Honda Updates its Comfy Little Crossover | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 05 July 2012 10:59

070512aBy Steve Schaefer

San Leandro Times

When I saw photos of the new fourth-generation CR-V before it arrived last fall, it looked a lot like the old one. Compared to the mini-Explorer styling of the first two versions, the third-generation CR-V that ran from 2006 to 2011 was a softer, more crossover-looking vehicle. And that’s what it was, really — a Honda Civic with lots of carrying space.

The new CR-V may seem similar to the old one, but when you put the two next to each other, you can see the evolution of the styling. The size is almost identical, but thanks to some clever shaping, the co-efficient of drag is 18 percent lower — it passes more smoothly through the air. The new car is more powerful, too, with 185 horsepower coming from the 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. A five-speed automatic is standard now, so if you had hopes of shifting gears by yourself, that ship has sailed.

The EPA gives the car 22 City, 30 Highway (25 mpg average). I averaged just 21.5 mpg — I must have been lead footing it. The EPA Green Vehicle Scores are 6 for both Greenhouse Gas and Air Pollution.

The new Real Time AWD with Intelligent Control System replaces the previous-generation CR-V’s Real Time 4WD™. The old setup used a mechanically activated “dual-pump” system that required a small degree of wheel slip to activate. The new system is more capable and user friendly but retains its lightweight, fuel-efficient and technologically sophisticated design. When you order it, you’ll pay an additional $1,300 while losing one mile per gallon.

The rear seats fold more easily now — you can pull a lever in the rear compartment and they lay down flat, separately. That’s handy. I wish the sunvisors were longer — there’s no sliding piece or movable pad to block half the sun when it’s placed to the side.

Interestingly, the rearview camera — already a handy and possibly pedestrian life-saving feature in the CR-V — gives three view choices: wide, regular and close-up. Also for improved rear viewing is the new Expanded-View Driver’s Mirror. It uses a flat reflective plane on the inner portion closest to the door, as required by law, while the outer portion features a convex element that provides a broader field of view. The additional 5.5 degrees of visibility at the outer edge of the mirror’s field of view means you will see more when you look in the mirror — but it feels a little weird at first.

070512a2The interior is just like it should be — smooth and nicely finished. There has been some complaining about the Civic’s cheap-looking materials but this car doesn’t feel that way. And it shouldn’t.  The newly configured instrument panel offers the now-expected indicators for average fuel economy, instant fuel economy, miles to empty, engine oil life and exterior temperature. It also gives you a standard full-color intelligent Multi-Information Display, which you can customize using fingertip controls on the steering wheel.

The upgraded audio system includes a standard Pandora® internet radio interface that’s compatible with your iPhone. There’s even an SMS text messaging feature that, when paired with a compatible phone, can read incoming texts aloud through the audio system and allow you to respond with any of six factory preset text messages. Oh, boy — one hopes this isn’t too distracting! As you’d expect, a Bluetooth phone interface is standard on all models.

It’s remarkably quiet inside the new CR-V. That’s thanks to greater body rigidity, better suspension isolation properties, additional noise insulation and more aerodynamic features, including large underbody covers and a rear spoiler.

New for 2012, Hill Start Assist helps keep your CR-V from rolling backwards when you move your foot from the brake pedal to the accelerator while the vehicle is stopped on a hill. Hill Start Assist automatically activates when the vehicle senses a certain incline and is fully stopped in any forward or reverse gear.

My top-of-the-line EX-L with all-wheel drive, navigation system and leather came to $30,605. That sounds like the price of an entry-level luxury car — and, as nice as it is, the CR-V is not one of those. That’s sister division Acura’s job with the RDX.

You can, however, pick up the LX model of the CR-V with two-wheel drive and no extras for just $23,325 — which sounds a little more like it.

Where does the mysterious name CR-V come from? Honda says the name was derived from the design objective to create a Comfortable Runabout Vehicle. And since it arrived in 1997 in the U.S., it presumably has.

My friend Willie, a sophisticated man who can likely afford whatever he wants, just picked up a ’12 CR-V in classy black and loves the car. So maybe $30K isn’t unreasonable. The CR-V gets more pleasant with each generation.



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