2012 Honda CR-V EX-L NavPosted on April 11th, 2012
Honda remakes its best-selling crossover
By Nina Russin
Honda was one of the first automakers to break into the compact crossover segment in the 1990s with the CR-V. Buyers who wanted to stick with a brand they had come to know for reliability and good gas mileage could do so, and still meet the needs of their active lifestyles.
Over time, Honda’s compact recreational vehicle has grown in size, responding to a general market trend as well as buyers who wanted more space for growing families. This continues with the newest CR-V, which Honda unveiled at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show.
Product planners sought to give buyers access to new infotainment features and updated engine technology without seriously impacting the car’s sticker price. The top-of-the-line EX with leather upholstery, all-wheel drive and navigation costs less than $30,000.
The most obvious compromise was using a five-speed automatic transmission in lieu of a six speed box with larger overdrive gears. I was able to get 29 miles-per-gallon on my 300-mile test drive, which included a road trip between Phoenix and Tucson. That number is significantly better than the EPA estimated average of 25 miles-per-gallon for combined city and highway driving.
Part of the difference was due to the fact that most miles during the test drive were on the highway. I also used the “econ” setting, and a monitor in the gauge cluster which turns green when the driver is optimizing gas mileage. In these days of rising fuel costs, the energy monitor is a useful tool for containing cost of ownership.
All-wheel drive and navigation priced below $30,000
The test car costs $29,795, excluding the $810 destination charge. Power for the 2012 CR-V coms from a 2.4-liter four cylinder engine rated at 185 horsepower. Real-time all-wheel drive on the test car automatically sends engine power to the wheels with the best traction for better performance on wet or snow-covered roads.
The EX grade comes fully optioned, with keyless entry, a sunroof, seven-speaker audio system with Pandora and Bluetooth interface, satellite radio and steering wheel-mounted controls, dual-zone climate controls, ten-way power driver’s seat, 12-volt and USB outlets.
The test car rides on 17-inch alloy wheels. Standard roof rails make it easy to add a cargo carrier up top.
Road trip to Tucson
A weekend trip between Phoenix and Tucson 100 miles to the south was a good opportunity to test the new CR-V’s performance on the highway and around town.
Performance from the four-cylinder engine was quite good, even with the econ setting engaged. I had to dip into the throttle to pass other vehicles on the highway, but not excessively.
Visibility around the exterior is good. A convex insert on the driver’s side mirror minimizes the blind spot created by the car’s thick D pillars. A low cowl enhances visibility out the front.
The rearview camera provides a wide angle view to the back when the driver shifts into reverse. Lines superimposed over the image show the car’s trajectory according to steering inputs.
Honda’s navigation systems are known for their accuracy and fast response to changes in the driving route. The unit on the CR-V is no exception. I found all of the displays, including the gauges and two screens in the center stack easy to read in bright sunlight.
Although the new car is rather heavy, its 3500-pound curb weight is well balanced, with 58 percent of the weight up front and 42 in the back. A MacPherson strut suspension up front and multi-link setup in back offers a pleasingly compliant ride. Stabilizer bars on both axles keep the chassis flat in the corners.
The electric power steering system is more compact than a hydraulic unit, and saves the owner some maintenance during the life of the vehicle. It’s well-tuned to the car, with ample assistance at low speeds and good on-center response on the highway. The turning circle for the all-wheel drive car is slightly larger than the front-wheel drive version: 37.3 feet.
Four-wheel disc brakes stop the car in a firm, linear fashion and provide good performance in wet weather.
The CR-V tows up to 1500 pounds: enough for a small trailer, but not meeting our ALV minimum standard.
Designers did an exceptional job with the interior, making it a good choice for active families. Because the CR-V has no floor tunnel, three passengers can fit in the second row. The power adjustable driver’s seat has ample lower lumbar support for trips lasting several hours.
Front doors have map pockets, bottle holders and small bins for cell phones, while the rear doors have bottle holders. There are two large cupholders in the center console, capable of holding quart containers. The deep center console is capable of holding a small tablet computer or pack. There are also small bins to either side of the center console. A locking glovebox provides secure storage inside the car.
Audio and temperature controls on the center console are easy to reach from either front seating position and intuitive to operate. An SMS text messaging function enables the driver to receive and send messages using the car’s audio system.
The second-row seats fold flat in a 60/40 pattern, so the CR-V easily meets our bicycle friendly standards. The cargo floor’s low lift-over height makes it easier for small drivers to load up the back of the car.
The Honda CR-V comes with front, side and side curtain airbags, antilock brakes, traction and stability control. Daytime running lamps make the vehicle easier to see in low light conditions and on winding canyon roads.
Honda builds the CR-V at its Sayama, Saitama Japan assembly plant.
Likes: A versatile affordable crossover vehicle with available all-wheel drive and seating for up to five passengers. The CR-V should be on the short list for active families who need a vehicle with the ability to carry skis and bicycles as well as enhanced traction on snow-covered roads.
Dislike: Five-speed automatic transmission does not have the large overdrive gears of a six-speed unit.
Model: CR-V EX-L with Navigation
Base price: $29,795
As tested: $30,605
Horsepower: 185 Hp @ 7000 rpm
Torque: 163 lbs.-ft. @ 4400 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Fuel economy: 22/30 mpg city/highway
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