By on March 6, 2015

2015 Honda CR-V Exterior Front

Refreshed, redesigned or updated, whatever you want to call the changes to the CR-V for the 2015 model year, it’s hard to argue with this model’s success. The CR-V isn’t just the best-selling compact crossover in America, it’s the best-selling crossover period and the 7th best-selling vehicle overall. With sales success on the line Honda did what any Japanese company would do: make minor changes that give you more of what shoppers want without upsetting the apple cart. Does that make the CR-V just right? Or is it a compact bore-box?

Honda gave the CR-V its last redesign as a 2012 model year vehicle. The “old Honda” would have allowed the CR-V age unchanged for 5-6 years, but the new Honda seems to prefer making incremental changes to keep things fresh. While the 2012 CR-V wasn’t the same kind of mis-step the press thought the 2012 Civic was, competition is fierce and the 2012-2014 CR-V’s performance and fuel economy weren’t exactly compelling.

Exterior

Because this is a refresh and not a redesign, none of the “hard points” in the vehicle changed. Up front we get more modern looking headlamps with LED DRLs in most models and the fog lamps became rectangular. The grill has lost the Ford-like horizontal slats in favor of a simpler design with a larger Honda logo and a chrome “smile” reminiscent of the Accord and Civic. Changes to the rear are similar with new lamp modules, a tweaked bumper with silver painted inserts, more chrome on the tailgate and a style that still reminds me of a Volvo wagon in a way.

2015 Honda CR-V Dashboard

Interior

The CR-V’s interior slots somewhere between the Civic and the Accord in terms of both quality and theme. The instrument cluster is [thankfully] styled after the Accord with a large central speedometer flanked by three additional physical gauges.  The small monochrome LCD in the center of the speedometer is still a novel concept, but five years after Honda launched this look it is starting to feel dated compared to the large color LCDs you find in some of the competition. The dashboard and doors are a combination of hard and soft plastics which is again a middle road between the Civic and the Accord. For 2015 Honda has added a few extra features to keep things fresh including a standard console armrest, telescoping sun visors and rear HVAC vents. Since the CR-V never suffered from the unfortunate amount of questionable plastics that the 2012 Civic had, Honda spent the interior budget largely on the infotainment system.

2015 Honda CR-V HondaLink.CR2Infotainment

Base CR-V LX models get a 4-speaker 160-watt sound system controlled by large physical buttons and the same small screen that also handles trip computer functions (at the top of the picture above). Thankfully EX and above (which are the majority of sales) use essentially the same 7-inch touchscreen system found in the current Honda Civic with physical buttons instead of touch-controls. Dubbed HondaLink Next Generation, this is not the same system you find in the Accord. Rather it is Honda’s lower cost alternative which I think is also a better value. While there aren’t as many built-in features as you find in the Accord, this system has all the basics like Pandora and Aha streaming, Bluetooth and USB/iDevice integration and available factory navigation. Unlike many systems however it also supports iPhone integrated navigation via a $60 app. (Sorry Android users, there is no love for you at this time.) Unlike the BrinGo navigation we find in certain GM products, this solution doesn’t just store data on the phone and have the head unit render the mapping interface. Instead the iPhone is generating all the video and processing touch inputs but the head unit is displaying the video via an HDMI cable. Shoppers should note that this is not Apple CarPlay but Honda’s own solution that was created prior to CarPlay and is not upgradeable to support Android Auto or Apple CarPlay. For occasional nav users this represents a significant discount over the factory software (assuming you have an iPhone) but there are some limitations. Your iPhone has to stay on the nav app for the system to work, so if you check your email at a stop light, the nav map will disappear. Your iPhone’s data plan will of course get consumed and if you’re out of a coverage area then your mapping will be limited or non-existent depending on how much your device has cached.

 

honda-diagram-1Drivetrain

The biggest change for 2015 is under the hood where we find a revised version of the 2.4L “EarthDreams” four-cylinder engine we saw in the 2013 Honda Accord. For 2015 Honda has added counter-rotating balance shafts to try and help cancel out some of the vibrations. Power stays the same as before at 185 ponies, but torque is up to 181 lb-ft and across a broader range than in 2014.

In order to improve efficiency, Honda does something a little different with this 2.4L engine, they offset the cylinders about 8mm from the engine’s centerline. This trades reduced friction for increased vibration, hence the need for the additional balance shafts. The balance shafts certainly help, but some customers have complained about the added vibration especially at idle and indeed it is not as smooth as the 2014 model. Is the vibration worth a 4 MPG bump in the city and 3 MPG improvement overall? I’d say so, but be sure to sound off in the comment section. Also improving economy is an AWD capable version of the CVT found in the Accord bumping the numbers to 27 / 34 / 29 (City / Highway / Combined) for FWD models and 26 / 33 / 28 for AWD.

Front Wheel Drive Biased Transverse AWD System, Drawing Courtesy of Alex L. DykesAWD Controversy

My favorite Swedish magazine, Teknikens Värld, has a winter capability test where they put the test vehicle on a slope and the front wheels on rollers. The test is to see if 100% of the engine power can be sent to the rear wheels. Note that the 100% is essential here, because the incline and front wheels on the rollers makes sure no traction exists on the front axle. The CR-V failed this test because Honda’s AWD control system is programed to not lock the clutch pack if it detects zero traction up front and 100% in the rear. It also appears that traction control was disabled in the test. (The CR-V is not designed to be RWD essentially.) You will note in the diagram above that this type of system can lock the center clutch pack and get a 50/50 power split front/rear like a vehicle with a traditional transfer case, or it can slip that clutch pack to vary things from 100/0 to 50/50 assuming no wheel slip.

When wheel slip occurs, something different happens. Say just one front wheel sips. The front differential, being an open unit would send power to the wheel that is slipping, this action essentially causes the power balance to shift to the rear up to a power balance around 20/80. Leaving the traction control on, the slipping front wheel would be braked until it was spinning the same relative rate as the others. This would return the system to a 50/50 power balance because even if the front wheel was up in the air, the brakes on that wheel would be “consuming” the 50% of the power on that axle to maintain the power balance. The CR-V’s AWD system is designed to operate in this 50/50 window without issue. With your front wheels on ice and your rear wheels on tarmac, the front wheels will always have some traction and the traction control will help keep things in balance. Similarly in off-camber situations in snow with one wheel in the air, the brake based system will keep things in line. Pop the CR-V up on rollers however and the system things something is wrong.

The bottom line is that the CR-V is not a Jeep Cherokee, it was not designed with locking differentials and not designed with the Rubicon Trail in mind. It was however designed with the urban jungle and 2015 snowpocalypse in mind and 99.9% of shoppers will never even know there was a controversy. If you’re the 0.01% of shoppers that lives in a roller factory, there could be an issue of course. Is the Jeep system “superior?” Yes, but for most folks it’s also overkill.

2015 Honda CR-V EarthDreams 2.4L Engine-001

Drive

The popularity of the CR-V is no surprise when you get behind the wheel. The CR-V drives like a slightly taller Accord which makes sense as the ground clearance has dropped over time as the CR-V has transformed from trucklet to tall wagon. The compact CUV doesn’t handle as well as the Mazda CX-5, but the wide tires, relatively light curb weight and moderately firm suspension certainly place the CUV at top end of the segment.

Thanks to the improved torque band and the continuously variable transmission (CVT) that has a much lower starting ratio than the old 5-speed (13.3:1 vs 11.7:1), the CR-V is notably faster off the line and hit 60 MPH nearly second faster than the 2014 model. Similarly the higher effective “top gear” ratio is the key to the CR-V’s large jump in the fuel economy score. As with the Accord and Civic which also use Honda’s new CVT tech, the CR-V’s transmission changes ratios much more rapidly than the Nissan Rogue’s more traditional CVT. The feel is more like a stepped automatic’s downshift than the rubber-bandy feeling you get in the Nissan.

2015 Honda CR-V Instrument Cluster-001

Thanks to the programming of the CVT, fuel economy has indeed improved over the 2014 model coming in at 27.5 MPG, just 1/2 an MPG shy of the EPA rating for our AWD tester despite my commute over a 2,200ft mountain pass daily. Thanks to the lower torque band of the EarthDreams engine, the CVT can keep the engine at a lower and more efficient RPM more of the time. Unfortunately higher torque outputs at low RPMs tend to highlight the new engine’s cylinder offset which, as I said earlier, trades smoothness for efficiency. Many of you on Facebook asked if I encountered the vibrations that some shoppers have complained about and indeed I did. Was it bad? No. Was it noticeable? Yes. Would it keep me from buying the CR-V over something else? No, because for me the MPG improvement is enough of an incentive to overlook it.

2015 also brings some tweaks to the suspension and sound insulation improving ride and cabin noise by a hair. Perhaps the biggest change for the CR-V out on the road has nothing to do with the driveline or suspension however, it’s the infusion of some Acura driving aids. The new Touring model comes standard with radar adaptive cruise control, a lane keeping system that steers you back into your lane and Acura’s Collision Mitigating Braking System or CMBS which will autonomously brake the vehicle if it believes a collision is imminent and you’re going above 10 MPH. While this isn’t breaking any ground, it does help the CR-V stay competitive with the Forester’s camera-based EyeSight system and the Cherokee’s latest radar based features. The Honda system isn’t as smooth as the Jeep system, but it is more natural than the Subaru system, works better in poor weather where the camera systems become less functional and supports a broader range of speeds.

2015 Honda CR-V Exterior.CR2

Ranging between $23,445 and $32,895 the CR-V straddles the middle in this segment after you’ve adjusted for feature content. The Forester is less expensive and more capable, but the interior is more down-market, no surprise since the standard AWD means it starts about $2,500 less than a comparable Honda. The Cherokee is the most rugged and capable vehicle in this segment but the off-road ability takes a toll on cargo room and handling while bumping the curb weight north of 4,000lbs in some trims. The RAV4’s latest redesign saw the demise of the optional 3rd row and the V6, (the two prime reasons for buying a RAV4 over the CR-V) and the addition of plenty of questionable plastics on the inside. Mazda’s CX-5 handles extremely well but isn’t as comfortable or as large inside and until the 2016 model arrives, the infotainment system is archaic.

Oddly enough, the fact that the CR-V fails to be the best in the segment in any particular category is actually the key to its success. It’s easy to create the cheapest or best off-road compact crossover (the bar is after all kind of low), a little harder to make the best handling crossover, but making a crossover that averages consistently high marks in every category is quite an undertaking. While the CR-V’s AWD system has received bad press, the same thing applies there. The AWD system isn’t the most capable in this segment but it is perfectly acceptable and won’t leave you stranded on your way to Aspen. The CR-V may lack the charm it once had, but it is still the best all-around vehicle in this segment.

 

Honda provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

Specifications as tested

0-30: 3.2

0-60: 7.79

1/4 mile: 16.4 Seconds @ 87.5 MPH

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98 Comments on “Review: 2015 Honda CR-V Touring (With Video)...”


  • avatar
    Chocolatedeath

    Welcome back Alex. Good thorough review as always.

  • avatar

    One more reason to buy the CR-V is Honda ‘ s perceived reliability

    • 0 avatar
      RS

      Quality issues with Honda’s and imports in general do exist, but they are like Fight Club…and the first rule of Fight Club is: “Nobody talks about Fight Club.”

      • 0 avatar

        Downplayed those issues may be, but is undeniable that the Japanese automakers’ defects are largely few and far between compared to those of automakers from other countries. Take the Honda V6/AT issue, for example. Ford, GM and Chrysler all had similar maladies to contend with in their respective lineups, on top of a festering pile of other issues. And don’t even get me *started* on VAG (I drive two Volkswagens).

        And if, in fact, the other automakers have caught up with that legendary Japanese reliability but don’t get credit for it, it’s their own fault for their years of hocking utter crap.

  • avatar
    spreadsheet monkey

    Good review. I recently bought a loaded 2013 CRV with Honda’s 2.2 diesel engine, and am very pleased with it so far.

    Over here in Europe, the 2015 model gets a 9-speed ZF transmission (same as the Cherokee and RR Evoque) instead of CVT.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    I appreciate how competent and accommodating to market needs the current CRVs are, but frankly, I miss the honesty and utilitarian vibe of the first gen cars. Plenty of them around here with north of 250k miles around here, as long as valve adjustments are kept in check and timing belts are changed, there really isn’t much that goes wrong. 2nd gens are quite possibly even more reliable (except the A/C system) and are fantastically versatile and roomy, but started to lose ground clearance and are nowhere as cleanly styled IMO. Third gen totally lost the plot with a cheap interior with uncomfortable seats, and giving up utility for (poor) styling. This 4th gen is a step back in the right direction compared to the 3rd with regaining cargo room, but as Alex noted they’re way down to something like 6.7 inches of ground clearance. Irrelevant to 99% of people buying these (sales reflect that). I get it, but I can still be nostalgic for the 1st gens and their incredible greenhouses and cool little picnic table, and very respectable 8.7 inches of ground clearance, oh and availability of a manual transmission.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Every once in a while around here, I’ll see a pearl white gen 1 Rav4 in L trim, with some metal fitted step-up bars on either side. Great shape, no rust.

      That was a very tidy looking car.

      • 0 avatar
        JMII

        Have you ever driven a 1st gen RAV4 or CR-V? They are slow moving rattle traps. I honestly think a 1st gen CR-V with an automatic is the slowest vehicle I have ever driven and I owned an ’85 Civic S 1500 which had all of 95 HP. My parents have a 1st gen RAV4 (as a 3rd vehicle) and its Jeep Wrangler top down loud on the road. Its almost like it has zero sound proofing in it. Compare this against a modern V6 RAV4 which for awhile was the fastest vehicle Toyota had on their lots.

        • 0 avatar
          LeeK

          I own a Gen 1 CR-V and would like to point out that there is a difference between the first two years (120 HP) and the next three (140 HP) of the production run. While not fast by any means, the increased horsepower made for a peppy driving experience, reminiscent of today’s Mazda CX-5. Good enough for the intended audience. Rattle trap? I guess there are some, but Hondas of that era did not do a very good job on road noise isolation and any rattles were drowned out by tire drone.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          Buddy, I used to drive a 1990 Civic Wagon with an automatic (throttle body injected 1.5L) , and then a 4000lb Mazda MPV 4wd with a wheezy 155hp 3.0V6. The CRVs are absolutely sprightly in comparison.

          • 0 avatar
            Zykotec

            Having owned a 2nd gen (totalled), and a 3rd gen (which I just sold so I can use the payments on my house instead) I recently test drove a 1st gen (97, with the 128 hp and manual), and I thought it was awesome. It’s not at all slow by european standards, and the huge windows, high seating position and stiff suspension made it feel like a small hatchback compared to my ’07.
            Overall I think the 2nd gen is the best of the bunch, both when it comes to looks, space, handling and tuning potential (sorry B-engine fans, the B20 isn’t all that great), but the 1st gen is more fun in stock form(my family doesn’t quite think ‘fun’ is as deciding a factor as I do though.)
            PS, I now drive a fwd ’94 Audi 100 2.6 V6

  • avatar
    slnordt

    I think it is an oversight in the summary that the Ford Escape is not mentioned. It is most often the second best seller and certainly one to consider.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Didn’t think of it when reading, but I agree.

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      Yes…I kept waiting to hear it but never did get put into the review.
      And since the 2.0 turbo is one of my all time favs, tis is disappointing.
      And a little troubled about the ave MPG: “coming in at 27.5 MPG”…
      Is this the average??? If so, not bad.
      And a little bothered by the low rpm vibrations since this car sits at low RPM all around town stop n go driving.
      This is exactly why I love the 2.0 ecoboost…it just is fun in the sop and go madness in real life.

      And the ever shrinking rear view…horrible these days.
      Cannot wait till the rear cameras are a major part of the side mirror.

      One last point…in the video Alex notes the upper trims come standard with the back up cam…I thought Honda had all levels with it as standard for a few years now.

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    Great to see you back, Alex!

    I was thinking about the CRV AWD system the other day when I was helping my neighbor who got stuck in the snow in her own driveway. There was a deep pile of snow at the edge of the street from the snowplow. Despite being AWD, her 2 year old CRV just sat there with one front wheel spinning in the air and no power going to the others. A couple of us had to push her forward until the front wheels got a bit of traction. It seemed to me that this was precisely the sort of circumstance this car should have been able to handle easily. Was her traction control off? After reading your description I remain baffled by why her car wasn’t able to send power to other wheels. I would have expected four spinning tires in a circumstance such as this.

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      It is possible. Many folks turn traction control off (because that’s what we were told to do in the 90s) but that is actually the wrong thing to do in many modern crossovers. Assuming that her AWD system wasn’t broken in some other way, that would likely have helped. Because her CR-V is that age, there is a re-flash available from the Honda dealer that will allow complete clucth engagement at times like that, but they chose to not make it available for the 2015 model year cars.

      • 0 avatar
        thornmark

        Doesn’t the CR-V have a button that allows the driver to LOCK the wheels so that it functions as 4 wheel drive at very low speeds?

        • 0 avatar
          Alex L. Dykes

          If it did, it doesn’t anymore.

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            I don’t think my mother’s ’12 does. But I’m not sure if hers is AWD or FWD. If the rear floor is completely flat, does that automatically rule out that it’s an AWD at all on the new models?

          • 0 avatar
            joeaverage

            It never had that in the 1st gen… Mine (1st gen) did fine in the big snow storm we had a few weeks ago. Despite all the short comings people point out – my ‘V was spinning the rear tires on slick surfaces. If it won’t lock the rear end in 100% it doesn’t matter b/c some lower % than that is enough to slip the rear tires.

            We drove out to the boonies to help our retired friend. Her 4WD pickup that she drives part time picked the storm to have a dead battery. I went out, drove my ‘V down to the barn in 4″-5″ of snow, jumped the big GM, and then drove both out and up the hill. No drama. Her roads were a mix of icy (ice storm) and a bit of snow. With all season tires my ‘V just pawed it’s way out to the cleared pavement. When I drove her truck to the store to get a battery installed, it handled much the same as the ‘V and the truck has full 4WD with low range.

            I think all the bodies/chassis are the same – FWD or AWD.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          I think that is exclusive to the Rav4, and now defuct Suzuki SX4.

    • 0 avatar
      Cypriot

      I have a CR-V 2013 and I had the same problem. The rear wheels would not spin when a front wheel lost grip in the sand beach test. I confirm that the traction control was on at all times.

      In Europe there is a service bulleting regarding AWD. My Vin number was included in the service bulletin as it was fed with an older AWD firmware.

      After the firmware update the AWD problem never appeared. I had enough sand and ice tests to confirm that this problem was sorted out after the AWD firmware update. CR-Vs made after 6/2013 are fed with the correct firmware.

      Traction control should be on at all times. Also I recommend economy mode to be off due to better pedal/rev response.

      Technikens magazine tested a pres 6/2013 production car with the old AWD firmware. It was neither a 2015 nor a 2014 production CR-V. They included the CR-V registration and the CR-V was made end of 2012 even if it was registered in 2014.

      Honda did not make the AWD firmware update compulsory and never sent any letters to its customers regarding the AWD firmware update existence. It was left to customers complaints to instigate this AWD firmware update. This Honda attitude was wrong as it has let the competitors to gain advantage by testing their vehicles with old firmware CR-Vs (maybe not on purpose).

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    Although the stigma is on minivans as being “mom-mobiles” and uncool, it seems like the actual preferred vehicle for moms these days is compact crossovers with the CRV being #1. I used to think the CRV was inferior to the Accord at the same price, but this generation of CRV has earned my respect. Even six years ago, people would have thought you were crazy if you said you could come out with a competitively priced crossover with excellent front, rear and cargo room, 4-wheel drive, real world 27 MPG overall fuel economy and 7.8 seconds 0-60. Good job, Honda.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    It was 2 degrees Fahrenheit (-16 Celsius – hey, idiot U.S. Legislators, when are we going to join the modern era in the U.S. & adopt the metric system?) last night, and a long drive in the 8, even on its snow shoes and in bitter cold, even over frost heaved roads,reminded me of why I hate these pustules of vehicles so deeply.

    They all have sterile interiors, sterile exteriors, lidocaine steering, gimp suspensions & most have NVH & cheap finish issues.

    I’m clearly in the minority, however, and offer no rebuttal to that inescapable fact.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      @Deadwieght

      You are not alone, though sad to say I would still take a CUV over a useless midsize sedan. Practical boring over impractical boring.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        I now know why you like & advocate for your Abarth – I believe the Camry, CR-V, Altima etc, are for people who died inside.

        I make the caveat that some people (i.e. elderly, those with two or more kids, etc.) can’t make something like an Abarth work as a sole vehicle, but it’s a depressing thought to have to be trapped in a lidocaine mobile without a genuinely responsive, alive, organic, mechanical feedback ride such as an Abarth or G370 or BMW 3 Series (prior gen or prior-prior gen) or 8 or even pony cars.

        Life is too short to be bored to death by one’s vehicle.

        • 0 avatar
          Drzhivago138

          Believe it or not, there are some people who take excitement in things other than driving, and just want reliable transportation when they slip behind the wheel. By no means does that mean they’ve died inside.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            It is actually quite possible to have both in the same vehicle.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            It’s subjective.

            And again, I specifically stated that I understand the (clear, based on sales volume) appeal of these types of vehicles for so many people, especially since a reliable, jack-of-all-trades vehicle is a necessity for most in the U.S. (compared to many developed nations with efficient, convenient, ubiquitous, low-cost mass transit) – to get to work on time, pick kids up/chauffeur them reliably, etc.

            I’m merely stating that vehicles like the CR-V are nowhere near as soul stirring as a Challenger, Abarth, Mustang, BMW X1 (or many older vehicles), nor as refined or comfortable as a Chrysler 300, JGC, VW Golf (2015 – which I test drove yesterday – very refined, solid, smooth “small” hatch) etc.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            “It is actually quite possible to have both in the same vehicle.”

            Not quite so sure about that. Like DrZhivago said, plenty of folks just want a quiet. comfortable, efficient car that they can drive for 10+ years and not have to worry about, and not pay too much for servicing. Something like this CRV will most likely give them that, going off historic data (and we’ll see how good Honda’s engineers handled the intake valve coking issues inherent to DI motors).

            A “fun to drive” CX-5 will not have as smooth of a ride and will probably develop some rattles and maybe have some small mechanical issues or rust, before either a CRV or Rav4 will. Let alone what something comparable like an X3 will cost to maintain out of warranty as it ages.

            This snobbery drives me nuts: “oh whats with all these plebs buying boring cars, don’t they know that there are more fun to drive options out there?!”

            I saw this analogy written on ‘the site that starts with a j’ a few years back. Imagine a washing machine enthusiast telling you you made a poor choice by buying a new machine that was highly regarded by CR as being reliable and very easy to use, and a good value. Said enthusiast sneers that front loaders are totally lame and in fact, their favorite washing machine is some weird Scandinavian brand that you’ve never heard of, and it supposedly washes things better because there is a step involved where you have to change a setting in the middle of a wash, giving you ultimate washing control. Well most people just want their clothes cleaned, and with as little fuss as possible. Cars and driving is the same thing for the majority of buyers, but with some more emphasis on aesthetics I suppose versus washing machines.

            DeadWeight, why compare a CRV to a Challenger… ever? it’s just such a strange point to make. An M1A2 Abrams has more armor and firepower than a 2015 CRV, that comparison made about as much sense to bring up.

          • 0 avatar
            Ryoku75

            To be fair Hondas always been about “reliable but dull”, the CRV only continues that tradition. Its why younger Honda fans can never keep their cars stock, the sheer dullness would drive them insane.

        • 0 avatar
          Offbeat Oddity

          I drive a 2011 CRV, and while it’s not an exciting drive by any means, I don’t think it’s boring, either. It drives almost identically to my old Accord (e.g. nimble with good steering feel) while providing some nice ground clearance for all the snow we get in MN.

          I get why CUVs are so popular. Most are pretty sedan-like in ride and handling (the CX-5 I hear is the best in this regard), and there’s the cargo, ground-clearance, and ease of entry-exit. Most CUVs are about a foot shorter than the average mid-size sedan, so that helps with maneuverability as well.

        • 0 avatar
          stickmaster

          Well this argument is as old as life itself. “Live fast and hard or die trying” or “Live and hang on to life”

          If you get a car that guzzles fuel, costs a lot to run and maintain and could possibly leave you stranded or dead, it’s equivalent to the former. Sure you’ve “lived” but then you are broke and dead anyway.

          Get a car that’s reliable, fuel efficient, and safe, and you end up with more life in the end.

          Same with the difference between drinking, smoking, partying, gambling with abandon, vs. saving, eating right and exercising.

          Not that I particularly like these type of cars but they are excellent real life cars as are, for example, good mid-size sedans.

          • 0 avatar
            Zykotec

            I’ve been discussing back and forth with people lately as I’m looking for a cheap used car to run while renovating the basement of my house. And mostly old stereotypes seem to be true. BMW owners, who are willing and able to work on their own cars can get by with $1500-2000 in parts each year, and feel that the driving experience is worth it, VW and Audi owners are completely oblivious to any sort of objectivity, Mercedes owners think their tractors are somehow comfortable, but avoid anything made after ’94 (as does’real’ Audi enthusiasts) People who own Japanese don’t care about nothing but reliability, and french/british/italian car owners love their cars in a way the others can’t quite understand, while simultaneously hating and loving their cars depreciations (no problem if you’re never intending on selling it)
            I can’t even decide what type of car I want to replace my CRV, but a large wagon would be great, but as this is Europe I only have boring cars to choose from…

    • 0 avatar
      Rick

      Amazon.com:

      Whatever Happened to the Metric System?: How America Kept Its Feet

      by John Bemelmans Marciano

      Actually an intersting read!

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      That sterile, plasticky interior has been VERY durable on our 16 year old ‘V. No tears, no broken plastic, no visible wear at all except the steering wheel which recieved a Wheelskin last year due to wear.

      I kind of like the toughness of the interior. Its the good side of some vehicles going back 50 years. Nothing to tear up like the mousefur seat covers found in some brands.

      Its supposed to be a utility vehicle. For the folks that want more lux – buy the leather version or an Acura or the Pilot.

  • avatar
    RS

    Has any CVT story ended well when miles are added?

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Very detailed and informative article, well done.

    FYI: Typo: “The Forster is less expensive and more capable”

    Forester

    http://www.subaru.com/vehicles/forester/

  • avatar
    CarMatch

    I wonder if the offset cylinder design will have any effect on engine longevity. Generally increased vibration is not a good thing, whether for engine life or for the accessories attached to it.

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      As the thrust is more aligned with the connecting rod and there is reduced internal friction, I would assume the engine itself should have a longer life. Engine mounts however… I can see them throwing in the towel early.

  • avatar

    The front-fascia looks a lot better with the refresh, as does the interior. Whatever complaints I had about the CR-V—which was always in my mind an excellent choice—are fading away. It should continue its sales lead over the other entrants in the segment.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    The CR-V is continually reliable, not too overpriced, can be equipped to a fairly high level, and doesn’t have a cheap-o image, because people with and without lots of money drive them.

    Even if you see a 2002 (or even the 00-01) model on the road, they don’t look out of date, because they have evolved their styling and used the Volvo rear light stacks very well.

    I mean look, does this look 13 years old?
    http://image.trucktrend.com/f/features/news/2012/163_news1212_j_d_power_and_associates_most_appealing_models/40984833/2002-honda-cr-v-red-front-three-quarter-static.jpg

    I will say, I don’t care for this purple color Honda sends out for test cars, and I think the best color for the CR-V is now pearl white. It looks brilliant in person.

    http://world.honda.com/news/2011/4111128All-New-CR-V/photo/images/42.jpg

  • avatar
    ADent

    It is not just Jeeps with better 4WD, Subarus will pass the roller test with 3 wheels on rollers.

    I don’t know how the CRV works in the real world, but on our icy, north facing driveway after I stop to open the garage I just smoothly pull in to the garage with our Subaru. Whereas with FWD I have to roll back to a bare spot to get the traction to drive into the garage.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Great to have you back, and if anything, your work has improved. I’m not really a fan of the “clutch pack” so-called AWD system that Honda uses. (I have a Pilot.) When asking my Pilot to plow through record amounts of snow that I didn’t want to shovel, the system did not perform particularly well. The Pilot has a “lock”system that locks the clutch pack if you press a button and select low gear on the auto selector. Defeating the traction control finally got me through the mess. (In snow, a certain amount of wheelspin is actually useful.)

    I was far more impressed with my old AWD Previa, which was a RWD vehicle that had a viscous coupling between the front and rear axles. Add Blizzaks at all 4 corners and the thing was unstoppable, even in 18 inches of snow. No buttons to push, no electronics . . . and it all worked better.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Do you have snow tires on the Pilot?

    • 0 avatar
      EMedPA

      For that kind of deep snow, nothing beats traditional four wheel drive. I drove my wife and then-infant daughter home during a blizzard many years ago with what seemed like a foot-plus of unplowed snow on the ground. I had a WJ Grand Cherokee at the time and it chugged through with ease.

      And you know what? That was the dumbest driving decision I ever made. The visibility was horrible, and it was sheer dumb luck that we got back home without taking a detour into a ditch or worse. When the weather and roads are that bad, the smart play is to stay put.

      • 0 avatar
        Dave M.

        Touche. Unless you’re a critical needs employee, or it’s a medical emergnecy, staying put is the safest option.

      • 0 avatar
        Firestorm 500

        @EMedPA: That Jeep saved you all. That’s what they do.

        • 0 avatar
          EMedPA

          It got me from point A to point B. And don’t get me wrong: I mean that old Jeep no disrespect. It was a great SUV and I think that the WJ’s were the Zenith of Grand Cherokees.

          But that night, while the Jeep performed brilliantly, it wouldn’t have saved me from going into the ditch had I lost what little visibility I had left. Nor would it have saved me from another car losing control and skidding into my path.

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      Having four Blizzaks at all four corners vs. all season tires in the snow is the like comparing wearing hiking boots vs. dress shoes. Not a remotely fair comparison.

  • avatar
    EMedPA

    My biggest gripe with all of these CVT-equipped cars is that they have virtually no towing capacity. The Cherokee and the Escape don’t have as much cargo room as the CRV, and neither have as good fuel consumption, but if you want to tow a small utility trailer or boat, the domestics are your best choice.

    • 0 avatar
      RS

      2015 CR-V Towing Capacity is 1500 lbs. Same as the 2014 model.

      With the 4 cylinder motor as the only option, CR-V towing capacity has never been very high.

      • 0 avatar
        EMedPA

        I did not know that. I wouldn’t bet on the longevity of any CVT that does any regular towing, though.

        • 0 avatar
          Drzhivago138

          Honda decided that they wouldn’t miss the 1000 customers who wanted to tow with their CR-V.

          • 0 avatar
            EMedPA

            Probably true. I don’t see many Escapes or Cherokees around with hitches, either. (And given the way a lot of people drive, that may not be a bad thing.)

          • 0 avatar
            heavy handle

            I see a lot of Escapes, Cherokees and CR-Vs around with hitches, but never with trailers.

            Bike racks are popular on family crossovers. That probably explains the hitches.

          • 0 avatar
            oldowl

            Yes, as Handle notes, hitches are good for bike rack mounting and their more obvious uses for hauling small boat trailers, campers, utility trailers, etc. The Audi Q5, similar in size to the CRV, has a 4,000 lb. towing capacity.

      • 0 avatar
        joeaverage

        Gen 1 was 1000 lbs but I’ve towed as much as the ‘V weighs and a bit more at low speeds for 10-15 miles. No problem.

        The Euro spec ‘V claims more towing capacity with trailer brakes which tells me that they know it can tow more, it just can’t stop safely from higher speeds. Go slow and anything can stop well enough at least once. Brake heat is the issue.

  • avatar
    ejwu

    What? No trunk comfort test?

  • avatar
    jbltg

    As hard as Honda seems to have worked on this vehicle, I think I dislike it even more than the Camry for its sheer lack of personality, especially compared to the first generation. Lobotomymobile.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      I know, right? How dare a non-car person drive an appliance! We should all run a rally in our Miatas to work everyday!

    • 0 avatar
      EMedPA

      To you, maybe. (Certainly to me, when I test drove one.) But it’s reliable transportation with a lot of cargo space for people who aren’t looking for “excitement.”

      • 0 avatar
        joeaverage

        I don’t know – we’ve had alot of excitement with our’s. Towing, fording creeks, snow and ice, camping trips, brought both our baby’s home from the hospital in it, and the oldest will certainly get to learn to drive the very same car on the very same clutch. Family reunions, holidays towing our covered trailer to grandma’s house (trailer is santa’s sleigh, only way we could hide the gifts from our kids) We’ve been to the beach with it a few times and cruised the national parks and drove the NPS dirt roads. It’s been in the local Christmas parade towing a small BSA float. Hauled our BSA troop on many camping trips towing a Brenderup 1205S filled ot the brim with all the troop gear.

        Don’t know about you but there are different kinds of excitment than nailing an apex on a turn.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Owning a 2013 CRV with all the options I would have to agree with Alex. The CRV is not the best in any one thing but overall it does everything better than most crossovers. Extremely reliable, the ride is decent, the fuel economy is acceptable, the interior space and comfort is not bad, and the AWD is good for most travel on snowy roads. The CRV is not for the car enthusiast but it is a very competent, utilitarian, and reliable vehicle. For many of us an appliance is not a bad thing to drive–much better than having a hot vehicle that spends more time at the mechanic’s garage than being driven.

    • 0 avatar
      joeveto3

      I completely agree.

      Not to hijack, but…

      I keep “ping-ponging” between Toyotas (I’m on my second Prius) and BMWs (I’m looking at what may become my 2nd 335i), a fight between The Ultimate Driving (and dollar consuming) Machine, and The Ultimate Low Operating Cost (and narcolepsy inducing) Machine.

      I swear, if Toyota would just make a rear wheel drive sedan, with perfect steering, a solid manual shifter, enough power to make it quick, and keep their reliability in check, I’d buy two of them. If only the FRS wasn’t so damn small…

      BMW will NEVER add reliability to their offerings. It would cost them too much in lost repair revenue.

      Maybe Kia will step up to the plate?

  • avatar
    VW16v

    Do those neighborhoods have a speed limit? Looks like he is flying down the street. Not much said on the smallish buttons on the radio. Almost every other review is not impressed with the same system. Including, Consumer Reports.

  • avatar
    joeveto3

    That was a very thorough and professional review. Thanks.

    You actually have me thinking about the CRV. I’m hesitant because of the switch to a CVT. But you (and others) make it sound as though Honda’s CVTs are much better programmed than others.

  • avatar
    gasser

    2012 CRV EX FWD. 40K miles. No problems, decent mileage. To me the best part is the “feel” that it was all designed together. The steering, brakes, buttons on dash, all have a certain smoothness to them. The exact opposite of the GM Safari vans of the 90s. The best feature of the 2012 CRV—reliability. The worst feature–road noise. We’ve had a half dozen Hondas over the years. Resale value adds the icing to the cake. I won’t buy “fun to drive” at the price of PITA.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      Our next vehicle better be quieter than our 1st gen ‘V. interior noise is the biggest short coming on the vehicle and if we buy a 2015 (it’s in second place on our list) I WILL be taking a noise meter for the test drive…

  • avatar
    PRNDLOL

    0-60 in 7.8 seconds with the 4 cylinder whaaat.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    Alex does a great review, with nice editing and he makes his points quickly.

    I had 2002 CR-V for a few years and was very happy with it. Fun-to-drive didn’t matter as I also owned a Z4 at the time. The CR-V’s A/C compressor died at 52K miles which was out of warranty, but Honda fixed it gratis anyway. Handed it down to my son at college who totaled it within the first year.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      Achilles heel of the 02-06 CRVs and Elements: compressor shreds its internals and contaminates the entire system with metal shards. Another unfortunate CRV shortcoming is that the driveshaft’s rear u joint is staked in and non-rebuildable. When things go south, a $1000 driveshaft seems to be the only true way to retain vibration free driving.

      • 0 avatar
        EAF

        Is it the u-joint that is not serviceable or is it the carrier bearing? I’ve come across the later several times on VW’s. Interesting nonetheless.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          Staked in u joint on the driveshaft on 1st gens. Dealt with the same crap on my old Mazda MPV. Rockford Driveline sells a joint that works, but I had to do a shadetree on-vehicle balancing to get it acceptably balanced afterwards:

          Set the rear axle on jackstands, stick a piece of chalk on a long stick, and put the car in drive. Accelerate to a decent speed, and carefully stick the chalk towards the shaft. As soon as it nicks the shaft, pull it away. Place two large hoseclamps lined up opposite the chalk mark (high point you’re trying to balance out). Now try running the car up to 70+ mph in top gear and you’ll feel the balance (or unbalance). Adjust the c clamps by spreading them away from each other an equal distance from the original point, recheck the balance. Rinse and repeat! I was able to get very satisfactory results with this, much better in fact than a local shop could do with my 4Runner’s driveshaft recently.

          I don’t want to think of what would happen if the car came off the jackstands during this procedure! But it’s cheap, effective, and can be done by anyone!

          • 0 avatar
            rpn453

            Interesting technique, gtemnykh. It’s situations like that where I feel much more comfortable using 6-ton stands. I only use the little ones for situations where the 6-ton stands are too tall.

            I too have encountered a non-serviceable driveshaft design on a CUV. The carrier bearing was making noise on my buddy’s girlfriend’s 2010 Kia Sportage, and he had to replace the whole driveshaft to fix it.

          • 0 avatar
            joeaverage

            Am in the process of doing the very same task for the very same reasons.

          • 0 avatar
            joeaverage

            Aftermarket now has a replacement driveshaft for ~$300.

  • avatar
    superchan7

    Anyone else impressed that a CR-V has a near-7000rpm redline?

  • avatar
    wmba

    Alex, Honda has been using offset cranks for decades. New it is not, academia.edu notwithstanding. My Engineering Design of Machine Elements textbook from 1967 mentions it, for goodness sake!

    Not only that, the Prius engine has always had it, as do the equivalent Corolla engines, the Camry four engine, the BMW N20 four has it plus compensating offset wristpin design, which I’m sure the rest all do anyway because it’s so obvious. The original 1932 V8 flathead Ford had it. Actual Saab engines used it. Hyundais use it. In fact everyone and their dog do it, and the old K24 port injection engine did it as well, while the R18 Civic does too. Ford has a patent on it for a boxer engine block looking like a modern version of the old V8 only flatter of course, which no doubt gummed Subaru up, although frankly I don’t see how it could be defended in court. It’s too obvious to anyone skilled in the art!

    This so-called “desaxe” design was even used on 19th century steam locomotives! By 2007, SAE was publishing standard design tables for such things: http://papers.sae.org/2007-01-1248/. A particularly numbingly awful modern patent US5816201 dredges up references to older ones, without apparently having any clue about the Ford V8. Bad searching there. Most of these patents reference better torque mechanically as the result, omitting the overwhelming thermodynamic effect. Nope, offset cranks are useful pure and simple because they reduce friction on the power stroke.

    Are you saying that this CR-V engine is a major redesign of the K24 DI engine from the one in the current Accord? Because frankly, I do not believe it. Oh, it may have a different W suffix number after it to show minor differences to allow it to fit in the CR-V, but Honda gives it a different W suffix number even  between Accord and Accord Sport, and the one in the TLX/ILX with slightly bitchier cam profiles. But a new block and bottom end? Don’t think so, no sir.

    I don’t think you can blame vibration on the new version of the K24 engine because of offset crankshaft design – the original Insight engine had 14mm offset after all, and Honda knows what it’s doing. It’s pretty standard fare to lower friction on the power stroke as I mention above. If your CRV vibrated, something is wrong – it’s a trivial effect anyway mechanically for any reasonable offset, that can easily be compensated for with the already-in-place balance shafts. I didn’t find the new Accord with the exact same engine vibrated – far from it.

    And the K24 in all its iterations has ALWAYS had balancing shafts. It’s not a new feature for 2015 all of a sudden. I’d like to know where you came up with all this stuff as if it were all new.

    Even Honda says on its World Technology page that The 2013 Accord and 2015 CR-V have the same engine!

  • avatar
    fishiftstick

    I don’t understand the point of the offset cylinders. I can see how it would reduce lateral resistance on one half of the rotation by placing the piston directly over the crank, but since it is further to the side during the other half of the rotation, why doesn’t that cancel out the benefit?

    • 0 avatar
      nichjs

      because the top surface of the piston is being driven by the combustion pressure on the powerstroke, so the force (therefore friction) is higher. On the other (three) strokes, the pressure differential accross the cyclider is lower, therefore lower friction losses.

  • avatar

    If the diagram is accurate, the drivetrain now matches how RAV4 was set up all this time. CR-V used to have dual clutch packs between the differential and half-shafts and the computer was expected to engage them asymmetrically if needed. Perhaps the RAV4-style single pack saves a bit of money.

  • avatar
    nichjs

    Genuine question: why smooth out the torque band of an engine designed for a CVT? I understand there will be a delay while the engine spools to ‘peak’ efficiency at, say, 2000rpm, but with the engine rpm not needing too change much in order to motivate teh vehicle, why not tune for a combined super-peaky torque/hp?

  • avatar
    chiefmonkey

    If hyenas could drive they would drive Honda CR-Vs…they styled the exterior, after all.


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