Honda’s CR-V gains refinement, quieter ride


Is the Honda CR-V the perfect replacement for a minivan?

That depends on how much room you need. It’s big enough to carry a family of five and their stuff, but, again, it depends on how big the family is and how much stuff it has.

2012 Honda Civic CR-V

As a single adult the CR-V is almost too big, which isn’t a bad thing considering the good fuel economy.

How good? The CR-V gets 23 in the city and 31 on the highway, which I think puts it near the top of the pack for non hybrid compact crossovers. The 2.4-cylinder engine is virtually unchanged as is the transmission. The engine’s output is 185 horsepower with 163 pounds-feet of torque. While horsepower is OK, I’d like a little more torque. Acceleration is good, but I wonder how good this suspension would be with more giddy-up. If you want a four-cylinder, fine, but that’s all you can get. Chevy’s Equinox and last year’s Toyota RAV-4 offer V6 options. The CR-V gets no engine option, not even a turbo.

Honda does offer a lot of other things in the CR-V. The ride quality is excellent and the handling is, well, Honda. You can push the little crossover a bit and get some pleasant feedback. It never balks or protests. It stays planted in the corners and doesn’t show a lot of body roll.

Road noise has been diminished from last year’s model. It was quiet on the highway and even in the city. Fit and finish is what you would expect, while the new rounded styling is appealing.

My test model was an EX-L equipped with a rear seat entertainment system, The “L” stands for leather and it was fairly soft. I was a bit disappointed with the stereo system. It was supposed to be about 328 watts but It sounded as if it needed a subwoofer. Much to my surprise it had a subwoofer. Either an amp was out or something wasn’t connected.

Well done interior has good fit, finish

Everything else seemed to work well. The EX also gets heated seats, nicer wheels, sunroof, bluetooth, iPod connectivity and power everything. Honda likes these all or nothing packages. I like the company’s strategy because it usually bundles the right things.

One other quibble. If you go for the rear-seat system (which has a very small screen) you can’t get a factory navigation system. You can add a Tom-Tom, which, I’m told, will allow you to recoup your investment at trade in because of the low cost.

What is the CR-V’s cost. EX-L with dvd and destination is $28,775. That’s for the front wheel drive model. Add a little more than a grand to step up to the all wheel drive model.

I like this CR-V. It’s up against some stiff competition from Toyota, Chevy/GMC and Hyundai. All of those guys have product that’s about as good and in some cases cheaper. Honda may still have an edge on quality but Toyota has always been there and Chevy and Hyundai aren’t far behind.

Still, this CR-V does much more right than wrong. I can live without a bigger engine and the navigation/dvd thing isn’t such a hard choice. I do like this CR-V – a great deal.

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