By on October 17, 2016

2017 Honda CR-V

The coming out party for Honda’s new CR-V has been distinctly lacking in fanfare. The compact crossover debutante hasn’t skipped the ball entirely, but she is certainly being a bit of a wallflower.

Honda’s low-key intro is intentional, as making a big to-do about the model would be a minor disaster at this juncture. It’s a lesson other automakers would be wise to heed.

With the outgoing model continuing to sell close to record levels, Honda knows that making a fuss about the fifth-generation CR-V would likely hurt sales. There are numerous examples of automakers trumpeting a redesign or refresh and having sales of the current generation slide as hype builds for the new vehicle.

Possibly the worst accidental offender in recent history is General Motors’ handling of the Volt. The second-generation Chevrolet Volt was unveiled at the January 2015 North American International Auto Show to much fanfare. The sales total that month was nearly half of the previous January’s tally and this slump continued all the way into May of 2015. Around that time, GM boosted incentives to help move Volts off the lot.

A lower volume, innovation-focused vehicle like the Volt is bound to take a sales hit with a much-touted, much-improved version waiting in the wings. However, if it were to happen to a high volume vehicle like the popular CR-V, it could be a big problem for the manufacturer. Honda sold 31,884 compact crossovers in the U.S. last month and summer sales hit a high-water mark for the brand’s second best performer. Honda doesn’t want to lose a single one to the 2017 model if it can help it.

The automaker managed this in a few key ways. For starters, it announced the new model close to its introduction date while creating minimal hype.

“I think it’s a very deliberate move — and probably a very smart move — on the part of Honda to maybe reduce pressure on incentive support,” Bob Navarre, former chair of Honda’s dealer advisory board, told Automotive News.

“It’s such a high-volume vehicle now that I think if you took some percentage of market and put it on hold earlier than you need to, it might have been a more costly transition.”

Second, the automaker improved the new CR-V without going overboard. Its styling almost looks like a mid-generation refresh instead of an entirely new model. It grows a little bigger and gains a stronger, more economical engine option.

Honda is also going to ensure production demands are met for the new model, reducing the usual sales dip seen during a changeover. Honda is adding the CR-V to lines at its Greensburg, Indiana plant while continuing production in East Liberty, Ohio, and Alliston, Ontario. This should keep dealer inventories stable.

The 2017 Honda CR-V should go on sale this December.

[Source: Automotive News] [Image: Honda North America]

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19 Comments on “Honda Keeps Intro Humble to Avoid Shooting Itself in the Foot...”


  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    Always happy to hear about more work for fellow Hoosiers!

    The new car looks good, I’m highly suspect of the turbo motor but at least it’s restricted to higher trims. Interior in particular looks great. Part of me is sad that thing have drifted so far away from the “compact runabout vehicle” origins with that mountain-goat stance and rear tire carrier. But they’ve created a practical and comfortable vehicle that meets the needs of hundreds of thousands of buyers so more power to them. I definitely appreciate the utility of the “tall wagon” body shape, and how efficient they’ve gotten these fairly large, tall, and heavy vehicles.

    • 0 avatar
      quaquaqua

      Honda abandoned the “compact runabout” pretty quickly – that second-gen CR-V was cavernous inside compared the current model. My issue is that Honda actually was making a CR-V with decent ride quality up that 2015 refresh. It lost its biggest advantage in the compact class. Now Toyota fixed the ride on the RAV4 and its sales have shot up. Probably not the only reason, it definitely looks better than the 2013-2015 models, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        Very interesting in regards to ride quality. My fiance’s parents who have bought nothing but Toyota’s since ’05 (6 cars and counting) and are not at all “car people” are very disappointed in their ’13 Rav4 Limited specifically for the jarring ride. Sad to hear that Honda had a decent ride that they made “sporty.” I think the issue is somewhat endemic to the class, as combining a tall center of gravity with car-like handling basically necessitates stiff springs to minimize lean. I don’t particularly care for this entire category of cars for that very reason.

        In terms of being cavernous, the newest CRVs ‘by the numbers’ squeak out a narrow win over the 2nd gen, but it is surprising just how well utilized the space was in the gen 2 CRV for that era. Credit the very low/compact rear suspension. The newest CRVs still have this very similar layout. Now look at a gen 1 CRV, it has much longer control arms reaching down to the rear wheel hubs.

      • 0 avatar
        DaPlugg

        What are you talking about we own a 2012 and a 2015 and i can assure you there is not a single difference in ride quality

  • avatar
    yamahog

    Does anyone know if this shares a platform with the new civic?

  • avatar
    ant

    I wonder though.

    Seems like Honda makes every new generation crappier than the last these days.

    The last time they updated the CRV, we ran out and bought an old version, keen on side-steeping direct injection, and CVT.

    This new one has got turbo, and stupid speedometer added to the list of suck.

    The bean counters are running the show over at Honda, and I think they fired all the ergonomics people.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    That’s pretty freakin’ smart.

    Otherwise you end up with situations like the outgoing Mustang V6 being listed for $13k when the exciting new one, which has been building excitement for a year, is on the verge of finally coming out.

    Of course, with enthusiast cars like the Mustang, this would never really work. It will only work for cars where people just show up on the lot and ask to see the latest tall wagon without obsessing about it for months or years.

  • avatar
    gomez

    Honda seems to follow the consumer electronics model: announce a new or updated model and put it on sale within a couple months. Most other automakers still follow the model of announcing at the auto shows in Q1 and putting the cars on sale in late Q3 or Q4. In the mean time, they usually have to discount like crazy to clear out the last-gen models (unless you are Chevy or Nissan and you just add the word “Classic” or “Select” to sell the remaining last-gen models along side the new models). The only automaker that seems to be an exception is Subaru: the new Impreza was announced in March and won’t go on sale until December but the current model is still selling fairly strong.

    The Volt is the perfect example of the Osbourne Effect. The reason why the 1st Gen Volt bombed at the end was that GM announced the superior 2nd generation more than 12 months before it went on sale in all 50 states and 9+ months before it was available in the CARB states. That was just plain idiotic. What did they expect would happen?

  • avatar
    chiefmonkey

    So instead, they get to reduce the MSRP of the new model by the same amount as the previous:)

    It’s not like anyone was shaking in anticipation of the 2017 CR-V…

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    Honda hasn’t needed to make a big noise since the early’90s. They and Toyota are what sustained success looks like.

  • avatar
    VW16v

    Additional turbo for only 190 hp? I guess for fuel economy? My Forester 2.5 is averaging 27.6 mpg with 95% city driving. I highly doubt the crv turbo will get better mpg. Honda at least on paper looks to be going backwards in engineering.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      This engine is getting excellent fuel economy in the Civic. I think it will probably meet its targets in the CR-V, while providing more midrange torque than the K24.

  • avatar
    zip94513

    When buyers get their foot into the turbo the 2017 sales will outpace the 2016’s easily.

  • avatar
    syncro87

    Going on a few months now, you’ve been able to score very un-Honda-like discounts off MSRP on CR-Vs. I was offered $4k off sticker when shopping one recently. Honda dealers typically don’t offer to slice four grand off the price of $25k cars.

    Honda has done this in a wise manner. Instead of offering big rebates to the customer and advertising the discount (potentially hurting product image and resale), they’re basically giving dealers some sort of pooled incentive money that they can dole out at their discretion to make deals happen.

    Honda is both keeping the update low key, and using under the radar incentives to keep sales up at the end of the current car’s run. Clever.

    The price you can therefore buy a current style CR-V at is far lower than TrueCar or Edmunds or any of the common car sites indicate.

    I’m half tempted to pick up a ’16 CR-V at a big discount rather than wait for the new version. I’d probably be a low end trim buyer anyway, LX or SE. The new LX model isn’t going to be that much improved over the current vehicle. The EX and above are a different story, since they get the 1.5T, the lane departure goodies, etc. A new gen EX AWD is probably going to list for somewhere not far south of $30k, with minimal discounts, which puts it beyond what I’m probably willing to spend. LX AWD of the current gen can be had for around $22k these days. Seems like a deal to me.

    Ah, decisions. What I really want is a new Element. Nobody makes anything like that as far as I can tell.

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