The fourth-generation Honda CR-V is a five-seat compact SUV that features more aggressive styling than its predecessor along with increased interior comfort, a smoother ride, less road noise and better fuel economy from its single-engined lineup.
Outside, the CR-V is highlighted by a three-bar grille that emphasizes the width of the vehicle. Helping to stave off surface monotony on the sides are crisp character lines and flared fenders that create a stable look, while around back the rear window is more steeply sloped than before but, as with the outgoing model, is flanked by vertical taillights.
The CR-V's interior is less futuristic and more elegant than that of other recent Honda vehicles. The dashboard flows downwards from either side to the center stack, which features a simple layout with relatively few buttons. A large center console storage bin provides enough space to stow a full-size purse, while the 37.2 cubic-foot-trunk aft of the rear seats provides enough room to swallow truly bulky items. The rear seats are 60/40 split folding units that can be folded to increase carrying capacity to a cavernous 70.9 inches.
Powering Honda's little Â‘ute is a 2.4-liter inline-four that boasts decreased friction and improved breathing than the unit used in the previous CR-V. These changes help the engine to produce 185 horsepower and 163 lb-ft of torque. Working together with a five-speed automatic transmission, the motor returns 23 mpg in the city and 31 on the highway with the standard front wheel-drive configuration. Opt for the traction-enhancing all-wheel-drive system and fuel economy decreases slightly to 22/30 mpg.
The CR-V can be had with what Honda terms an "intelligent Multi-Information Display (i-MID) system, which displays data like trip range, current mpg, SMS text messages, song information and turn-by-turn directions for models equipped with a navigation system. The system can also be personalized with custom wallpower.
Trim Level Breakdown
The CR-V is available in LX, EX and EX-L models.
The entry-level LX comes equipped with ir conditioning, cruise control, Bluetooth HandsFreeLink, i-MID, remote entry and a 160-watt, a four-speaker audio system with USB and Aux input jacks,
Stepping up one trim level will land you at the EX, which adds two speakers for a six-speaker audio system, a power moonroof and 17-inch alloy wheels.
The range-topping CR-V EX-L takes everything found on the CR-V EX and adds a leather-trimmed interior, 10-way power driver's seat, automatic dual-zone climate control and 328-watt seven-speaker audio system with XM Radio.
Options for the CR-V EX-L include the Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System with Voice Recognition and FM Traffic, or a DVD Rear Entertainment System (not available with Navigation). All-wheel-drive is an available feature on every model, regardless of trim level.
When someone buys a Honda they expect good fuel economy, reliability and safety. For 2012, the CR-V addresses the safety leg of that trio with VSA, an electronic stability control system, an Anti-lock Braking System with Brake Assist, side-curtain airbags and front-side airbags with a passenger-side Occupant Position Detection System. Dual front airbags are also fitted as standard.
Honda also says that the front seat design was given considerable attention so that it can help reduce the severity of neck injury in the event of a rear collision.
The CR-V plays in the extremely crowded compact SUV segment against rivals like the powerful Toyota RAV4, the fuel-efficient Chevrolet Equinox and the popular Ford Escape. Potential CR-V buyers should also cross-shop the Nissan Rogue and the Subaru Forester.