THE PROS & CONS
- What’s Best: The CR-V is built in Canada at the Alliston, Ont. assembly plant.
- What’s Worst: Honda has an on/off/volume button for the audio system, but oddly enough there is no tuning knob for station selection.
- What’s Interesting: Honda seems to have got the message that styling counts for many consumers — the new CRV is a big step up styling-wise.
My how things have changed in the past two decades.
We didn’t realize it at the time, but flash back 20 years and those of us who were around witnessed the birth of what has become the hottest segment in the automotive world.
It is compact SUVs that have taken the market by storm and vaulted these crossovers (car-based rather than truck-based vehicles) up the sales charts at the expense of small- and mid-size sedans and hatches.
Now in its fifth generation for 2017, the Honda CR-V was one of the first compact SUVs on the market along with the Toyota RAV4 and Subaru Forester.
And 20 years in, the RAV4 and CR-V still dominate the market amid increasing competition.
Today, there are at last count 17 compact sport utes on the market, yet as of the end of September, guess who still sit at the top of the pack?
Yup, the RAV4 leads the way with sales of 39,815 units year-to-date, followed closely by the CR-V at 37,714.
Over the years, the CR-V has had sales of more than 450,000 units in Canada, certainly no small potatoes.
So did Honda get the redesign right for 2017 with the fifth generation CR-V?
We think so and the buying public seems to agree, as sales are up 11.1 per cent year-to-date.
Honda used to think that bland was best, but the new-look CR-V as well as the redesigned Civic, show that styling has become an important factor in the Japanese automaker’s continued success.
Certainly the CR-V has a bolder, more exciting exterior look with aggressive fenders sticking out from the body and extensive use of LED lighting.
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Inside, the cabin has a more premium-quality look and feel, particularly at the Touring level with plush leather upholstery and wood trim.
Add in its first ever turbocharged 1.5-litre, four-cylinder engine (190 hp, 179 lb/ft of torque on regular gasoline) that is also used in the Civic, and Honda has the package it believes will continue to vie for top honours in the segment.
The CR-V is based on an all-new platform and a has a host of new technology features available, many in the Honda Sensing group of advanced safety and driver-assist areas now offered as standard fare on AWD models.
Among the features are Collision Mitigation Braking, Adaptive Cruise Control with Low Speed Follow, Road Departure Mitigation and Lane Keeping Assist.
Honda has made another interesting content decision, which is an important one for Canadians, particularly in snow-belt areas.
All but the base LX model, starting at $26,890 get standard all-wheel drive. The entry LX is front-wheel drive, but AWD is available on the LX, priced at $29,690.
Our tester, however, was the top-level Touring edition that punches in at $38,290.
Honda calls its system Real Time AWD and through a centre transfer case can route up to 40 per cent of torque to the rear wheels.
On the new model, Honda has been able to improve fuel consumption numbers to 8.7/7.2 L/100 km city/highway. During our time with the CR-V with mostly highway travel, we were just above the 7.2 mark at 7.3L/100 km.
Honda has added more standard content to the 2017 model, making it a value-added proposition.
Among the features are front wiper de-icer, remote start and walkaway door locks.
Driving as many vehicles as I do, I often find ones that are a “fit” right from the get-go, the CR-V is one of these.
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Seating is comfortable and supportive and generous fore-and-aft travel allows the driver to get just the right body position for long-distance driving. For older drivers (myself included) getting in and out of the CR-V is easy… a simple slide will do it.
The 1.5-litre engine has plenty of torque, available at lower RPMs than in past models. Cabin noise is moderate at speed, but with the CVT transmission, getting there generates considerable engine noise when you punch the throttle hard. Play it easy and the car will reward you with a quiet, composed cabin.
Inside is where Honda has really raised the bar. There is generous legroom in the rear thanks to a 40 mm longer wheelbase this time around and cargo space is a whopping 2,146 litres with the rear seat folded flat.
Behind the rear seat is a neat two-level storage area divided by a shelf that fits in two slots — the top makes it a flat cargo floor with a load capacity of 100 kg. Lower the shelf and you can fit in four large suitcases, even with the rear seat upright.
The dash is well laid out and everything is easily accessible. One quirk is the fact there is an on/off and volume button for the audio system, but no button for the tuner.
For that you have to use the touch screen.
In all, a great package that is a step up from previous versions.
Honda should have no trouble keeping up with the RAV4s and Escapes of the crossover world with this fifth-generation CR-V.
2017 Honda CR-V Touring
BODY STYLE: Compact five-door crossover.
DRIVE METHOD: Front-engine, front/all-wheel drive.
ENGINE: 1.5-litre DOHC direct injection turbocharged four-cylinder (190 hp, 179 lb/ft of torque) with CVT transmission.
FUEL ECONOMY: 8.7/7.2/8.0 L/100 km city/highway/combined with regular unleaded fuel.
CARGO CAPACITY: 2,146 litres with second row seats folded, 1,100 with rear seats upright.
TOW RATING: 680 kg (1,499 lb).
PRICE: LX 2WD $26,890; LX AWD $29,690; EX $33,190; EX-L $35,90; Touring $38,290.
WEB SITE: Honda.ca
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