Even in its waning years, the Honda CR-V is still a best-seller: even after five years in production, it still posted record numbers back in May. But all good things must come to an end, or at the very least evolve in the face of ever-growing competition. Hence, the 2012 CR-V: which gains a sleeker look, more power and fuel efficiency, but keeps the same AWD powertrain, four-cylinder engine, and overall dimensions. The cynical can argue that Honda is playing it safe, but those among us, who have sampled CR-Vs of past, will claim that it’s simply more of a good thing.
Who It’s For
The Honda CR-V was one of the first cars to establish the compact crossover segment. And as such, this new model plays off the successes of its bestselling previous generation, with more features aimed at a younger crowd. Ultimately, Honda believes its car-like size and handling will naturally endear itself to trendy urban dwellers of all ages, who may be starting families of their own or simply enjoy buying artisan-made credenzas. However, whether these new features are enough to fend off its primary competition, in the form of the 2012 Nissan Rogue and 2012 Kia Sportage, remains to be seen.
Changes to the CR-V, other than the sharp new styling, remain incremental. To wit:
- A sleeker design. The CR-V matures in this iteration, with a three-bar grille inspired by the Accord Crosstour and an angular C-pillar. Overall shape still mimics the current one, and the vertical taillights—a CR-V tradition, at this point—are still retained in all of their skinny, multifunctional glory.
- More power and fuel efficiency. Honda’s VTEC-equipped four-cylinder engine is the same unit, but tweaked to produce 185 horsepower. What’s more, it can now reach 23 mpg city and 31 mpg highway, with a combined rate of 26 mpg—which Honda claims is best in class.
- More interior room. Honda has maximized cargo room and made it easier to load things in the back, with a variety of trick seating options for the second row. The rear load floor height has been lowered to make cargo access easier.
- An upscale interior. An “accommodating and spacious design,” says Honda, will incorporate some trick new standard features as well as more room for cargo, both of the material and human type. A second-row “Magic Seat” flips the rear cushion up and the rear seatbacks down at the flick of a handle.
- Connective standard features. Bluetooth and text message integration are now standard across the range, as well as Pandora Internet Radio, which can be accessed by anyone with an iPhone.
What We Think
The new CR-V improves on the current CR-V’s awkward styling, and—mercifully—doesn’t expand from its car-like size and handling, while simultaneously adding more power and fuel efficiency. But will these incremental improvements hold off against a resurging competition? Kia’s Sorrento and Sportage duo have been properly lauded, and Ford is slated to introduce a new version of its high-selling, yet aging Escape. Wait for Automotive.com and their first drive of the CR-V for the full details, to see if they’re worth the upgrade.