2017 Honda CR-V Long-Term Test Introduction

On paper, the 2017 Honda CR-V appears to be the perfect vehicle for our family.

Spacious, but not too big; efficient, but with a punchy little turbo engine; comfortable and promising renewed quality with every new generation; and easy to drive, but stuffed full of modern conveniences that make a suburban dad’s commute or shuttle service to the community center less of a chore.

Whenever a bestselling model like the Honda CR-V gets redesigned, we’re eager to test every aspect of its capability as thoroughly as possible, so aside from the gauntlet of a few months of family life, we have a series of comparisons lined up to see how the CR-V stacks up against the bestsellers and our favorites in the segment, with a road trip thrown in for good measure.

This generation grows a little bit in every dimension, yet downsizes to a tiny 1.5L turbocharged engine, so will that little engine be enough to haul the new Honda CR-V, my family and all the junk we drag around? And has Honda finally fixed their infuriating HondaLink infotainment system?

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Growth Spurt, Weight Loss

The Honda CR-V grows about an inch in every direction, and it’s felt mainly in the rear seat and trunk.

The back seat legroom is up to a whopping 40.4 inches (1025 millimetres), feeling positively limo-like with acres of space for even gangly teenagers to stretch out their legs, never mind enough room for little kids to swing their legs to their heart’s content without getting muddy boot prints all over the back of the front seat.

Both the seat entry and trunk load floor are impressively low making for easy climbing for toddlers and likely good for most dogs to be able to leap up into the cargo bay.

SEE MORE: 2017 Honda CR-V First Drive

A small but thoughtful addition is a movable cargo floor that can be positioned to sit flush with the folded rear seats or a couple inches lower for that little bit of extra cargo space for taller items. The rear seats can be dropped from the back of the vehicle using the handles at the side of the cargo bay. The trunk alone is good for almost 40 cubic feet of cargo (39.2 cu-ft to be exact, or 1,065 liters listed for Canadian specs, which is actually slightly less than 39.2 cu-ft – go figure), and with the seats down, the CR-V offers a maximum of 75.8 cubic feet (2,146 L), more than enough for massive strollers, playpens, a raid at a sporting goods store or even the most avid Costco shoppers.

2017 Honda CR-V Trunk

Surprisingly, despite the gains in size, the 2017 CR-V is actually over 100 pounds lighter (about 50 kilograms) than the 2016 model, giving that tiny engine a fighting chance.

Small but Mighty (Loud)

The new engine is a 1.5L turbocharged four, making 190 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque – a gain of 5 hp but a loss of 2 lb-ft. Despite the small decrease in torque, it is available at an early 2,000 rpm compared the 2016’s 3,900, making for less commotion when getting up to speed without any urgency. The power is sufficient for the average driver, but its refinement is sorely lacking, groaning along at highway speeds with the CVT answering with its own droning racket.

While it’s not the most pleasant powertrain to listen to, it shows a lot of promise in terms of efficiency. Officially rated by the EPA at 27 mpg in the city, 33 on the highway and 29 combined, we have been averaging around 26 mpg in the dead of winter with a lot of urban driving and low-speed maneuvering during our Utility Vehicle of the Year testing – stay tuned for the results from that test coming next month.

SEE MORE: 2016 Honda Pilot vs 2016 Kia Sorento

American customers have the option of bypassing the tiny turbo in favor of the carryover non-turbo 2.4L four-cylinder, of which I am a fan for its perfectly acceptable power and relatively smooth operation with the standard CVT. The 2.4 is now rated at 184 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque, and in $24,985 base trim (including the $940 destination) still offers some nice features like multi-angle rearview camera, 17-inch alloys, automatic climate control and split-folding 60/40 second-row seats.

Despite being smaller, the 1.5L turbo adds at least 50 lb to when moving up to EX trim ($27,635) and above. Aside from the 1.5L turbo, the EX trim adds the 7-inch touchscreen infotainment interface, heated seats, 12-way power seating for the driver and Honda Sensing safety suite, which includes driving aids like adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow, collision mitigation braking, lane keep assist and road departure mitigation system. The EX trim is solid value and sure to be a popular trim.

The EX-L adds a leather interior, power tailgate, two memory positions for the driver’s seat, four-way power adjustments for the front passenger and some other perks for $30,135.

2017 Honda CR-V

We were also blessed with a big dumping of snow in our first week with the 2017 Honda CR-V, and the CR-V’s AWD system and Blizzak winter tires overcame a torture test of crawling up a snow-covered trail from a standstill, so it should prove up to the challenge of your typical winter conditions anywhere south of Alaska. Heck, it would probably even be fine in Alaska.

Our tester is a fully loaded Touring, which comes standard with the 1.5L turbo powertrain, hands-free power tailgate, full LED headlights, rain-sensing windshield wipers and satellite-linked navigation system that includes traffic info. All-wheel drive is a $1,300 option on any trim, so with the $940 destination charge, the Honda CR-V you see here runs $34,635.

Inner Qualities

As mentioned earlier, the interior is more than spacious enough for passengers and cargo, and the quality is also impressive at first glance. The leather seats and steering wheel of the Touring trim are wonderful, and the dash plastics and switchgear are all solid. The touchscreen infotainment system itself can be sluggish, but seems to be fairly simple and easy to use, although still a little slow to switch between menus.

2017 Honda CR-V Interior

While we will come back to the interior and technology in later updates, I had to share a couple first impressions about the interior. On the plus side, the interior design is simple but appealing, and even the imitation wood is a convincing pattern with a nice satin finish. However, Honda has committed the grave sin of molding plastic trim with fake stitching, which has the very opposite effect it is meant to coming off as tacky instead of adding any sort of class.

We have a few months to answer any of your questions and put some serious miles on the CR-V, so let us know what you want to hear more about in the comments below, and we’ll keep an eye on its fuel consumption, enjoy how easy it is to live with, and find out whether it deserves to continue its reign at the top of the compact crossover sales charts.

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