Honda’s all-new 2017 CR-V compact crossover has many new features, but the one we like most is old-school.
As vehicle models mature automakers always seem to offer buyers two steps forward and one step back. In 2015, when Honda refreshed the popular CR-V, it added a new drivetrain and interior, along with a fantabulous driver assistance package.
However, Honda eliminated the volume and tuner knobs from the infotainment system. We are pleased to report that Honda has decided to bring back the most important of these two knobs, and the volume knob is back where both the driver and passenger can put it to good use.
In the current CR-V, the driver controls audio volume with steering wheel controls or the center touchscreen. But the knob remains the easiest and fastest way to change the volume quickly and without distraction.
For their part, passengers can’t use the steering wheel controls, and the touch screen volume controls are almost impossible for them to see and use from their vantage point.
Honda didn’t stop with the volume controls when it updated this vehicle’s infotainment system. New this year is an available Garmin-based navigation system. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay will also be available.
New CR-V engine
One reason we started with the infotainment package in our preview of the new CR-V is that the rest of the crossover was very well designed. And despite the CR-V’s outstanding engine, Honda knew that it needed to continue to innovate. That is why Honda is bringing a turbocharged engine to the CR-V.
The new 1.5-liter, 190-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder is a hit with owners and reviewers who have sampled it in the new Civic. We’ve driven this little marvel and loved its smooth power delivery and substantial torque at low RPMs. The engine will be mated to the CVT transmission, which we have come to love in affordable cars and crossovers. Expect a bump in fuel economy on the order of one or two MPG.
Active safety on more CR-V trims
Another aspect of the CR-V we love is the nearly autonomous driving one can enjoy when the Collision Mitigation Braking (CMBS) with Forward Collision Warning (FCW) and pedestrian sensing capability, Road Departure Mitigation (RDM) with Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with low-speed follow and Lane Keeping Assist (LKAS) are all combined. Forget all the acronyms, what the system does is steer the CR-V for you on the highway.
We have tested it from Boston to Providence on the highway, and it can do the driving, but still requires you to hold the wheel. On a long slog back from a media event we used the same technology in the Honda Pilot and felt much more refreshed after the trip than we would have without it.
Don’t Like This Stuff? Buy the Base Trim CR-V
If you are the type that abhors improvements, you are in luck! Honda is hedging its bets a bit by offering the LX (base) trim of the CR-V with the old engine and without any of the driver aids we just raved about above. In fact, if you get the LX, you can’t have that stuff as options either. No word yet on if Honda will include roll-up windows and solid tires to keep costs in line further.
Honda’s CR-V is now the brand’s most popular vehicle. It has been trading places with the Toyota RAV4 for the top compact crossover sales spot through this calendar year. These changes and the continued refinement of the CR-V’s looks may keep it ahead. Until the refreshed RAV4 appears.