The redesigned Honda CR-V's fuel efficiency, interior, and standard equipment
are better than ever. Too bad it's so underpowered.
Honda has made numerous improvements to its popular CR-V small SUV for 2012.
The new CR-V is better looking, quieter, and has a nicer interior, slightly more luggage space, more standard equipment, and a better all-wheel-drive system than the previous model. Fuel economy is up, too. The CR-V faces tough competition, however, from the Kia Sorento, Chevy Equinox, and the newly redesigned Toyota RAV4 and Ford Escape. The Escape has passed the CR-V to become the top-selling SUV this year, and the new Escape promises to be better than the current one. Honda loyalists will be happy with the new CR-V, but we recommend comparison shopping before buying.
The cabin feels more upscale than in the old CR-V. One improvement: a nifty, one-touch rear seat that goes down automatically at the flick of a lever. Luggage space is up 1.5 cu. ft., to 37.2 cu. ft. The dash and doors still have too much hard plastic, however.
The only powerplant offered is a 2.4-liter, 185-horsepower, four-cylinder engine that generates 163 lb.-ft. of torque. The only transmission is a five-speed automatic. A new, intelligent all-wheel-drive system is available as an option.
We were unable to time the new CR-V, but our guess is it accelerates from zero to 60 as slowly as the outgoing model—in roughly 10 seconds. Speed mavens should check out the Toyota Rav4 with six-cylinder power, which is about 3.5 seconds quicker.
With front-wheel drive, the new CR-V is rated to get 23 mpg in the city, 31 on the highway, 26 average (2 mpg more than before); with AWD, it’s rated at 22/30/25. The Chevy Equinox already matches the CR-V’s mileage; the new Escape promises to beat it.
Safety is strong selling point: Honda expects the new CR-V to earn five-star government safety ratings and to be a Top Safety Pick of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Standard gear includes stability control and head-protecting side curtain air bags.
Pricing for the new CR-V hasn’t been announced but is expected to be in the same $21,000 to $30,000 range as the previous model, which means the CR-V probably will remain slightly more expensive than its main rivals.