It's hard to imagine a compact crossover better aligned with the needs of most buyers than the 2017 Honda CR-V.
Statistically-speaking, the Honda CR-V is probably at the top of your shopping list if you're in the market for a compact crossover SUV. Its combination of decent driving dynamics and a smartly-packaged interior with more room than its lithe dimensions suggest have made the CR-V a favorite with consumers for two decades running.
For 2017, the CR-V is all-new, but its recipe hasn't changed a bit. For the way the average consumer truly uses his or her crossover, the CR-V is about as good as they get. Available in LX, EX, EX-L, and Touring trim levels, the CR-V packs a lot more value and a much-needed dollop of refinement into a new package.
We've scored it a 7.8 out of 10 overall, but that figure will change a bit once federal and independent agencies have had the opportunity to crash test it. (Read more about how we rate cars this year.)
Honda CR-V styling and performance
It's not all that pretty to look at, but the CR-V casts a more dramatic shadow than before. Its front bumper juts out awkwardly, but LED running lamps on all models bring things solidly into the modern era. From the side, the CR-V's swept-up rearmost roof pillar carries over a design theme introduced in the last model. Even the base CR-V LX includes alloy wheels as standard, too.
Things get better inside, where the CR-V's dashboard is functional, organized and, dare we say it, nearly luxurious on range-topping Touring models. So far, we've only had time behind the wheel of that top-of-the-line trim (which should ride and handle just like its less pricey siblings), but we love its firm leather seats and even its matte faux wood trim.
The CR-V rides on a wheelbase that stretches about an inch and a half longer than before, which allows for more interior room particularly in the cargo area. Its platform is stiffer than ever, which meant that Honda could soften its suspension a bit to allow for more isolation from the outside world.
LX models utilize a largely carried over 2.4-liter inline-4 engine rated at 184 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque. All other trim levels, including the EX, EX-L, and Touring, make use of a more advanced 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that checks in with 190 hp and 179 pound-feet, the latter of which is spread across a much wider range of the engine's revolutions. That translates to far quicker acceleration and passing power with from the turbo model than from the standard engine in the LX.
All CR-Vs use a CVT and each trim level comes standard with front-wheel drive and offers all-wheel drive as an option. The latter system is now capable of distributing more power to the rear wheels when conditions demand it, like on a dirt road or in a slushy or snowy winter.
Though the CR-V won't be confused with a sports car, its steering responds quicker than before and it feels confident, safe, and secure even when pushed hard on a twisty road.
Honda CR-V comfort, safety, and features
The CR-V rides and handles well enough, but its real asset is its interior. Five passengers will find good room and upgraded materials throughout, and cargo is pampered better than ever before. Honda claims nearly a foot of additional cargo space length, yet no degradation in the crossover's front and rear seat room (the latter of which is actually up about 2 inches from last year).
At the pull of a lever, the second row's backrests fold completely flat to create cargo area that stretches about 5 feet long and can even swallow a bicycle standing upright with its front tire removed.
Honda includes on EX and above models a host of safety tech like automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and a system that nudges the CR-V back into its lane if it begins to drift. The automaker groups all that tech under the Honda Sensing banner, and it's a commendable move to make it standard on what the company expects will be about three quarters of all CR-Vs delivered. Only Toyota, which has made most of those features standard for 2017 on the RAV4, goes further.
EX trim levels and above feature the company’s 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, which has been updated over previous Hondas thanks to the addition of a volume knob (reason enough to trade in your 2016 CR-V). The interface is simple enough to sort through, but we noticed some lagging as the processor thought through our taps to activate the Garmin-style navigation screen optional on the EX-L and standard on the Touring.