2012 Honda CR-V: Can It Stay On Top Of The Segment?
Maybe they don't want to mess with a good thing: Honda is rolling out its fourth-generation Honda CR-V with modest changes and a fairly conservative redesign.
So far, the CR-V has been a hit in the midsized SUV market. It's the seventh-best selling vehicle in the U.S. this year, and has a loyal following of drivers, especially on the East and West coasts.
The biggest change in the new CR-V is a 2.4-liter i-VTEC 4-cylinder engine, which will give drivers more horsepower, torque and better fuel economy. The interior was reworked to make is more spacious inside, even though the vehicle is smaller overall.
I recently had the opportunity to drive the new CR-V in the San Diego area. Does it live up to its reputation as one of the best crossovers on the market and will it continue to sell in droves? Let's find out.
Honda hasn't said how much the car will cost. For 2012, the CR-V will come in five trim levels: LX, EX, EX-L and EX-L with RES, which will be priced from lowest to highest respectively. Most likely, it will start in the low $20,000 range and top out near $30,000.
-2.4-liter i-VTEC 4-cylinder engine
-185-hp, 163 lb-ft of torque
-Five-speed automatic transmission
-23 mpg City/31 mpg Hwy
-37.2 cubic feet of cargo room (70.9 cubic feet with rear seats down)
What We Like
Michael: Interior space and cargo room. Honda has worked some magic and come up with a smaller car that somehow has more interior and cargo room than the previous generation. CR-V drivers are going to love how much stuff they can fit in the trunk, especially with the rear seats folded down (which is easy enough, with a simple lever) and the spaciousness of the cabin will create a comfortable commute.
Autoblog: The revamped all-wheel-drive system stands to be one of the most advanced in its class. Partnered with a front MacPherson strut suspension and a rear multi-link setup, the "Real Time AWD with Intelligent Control System" takes the old mechanical setup of its predecessors and sends it to Acura's SH-AWD finishing school. The system, which blends front-wheel-drive efficiency with full-time all-wheel-drive functionality, uses the Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) system to eliminate the outgoing setup's need for the front wheels to slip before sending grunt to the rear.
What We Don't Like
Michael: Driving this vehicle is pretty blah, as Honda engineers went for comfort over fun. But the major problem in driving this car lies in the electronic steering, which, even for a casual commuter, is going to feel off and unresponsive. Especially compared to previous generation's hydraulic steering.
Autoblog: The navigation's functionality is present, but compared to nearly everything else on the market, both its user interface and feature count lag far behind the curve. Honda claims the CR-V's touchscreen setup has been upgraded, but the navigation graphics are still MapQuest circa 2005, the audio screens look like something out of Windows 3.1 and general functionality isn't nearly as intuitive as other modern systems on the market.
The CR-V probably isn't the best crossover on the market anymore and it certainly isn't the most exciting, but that doesn't make it a bad vehicle. Honda's conservative changes to the fourth generation CR-V ensure that consumers will still get a car with great passenger and cargo room, good fuel economy, a high safety rating and legendary Honda reliability. The CR-V certainly isn't for car enthusiasts, who probably want something a little sportier. But it's still a solid vehicle. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to a friend or family member. After all, Honda has a great track record.
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