By on March 3, 2014

2012-Honda-CR-V_04-550x366

I’ve spent a fair amount of time driving and writing about crossovers. It’s not exactly the way I wanted things to work out, but we can’t all be Chris Harris. Having spent the last few months behind the wheel of the segment’s big players, I’ve come to a conclusion that seems to be a frequent theme of my automotive recommendations: what I’d pick for myself is not what I’d recommend to anyone else.

Having just had seat time with an Ecoboost-powered Escape and a Mazda CX-5, I am pretty sure that if I ever needed some kind of two-box vehicle, those would be at the top of my list. Both the Escape and the CX-5 are the only entrants that could be called “fun to drive” with a straight face. The Ecoboost powered versions of the Escape have plenty of power and decent chassis dynamics, while the Mazda trades some of that grunt for a much better chassis, and an overall car-like feeling. The Escape gets pretty awful fuel economy, while both are hobbled by frustrating infotainment systems – the Mazda’s looks like something from the 32-bit era of video gaming, while the Escape’s options range from “unusable” to “distracted driving hazard waiting to happen”.

I could find a way to cope with their respective quirks, but that’s because I value some kind of driver engagement, no matter what kind of car it is. The CX-5 would make a great daily driver for someone like me. But I am not most people. Most people don’t care about how a crossover drives. If they’re asking for advice on any car, it likely means that they need the simplest, most trouble-free experience possible. If they’re asking for advice on a crossover, it’s probably somebody in Daniel Latini’s shoes, who has a young family, and is looking for something that makes their life easier.

This is where the Honda CR-V comes in. I’ve driven the CR-V plenty of times. It’s about as exciting to drive as eating Bran Flakes. The interior looks like a more contemporary version of 1990’s Honda fare (lots of hard plastic, plenty of buttons). It’s a little noisy and a little down on power, like most Hondas tend to be. But it’s one of the most brilliantly packaged CUVs ever created.

Rather than lift objects up and into the cargo compartment, the floor sits at about knee height, eliminating the much of the strenuous motion required to put strollers and suitcases into the cargo area. For anyone who has to load and unload something like a stroller or suitcases, it’s a wonderfully thoughtful touch. If more room is required, a pull-tab located on the rear seatback will let the rear bench fold with just one pull. No fiddling with headrests and levers – it’s easily accessible from the cargo compartment and takes two seconds. The cherry on top for the CR-V’s triad of useful gadgets is a backup camera, which was integrated with the navigation unit on our EX-L test car. The backup camera has three modes; a standard view, a wide-angle lens and a 90 degree downward view, akin to a periscope, that gives the driver a better view of protruding objects (pillars, poles and the like) that can cause expensive bumper damage with only light contact.

Instead of going for the Ford or Mazda route with fancy tech or engaging dynamics, Honda chose to focus on little incremental improvements, things that will sell the car on the showroom floor during the dealer’s sales pitch. It seems to be working. The CR-V was the best-selling crossover last year, with over 300,000 units moving off showroom floors. I don’t expect that lead to evaporate any time soon. As long as people like Daniel come knocking for advice, my recommendation will stay the same.

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126 Comments on “In Defense Of: The Honda CR-V...”


  • avatar
    N8iveVA

    It’s just so damn ugly, but i guess people don’t buy it for looks,

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      And that pod growing from the rear side glass! Nothing sexy about it like other offerings.

    • 0 avatar

      The old CRV was much better looking, and had much better visibility. Why do the effin’ car makers have to have those ridiculous rear c-pillars (or is that a d-pillar?).

      • 0 avatar
        VCplayer

        Pretty sure the pillar width has to do with the roof being able to pass rollover loads. Ford Exporers ruin everything.

        • 0 avatar
          Zykotec

          I think it is because people really really really hate stationwagons, so even the crossovers have to try to not look too ‘stationwagony’…
          Even the first gen CRV can rollover a lot (search crv nurburgring on youtube ) with decent glass area without the roof crumbling in.

      • 0 avatar
        Dave M.

        I gotta disagree on that one. The old one had muffin-top. This one has more defined edges….the back end has grown on me, only because I know that cargo area is huge to serve it’s purpose.

        My only critique is the headlights need to be the stronger Euro-projector units, and they need to offer homelink.

        Otherwise, this car is a tremendous value for what you’d expect to be a long, useful automotive life.

      • 0 avatar
        84Cressida

        I don’t think the current CRV is very good looking, but it’s a lot better than the old one and its pitbull mouth.

    • 0 avatar
      Astigmatism

      I insisted that we drive the CR-V when we were CUV-shopping last summer, because I wanted to test everything in the segment, but my wife (who would ultimately be the daily driver) told me going in that she would never drive it based on its looks alone.

      That said, even without that edict we still would’ve ended up with the CX-5.

      • 0 avatar
        N8iveVA

        I agree with your wife. No matter how good the vehicle is, i don’t want to look at ugly every day in my driveway. Good choice on the CX-5. It is (subjectively) the best looking CUV out there right now.

  • avatar
    Toad

    The CRV is an excellent appliance. Nothing wrong with that. Honda has written the playbook for minivans, CUV’s, compact and mid size sedans; too bad that brilliance does not extend to Acura.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Until it beats both the SUV and Station Wagon at their strengths and not only weaknesses the entire segment will always be a fail in my mind.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      And you’ll be waiting for a V6 while everyone passes over.

      Slamming doors at the autoshow this car didn’t have enough positives to stand out. But the RAV4 did after closing the rear passenger door the big boxed echoed like none other at Cleveland IX-Center. The Toyota doors closed with clunk or thunk like everyone else but quivered of echoing steel shrill that I had to try it almost five more times in amazement it was that bad.
      I can’t image how bad it would be on a rough road.

      When you get older and your hearing starts to wane, you’ll be looking for ways to preserve it and these tin boxes are not helping.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I’m not sure which tin boxes you’re referring too but I do suggest you start looking into homeopathic methods of healing if your hearing starts to go out.

    • 0 avatar
      Zykotec

      Which station wagon ? The Flex or the Forester? And what kind of people ever need the ‘strengths’ of an SUV ?

      • 0 avatar

        Working class people need the strengths of an SUV, mostly. Also, there’s nothing wrong with wanting the strengths of an SUV. I do not appreciate others lecturing me on what I need.

        • 0 avatar
          duffman13

          That’s why the 4Runner, Xterra, and Grand Cherokee still exist.

          Unfortunately, the market has spoken, and most people who buy/want these (women), my wife included, want a minivan/wagon substitute with car-like dynamics and fuel economy and SUV looks.

          True SUVs just don’t measure up in the dynamics and economy department, and really don’t matter when the vast majority of CUV users will never tow anything or go off-road.

          And I don’t know if you’ve been watching income statistics in the US, but most ‘working class’ people would never be able to afford a new vehicle in the first place, so I guess we’re stuck buying the last of the 90s true SUVs. I have an old Rodeo as my tailgating/camping/off-roader/winter beater myself.

        • 0 avatar
          Zykotec

          Please lecture me, what are these strenghts, and what do ‘the working class’ need them for?

          • 0 avatar
            duffman13

            I’d venture a guess they’re towing and going off-road, both things that the pick-up said ‘working class’ individual probably already owns can do better.

            My wife and I were just at the Baltimore auto show, and looked at the remaining true SUVs as well as the crossovers. For 99% of usage, the crossovers are just better packaged – more interior volume, usable space, and fuel economy. If I really need to tow something, I’ll rent a real truck. But what is the logic in buying a vehicle that is a compromise for 1% of my usage over a vehicle that is a compromise for the other 99%? The crossover just makes more sense.

          • 0 avatar
            Zykotec

            So, I figure by ‘working class’ we are talking independent contractors and entrepeneurs (excuse my English if I get that wrong) To me ‘working class’would be a factory worker who ,at the most, needs a economic commuter car + a clapped ou told pickup, but with only one licensed driver, and no money for two cars, they’d compromise with a crossover anyway…

        • 0 avatar
          carlisimo

          I think it’s fair to remind people that what they think they “need” usually turns out to be a “want.”

          Which is fine, but call a spade a spade.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          “I do not appreciate others lecturing me on what I need.”

          ^This^ I would never criticize anyone on what type of vehicle they choose to drive. Besides it being bad manners it’s nobody’s business except for the guy who paid for it, but it sure seems to be open season on anyone who chooses the worst of all worlds, the CUV

          • 0 avatar
            Skink

            “…the worst of all worlds, the CUV.”

            Well, there you go, lecturing me on what I don’t need. We’ve had a 2014 Forester 2.5 here for 9 months, and it’s proven to be ideally suited to our needs.

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            After patrolling in the GF’s 2012 Forester through the snow this past winter I’m not impressed. Actual call it bare bones and very ultilitarian. Besides it is not really good in the snow in keeping direction turned in the snow like my Encore AWD.

          • 0 avatar
            Skink

            Norm, my Symmetrical AWD 2014 Forester exhibits impeccable precision,traction, and control in turning and burning, accelerating and stopping amid the snow and ice of Minnesota. Maybe your gf’s 2012 Forester needs new tires.

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            2012 with 18,000 and doesn’t need tires. It is almost it is mechanical until the yaw is big enough the racheting of the ABS.

            Watch your oil levels as they do consume oil. Not sure but it is probably pcv sucking it down as she has no problem zinging 3,500 rpms at times.

          • 0 avatar
            niky

            Don’tcha know? Nothing is as good at anything as Norm’s Encore. NOTHING.

            I would understand if this were a complaint about Honda’s Haldex, or the similar system in the CX5, but Subaru’s Symmetrical AWD is the smoothest around. If you’re hearing ratcheting, that’s either the ABS or stability control. Which you’re hearing because:tires.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        The last real wagons of the 90s, which were simply extended cars.

        I would wager in the US 90% of buyers never “needed” the SUV’s strengths, but Detroit had to invent the SUV to replace the station wagon due to better competition and gov’t CAFE regulations. The truck strengths were nearly a by product some owners took advantage of when they had them.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          Who buys stuff based on need alone? If we did, we’d all wear blue jeans, flannel shirts, drive Corollas and live in trailers. Wouldn’t that be fun?

          • 0 avatar
            Skink

            Lie, you were the one who brought up the concept of ‘need’. In our hierarchy of automotive needs, needs come first before whatever frivolous desires follow. We went nuts and went for the Forester’s gigantic moonroof, which is big enough for the even the most self-aggrandizing pope or third world dictator Oh, and the puddle lights on the outside rearview mirrors, which are really cool. Woo hooo. But, go ahead and indulge yourself! We won’t mind!

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    I just don’t understand why some sense of driving engagement is not built into every vehicle. Why assume that the guy who puts a premium on, say, mileage, is not at all interested in some kind of handling? Kudos for Mazda for baking in some fun on all models…

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      That’s probably your answer – Mazda builds in driving involvement, and they’re a niche player. Toyota exemplifies beige for over 30 years (yes, there are exceptions), and they sell continuously well. The market is indifferent to driving dynamics as long as the vehicle is easy to maneuver and has no dangerously ill habits.

    • 0 avatar

      Simple, “driving engagement” is often synonymous with a more tightly tied-down ride. So, when a reviewer says a car is “engaging” they often mean it sacrifices some ride quality (either a lot or a little) for the benefit of performance in the curves. Steering feel also affects this, but really, the ride/handling balance is what they’re talking about.

      Quite simply, in North America, the quality of the ride is more important than its performance attributes, so that is what people buy and, therefore, what car manufacturers make.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Easy.

      Most purchasers and drivers *don’t care* about that.

      Most of the market isn’t enthusiasts, it’s people who want to get from point A to point B, or do other *tasks* with a vehicle, and beyond that might care about aesthetics some.

      “Drivers’ cars” are a specialty market.

  • avatar
    Sanman111

    Derek,

    I have to agree with you. I will be in the market for a wagon-like with awd soon. I’m mostly interested the impreza hatch, the Forester, and the CX-5 from a auto enthusiast perspective. However, as a guy that has traditionally bought and held cars ( my current ride is 11 yrs old and very mechanically sound), I can see the defense of the CRV. The Eco-boost engines are not exactly the paragon of reliability, subaru boxers have their history as well and the subies are not quite as refined. I like the cx-5, but I am waiting to see if it likes to rust as much as earlier mazdas. The cr-v has a simple reliable drivetrain, is fairly comfortable, and does everything you need it to in fairly simple fashion for years to come.

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      2nd this. The CR-V is still running the K24, which while not the bleeding edge of engine technology, is a 12 year old, proven, dead-reliable and efficient enough package for the segment.

    • 0 avatar
      Shawnski

      We have not had our 2.0eb in for nothing 16k mi. if you are an enthusiast as you say, don’t write off the Escape, it will run circles around the CX5 and CRv.

  • avatar
    Frank Galvin

    My folks are leasing a 2013 AWD. I have to say, its bloody brilliant. Not to repeat Derek’s take on cargo compartment, but that load flat/ knee high area is unreal. With two kids, it is a perfect car for those needing the room, but are not ready for the minivan. Its easy to keep clean, plenty of room, good MPG, safe, and handles reasonably well.

  • avatar
    johnhowington

    “…looks like something from the 32-bit era of video gaming” just stop right there, stop it. think of another hyperbole ok?

    • 0 avatar
      campocaceres

      Hahahaha, this stood out for me, as well. There is a very specific subset of readers that can appreciate this comparison, and it’s placed in an article about one of the most bland and boring entries in the one of the most bland and boring car segments out there. So, John, this one’s for you.

      http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_CDQ3GB_LfAo/TPisNVpX0gI/AAAAAAAAADs/c8QN8381Fo0/s1600/go%2Bhome%2Band%2Bbe%2Ba%2Bfamily%2Bman.jpg

  • avatar
    vvk

    Not for me, thanks. If I wanted a crossover with an automatic gearbox, which I do not, I would pick BMW X1 sDrive28i M Sport. If I needed more space, I would pick a minivan.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    As I’ve said in a thread last week, our 2002 CR-V has been a bullet-proof vehicle.

    That said, I would never have one for my daily driver. It is noisy, the seats are virtual park benches, but have become softer over the years, the interior plastics scuff very easily and look terrible, the stereo/CD player doesn’t sound good, doesn’t play CDs very well and never has, the charcoal cladding – don’t get wax on it, because it’ll NEVER come off – look less than charcoal, the 12 years have taken their toll in wear & tear.

    Wifey loves it, and it has been reasonably trouble-free, and in the long run, that’s what counts. However, as to reliability, I can say the same for my Impalas, but I take good care of our rides, and don’t drive them into the ground.

    The CR-V does what it does very well, but one may not especially enjoy it.

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      I’d second most of Zackman’s particulars, but my overall verdict is much more charitable.

      I put my wife into a 2nd-gen 2003. It’s not a pretentious vehicle (except insofar as it pretends to be an SUV). It’s right up front about having spartan interior materials and a noisy ride. But its roominess and packaging are brilliant (better than the swoopier newer models), its build is tight as a drum, and its engine is, while not quiet, smooth and willing. Most important, it’s been a trouble-free whip for a decade, and I’ll bet it’ll remain so for another. For a Civic on stilts, the handling and steering are surprisingly immediate (I’d guess the new car’s electric power steering spoils that, too), and with a decent set of all-seasons it’s superior in the snow. All told, it’s a really lovable car in a loyal sheepdog sort of way. I’d absolutely do it again.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      I can’t think of any 2002-era stereo that wouldn’t just be an immediate-replacement item, today.

      And all stock speakers (in normal cars) are automatically crap, too.

      • 0 avatar
        LeeK

        Yes, the Honda speakers are truly wretched pieces of bargain basement equipment. Replacing them was the first thing I did in my ’99 CR-V when I bought it, but that didn’t make a big enough difference. What has to be done is installing tweeters in the sail panels of the A pillar. That made a huge improvement. Then an Alpine head unit and an amplifier for a subwoofer in a box and all is well. Fifteen years later, the little CR-V is chugging along, burning some oil, but the completely upgraded audio system still sounds awesome.

        I’ve always said the CR-V fulfills what most families need: reasonable driving dynamics, high-enough ground clearance to avoid today’s pothole-strewn roads, good enough fuel economy, and a useful amount of utility. I’ve hauled bulky stuff in mine that simply wouldn’t fit in a traditional station wagon, taken long trips with my wife and two kids, and enjoyed a fairly reliable decade and a half of ownership. And it’s a rare manual transmission version, to boot. The CR-V deserves its place and reputation in the marketplace.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    As someone who bought 2 Crv’s(not by choice, the first was totalled), I don’t find much to disagree with. The Crv is not a car I had wished for or dreamed about,but it’s exactly what I needed at the time, and still will be for a couple of years. I prefer the first two generations better, as I feel they are more inspiring to drive, and more ‘true’ Hondas (large windows, roadnoise,hard plastics and just enough engine for it’s reasonably light weight, and a stick)
    The 3rd gen is still not bad, as the giant mirrors and short overhangs (and short total length) cancels out some of the blindsones created by the ‘fashionable’ roofline/windows. The ‘magic’ rear seats in the last Crv sacrifices the length adjustability, and all the added weight works against the aging engines, but it’s still not slow enough to be holding up traffic if you’re not afraid to rev it.
    I also actally like that they don’t try to fake a useless 7 seater option like many others.
    I’m trying to get my gf to understand that we need to sell the 3rd gen and buy another 2nd gen, but apparently she doesn’ miss the road noise as much as I do…

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    Derek, I’ve never driven Bran Flakes. Can you get leather with it?

  • avatar
    Prado

    I’d consider buying another CR-V, but when they stopped including the picnic table, it dropped off of my want list.

    • 0 avatar
      OldandSlow

      That picnic table was a nice “Lagnappe”.

      • 0 avatar

        Picnic table sort of soured me on 2005 model, despite needing that very thing! It felt too gimmiky, but also impractical: cargo had to be unloaded first. I hasten to add that ironically I now deal with it, because I put the picnic table across and behind the seats into the Jeep (with the bench removed). Thus, every time I throw the tarp on the dirt and unload all the equipment on it, I remember that blasted CR-V and its picnic table. In RAV4 I transported the picnic table lengthwise, which made a lot of sense.

        • 0 avatar
          Zykotec

          The picnic table in my ’03 was actually used quite a lot, even if I thought it was gimmicky when I bought the car.

          • 0 avatar
            Zackman

            The picnic table came in very handy when we used to go camping.

            I referred to our CR-V as our “$22,500 picnic table”, because that’s what we paid for the car!

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    I looked up the specs on the 2014 Honda CR-V EX and compared it to the 2014 Honda Accord EX Sedan (both non-leather). What was striking was how alike they are even though they are based on different platforms. They weigh within a few lbs. of each other. They cost within a couple hundred dollars of each other. The interior measurements are mostly within an inch or two. The 5-year ownership cost of the CR-V per Edmunds is $38,814, versus $38,807 for the Accord. Both have a $.52/mile ownership cost, likely because the Accord’s MPG advantage is almost exactly countered by higher insurance costs. My goal was to prove that it is cheaper to drive the Accord. However, there appears to be no significant difference. Much to my surprise, the Toyota Prius V wagon was listed as having a $.52/mile ownership cost.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      I had one of these for a service loaner while having a few things checked on my 2013 Accord a few weeks ago. It wasn’t bad, but I assume that the CX-5 likely handles a bit better. (Some of that may have been the fact that I wasn’t used to the high driving position and I was a little paranoid about changing lanes to the right; the left window behind the driver still had a Honda Courtesy Car Monroney slapped on it, which created an instant blind spot.) Two other insults to injury:

      1. The gas mileage was terrible–my V6 Accord does better in the same driving situations.
      2. If you don’t have the Navigation, the backup camera is better than nothing, but only just; the multi-information display in non-NAVI models was a first-generation effort, and a little small, so the image size is barely that of the smallest smartphone. Again, I’m used to the 7-inch image in the Accord, and ALL Accord models, NAVI or not, are so-equipped; the NAVI models have the three-way camera Derek mentioned, and can “bend” the guidelines as the steering wheel is turned to give a pretty good guesstimate of where the car will end up, and actually makes parallel parking easy!

  • avatar
    YellowDuck

    Nice vehicle (although I prefer the styling of the previous iteration). However, one place where it falls down (as does the CX-5 and RAV4 if memory serves) is in tow rating. Something like 1000 lbs. You can take the family to the cottage but you can’t take the ski boat to the ramp. I understand that these are car-based vehicles, but somehow Ford manages much better with the Escape. Anyway, we ended up with the Dodge Journey and it meets all of our needs.

    • 0 avatar
      Zykotec

      I think this is a US only for these cars. Here in Norway most cars are usually automatically allowed to tow roughly the same as their curb weight, with some variations exceptions (older automatics usually weren’t allowed to tow as much in the past because of the lack of engine braking, and some cars just lack power or proper mounting points for a trailer hitch).So that is around 3000 lbs in my ’07 CRV. Which does take away most of the excuses to buy a 7000 pound SUV over here.

      • 0 avatar
        YellowDuck

        Yes, I have noticed that in the past. I remember seeing the EU tow rating for a Golf wagon and I couldn’t believe it – it was more than double the North American rating. Not sure how all that works.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          Simple. Product liability concerns and the fact that they would rather sell you an SUV. Plus common sense is a lot more common on the other side of the pond. The tow rating for my 3-series wagon is 1800KG on the other side of the pond – “not recommended” over here.

          Europeans tow all sorts of things with all sorts of cars, all over the place. Afterall, very few of them have the standard American “friend with a pickup” for when they need to get that new stove home, or garbage to the dump, or caravan on vacation.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        Note: US ratings aren’t what we’re “allowed” to tow; they’re what the manufacturer won’t *void your warranty* for towing.

    • 0 avatar

      RAV4.3 had 3500 lbs with either I-4 or V6, but the current 4.4 generation has it cut to 1500 lbs.

  • avatar
    raresleeper

    You’re all missing the beauty of the horrendous looking CR-V. What your looking at years of trouble-free ownership with these mechanical wonders.

    Each Honda is engineered to give years of reliabile service.

    The value here is none other than astronomical. Call it what you will. It’s been, continuously, an intelligent decision for an automotive purchase for years.

    Sure, it’s ugly. That hunchback (which, might I add, gives additional interior space) doesn’t do it justice. But… it’s mechanical bliss.

    Pound for pound- rather, dollar for dollar- we have a winner here. As usual for the CR-V.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      My sister has decimated, mutilated and destroyed every car she has ever owned. She has never changed the oil or even taken any car through a car wash. She’s afraid of nothing when behind the wheel, she has broken axles by taking 2WD sedans off-road in the mountains of Colorado. She has had a CR-V for ten years, longest she’s ever had a car. The car is indestructible

  • avatar
    ninjacommuter

    I have driven an inherited 1998 CR-V for a year or so now. Incredibly noisy, bad radio, no armrest on the passenger seat, and the most eclectic vehicle I have ever owned. But it runs, is a great get-about, sits comfortable and high, has lots of glass so I can see, and is growing on me by the day.

    I have put over 300,000 miles on Hondas. The CR-V is classic Honda all the way and, after sitting in a 2014 a few weeks ago, still is. I doubt it is the best at anything other than visibility, but it is good at everything, is priced right, will last, and has enough power to meet most needs. It’s a winner for almost anybody who is not looking for a brown diesel manual station wagon.

    • 0 avatar
      Zykotec

      I should add that here in Europe we have always had the manual option. And a diesel since 2005. So here you can actually have a brown( only some years) diesel manual CRV, if you’re that sort of thing :)

  • avatar
    Rory_Carroll

    I dunno. My Mom bought a CR-V after I recommended a couple other cars in that segment. But, she was turning in a leased Honda, and the CR-V was right there on the lot, so that’s what she got. She and my dad complain about it constantly. They hate it.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Astute analysis, Derek. You are right on that if given the choice between better driving dynamics and better packaging the average consumer will see more value in the better packaging.

    The frustrating part is that the CR-V could have both. Honda is a company that knows how to do FWD dynamics as well as any. A bit of Accord magic sprinkled on the suspension and steering is all the CR-V would need to be a rewarding appliance, not just an effective one.

    But I wouldn’t buy today’s CR-V. It’s just not refined enough. Compared to a friend’s CR-V, my Forester has more comfortable seats, a much quieter interior, a better ride (although the handling, like the CR-V’s, isn’t great), and TURBO POWAH (at the cost of poor MPG). The thing is, when you’re praising a Subaru for its refinement (!) compared to a competitor, you know that competitor needs to step up its game a bit.

  • avatar
    carguy

    Derek – the CRV doesn’t doesn’t need defending – in case you haven’t noticed, it sells rather well.

  • avatar

    My parents bought a 2013 CRV EX-L to replace my dad’s 2000 Buick Regal. It’s been a perfect car for them for the past year an a half–easy to drive, get in and out of (even for my 97 year old grandmother), and haul lumber and wood working tools. My parents even took it on a trip through Colorado and said it got better mileage and had more power in the mountains than the Buick did. …even though comparing any CRV to a 2000 Buick Regal, is setting the bar very low.

    The fact is, it’s what 99% of CUV owners want–a box on wheels that’s reasonably comfortable, versatile, fuel efficient and dependable.

  • avatar
    Wraith

    “If more room is required, a pull-tab located on the rear seatback will let the rear bench fold with just one pull. No fiddling with headrests and levers – it’s easily accessible from the cargo compartment and takes two seconds.”

    Not taking anything away from the CR-V, but I think a fair number of compact crossovers have this now. Including the CX-5.

    • 0 avatar
      Astigmatism

      Moreover, the CX-5 has a 40-20-40 split bench, which means you can fold down the three seat portions of the rear seat independently from one another, while the CR-V only has a 60-40 split. I don’t know why everyone else doesn’t have the 40-20-40 split, but it’s miraculously convenient.

  • avatar
    haroldingpatrick

    I just bought one two weeks ago. I’m not an SUV person. The thing is you never know what life will throw at you. Last year at the age of 41 I was diagnosed with a auto-immune type of arthritis that affects my spine top to bottom, my hands, and my feet for right now. It won’t kill me, but it’s never going away. I’ve had to make adjustments to my life, including owning up to the fact that even normal height automobiles are pretty much not on the menu anymore as I have trouble getting in and out of them.

    I looked at everything and ended up with a CRV. It’s not perfect, but “just works” for me and a lot of other people. Runner up was the Escape, but I don’t feel like doing Ford’s beta testing for them.

    It works and is cheap and cheerful.

  • avatar
    hreardon

    My wife has a 2013 CRV EX AWD and loves it. It does everything she wants very well, and while it’s not my cup of tea, I’m damned well impressed by it.

    I agree about the little touches, like how the rear seats can be folded flat with the flip of a lever that is easy to reach; Lots of storage cubbies; The backup camera is, IIRC, standard on all trims now, etc.

    It’s a bit noiser than I like, it doesn’t get as good mileage as I would think it should (but not bad, mind you), and I’ll never get used to the lightweight, tinny doors on Hondas, but guess what – its not my car and my wife loves it.

    Happy wife, happy life.

    It’s a great compare/contrast to put this next to the VW Tiguan and watch Volkswagen’s handwringing about why they can’t sell more here in the US. Until Volkswagen can match the small touches of the Honda and until Volkswagen can match the reliability of the Honda, and until Volkswagen can match the lease offers of the Honda – they’ll never come anywhere close to succeeding. Honda understands what and why people buy the CRV. Volkswagen just doesn’t get and is frustrated we Americans don’t ‘get it’.

  • avatar
    geeber

    Friends of ours are looking at this type of vehicle. They currently drive a Subaru Impreza and Chevrolet Uplander minivan, and want to replace the latter. This weekend they drove both a Honda CR-V and a Ford Escape. The wife complained that the Escape was too cramped inside because of the console, while she raved about the room in the CR-V. Driving dynamics didn’t figure in their impressions. I’m guessing that there will be a CR-V parked in their driveway in the near future.

  • avatar
    bryanska

    You can’t judge the interior until you’ve experienced it. It’s really well packaged.

    I heard they addressed noise for 2013: did it make a difference?

    The killer for me is that Honda seats are NEVER comfy-cozy. In every model, they’re always a little too “perch-y” for me. And the leather is hard as hell. Cold, stiff…

    • 0 avatar
      N8iveVA

      I actually like the interior a lot, but not the leather, like you said. I would get the cloth. The problem is i couldn’t stand to see something this ugly in front of my house every time i looked out the window.

  • avatar
    Carrera

    The latest CRV is not a looker, I don’t think any of them were. I had the first generation. It was the most trouble free 140k vehicle I’ve ever had. The 2002 model I thought looked the best. It’s current one looks good in white, I think. The CRV doesn’t really excel at anything, but it is the best over all. That’s the bottom line really.

  • avatar
    pb35

    No sir, I don’t like it.

  • avatar
    Matt Fink

    The 2013 Ford Escape has been recalled 8 times, none of which were mirror rattles. I was fan through the first few recalls because of how great it looks. But no thanks now. I’ll take a boring CR-V and you know… actually be able to drive it.

    • 0 avatar
      N8iveVA

      Most of the recalls were for the 1.6, not across the board recalls.

      • 0 avatar
        Matt Fink

        You are correct about the 1.6. My friend’s company bought over 200 2013 Ford Escapes as company cars for all their sales reps. After this last recall they collected them all up and sold them. His was on its 2nd transmission in under 1 year of ownership. They are buying everyone Equinoxes instead. Even if the recalls weren’t for your exact model, that many times back to the dealer in the first year has to concern you.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          Many people think that it’s just the 1.6 liter ecoboost that is proving unreliable, when in fact, the largest data set now collected shows that the best reliability ANY ecoboost motor has achieved according to Consumer Reports is “worse than average,” that was the best one, and the rest are rate as “much worse than average.”

          Now, consider that this is a mere 2 or 3 years in to the great Ford ecoboost broadening, where Ford is shoving iterations of the same essential motor setup into everything from Fiestas to F-150s, and those of us who have steadfastly claimed that the ecoboost will be Ford’s scarlet letter will ultimately be proven correct (I’d dare say that we already have been in technical terms, but the general public just has not learned to fear the ecoboost yet – but the assuredly will).

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            I’m with you on this one. I’ve been leery of the eco-boost phenomenon since the beginning. I drive one of the last of the second-gen Escapes built, V6, AWD and I couldn’t be happier with it, but it’s beginning to look like this will be my last Escape.

    • 0 avatar
      Zykotec

      My 2003 crv was recalled twice in the two years I owned it. Both times for stuff that could have been potential fire hazards (one of which doesn’t even affect Norwegian sold cars, but the dealer was forced to do it anyway…). So this happens with any brand nowadays. I actually think it’s impressive that they even bother to recall 8 or 9 year old cars…

    • 0 avatar
      VCplayer

      I get what you’re saying, but it’s not really a fair comparison. Whenever Honda gets around to doing a major redesign (has to happen eventually) I will be very surprised if they don’t have to do some recalls as well.

      Some people have paid the price for being early adopters, but at least Ford has been quick to fix things.

  • avatar
    mike978

    As part of the practicality argument, the Mazda has 40:20:40 rear seats which the Honda doesn`t. This allows someone in the CX5 to have 4 people on board and carry long items like ski’s or stuff from home depot. So I wouldn1t frame the argument as one of practicality vs driving fun/style. The Mazda does both and appeals to the heart (style, fun) and the head (fuel economy, reliability, practicality).

  • avatar
    Maymar

    My problem with the whole “the CRV is amazing and your best choice and deserves to sell really well” argument is that if that were the entire truth, people would be buying more minivans. There’d be minivans that were genuinely mini. But people don’t want to be seen in minivans. They’re too practical, there’s a stigma. And I don’t think the CRV’s there yet, but it’s something Honda probably needs to be aware of.

    That said, the B&B are also quick to point out that wagons are just the worst, because they’re noisier and heavier and people can see your stuff, so I’m not sure why those complaints aren’t valid with an extra several inches of ground clearance. The Subaru Outback sedan was a brilliant idea.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    Honda could easily drop a Civic Si drivetrain into these, tweak the suspension and have a cool little ‘ute, but I can’t blame them for not wanting to mess with success. And it would still be pretty ugly. Shoulda done it with the Element in its last year, just for grins. Sales were so low it couldn’t have hurt.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    There’s got to be a name for the disease afflicting the B&B that blocks out the part of their brain that enables them to understand their own desires are not law or even logical most of the time. Most people want to get from point A to point B without incident. They don’t care about driving engagement, just as I’m sure there are things people here don’t care about and don’t feel guilty about.

    Not to mention every car can’t be fun to drive. A car can be more fun than its peers, but let’s be honest, a CUV will never drive like a true sports car or something along those lines. Manufacturers are smart to not bother to try and make a mainstreamer something that it’s not, and design it to play up its inherent strengths to its core market. The only thing I’d want a CUV to have performance-wise would be a higher HP option. As long as it’s competent otherwise I don’t really see the point in a CUV with razor sharp dynamics. Nobody would buy it.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      This is exactly why whenever any of my non-car-enthusiast peers ask me what to get for a car my standard answer is “whatever Toyota makes that floats your boat that you can afford”. I would rather walk than own a Camry or Corolla, but if all you need is a transportation appliance, they do that better than anything else. I have higher standards than just transportation appliance, personally.

      I really don’t get the attraction to Hondas. To me, they seem just about as beige as Toyotas, just not as good in all the dull boring ways, while feeling like tin boxes. The lovefest for the Accord has always been especially lost on me.

      The CRV has always seemed to be a less good alternative to the RAV4 to me. I’ve had them for rentals occasionally. Cheap and loud, lousy seats. Oddly enough though, the previous gen RAV4 is the one Toyota product I would actually consider owning – the latest one is awful. Other than it not being able to tow as much as I need, it is about perfect as a mid-size winter beater AWD. But I need to tow a 6Klb boat.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        You wanting something other than an appliance doesn’t make your standards higher than someone who does. Just different. This is coming from someone who also hates Camrys and Corollas. Enthusiasts love to thumb their noses at non enthusiasts. Why? Thinking you or your tastes are better than others or those of others doesn’t make you an enthusiast… it makes you an a-hole. If enthusiasts were more understanding of others maybe we’d be taken more seriously.

      • 0 avatar
        Dave M.

        I’m an enthusiast, but I also love and appreciate automotive appliances. They both stimulate my senses in difference ways.

        It’s ok to appreciate appliances. That’s all most people want.

        Honda makes a very competent engine, and very often go their own way style-wise. To me, the new Accord is an excellent design that will age well.

        • 0 avatar
          NormSV650

          I don’t know model Rav4 they had at the autoshow but was an echo box! When I closed the rear door the frame tinged like tuneing fork. I can’t imagine what it is like on the road. Did you drive any others?

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        We bought a ’14 Rav4 Limited about a month ago. We are 2300 miles in and my wife absolutely loves it. I’m quite smitten with it, to be honest. We didn’t drive the lower trims, but the Limited, as crazy as this sounds, reminds me a lot of my old MKV GTI. Handling isn’t extremely supple, but it isn’t extremely harsh either. Nice tight turning radius. Body motions are well controlled. Toyota finally put some seats in that aren’t completely flat; they are well bolstered on the legs and the torso and the power memory feature is very nice.

        I really enjoyed driving it across the mountains to my parents’ place on Saturday… which isn’t something that I expected to say about a Rav4. My mom has the V6 Rav4 from the 3rd gen and that car is somewhat of a loose cannon. The suspension doesn’t match up to the ridiculous acceleration that it is capable of. It is actually a shame they dropped the V6 for the 4th gen because it finally seems like the Rav chassis matches that engine. Like I said, I didn’t drive an LE or XLE, but the Limited, compared to my mom’s Limited ’10 V6, is better in nearly every way. Better shaped seats, better interior, better handling, better transmission. Maybe the non-power cloth seats in the LE and XLE leave a bit to be desired, but the thrones in the Limited are quite good. (and this is from someone who spent 60k miles in MKV GTI seats… they are pretty much my all time favorites in both style and fit).

  • avatar
    tubacity

    Why the need to defend the CRV? DK only defends Hondas. Why only defend hondas? Sounds unbalanced as if the writer is a fanboy.
    Save that for the defence of ZDX or RLX. Credibility down, post count up when the author only defends Honda.

    I guess “truth about cars” does not need to be balanced. It never was even since Farago, the great deleter, who deleted all posts he did not like.

    Maybe just more click bait.

    Just a reality check. Current CRV= bad rearward visibility, higher road noise, hard right rear seat, gas mileage not the best.

    Subaru in the same class has better visibility. Supposed to have better gas mileage too. Did not do my own fuel economy test. Not a car reviewer by trade so I do not have the ability to do accurate gas mileage runs for hundreds of miles.
    RAV4 has low rear liftover height. Rates same Epa mileage as CRV.

    • 0 avatar
      niky

      The Subaru CVT gives better fuel economy, but the CR-V has more passenger and cargo space, and the best seat-folding mechanism in the class.

      The RAV4 has keener dynamics and a nice loading floor, but the CR-V feels better built.

      The 2.4 isn’t the most economical, but it’s all right. In real world terms, there’s little to complain about. Don’t know if you get the R20 there, but it’s a peach in terms of economy.

      Granted, it’s strange to many, but it’s a conundrum a lot of us who review these cars for a living have. While we may personally like cars like the CX-5 or Fozzie, when asked to name a good, solid crossover that’s very practical, we often struggle to come up with a better answer than “CRV”.

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    I am biased since I have one, but I think the 2nd generation CRV is the best looking one, kind of a mini Discovery look (which I also love the looks of). The 3rd and 4th generation models just got uglier by trying to be more sporty and car-like. The old square body was best. But any of them are just solid and bulletproof, just a good all around vehicle. Not so great gas mileage though.

    • 0 avatar
      Zykotec

      Agreed, but my 2nd gen was ‘murdered’ by a Mitsubishi, so I won’t get over it as easily as if she had been worn out or sold.
      I do like the looks of the 3rd gen now, but it took a lot of time to get used to. Not very practical, but a nice mix of the Q7/X5 and Ford Focus, while still looking like a Honda… (BMW launching a series of awful looking C/Suvs at the same time probably numbed my senses a bit…
      And weirdly enough, as the newer models evolve more and more into some cool minivan they also keep improving the awd system, while removing some of the brilliant interior solutions…

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      The CRV is rated at 26 mpg combined, which puts it near the top among gasoline CUVs. Nothing in this class gets great mileage. I agree the 2nd gen has aged well. The 3rd gen was pretty unique looking when it came out, but it’s been copied to death.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        @Russ – When I said not so great gas mileage, I meant just compared to cars in general. I made the statement that it was a good all around vehicle, compared essentially anything. I realize the CRV MPG is no worse than typical for the class. But my 2002 struggles to break 23mpg under the best circumstances, I am sure the newers ones are better.

        I am pretty disappointed that all the CUVs get such poor mileage actually. They don’t weigh much more than sedans, and most of them are not boxy anymore. Does the increased ride height really kill the MPG that badly?

        • 0 avatar
          Zykotec

          When I lowered my ’03 the average mileage improved only slightly , but highway mileage improved a lot. The roof height, and blunt rear end, really kills the aerodynamics, but with a firmer suspension you could also keep a steadier speed on winding roads, so there were less braking and accellerating, which I think that made a larger impact than the improved aerodynamics. And most CUVs have larger, heavier wheels than compacts, which also affect mileage. Mine was a manual, but I averaged 26 mpg.

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    Derek, as nice as the CRV might be, I’ll give you the same answer I gave dad a couple of months ago when he told me to ditch the big sedan for a SUV/CUV: they’re tall (as of high CoG), they use big tyre$, they drink and overall maintenance costs would be higher.

    Down here there are plenty of SW options, both new and used… and they’ll fit my family nicely too. I see with keen eyes Octavia, Superb, Mondeo, Commodore, 9-5, 9-3.

    To this point I have really needed a wagon once: when we bought the new TV. The long roof would be handy to prevent the little heads to be roasted by the local sun. Other than that, the Commodore has performed beautifully as family car.

    That’s just me, as they say, YMMV.

  • avatar
    suspekt

    The CRV is the best styled model in the segment.
    I wholeheartedly disagree that the CX5 or Escape look better or will age better.

    Same goes for the new Vezel. It is another brilliant design.

    Watch out for the new Rogue though, it is going to light up the sales charts. Lots of sales will be conquests from all the other brands. They really nailed the design on that and it is going to help move a ton of units.

  • avatar
    Offbeat Oddity

    The CR-V has a lot going for it. It uses a very proven powertrain that still works well (if the 2.4 in the CR-V behaves like that in my ’07 Accord, it’ll be silky smooth), and it’s probably Honda’s most reliable model. The interior layout and functionality can’t be beaten. And it should be well-built and have a solid, tight feel. The styling has also grown on me, and I don’t think the Escape or CX-5 look that much better.

    Of course, the interior could use better materials, but on a surface level it competes well. And I’d love if Honda made it a bit sportier. I’d take it over the Escape, whose Ecoboost engines don’t seem reliable or particularly efficient. The non MFT interiors look rather cheap, as well. The CX-5 would likely be my top choice, but with the salty roads and rough winters, I’m still leery as to how the body will hold up and if it’ll rust.

    Still, the 3rd gen CR-V is definitely my favorite CR-V. It’s actually fairly sleek on the outside, has great interior styling (I love how there’s no center console in the front), and should be pretty decent to drive, as I think it was based on the 2006 Civic. If I had to get a CUV, a pampered 2011 would likely top my list.

  • avatar
    fredtal

    I drove my sister in law’s CRV and 2 women approached me during the weekend and I’m kind of an old balding ugly hippie cuss. The things a real chick magnet! Better than my Audi or Lotus.

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    Why does driving have to be exciting? Sure, cars should not be excitingly bad to drive, but that hasn’t been the case for a long time. Most modern urban driving is an exercise in frustration with no opportunity for excitement. If one needs kinetic excitement, then learn to ski or something like that.

  • avatar
    RHD

    It’s interesting how much those who have owned a CR-V love them, and those who hate them have never driven one.

    This is just like the MX-5 – “The Miata is a chick car”, say the know-it-alls who have never had the chance to drive one.

  • avatar
    KrohmDohm

    My wife bought a 2012 CR-V almost as soon as it hit the lot. It is a very well engineered, smooth, reasonably quiet, soft riding vehicle. It has enough gadgetry to keep her happy, good fuel economy, adequate power and enough room for our two boys and associated travel gear. And yes it is as likely to raise your heart rate as back to back episodes of the Lawrence Welk show. It really is a good family vehicle.

    And I hate it. Almost as much as our departed Odyssey mini-van. It lulls into a state of mind that says, “you made the sensible choice”. Problem is I don’t want to make the sensible choice in a car. My kid’s school yes, sensible. Their carseat sensible too. My khaki pants for work, yep sensible. I want my car to have a personality. To connect with me as a driver. To tell me that we come together as man and machine to create a single perfect creature whose natural habitat is the road ahead. Alas my wife doesn’t have the same priorities.

    That is why we just got back yesterday from a trip to Great Wolf Lodge, in our CR-V.

    • 0 avatar
      crtfour

      Amen. My wife has a Forester which does nothing for me & I am on the opposite end of the vehicle sensibility spectrum with an Land Rover LR3. But in most other areas we are both pretty sensible people.

  • avatar
    troyohchatter

    The latest CR-V has fancy economy lights, buttons, and a cool flipping rear seat, all in an effort to distract you from noticing that the car has no soul, and there was a time when even the most pedestrian Honda had soul. The drivetrain has cut the nuts off of the 185HP 2.4L to the point that you never will enjoy it the transmission nanny software restricts you from accessing it in all but a full throttle launch. The econ button, when turned off, allows for a touchy throttle tip in. But after all of that, the vehicle drives and rides like my 2003 which is “not all that good” and downright obsolete when compared to the most recent efforts from other brands.

    I drove a CX-5 and CR-V back to back a few weeks ago and, as a former Honda guy, I found it depressing. Honda and Toyota’s most recent efforts remind me of what GM and Ford brought to market 20 years ago, a product that “existed in the market and sold by reputation and shear marketing.” Using sales to justify the quality of the car is Honda’s first mistake. At some point, one will get a sub par Honda, be relieved of the Honda kool-aid effect, and drive something else.

    That’s how Honda and Toyota gained market share and ultimately, doing what Ford and GM did in the past is what will cost them. My father’s next vehicle will be a Subaru or Mazda, my brother traded his Civic for a Mazda3, my wife’s Honda, a lemon of a 2003 CR-V, was replaced with a 2012 Mazda 5, and my most recent purchase of a 2013 Mazda 2 has completed the circle. Honda and Toyota exist in the market, but they no longer make the #1 product in any segment save the Fit. And they don’t care because they are still selling to the loyal customers, but the gravy train will end someday and by that time they will have long since forgotten how to design a revolutionary product.

    • 0 avatar
      jrasero23

      I agree Honda has lost a lot of their magic, a lot of their cars have turned into pedestrian econo cars made for the masses, which isn’t bad but like you said this is how Ford got into trouble with the Taurus, since they never developed it beyond a vanilla sedan. I am not asking for a race car, but at least Mazda and even Ford with their Ecoboost engines are heading in the right direction. The only thing that stops me from Mazda right now is that fact that all their great cars they released need time to iron out the normal kinks, I would rather wait 1-2 more years and get a Mazda that is a little more problem free.

  • avatar
    jrasero23

    My mother recently purchased a 2014 CR-V EX-L and I test drove one but decided not to buy. For me the car is pedestrian, which is fine if you just want a gas sipping small crossover that has AWD, but for me a CR-V EX-L for $30,000 needs more goodies and luxury because for $30K your getting into luxury territory or near luxury more so, with this said I think you get more for your money with Ford or Mazda especially when it comes to driving experience.

    CX-5 Grand Touring AWD for me is a better package. It handles better than the CR-V, the looks are a bit more striking and defiantly less bulbous, you get better MPG, and for this trim you get a Bose sound system, rains sensing windshield wipers, and heated mirrors. Yes the CX-5 does have a dated tech console but Honada’s isn’t that much better. Both engines aren’t the most powerful or refined, I leave that reward to the Ecoboost engine in the Ford Escape, but like the article states the Escape doesn’t match the Japanese crossovers in MPG and like all Ford/Lincoln Sync Touch systems, controls are sluggish and borderline useless.

    Still I see why people will pick the CR-V over Mazda or Ford because the the CR-V is a “safe pick and I mean that in every context of the word because the CR-V is not only a safe car to drive but a Honda, which means it’s reliable and has an almost cult following. I don’t think the CR-V is amazing at anything, but yet again it doesn’t have any major flaws. Overall a good crossover, but for me it lacks the refinement and power needed to drop $30k on.


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