Sedan sales are flagging and crossovers are the car of the moment, so naturally automakers are introducing new crossovers at an astounding rate. Honda added the HR-V to its lineup to increase its chances of enticing crossovers buyers, but it already has the go-to crossover of the non-minivan set in the Honda CR-V.
The model has been on the market for long enough that it’s an established name, but this year there’s an all-new fifth generation of the popular crossover. It gets a new look inside and out, a new powertrain, and plenty of technology and safety updates designed to keep it at the top of the segment.
Style-wise, the CR-V looks good, but it’s nothing stunning. That’s not to say it’s drab. There’s a dual exhaust in back to give it a sporty look and the hood and wheelbase are longer. This keeps the CR-V from looking dated and is a welcome update, but this isn’t a standout vehicle that will turn heads at the carpool pickup.
Bigger and more interesting news is the latest engine. This year’s CR-V gets its first turbocharged engine in a 1.5-liter, 4-cylinder with 190 horsepower and 179 lb-ft of torque, which was in the Touring model we tested. The base LX model still features a 2.4-liter, 4-cylinder without the turbocharging. Both are paired to a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).
The new engine gives the CR-V a much needed boost. It makes this mild-mannered crossover more fun to drive. Especially accelerating to highway speeds, the CR-V now gets out of its own way rather than making you nervous about the cars looming in your rearview mirror.
CVTs are notoriously loud, but this one keeps itself quiet. You’ll hear it a bit under heavy acceleration, but most of the time it’s unobtrusive. The cabin is a quiet space, unless the kids are going crazy, with both road and wind noise well-muted for a relaxing ride.
Where the all-new CR-V truly shines is its interior styling. Outside, it might not attract much attention, but inside it’s a looker. Our test model was the top Touring trim and it includes a 12-way power adjustable seat with 4-way lumbar for the driver. The front passenger gets a 4-way power seat and both are heated. Those seats are leather with a matching leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.
There’s dual-zone automatic climate control, a 9-speaker premium audio system, and a 7-inch touchscreen display with navigation and a multi-view rear camera. CarPlay and Android Auto are also included for simplified smartphone integration. Honda decided to add the volume button back to the dashboard this year, the lack of which drove many a person nuts in the previous generation CR-V.
Safety features abound, particularly in the Touring which has a long list of standard safety features as a part of Honda Sensing. It includes adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, and road departure mitigation.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named the 2017 Honda CR-V a Top Safety Pick+, which is their highest rating. It earned top scores of Good in all crash test and Superior for front crash prevention. This is comforting news for the many families who spend their days running from school to practice in the CR-V.
This is essentially a family hauler, and it does the job beautifully. The interior is attractive and comfortable and easily sits five passengers whether it’s kids in car seats or adults. There’s ample room for everyone, and an impressive amount of cargo capacity. Fold the rear seats down and there’s 75.8 cubic feet or leave them up for passengers and you still have 39.2 cubic feet in back.
Pricing starts at an affordable $24,045 for the base LX, but you get that smaller engine and lose many of the CR-V’s more upscale amenities. The rest of the lineup includes the EX ($26,795), EX-L ($29,695), and Touring ($32,495.) Even in its highest trim, the CR-V manages to avoid sticker shock.
The 2017 Honda CR-V takes a car that already worked and makes it better. There are no dramatic changes this year, but a multitude of small ones add up to a big improvement for this popular crossover.