2018 Honda CR-V Touring Road Test Review
August 22 2018, The New Vancouver Honda
Canada's best compact crossover SUV
When choosing a compact crossover SUV, the Honda CR-V should be at the top of your list. After all, as of September 30, 2018 a total of 42,748 Canadians put it at the top of theirs, and this number only represented those who purchased this year. That figure also represents the most compact SUVs sold over the first nine months of 2018, meaning that Honda is currently number one in this extremely important market segment.
The CR-V being head of its class makes a lot of sense, especially the latest fifth-generation model. Its styling is certainly more upscale than previous versions, particularly when dolled up in top-line Touring trim that gets full high/low beam LED headlamps, a chrome garnish on each LED fog lamp bezel, more chrome trim decorating the side sill extensions, bright metal dual tailpipes, satin-silver roof rails, and sporty machine-finished 18-inch alloys with black painted pockets. My tester was finished in Gunmetal Metallic for a sophisticated look at no extra cost, but you can dress yours up in five alternative shades, Platinum White Pearl costing $300 extra, plus two rich looking colours.
An interior fit for premium SUV status
Each time I climbed inside my 2018 tester and took it for a drive I was thoroughly impressed, just as I was with my previous 2017 CR-V Touring test model. Along with one of the more compliant rides in its class, its cabin is finished to a higher level of refinement than the majority of its peers and it's oh so comfortable. What's more, it's fitted with an almost fully digital dash, a large high-resolution infotainment system, and even gets some pretty authentic looking woodgrain trim. It's more about its painstaking attention to detail, mind you, and the overall design of the interior.
Finishing the dash-top in soft-touch synthetic is nothing new in this category, but Honda goes one step further by trimming the entire instrument panel in nicely stitched leatherette with a stylish piano black inlay down the middle. The door panels get soft touch uppers, nice padded and stitched leatherette inserts, and comfortable padded armrests, while the centre armrest is finished identically to those on the doors, yet quite wide and very comfortable.
Speaking of comfort, the CR-V Touring's driver's seat is extremely good. It's wide enough for most body types, with decent side bolstering, and even includes four-way powered lumbar support. In case you weren't aware, many luxury-branded compact SUVs only come with two-way powered lumbar, and this Honda's ergonomics are much better than some of those pricey premium models too, thanks to plenty of reach from the tilt and telescopic steering wheel. The comfortable seating position and fully adjustable lumbar support resulted in a vehicle I could drive all day long without pain, which is a rarer find than it should be this day and age.
Roomy and accommodating for passengers and cargo
As part of its comfort quotient the new CR-V remains roomy and accommodating from front to back, with the rear seating area so spacious there seems to be little need for a larger mid-size five-occupant Honda crossover SUV. It's so roomy, in fact, that Honda offers a seven-passenger version in other markets, although all of this being said Honda just announced that a new crossover SUV, once again bearing the Passport name used on a similarly sized Honda SUV from 1993 to 2002, will soon be unveiled at the Los Angeles auto show.
As for cargo space, the CR-V is one of the more sizeable in the compact SUV class boasting 1,110 behind the 60/40-split rear seatbacks and 2,146 litres when they're laid flat. The process to lower them is as good as this segment gets too, thanks to handy levers on each side of the cargo wall that drop them down automatically. What's more, unlike the previous fourth-generation CR-V the load floor is almost perfectly flat, and therefore much more utile. The rear portion of that floor is also removable and stuffed with a full-size spare tire and jack, although even better is the ability to lower that load floor a few inches for fitting in taller cargo.
Top-line Touring features are plentiful
Honda provides a large panoramic glass sunroof to shed light on the CR-V Touring's beautiful interior, not to mention ambient lighting to draw attention to key areas, while additional Touring trim exclusives that I haven't mentioned yet include rain-sensing wipers, a really accurate and easy-to-use navigation system with nicely detailed mapping and turn-by-turn directions, bilingual voice recognition, an excellent sounding 331-watt audio upgrade with nine speakers including a subwoofer and HD radio, helpful hands-free access to the programmable height-enhanced powered tailgate, and Blind Spot Information (BSI) with Rear Cross Traffic Monitoring, which replaces Honda's superb and exclusive LaneWatch passenger-side blindspot camera that comes standard on EX and EX-L trims.
I should mention that an entire suite of Honda Sensing advanced driver assist systems comes standard with all-wheel drive models in all four CR-V trims, and includes automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow, forward collision warning with autonomous collision mitigation braking, lane departure warning with lane keeping assist and road departure mitigation. Along with the usual active and passive safety features, including Honda's impact-absorbing Next-Generation Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure, so-equipped CR-V's achieve an IIHS Top Safety Pick rating.
While Touring trim starts at $38,690 plus freight and fees, you can get into a well-equipped base 2018 CR-V LX model from $27,290, and take note there are two additional trims in between including $33,590 EX and $35,890 EX-L. Honda's Real Time AWD with Intelligent Control System, the latter referring to an electric motor within the transmission that engages the rear wheels when front tire slip occurs, adds $2,800 in LX trim yet comes standard with the EX, EX-L and Touring.
Value-packed LX, EX and EX-L trims come very well equipped
As you may have guessed, Touring trim incorporates most items from the mid-range EX, including the aforementioned fog lamps, plus turn signals infused into the side mirror housings, a HomeLink garage door opener, a 12-way powered driver's seat, rear USB charge points, a retractable cargo cover, and more, while an auto-dimming rearview mirror, heatable steering wheel, leather shift knob, perforated leather upholstery, driver's seat memory, a four-way powered front passenger seat, heatable rear outboard seats, some additional audio gear including satellite radio, plus the powered liftgate (without kicking-motion gesture control) get pulled up from EX-L trim.
I was previously surprised to find out the CR-V's proximity-sensing keyless access and pushbutton ignition were standard across the line and the same remains true for 2018, whereas additional base LX features pulled up to Touring trim include LED taillights, an electromechanical parking brake, a configurable colour TFT primary gauge cluster, dual-zone auto climate control, heatable front seats, a high resolution 7.0-inch colour infotainment touchscreen with gesture controls like tap, pinch and swipe, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, a multi-angle backup camera with dynamic guidelines, Bluetooth phone connectivity with streaming audio, Wi-Fi tethering, an always appreciated rotating volume knob, the HondaLink Assist automatic emergency response system, and more.
One of the better ride and handling combinations in the compact SUV class
I mentioned earlier about the CR-V being wonderfully compliant and oh so comfortable, but it's also quite sporting through sharp fast-paced corners, plenty quick off the line, and fully capable during highway passing manoeuvres. Honda provides a smooth, responsive 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine capable of 190 horsepower and 179 lb-ft of torque, which is more energetic than average in this class, while its continuously variable automatic transmission is all about refined, linear acceleration. The CVT kicks down to provide more power and a sportier feel when needed, and allows for a quieter engine/exhaust note than some other CVT-equipped powertrains it's up against. What's more, the CR-V's claimed 8.4 L/100km city, 7.0 highway and 7.8 combined FWD fuel economy rating, and 8.7 city, 7.2 highway, 8.0 combined AWD consumption estimates make it extremely efficient.
Another thing CR-V owners enjoy more than most of their rival drivers is reliability, because Honda regularly outperforms most competitors in third-party studies. For instance, the most recent J.D. Power and Associates 2018 Vehicle Dependability Study placed Honda within the top 10 of all automotive brands, and therefore above the industry average, while Consumer Reports' latest 2018 automotive brand report card has Honda in ninth place overall and third amongst mainstream volume nameplates, beating Toyota, Hyundai, Mazda, Volkswagen and the list goes on. Additionally, CR pointed to the new CR-V as one reason why Honda's score improved this year.
An easy compact SUV to recommend
All things considered it's no wonder Honda does so well with its CR-V. It's easily my pick for best in class, thanks to doing most everything better than its peers, from styling to interior design, finishing, quality, comfort, load flexibility and ease of use. Its electronic interfaces are excellent, plus its drivetrain and suspension combination is amongst the best in the business, all joining together for one superb compact crossover SUV no matter which trim you choose. The latest CR-V is certainly an easy SUV to recommend.
Story credits: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press
Photo credits: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
Copyright: Canadian Auto Press Inc.