Autolist rating: 5/5
But would we buy it? Yes
Price range: $25,125 - $35,025, including destination
- The Honda CR-V was completely redesigned in 2017.
- Most models come with an excellent four-cylinder turbocharged engine; the base model does not.
- Most models also come standard with an excellent suite of active safety features.
- It’s available in front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive.
- The CR-V is one of the best all-around crossovers in its segment.
What is it?
It’s a compact crossover -- in the goldilock zone for size. Not too big, not too small, it has two rows of seats, fits five adults comfortably and can carry all their cargo easily.
The CR-V is the best-selling vehicle Honda makes right now, and for good reason, considering how well it combines practicality, style, safety and comfort into a vehicle that suits anyone’s needs.
Most models will come with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine and an automatic transmission -- the bare-bones LX model has a simple non-turbo four-cylinder.
Front-wheel-drive is standard on all models; all-wheel-drive costs an extra $1,400.
Honda’s HR-V is smaller, its 3-row Pilot is larger.
TLDR: Whatever you need a compact crossover to do, this Honda likely excels at that thing.
- It’s practical, offering plenty of leg and headroom in all five seats, plus ample cargo space in the back. The rear seats are split 60/40 and fold flat. The floor in the rear seats is also completely flat.
- It’s safe, both in terms of crash-test ratings and safety gear.
- It’s quiet, comfortable and well-designed inside and out.
TLDR: Some light wind noise.
- The turbocharged four-cylinder engine we tested has good acceleration, but it feels like it runs out of oomph if you push it really hard.
- Although the CR-V is mostly refined and quiet on the road, we did notice some wind noise at freeway speeds.
5 stars of execution
- Honda’s CR-V has a Top Safety Pick rating from the IIHS and a five-star crash rating from NHTSA.
- Nearly every model of CR-V also comes standard with HondaSensing, a group of active safety features that includes items like pre-collision braking, lane-keep assist and adaptive cruise control. These features are still expensive options on many other vehicles throughout the industry. Only the base LX trim level doesn’t carry this feature.
- The CR-V starts at $25,125 (including destination) for a base LX model.
- A mid-level CR-V EX with just the stuff you want and need has an MSRP of around $29,325.
- That gets you the turbo engine, all-wheel-drive, the aforementioned safety group, moonroof, heated front seats, dual climate control and a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.
- A Honda CR-V with all-wheel-drive and the turbo engine is rated at 27/33/29 MPG (city/highway/combined).
- That’s significantly better than nearly all of its gas-powered rivals.
- The only models that beat it are specific fuel-economy models: the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, the Nissan Rogue Hybrid and the Chevy Equinox Diesel.
Driving experience? Yes
- The ride quality is on the firm side, but never uncomfortable.
- It’s agile and easy to park.
- The engine and transmission are well-matched to give you power when you need it without drama.
- The steering has a great feel to it.
- Nothing about the CR-V feels cheap or compromised; slam the door and it feels and sounds like a well-built vehicle.
- The inside of all CR-Vs has a surprising level of refinement; jump to the high-end Touring model and you’re treated to goodies like matte wood trim that wouldn’t be out of place on a luxury CUV that cost twice what this Honda does.
- The interior and exterior styling is sleek, confident and mature.
Total Rating: 5 stars
What’s it gonna cost me?
As mentioned, the basic CR-V starts at $25,125 (including destination) for the LX version and front-wheel drive. This model has the non-turbo engine -- which makes 184 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque -- alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, backup camera and Bluetooth connectivity.
Our favorite trim level is the EX with all-wheel-drive that we mentioned earlier. For just under $30,000, it gives you everything you’re looking for in a family crossover without feeling guilty about the features you truly don’t need.
The EX-L is another $2,500 -- and starts adding the luxury features. These include leather seats, a power tailgate and 180-watt sound system.
The big daddy in the CR-V lineup is the Touring. It costs $33,625 for front-wheel-drive (remember, AWD is another $1,400) and promises stuff like a hands-free power tailgate, a 330-watt stereo system, a navigation system, LED headlights and rain-sensing wipers.
Given how many compact crossovers sell in the U.S. every year, there’s a lot of competition here. The big players include the Toyota RAV4, Nissan Rogue, Jeep Compass, Ford Escape and Chevy Equinox.
But in our eyes the Honda is a better all-around choice than all of them.
Drivers looking for more exciting handling and style should check out the excellent Mazda CX-5.
Hyundai’s Tucson is another looker in this group and while we prefer the CR-V, the Hyundai is worth a drive.
Skip Subaru’s Forester; it's outdated at this point in its lifecycle.
We like the Kia Sportage but can’t forgive its looks.