The Honda CR-V, now well into its fifth generation, is one of those vehicles that if you don’t own one yourself, you almost assuredly know someone else that currently does. And chances are that they are quite happy with it. And why wouldn’t they be, after all it’s the best selling crossover nameplate in the United States in total (over 5 million since 1997) and currently the second best-selling one in today’s market – and we know what they say about whoever’s in second place…they try harder! You don’t generally get to those positions by default.
Honda hasn’t been resting on its laurels either, the CR-V was refreshed recently and now also offers a Hybrid powertrain option to expand its market. Also, the base 2.4liter engine has been retired so every CR-V except the Hybrid is now equipped as this top of the line Touring model was, with Honda’s turbocharged 1.5liter married to a CVT. Honda’s treading a fine line here, the Touring model we were able to sample last week comes awfully close overall to coming across as a luxury Acura model, so let’s take a closer look.
Of course it’s almost unnecessary to show any pictures of the CR-V at all, you could probably draw one from memory if you had to; since it was introduced back in 1995 (and 1997 in the U.S.) it’s been a steady evolution as far as its styling goes. The first generation is perhaps the one that is a bit less like the others (physically) than all of the rest but the basic formula has been the same all along – smallish footprint, large interior, plenty of room for four (five in a pinch) with ample luggage space, good visibility, excellent economy with at least decent performance, and able to deal with all climactic conditions with its optional AWD.
None of that has changed here. Additionally, while there are no changes whatsoever between the 2020 and the 2021 models, what has changed is the way that the CR-V has over the decades spawned more trim levels, with the entry-level LX starting at $25,350 anchoring the lineup.
It then progresses through the EX and EX-L to finally end up with the Touring model that carries no options beyond making a decision regarding the need for AWD, the exterior color choice (seven choices total, three at additional cost of $395), perhaps the interior color depending on the exterior, and then curiously there are two optional wheel choices available although all three are 19″ in diameter.
Our test model did have the AWD, came painted Sonic Gray Pearl, a very pretty grayish/bluish shade that is one of the extra-cost colors, and carried the standard wheel choice which I found the most attractive of the three anyway.
I was interested to verify that this is in fact the exact same car that I drove very early this year during a winter driving event that I reported on here, at that point it was brand new with almost no miles on it, now it had covered almost 5,000 and it turned out that I was the last person to spend time with it before it was to be returned to Honda. It still looked, smelled, and drove like brand new, whoever ends up with this particular one will be a happy camper.
Opening the door presents a spacious and attractive cabin with the seats trimmed in black leather (the other options are gray and ivory) and a thin band of wood dressing things up a bit. No forests were harmed here though, the wood isn’t real and while the texture and slightly coppery color won’t fool too many into believing it is, its matte finish presents pretty well here and keeps the cabin from appearing too somber or cold, as black interiors with the generally default silver trim tend to do.
The seats are quite roomy with a decent amount of thigh support, feature two memory settings in this trim level, and are power operated along with a two way lumbar support feature. Even over longer journeys they remained comfortable (not always the case in some older Hondas) and appreciated was the fact that the seat heaters remained in their selected setting even after a shutdown and restart.
The one bugaboo I noticed that may affect different people differently is what looks like a little pad on the side of the center console is in fact hard plastic that protrudes about 3/8 of an inch. While well finished with rounded edges, this ended up right in the side of my knee and was extremely irritating. If this were in fact soft it’d be a great feature, however as it is I ended up adjusting my seating position to avoid it. Eventually I got used to it however it’s a perfect reason why one should always actually test drive a car before purchasing it.
As expected in a Honda, the dashboard is easy to take in at a glance, the shift lever sprouts from the center console (the Hybrid uses buttons here instead), there is a large screen on top of the dashboard that once turned on makes evident that the actual part of the screen used for imagery is somewhat smaller than the whole, and while the screen is used for many features, a lot of them are duplicated (or at least shared) below.
For example the HVAC system is controlled by a couple of knobs and buttons below the screen but there is one labeled “Climate”, to adjust the fan speed you must push that and then select the fan speed on the screen. Of course that would only be needed if you didn’t take advantage of the dual-zone automatic settings.
The radio does feature a volume knob (to the delight of apparently every reviewer on the planet) although the left steering wheel spoke also features a volume selector button that works extremely well and that I used most of the time anyway. What would be more useful though would be a second button (yes I’m greedy) on the other side of the screen to allow tuning of stations or selecting through the satellite channel lineup. As it is, it requires pushing a button repeatedly to move around while searching and especially with satellite radio there are so many channels potentially of interest that the presets can’t cover them all.
Clarity is decent, although the backup camera could be of higher resolution, it’s decent in that when viewing it you’re unlikely to not see anything and run into things, but the fisheye lens effect is fairly obvious and the resolution is a little blurry. The rest of the system (Navigation, audio, etc) are more acceptable than the camera portion – which isn’t horrible by any means, just getting a bit borderline at the price point. I do like that it tells you your current elevation, I geek out on stuff like that and it’s easy enough to program in when developing a system.
Looking forward, the hood drapes and folds sort of inward with the center portion actually quite a bit lower than the portions astride the fender areas and the dashboard is fairly low, affording a great view out the front. Looking a bit lower, as a huge fan of traditional clean and clear Honda gauges, the electronic instrument screen was a bit of shocker, nevertheless is actually worked very well. In real life it looks better than these pictures would have you think with no delineation between screen and non-screen area.
The RPM gauge spread across the top was a good way to display it and the speed readout instead of a physical gauge was fine as well. In fact it reminded me a bit of my 2005/2008 Civics with the separate digital speedometer up above the rest that people seem to dislike until they try it in person. While traditional gauges still work extremely well even in this day and age, this setup here was no less functional. The steering wheel and shift lever are also leather covered, and the steering wheel is heated as well, using a small button right on the face of the wheel to control that function which is the best (and obvious) place for it, some cars have it on the dash or even tucked behind the wheel.
The side view out was even better, the windows in the CR-V buck the trend toward shorter side glass and as a result present a comfortable ledge atop the door panel for the left elbow, never mind the excellent visibility out.
Back in the center console, at the base of the shifter was a flat area with a wireless charging pad for the phone which even though it didn’t feature large borders never had a problem holding mine in place. Connectivity and charging ports are right above and further back are cupholders along with a multi-configurable storage cubby and a cover that slid forward as desired depending on how or where you’d prefer to place your elbow. The parking brake button is to the left of the shifter which works out pretty since when needed your hand is in the general area anyway to use the shifter.
Heading to the second row (of two, the CR-V is not available as a three-row, but they’ll sell you a Pilot or Odyssey if that’s your bag), the bench is also very comfortable with an extremely large amount of legroom considering I’m 6’1″ with a 32″ inseam. I assumed that it was all the way back and thus impinged on the cargo area but then realized that no, this seat is not a slider after all, it’s fixed in position, the legroom is set like this.
The door panels, while styled exactly the same as the front ones, have some harder materials, specifically the upper edge trim. Honda is a master at plastics though, it looks identical in texture and sheen to the same area on the front doors, just a different feel. The back seats can also fold down easily (60/40 split) without removing the headrests, creating a flat load floor from the cargo area.
Looking at the cargo area revealed no compensatory shortcomings either, it is spacious and even has a clever trick wherein the cargo floor can easily be repositioned a couple of inches lower which then turns it into sort of a tray area with surrounding bumpers of a sort (the bins at the sides have little walls that form to stop things from dropping in), although doing this means that the transition to folded rear seats entails a step.
I’d probably keep it in the lower position as a default and then raise it if I needed to have a smooth transition to the folded rear seats or if I had something heavy that I didn’t then want to have to lift over the lip at the hatch. Below the floor is a full size temporary spare tire as well and there are the aforementioned small bins on the sides for oddments. The hatch is powered with hands-free opening capability and opens/closes with enough speed to not be annoying.
Please select page 2 below to continue…
Pages: 1 2