(Note: My phone died just as I was getting ready to snap some pics, so here’s a photo courtesy of automobile.honda.com)
The cool thing about having friends with new cars is that I get to drive those cars. (I’m not affiliated with Honda in any way, nor am I affiliated with any Honda dealers… bummer).
Without further adieu, here’s the review.
Model tested: Honda CRV-LX base model MSRP: Under $25,000
NTSA Crash Test: 4 out of 5 stars for front impact and rollover, 5 stars side-impact crash test ratings.
IIHS crash test ratings: Good
Let’s face it. Most base models scream “Hey world! My driver is broke AF and this is all they can afford!” You worry that the grey plastic interior will crack during the first heat wave. The door gives a weak *plink* when you shut it, instead of that satisfying *whoomp!*
The base model CR-V, however, engages in none of those shenanigans. The first thing I noticed right off the bat was excellent workmanship throughout the interior cabin. Are you going to find wood grain inserts and glove leather seating? Nope.
You will, however, find soft-touch plastics and solid construction throughout. The model I drove had leather seats. More on that in a minute. Fit and finish on the exterior was outstanding.
Drive train: All models of the CR-V are equipped with a 2.4 liter engine mated to a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) that replaces the 5-speed automatic for better fuel economy. 185 horsepower ITEC engine. On the road, the CRV is eager to please and up to the task. I whooped it around the narrow, hilly streets of my community and was delighted with how well-mannered it was, even on the curviest of the local roads.
The CR-V was sure-footed and composed throughout my drive. Although there was more interior cabin noise than I would have liked while running it on the main highway, it was still tolerable. The CVT was smooth on the downhill portions of my run, easily keeping up with the task at hand. Uphill was a different story, as it felt a bit balky at times.
That balkiness is a fair price to pay for a crossover that is otherwise fun to drive. This car is responsive, and eager to please. While it won’t blow the center line paint off the road or shuck corn as you drive by, it can more than handle the demands of daily driving or road-tripping with panache.
Interior visibility was outstanding, even with the smaller rear window. The CR-V also comes equipped with a back-up camera, which is standard across all trim lines and required on all cars beginning in 2016.
Interior: The center console is well laid out, with controls within easy reach. The LX trim has no navigation or touch screen, but personally I didn’t miss either. The dual-zone climate system more than made up for it, along with steering-wheel mounted phone, audio and i-MID controls.
My friend’s phone paired easily and quickly via Bluetooth. The 160-watt 4-speaker audio system features AM/FM/CD capabilities. I didn’t get a chance to check out the sound quality because to be honest, I was having too much fun whooping this cute ute up and down winding coastal roads.
The interior also features 35.5 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, expanding to 79 cubic feet with the 60/40 rear seats folded down.
I felt secure in the driver’s seat, which offered excellent lumbar support and adjustable head restraints. Headroom was adequate, although I felt a bit cramped legroom-wise.
Exterior: The CR-V LX features chrome trim along the exterior, just like its fancier siblings. Honda redesigned the CR-V to offer a lower stance and an edgier front end and grille. Gone is the wide-eyed look of the CR-Vs of yore. In its place is a sportier, edgier face that works surprisingly well with its cute exterior.
In 2014, one reviewer sniffed “the CR-V has everything I need, but nothing I want.” I beg to differ. This crossover has everything I need and want at this price point. Drivers on a budget will love this car.
No wonder the CR-V is one of Honda’s best sellers, second only to the Accord. The CR-V combines workaday reliability with just enough sass and verve to make it fun to drive. I loved this little crossover and I can see why dealers can’t keep them on the lot.
This cute ute earned a spot in my Fantasy Fleet.