2016 Honda CR-V Road Test Review
August 02 2016, Vancouver Honda
Styling Update Makes Superb CR-V More Appealing Than Ever
Like a family pet, many CR-V owners would never give their trustworthy motorized companion up. I have a neighbour who's had his first-generation CR-V since new and drives it nearly every day, while understandably others want to be first to get the newest version.
I'm sure Honda loves both types of customers, because the old-timers tell great stories about the CR-V's long haul serviceability, enviable quality, and all-round dependability, while repeat buyers keep everyone at Honda's Alliston, Ontario assembly plant happily working. Buying a new CR-V is not only a win for Canada's manufacturing base, but a positive for the environment as it's one of the less polluting family vehicles available, and beneficial to our health care system as you'll be less likely to end up in emergency if ever in a crash as the 2016 model earned an IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus rating when equipped with its front crash prevention gear and five stars from the NHTSA in all other trims. Of course the biggest winner is each CR-V owner who gets all of these advantages plus a very nice little SUV.
To my eyes last year's refresh resulted in the CR-V's best styling yet, especially up front where a more rugged looking front fascia incorporates a bolder more attractive grille and headlight assembly, the latter enhanced with stylish LEDs. Its profile provides a familiar silhouette incorporating a sloping front undertray and similarly curved albeit diametrically opposed rear hatch. The new taillights continue in their tall vertical design, albeit now mixed with LEDs, while Honda has dressed up top-tier Touring trim with plenty of chrome front to back.
The CR-V Touring's interior is more refined than previous iterations, Honda now finishing the entire instrument panel with soft-touch stitched and padded synthetic, plus nicely detailed door panels featuring comfortably padded perforated leatherette inserts and stitched leatherette armrests. The seats are wonderfully comfortable from front to back, their leather surfaces featuring perforated inserts to keep them cool mid-summer, plus two-way front seat heaters that get seriously warm at their highest temperature. Some nice Touring details include glossy woodgrain inlays across the instrument panel, metallic satin-silver trim plus chrome accents in key areas, excellent quality switchgear, and superb digital displays.
The CR-V's primary gauge cluster is a personal favourite. It utilizes an unorthodox multi-tiered design incorporating a simple centre-mounted multi-information display surrounded by a large speedometer that's edged by gear selector readouts to the left and warning/info lights to the right, while a left-side tachometer and right-side fuel and temp gauges sit outside of these. It's a creative design that helps sets the CR-V apart, while it's also highly functional.
Ditto for the steering wheel controls that feature two multi-directional toggles for adjusting the usual audio and multi-information display functions on the left plus cruise features at the right, my tester upgraded to adaptive cruise control that's ideal for summer road trips, while separate sets of switches can be found just below for the phone, voice activation and more. The steering wheel rim itself is thick and leather-wrapped for a comfortable, sporty feel.
Honda includes a bright green Eco button to the left of the steering column, just above two rows of ancillary switches for the powered liftgate, windshield wiper de-icer, and various active safety features, while to the right of that column a similarly shaped bright red button starts and stops the engine. It's part of the Touring's proximity-sensing system that also opens the doors and powers up the rear liftgate, whereas the centre stack just to the right of the ignition is laid out with unique dual screens, the top one a more fully functional multi-info display and the much larger bottom one a state-of-the-art full-colour high-resolution infotainment system with a backup camera, navigation, phone connectivity, audio system access, info and settings interfaces, Honda's Link Connect, etcetera. Everything is designed to help you get where you're going quickly, safely and easily.
The CR-V also delivers the tall ride height and excellent outward visibility compact SUV buyer's want, while its overall seating position and ergonomics can't be faulted. All controls fall easily to hand, steering is light and responsive, its ride comfortable and handling very good thanks in part to my tester's standard 18-inch alloys. A direct-injection 2.4-litre four-cylinder with 185 horsepower and 181 lb-ft of torque makes sure that acceleration is brisk too, while the CR-V is sufficiently relaxed around town or on the highway, its continuously variable transmission about as smooth as smooth can be.
This meant I was pretty well pampered during my test week, the CR-V the perfect choice for morning commutes, mid-day errand hopping, weekend jaunts, and even an unexpected find on Craigslist that had me and my partner driving most of the way across the city to pick up a special piece of furniture we'd been looking for, and the little Honda a ready and willing participant. This brings up the CR-V's rear seat lowering process that's clearly best in class. All you need do is pull a cargo wall-mounted lever to flatten one of its 60/40-split seatbacks. It drops down immediately in one smooth movement, while a hard shell extender automatically falls into place to cover the gap between the seats and cargo floor so rolling groceries can't disappear beneath. Altogether 1,054 litres (37.2 cubic feet) hides behind the rear seatbacks and 2,007 litres (70.8 cubic feet) opens up when they're laid flat, which should be more than enough cargo room for most peoples' needs.
Those cargo wall levers come standard across the entire CR-V line, which includes the base LX in both FWD and AWD for $26,290 and $28,590 respectively, the $30,290 SE, $32,290 EX, $34,290 EX-L and this top-line $37,090 Touring, the latter four trims including standard AWD. That most basic LX also gets auto-off halogen headlights, heatable powered side mirrors, the multi-info display mentioned earlier, a multi-angle rearview camera with guidelines, a 160-watt audio system with speed-sensitive volume, illuminated steering wheel controls, Bluetooth wireless with streaming media, heatable front seats, hill start assist, tire pressure monitoring, and all the usual active and passive safety features.
The ultra-popular SE adds 17-inch alloys, auto on/off headlights, LED DRLs, fog lamps, body-colour mirror caps, variable intermittent wipers, a de-icer, proximity access with pushbutton ignition, display audio with next-gen HondaLink, dynamic guidelines for the rearview camera, two more speakers for the stereo, the HondaLink Assist automated emergency response system, and a retractable cargo cover, whereas EX models include dual-zone auto HVAC, Honda's exclusive LaneWatch blind spot display that I happen to love, a 10-way powered driver's seat, and a powered moonroof, and EX-L trim ups the ante with a leather-wrapped steering wheel, perforated leather upholstery, plus 328-watt audio with seven speakers, a sub and satellite radio.
Many of these just-noted features are included in Touring trim, while it also gets 18-inch alloys, projector beam halogen headlights, chrome door handles, roof rails, rain-sensing wipers, adaptive cruise control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, satellite-linked navigation, voice recognition, driver's seat memory, a powered liftgate, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, and collision mitigating braking.
The CR-V is well equipped for the money asked, but it earns more loyalty for being well made, incredibly reliable and very fuel efficient with a five-cycle rating of 8.8 L/100km city and 6.9 highway with FWD or 9.5 city and 7.5 highway as-tested with AWD. That it's now more attractive than ever, with a nicer cabin and better driving dynamics should help keep a top seller for years to come.