First Drive: 2017 Honda CR-V

Outsized and Downsized

Nov 30, 2016
Photographers: Courtesy of Honda
In 1996, Honda released what would become one of its most popular models in the United States, the all-new CR-V. With engineering drawing heavily from the Civic compact car, the CR-V was one of the first-ever crossovers to hit our shores, following behind its domestic rival Toyota RAV4 by one model year. As one of the first arrivals to the compact-SUV party, the CR-V has enjoyed robust sales every year it’s been in production, outselling its RAV4, Ford Escape, Subaru Forester, and Nissan Rogue rivals by quite a bit.
Photo 2/40   |   2017 Honda Cr V Touring Front Quarter 10
It’s such a competent vehicle that its last significant redesign garnered it praise from all over the automotive landscape, including bagging our sister magazine Motor Trend’s 2015 SUV of the Year award. With 350,000 potential sales on the line, you can bet Honda engineers had a stressful job in redesigning the compact SUV for the 2017 model year. We’ll give away the ending right now: The CR-V is in no likely danger of being deposed from the compact-SUV throne.
Photo 3/40   |   2017 Honda Cr V Touring Rear Quarter 01
The 2017 CR-V resembles its predecessor somewhat, particularly when viewed in profile. Distinctive D-pillar taillamps make a return for 2017, although the lower third of the lighting element swings further across the tailgate than before. The turtle-back appearance persists somewhat as well, although the roofline is squarer than before to improve cargo space and rear visibility. Up front, however, there are some significant changes. A new grille design recalls the subcompact Honda HR-V, and available LED headlamps are distinctive and modern.
Overall, the 2017 CR-V’s design seems boxier as well, with a bluff front and squared-off hatch replacing the swoopiness of the outgoing model. While styling is a subjective thing, we think the new CR-V looks pleasantly inoffensive, although some eyes see too much Mistubishi Outlander or Ford Edge in the front end.
Photo 4/40   |   2017 Honda Cr V Touring Profile 01
Only the most hedonistic individuals could complain about the interior, which is completely restyled with improved materials and the most modern technology Honda has to offer. We drove well-equipped Touring models, but even the base CR-V LX comes with automatic climate control, Bluetooth connectivity, a rearview camera, and Active Noise Control, which pipes specific sound frequencies through the audio system to cancel out unwanted road and wind noise. Starting at $24,045, the CR-V LX adds just $200 to the previous year’s base price, which smacks us as a good value for the improvements. All-wheel drive is a $1,300 option on all trim levels.
Photo 5/40   |   2017 Honda Cr V Interior Front Cabin
One of the most significant changes to the new CR-V is found under the hood. While the CR-V LX soldiers on with a carryover 2.4L I-4 mated to a CVT, the CR-V EX, EX-L, and Touring come standard with a 1.5L turbocharged I-4 that’s related to the engine found in the Civic. The turbocharged engine produces 190 hp at 5,600 rpm and 179 lb-ft of torque from 2,000 to 5,000 rpm, which aren’t significant improvements over the 2.4, but the turbo’d engine also comes with improved fuel economy. Turbocharged front-drive CR-Vs are EPA-rated at 28 city, 34 highway, and 30 combined mpg, an increase of two mpg in every metric compared to the 2.4L engine. All-wheel-drivers see mpg ratings drop by one across the board. Mated to a CVT, the turbocharged engine feels reasonably responsive in most traffic conditions.
Photo 6/40   |   2017 Honda Cr V Engine Bay
Other improvements to the 2017 Honda CR-V include expanded availability of Honda Sensing driver-assist technology. Standard on all CR-Vs but the LX, Honda Sensing includes auto-braking active collision mitigation, adaptive cruise control, lane departure monitoring, and active lane departure prevention, along with blind-spot monitoring and a rear cross-traffic warning system.
Photo 7/40   |   2017 Honda Cr V Interior Instrument Panel
The system is intuitive and unobtrusive in most respects, although we were able to occasionally confuse the automatic brakes on a twisting two-lane road. In one scenario, the system detected trees on the outside of a corner we were approaching and beeped a collision warning. Luckily, it didn’t activate the automatic brakes, which could have resulted in dangerous midcorner instability. In every other traffic situation, the adaptive cruise control and automatic lane assist were very appreciated, and Honda says the advanced safety technology now encompasses 80 percent of the CR-V’s lineup.
In a full day of driving the CR-V, we came away impressed with its fantastic interior, intuitive infotainment system, and comfortable freeway ride. Our Touring tester featured a long list of standard equipment, including Apple CarPlay, comfortable leather seating, attractive interior bits that mimicked Mercedes-Benz’s metallic-infused wood trim, and the aforementioned Honda Sensing. Improved body structure and increased stiffness yielded a quieter ride, and the suspension tuning is perfect for a family-hauling road-trip machine, with bumps dispatched with a gentle thump and very little crash-through. Steering on the CR-V is numb, but target shoppers will rarely drive the crossover hard enough to notice or care.
Photo 8/40   |   2017 Honda Cr V Interior Steering Wheel
Its spacious rear seat is an improvement over the already-competent 2016 model’s, and the expanded cargo bay is made better by an adaptable tray that moves up from the floor to provide a flat cargo surface when the rear seats are folded. Speaking of those folding rear seats, Honda was keen to point out their unique, one-motion mechanism that sinks them low, creating space for longer, taller objects. Combined with the power-operated liftgate that’s standard on EX-L and above (with hands-free access on Touring), the “dive-down” rear seats improve cargo flexibility significantly.
Photo 12/40   |   2017 Honda Cr V Interior Rear Seat Folded
We did have a few complaints, however. The 1.5L turbo engine seemed a bit flat-footed compared to the 2016 CR-V and its 2.4L I-4. In most traffic situations, it worked fine, but when merging on hills or onramps, the turbocharged engine’s torque curve didn’t feel as wide as its specifications might suggest. With a full load of humans and cargo, we fear the turbocharged engine might seem sluggish. And although the CR-V comes loaded with many creature comforts, a few were notably absent, including ventilated seating and a big panoramic sunroof.
Photo 13/40   |   2017 Honda Cr V Touring Front Quarter 05
With those nits picked, we feel fairly confident in saying Honda will have no trouble finding homes for its new baby. The 2017 CR-V is something of a return to grace for the company, offering solid competence in just about every aspect of its being. A spacious, comfortable interior (even on LX models), solid driving experience, long list of standard and available features, and impressive efficiency make the CR-V one of the most well-rounded crossovers on the market. And with prices that start at just more than $24,000 and max out at $34,595 with destination, it’s a good value too. Stressed-out engineers, take a breath. You’ve done your job well.
Photo 14/40   |   2017 Honda Cr V Touring Profile 03

2017 Honda CR-V

Pros & Cons

Pros: Pleasant ride and handling balance; spacious, flexible interior; Honda Sensing standard on EX and above; efficient powertrain
Cons: Derivative front-end styling; downsized engine needs a bit more boost
Our Take: The 2017 Honda CR-V will uphold in its ancestors’ popularity and family-friendly reputation thanks to its well-rounded performance.

Specifications

Vehicle: 2017 Honda CR-V Touring
Vehicle Type: Compact, front- or all-wheel-drive five-passenger SUV
Engine: 1.4 L turbocharged I-4
Power: 190 hp at 5,600 rpm
Torque: 179 lb-ft at 2,000-5,000 rpm
Transmission: Continuously variable transmission
Drive type: Front- or all-wheel drive
Steering type: Electric rack-and-pinion
Turning circle: 37.4 feet
Front suspension: Independent, MacPherson strut suspension, stabilizer bar
Rear suspension: Independent, multi-link double wishbone suspension, stabilizer bar
Braking system: Ventilated front and solid rear disc brakes, anti-lock braking system
Wheels: 18-inch alloy
Tires: 235/60R18 all-season tires

Weights and Capacities

Fuel capacity: 14.0 gal
Curb weight: 3,397 lbs (FWD), 3,512 lbs (AWD)

Exterior Dimensions

Overall length: 180.6 in
Overall width: 73.0 in
Overall height: 66.1 in (FWD), 66.5 in (AWD)
Wheelbase: 104.7 in
Front track: 63.0 in
Rear track: 63.7 in
Ground clearance: 7.8 in (FWD), 8.2 in (AWD)

Interior Dimensions

Seating: 5
Headroom, first/second row: 37.8/38.3 in
Legroom, first/second row: 41.3/40.4 in
Shoulder room, first/second row: 57.9/55.6 in
Luggage capacity behind first/second row: 39.2/75.8 cubic feet

Pricing

Base price, CR-V Touring 2WD/AWD: $32,395/$33,695
Destination charge: $900
Estimated EPA fuel economy ratings, city/highway/combined mpg: 28/34/30 (FWD), 27/33/29 (AWD)
CR-V Lineup Price Breakdown CR-V LX 2WD: $24,045
CR-V LX AWD: $25,345
CR-V EX 2WD: $26,695
CR-V EX AWD: $27,995
CR-V EX-L 2WD: $29,195
CR-V EX-L AWD: $30,495
CR-V EX-L with Navi 2WD: $30,195
CR-V EX-L with Navi AWD: $31,495
CR-V Touring 2WD: $32,395
CR-V Touring AWD: $33,695
Photo 15/40   |   2017 Honda Cr V Cargo Bay Seats Up

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