2017 Honda CR-V Touring Road Test Review

 Copyright: Canadian Auto Press Inc.


Arguably the best SUV in the mainstream compact class 

Honda's CR-V was the most popular SUV in the world last year, selling a total of 752,670 units compared to 711,571 in 2015, which represented growth of 5.8 percent and a new all-time high for the SUV sector. That's even more impressive when considering the all-new 2017 CR-V only arrived partway through the year.


 

The redesigned SUV looks much more enticing thanks to key visual elements pulled over from other recently updated models, such as the Civic. It gets a more distinctively assertive nose filled with uniquely jeweled signature LED headlamps in top-tier Touring trim, plus a strong chrome-enhanced grille that strikes right through those headlights, a bold lower fascia with integrated fog lamps, and very original looking taillights that combine both horizontal and vertical elements for increased visibility. Again, a classy chrome trim piece slashes through the rear lamps, while satin silver details out the lower bumper that's now filled with sporty dual stainless exhaust pipes. Yet more bright metal enhances the look from front to back, the glimmering rocker mouldings making the SUV look longer and leaner than it would otherwise.


 

More power and better fuel economy 

This fifth-generation CR-V rides on a totally new lightweight platform shared with the 10th-gen Civic, while its sole available powertrain is also pulled from Honda's bestselling model. It's a highly advanced direct-injection 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 190 horsepower and 179 lb-ft of torque, resulting in spirited yet fuel-efficient performance, while its standard continuously variable transmission (CVT) is especially helpful for achieving the latter dynamic with an estimated five-cycle Transport Canada fuel economy rating of 8.4 L/100km city and 7.0 highway in FWD, or 8.7 and 7.2 respectively in as-tested AWD.

The new CR-V also delivers ideally balanced ride quality and road-holding, both improved over the previous generation that was already good, but I'll need to get back to driving dynamics in a moment, because the new SUV's roomier and more refined interior needs to be dealt with first.


 

Suffice to say Honda has enhanced the CR-V's interior design and quality to similar levels as its superb new Civic, while the more comfortable SUV will fit larger occupants and more cargo. The entire vehicle has grown, with an extra 35 millimetres of width, height and wheelbase length, the latter increasing the rear seating area by 51 mm, which results in greater rear legroom. The added height comes via significantly more ground clearance, the all-wheel drive CR-V raised from 170 mm to 208 mm. While this makes it a better soft roader that's more capable of traversing rocky or stump-strewn trails and snowy ski resort parking lots, it more importantly improves visibility while driving around town.


 

Larger passenger compartment is backed up by more cargo space 

I've long praised the CR-V for a low cargo area lift-over height which continues, as well as its auto-folding 60/40-split rear seatbacks that only need a tug on cargo area sidewall-mounted levers to lower, but the innovative convenience advantage seemed to encroach on rear luggage capacity in the outgoing model, leaving a reclining hump where the load floor met up with the base of those seats that made it difficult for some cargo to remain upright. This issue is resolved for 2017, with the handy levers remaining yet a completely flat and therefore much more utile load floor added, which is more than 250 mm longer than before and certainly much higher. By volume, cargo space behind the rear seats grows by about 56 litres to 1,110, and by approximately 140 litres to 2,146 when tumbled flat, resulting in best-in-class capacity. This would be my key reason for trading in the old CR-V for the new one, but if I stopped telling you about its many improvements now I'd be doing it an injustice.


 

You can now power its hands-free liftgate open via waving your foot under the rear bumper, while the Touring model also includes remote start, full LED headlights, machine-finished 18-inch alloy wheels with unique black painted pockets, additional chrome trim including dual exhaust pipes, roof rails, rain-sensing wipers, accurate navigation with detailed mapping and turn-by-turn directions, voice recognition, great sounding 331-watt nine-speaker audio (thanks to a subwoofer), HD radio, a large panoramic sunroof, blindspot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert (which replaces Honda's fabulous and exclusive LaneWatch passenger-side blindspot monitoring camera that comes standard on EX and EX-L trims), and more.


 

Touring trim incorporates most everything that comes with mid-range EX trim too, including standard AWD, fog lamps, turn signals on the side mirror housings, a HomeLink garage door opener, a 12-way powered driver's seat with four-way powered lumbar support, extra USB charge points, a retractable cargo cover, etcetera, whereas an auto-dimming rearview mirror, heatable steering wheel, a leather shift knob, perforated leather upholstery, driver's seat memory, a four-way powered front passenger seat, heatable rear outboard seats, satellite radio, and the powered liftgate get pulled up from EX-L trim.


 

Premium level options are joined by luxury features in base trim too

Surprisingly the CR-V's proximity keyless access and pushbutton ignition are standard across the line, while other notable features found on the base model that still get used in the top-tier Touring include LED taillights, an electromechanical parking brake, a configurable colour TFT primary gauge package, dual-zone auto climate control, heatable front seats, a high resolution 7.0-inch colour infotainment touchscreen, a multi-angle backup camera with dynamic guidelines, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, gesture controls like tap, pinch and swipe, Bluetooth phone and streaming audio, Wi-Fi tethering, an analogue volume knob (missing from the previous system), a more accommodating lower centre console, the HondaLink Assist automatic emergency response system, and more.


 

Additionally, auto high beams, adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow, forward collision warning with autonomous collision mitigation braking, plus lane departure warning with lane keeping assist and road departure mitigation get added when the base model is equipped with AWD. All of this advanced technology gets mixed in with the usual assortment of standard active and passive safety features, combining with an especially strong body structure for a best-possible IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus rating.


 

As safe as possible and much more upscale too 

The new CR-V is much more refined than the outgoing model too, with Touring trim raised to near premium territory. Seriously, Honda has even gone so far as to cover the top of the dash and door uppers in a beautiful padded and stitched leatherette, the rest of the dash top, upper half of the instrument panel, and most of the door panels done out in a high-quality soft touch synthetic. Other interior details worth noting include stunning matte woodgrain inlays that look and feel like the real thing, plus plenty of satin silver metallic surfacing. All switchgear is very well made too, featuring high-grade composite materials, nice tight fitment, and good damping. The steering wheel controls, for example, are easily best in class-even better than many premium brands.

The CR-V's larger size really enhances interior roominess and comfort, particularly noticeable from side to side. The front seats are good for almost any body type, with the driver's especially adjustable, while there's room for three average sized adults in back.


 

In spite of its increased dimensions and considerably more accommodating interior, the new CR-V actually feels lighter, nimbler, and more fun to drive than the outgoing version. While Honda utilized more high-strength steel and alloys to increase structural rigidity, this allowing for a more compliant suspension setup yet better handling, the steering has been tuned for sharper turn-in as well, making it feel more responsive. The SUV's enhanced solidity also makes it feel more substantive and quieter all-round, with more of that premium-like presence I spoke of earlier. The redesigned CR-V feels more planted at high speeds too, its steering requiring fewer corrections for a much more relaxing road trip experience, and the updated dynamic cruise control works a lot better than the old version. When activated it even helps keep you within your chosen lane, not only by the aforementioned autonomous driving technologies, but also by automatically adjusting for crowned road surfaces. It's as if Honda has thought of everything, but of course that's what it takes to remain number one in the auto industry's hottest segment.


 

Impressive value makes the CR-V easy to recommend 

So here I am again, recommending you purchase a CR-V. At $26,890 plus freight and fees it should be affordable for most families, while my $38,290 Touring trimmed example is certainly competitive with its fully loaded peers while considerably less expensive than anything in the premium sector with similar utility and features. Then factor in that you'll likely keep more of that investment after three years of ownership than with any competitor, a claim backed up by being top of its class in the latest 2017 ALG Residual Value Award, the third consecutive year it's achieved this honour, as well as a first-place standing in the Vincentric Best Value in Canada Awards for six years in a row (which is the entire duration of the award), with the third-party analytical firm commending the CR-V for delivering "the lowest operating costs as well as the lowest total cost of ownership in its class." The Honda CR-V's overall value proposition is unparalleled. 

So what are you waiting for?

 

Story credits: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press 
Photo credits: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press 
Copyright: Canadian Auto Press Inc.
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