginally less when it’s folded down.
Remaining true to the vision previewed in the recent CR-V Concept, the 2012 Honda CR-V maintains the same relative scale as the current model but boasts bolder and more aerodynamic bodywork set off by edgier front and rear fascia treatments. A more steeply-raked windshield and slightly lower roofline effectively complement the new CR-V’s higher-profile grille and lamp treatments, while a large single-piece liftgate, coupled with a significantly lower lift-over height, eases loading and unloading chores. All LX models are fitted with 16-inch steel wheels and 215/70 all-season tires, while EX/EX-L versions have 225/65 tires on 17-inch alloy wheels.
Building on the Honda CR-V’s already-stellar reputation for being easy to drive and easy to live with, changes to the 2012 iteration have raised those benchmarks in modest but genuinely meaningful ways. Extensive noise abatement efforts have yielded a quieter, better-isolated passenger compartment, while an even more rigid unit-body structure, coupled with revised suspension tuning, gives the 2012 CR-V improved handling characteristics. Like the 2012 Civic, the new CR-V also is fitted with Honda’s new Motion-Adaptive electric power steering system that interfaces with the standard stability control to automatically encourage proper corrective inputs when it senses slippery or uneven road conditions during cornering or braking. For ultimate four-season security, the CR-V also introduces the automaker’s new Real Time AWD with Intelligent Control System. Smaller, lighter and quicker to respond than the existing Real Time setup, it smoothes out initial acceleration and can transfer up to 100 percent of torque to the rear wheels if necessary.
Intent on maintaining its outstanding value positioning, Honda has held the pricing structure on the all-new 2012 CR-V to near-2011 levels. The entry-level CR-V LX opens around $23,100 with the EX model starting at just over $25,200 and the EX-L commanding just under $28,000. Stepping up to all-wheel-drive will add about $1,250 to any of the three, while opting for either the navigation or rear entertainment system will raise the ante on an EX-L by $1,500 and $700, respectively. To get your best price, check with the KBB Fair Purchase Price and find out what others in your area are paying for the 2012 CR-V. Historically, the CR-V has done an outstanding job of holding onto its value over time, with only the Toyota RAV4 seriously challenging it in that critical arena. In marked contrast to many other vehicles, the upline EX – and particularly the EX-L version – leads the CR-V’s resale value index, with all-wheel drive versions also besting front-drive models.
The 2012 Honda CR-V LX boasts a full range of power assists, a 160-watt AM/FM/CD audio system with USB/AUX inputs, Bluetooth HandsFree Link, Pandora Internet Radio interface, read-aloud SMS text messaging capability, air conditioning, an intelligent Multi-Information Display, multifunction steering wheel, multi-angle rearview camera, keyless entry, cruise control and a tilt/telescoping steering column. The CR-V EX adds various interior and exterior enhancements, a power moonroof, privacy glass, alloy wheels and a security system, while the EX-L gains leather upholstery, a power driver’s seat, heated front seats, automatic dual-zone climate control, XM Radio and more. All CR-Vs feature stability/traction control, anti-lock brakes with Brake Assist, Hill Start Assist and front, front-side and side-curtain airbags.
In keeping with its longstanding practice of offering vehicles largely in "mono-spec" trim levels, options for the 2012 Honda CR-V are extremely limited. The LX, EX and EX-L can be fitted with the new Real Time AWD with Intelligent Control System, while CR-V EX-L buyers can opt to add either the Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System with a 6.5-inch dash-mounted touch-screen or the new DVD-based Rear Seat Entertainment system that features a single 7.0-inch hi-resolution LCD screen that flips down from the headliner.
Intelligent Multi-Information Display (i-MID)All 2012 Honda CR-V models come with a new, 5.0-inch LCD color screen in the center of the dash that allows the driver to access and control a range of functions using buttons on the steering wheel. Easy-fold rear seatsThe backs on the 2012 Honda CR-V’s new 60/40-split rear bench now flop forward at the pull of a lever conveniently located on either side of the cargo bay to create a near-flat load floor that’s over five inches longer than the one in the current CR-V.
Under the Hood
The sole powertrain combination in all 2012 Honda CR-V models is the familiar 2.4-liter i-VTEC 4-cylinder engine matched with the equally-familiar 5-speed automatic transmission. Friction-reduction efforts have helped bump the engine’s output from 180 to 185 horsepower, and similar internal tweaks to the autoshifter, coupled with a comprehensive ratio revamp, collectively yield better fuel economy figures for both front-drive and all-wheel-drive CR-Vs. The former now has an estimate of 23/31 mpg city/highway EPA marks, while the latter is estimated at 22/30 mpg. To help in the mileage-maxing cause, all 2012 CR-Vs feature an energy-efficient multistage alternator and come with Honda’s Eco Assist system that includes the green "ECON" button on the dash that can modify throttle mapping as well as operation of the air conditioning and cruise control. Despite its slightly lower curb weight and modest power increase, acceleration on the 2012 CR-V feels very much like its 2011 predecessor. The maximum tow rating also remains unchanged, at 1,500 pounds.2.5-liter inline-four185 horsepower @ 7,000 rpm163 lb-ft of torque @4,300 rpmEPA City/highway fuel economy: 23/31 mpg (front-wheel drive), 22/30 mpg (AWD)
A perennial best-seller in the compact SUV field, the Honda CR-V gets a full makeover for 2012 as it seeks to maintain preeminence in a fiercely-competitive market segment. Honda endowed the fourth generation of its versatile five-passenger hauler with an even more sophisticated look, feel and level of standard equipment, while retaining all of the basic character traits that served it so well in the past. As before, the 2012 Honda CR-V is available in LX, EX and leather-lined EX-L trims, all powered by a 4-cylinder engine and offering the choice of standard front-drive or optional all-wheel-drive (AWD) configurations. In addition to current key rivals, headed by the Chevrolet Equinox and Toyota RAV4, the 2012 CR-V will have to fend off challenges from two formidable all-new players: The Mazda CX-5 and the fully-redesigned Ford Escape.