New for 2020: Honda has finally added a hybrid option to its popular crossover, with the CR-V Hybrid arriving alongside a model-wide refresh. It should arrive in dealer lots spring 2020. In an unexpected move, the hybrid will not be available in the Canadian market.
The Honda CR-V is one of the most popular compact crossovers on the market, offering people a reliable and well-rounded (though not very exciting) family vehicle. Now in its fifth generation, the CR-V is one of the crossovers that started the crossover craze we’re seeing today and was the first utility vehicle Honda ever offered. The Honda CR-V first came out in 1995 and entered the North American market in 1997. It is built on the same platform as the popular Civic. While the CR-V used to have a boxy look and a tailgate-mounted spare tire, today’s version has a much more streamlined appearance.
When the fifth-generation Honda CR-V debuted, it quickly set the benchmark for the compact crossover segment with its excellent practicality, comfortable and roomy interior, value, efficiency, and ease of use. Our AutoGuide.com editors also awarded the CR-V as the 2017 Utility Vehicle of the Year. Our editors were impressed by how well-rounded the CR-V was and liked that it offered everything that someone shopping in the segment could want. Even now that it’s a couple of years old, it still manages to hold its own against some very good competitors, and we expect Honda to up the ante once again when the model is refreshed.
The Honda CR-Vs is so popular in North America that the Japanese automaker has four different manufacturing facilities to serve the market’s demands: Alliston, Ontario, in Canada; East Liberty, Ohio; Greensburg, Indiana; and in El Salto, Jalisco, in Mexico.
Pros/ Efficient, family-friendly, reliable, good resale value, comfortable, easy to drive, practical (generous cargo and passenger space), refined ride quality
Cons/Base engine is very slow, turbo still feels underpowered, some cheap plastics inside, advanced safety tech is optional (some competitors include it as standard), owners report issues with turbo engine, infotainment system feels dated and unresponsive, noisy
Bottom Line/An excellent all-rounder: it does nearly everything well but doesn’t excel at any particular thing.
Table of contents
Honda CR-V Specs
Engine:1.5L turbocharged 4-cylinder
Torque: 179 lb-ft
Drivetrain: Front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive
Seating Capacity: 5
Cargo Capacity: 39.2 cu-ft seats up / 75.8 cu-ft seats down
Towing Capacity: 1,500 lbs
Honda CR-V Fuel Economy
The Honda CR-V has a 14-gallon fuel tank and both engines can run on regular unleaded fuel, which is great because most automakers recommend using premium fuel with turbocharged engines. This will help you save some money, even though the CR-V is already very efficient. A big part of the CR-V’s efficient fuel economy ratings are the continuously variable transmission (CVT). Although they’re not the most responsive transmissions, CVTs are much more efficient, and every CR-V model gets a CVT.
With the upgraded 1.5L turbo engine and front-wheel drive, the CR-V should return 28 / 34 / 30 mpg. Opting for AWD sees the ratings drop slightly to 27 / 33 / 29 mpg.
Honda CR-V Safety Rating
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety sees the Honda CR-V as a Top Safety Pick, the second highest rating a car can get. When equipped with the optional crash prevention and upgraded headlights, the Honda CR-V is one of the safest cars you can get. It got top marks in the crashworthiness tests and the IIHS said the front crash prevention system was superior — the CR-V was able to avoid a collision at 12 mpg and 25 mph. The child seat anchors were rated as “Acceptable” for ease of use (one grade below the top rating of “Good”).
Honda CR-V Features
Standard features include automatic climate control, power windows with auto up/down, cruise control, capless fuel filler, 5-inch LCD screen, Bluetooth, 1.0 amp USB port, and more.
All Honda CR-Vs except for the base LX model come standard with Honda Sensing, the brand’s suite of driver assistance and safety technology. The package includes forward collision warning, lane departure warning, automatic emergency braking, road departure mitigation, lane keep assist, and adaptive cruise control. Automatic highbeams and blind spot monitoring are optional add-ons.
Other optional features (some are standard on higher trim levels) include a power moon roof, auto walk-away locking, fog lights, heated side mirrors, power tailgate with hands-free access, roof rails, automatic LED headlights, dual-zone automatic climate control, push-button start, retractable cargo cover, automatic rear dimming mirror, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, HomeLink garage door opener, heated front seats, leather seats, 1.5 amp USB port, 7-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 2.5 amp charging ports in the second row, upgraded audio system, and more.
Honda CR-V Pricing
All pricing include the $1,095 destination fee.
Honda CR-V pricing starts with the base LX, which starts at $26,145. The base model doesn’t include too many standard features. The EX starts at $28,655 while the EX L starts from $31,145. The range-topping model, the CR-V Touring, kicks off at $34,345.
Honda CR-V Competitors
The Honda CR-V competes with other compact crossovers like the Toyota RAV4, Ford Escape, Kia Sportage, Hyundai Tucson, Chevrolet Equinox, Subaru Forester, Mazda CX-5, Nissan Rogue, Volkswagen Tiguan, Jeep Cherokee/Compass, Mitsubishi Outlander and more.
Future Honda CR-V Plans
The Honda CR-V is due for an extensive refresh soon, and a brand-new generation model should be here for the 2021 model year. The current one has been on sale since 2017, but it is already feeling quite outdated and is quickly being overshadowed by its competition. We think Honda will offer a hybrid version of the CR-V for the next-generation model, as one is already available in other parts of the world.
For the upcoming refresh, we expect Honda will update the exterior design to make it less dowdy and more boxy to make it more appealing for those wanting a more rugged look. Expect Honda to include more safety and driver assistance technology as standard. Honda has also gotten a lot of complaints about the powertrain, mainly that it’s too slow and unresponsive, so expect Honda to improve on the engine and CVT to give drivers a more refined experience.
Honda CR-V Review
By Dan Ilika
As far as crossovers go, it doesn’t get much more quintessential than the Honda CR-V.
It hit the market all the way back in 1997, long before the term “crossover” was even in vogue, and has quietly dominated ever since, selling at a torrid pace only the Toyota RAV4 has been able to match. There’s never been anything sexy about the CR-V, but that hasn’t bothered the millions of folks who have bought them over the years.
The new-generation of CR-V now comes powered by a turbocharged engine in what could be the CUV’s biggest change since Honda scrapped the tailgate-mounted spare tire.
The move to forced induction in the CR-V is part of an industry-wide shift towards smaller displacement engines that rely on exhaust gas to push more air into the manifold. For Honda, the turbocharging trend started with the Civic and has now worked its way into the brand’s compact crossover.
While the existing 2.4-liter engine carries over in base LX trim, the vast majority of new CR-Vs set to hit dealers will be powered by a turbocharged 1.5-lite four-cylinder. Borrowed from the Civic, the four-cylinder receives a few minor tweaks before serving under the hood of Honda’s popular CUV, including a revised turbine and a slightly lower compression ratio.
The benefits of turbocharging a crossover like the CR-V aren’t necessarily going to show up on paper, or even at the pumps. Both available engines make a similar amount of power — 184 hp and 180 lb-ft in the former; 190 hp and 179 lb-ft in the latter — while fuel economy improves only marginally with the 1.5-liter under the hood. Instead, it’s how the pair of four-cylinders deliver power, and when they deliver it, that is markedly different.
As a naturally aspirated engine, the CR-V’s base 2.4-liter generates much of its output higher in the rev range. In this case, the full serving of torque doesn’t come online until 3,900 rpm, climbing steadily until it gets there before dropping off dramatically. With the 1.5-liter, however, all 179 lb-ft of torque are available at 2,000 rpm and stay that way as engine speeds rise to 5,000 rpm, providing a steady stream of power throughout the rev range.
Despite having its output increased in the CR-V, the turbo engine behaves much differently than it does in the Civic, which belies the crossover’s heavier curb weight. It doesn’t feel quite as perky motivating the CR-V, instead doing so quite placidly, with even power delivery from the moment it gets rolling until it hits highway speeds.
The only transmission offered in the CR-V is of the continuously variable automatic nature. Fundamentally the same as the CVT offered in the Civic, it does well at tricking both driver and passenger into believing it’s a traditionally geared automatic thanks to its simulated shift points and almost impenetrable noise insulation that keeps its whining from creeping into the cabin.
Bigger is Better
It’s not just an engine and transmission that the Civic and CR-V share, with the pair also riding on the same platform. The Civic’s wheelbase is slightly longer than the CR-V’s, which now measures 104.7 inches (2,659 millimeters), but the crossover is larger everywhere else — and, indeed, larger than the one it replaces.
Stretching 180.6 inches (4,587 mm) from tip to tail and 73 inches (1,854 mm) across, the 2017 CR-V maintains its right-sized approach. Standing slightly taller than its predecessor, and with more pronounced fenders that give it a wider stance, the CR-V looks grown up but it’s certainly no more imposing.
The CR-V’s larger dimensions translate directly to added interior space where it matters the most. Rear seat legroom has grown by nearly two inches (51 mm) to an impressive 40.4 inches (1,026 mm). That puts the CR-V’s second row ahead of the larger Honda Pilot (38.4 inches, 975 mm), and the same-sized RAV4 (37.2 inches, 945 mm) and Nissan Rogue (37.9 inches, 963 mm). The rear doors open almost 90 degrees to make accessing the second row effortless, while the rear seats can accommodate two adults with ease.
Behind the second row of seats, the CR-V’s cargo volume has also grown, eclipsing the outgoing model’s mark to hit 39.2 cu-ft (1,110 liters). Likewise, cargo room with the second row folded jumps noticeably to 75.8 cu-ft (2,146 liters), providing ample space to move larger and more awkwardly shaped items like bicycles. It also gets some creative packaging, including a fancy new bi-level rear cargo tray, to maximize the available space for taller items, though it lacks the versatility of the so-called Magic Seats in Honda’s smaller Fit and HR-V models.
Despite the absence of its smaller siblings’ smart seats, the new CR-V’s cabin doesn’t leave a whole lot to be desired. Even in base LX trim, the CR-V comes fitted with a rearview camera, cruise control, active noise cancelation, and automatic climate control, with the list of features growing with each trim level. Included in that list is Honda’s seven-inch Display Audio touchscreen infotainment system that — gasp! — includes a physical volume knob, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration. The system is standard across the trim range in Canada, and comes into play on EX, EX-L and Touring models in the U.S., as do second-row USB charging ports.
Likewise, the Honda Sensing suite of safety features, which includes adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist and collision mitigation braking, is now standard on EX trims and higher to provide an added sense of security while driving. The adaptive cruise system, which features low-speed follow, works as well as any on the market, and will slow down and speed up on its own in stop-and-go traffic smoothly and effectively, with no need for driver intervention.
Setting out on an indirect trek from Monterey, Calif., to San Francisco in a Touring model with all-wheel drive, it was on the highway that the new CR-V showcased its improved drive the most, and not just for its impressive adaptive cruise control.
While a little rigid and truck-like, the fourth-generation CR-V offers a tremendously smooth ride aided by its new suspension that features struts up front and a multi-link setup around back, and fluid-filled bushings at all four corners. Combined with improved cabin quietness, the only complaint on the highway is rooted in a lane departure warning system that can be somewhat erratic, recognizing patched cracks in the asphalt as lane markings and sending a pulse through the steering wheel.
Off the highway, the CR-V’s car-like steering system proved a worthy companion. Weighted a little heavily, or at least heavier than the last CR-V, the setup is very nimble and easy on the driver, thanks in part to its variable ratio adopted from the Civic.
The Verdict: Honda CR-V Review
This new generation of CR-V brings all the necessary ingredients — turbocharged engine, spacious interior, and attractive design — that are sure to keep the CR-V among the segment leaders for years to come. That it’s priced right won’t hurt the CR-V’s cause either.
|Engine /||1.5L turbocharged 4-cylinder|
|Horsepower (hp) /||190|
|Torque (lb-ft) /||179|
|Drivetrain /||Front-wheel drive / all-wheel drive|
|Seating Capacity /||5|
|Towing Capacity /||1,500 lbs|
|Price Range /||$26,145-$34,345|
Our Final Verdict
In our testing, the Honda CR-V was most recently beat by the newer Subaru Forester, which offers a host of impressive safety technology as standard equipment and a more attractive design. We no longer consider the CR-V to be the best in the segment, but it’s still a solid pick if you’re shopping for a compact crossover — it’s an excellent and practical all-rounder with proven reliability.4.5