Compact utility vehicles make up the largest single segment in the American automotive industry. And with good reason – crossovers today very nearly match up with sedans in refinement and driving manners while providing respectable fuel efficiency and lots of cargo capacity. People buy them because they are practical, potentially filling multiple needs with just one vehicle.
The Honda CR-V was the best-selling vehicle in the compact CUV segment last year, and it has been redesigned for 2017. Major updates mean more space inside for passengers and cargo, a bit more power and efficiency from a new 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, and a quieter, more comfortable driving experience. The previous CR-V was already one of the best vehicles in its class, and the fully redesigned 2017 CR-V remains the best bet for your buck.
The first thing we noticed about the 2017 Honda CR-V was its size. We’re all used to vehicles getting successively larger with every new generation, and true to form, Honda’s compact crossover isn’t really very compact anymore. The 2017 edition’s wheelbase has been stretched 1.6 inches over the previous CR-V’s, and it’s 1.4 inches taller and 1.2 inches longer overall. Thankfully, those extra inches equal more room inside.the 2017 CR-V is thoughtfully laid out, and we applaud the addition of an actual volume knob for the seven-inch Display Audio system. We drove a Civic the same week as the CR-V and bemoaned the fiddly capacitive volume interface that most Honda products still use. We’re also pleased to see Apple CarPlay and Android Auto added to the CR-V’s infotainment package. Leather comes standard on EX-L and Touring models.
Clever features inside the 2017 CR-V include a two-level rear package shelf, a reconfigurable center console, and a height-adjustable power rear liftgate. You can get a better idea of the interior appointments in our Short Cut videos below.Honda’s Real Time AWD is a $1,300 option across the board, and can send up to 40 percent of the engine’s torque to the rear wheels. Hardware changes allow a 57-percent increase in the amount of power sent to the rear axle, and you can monitor that torque spread on the digital gauge cluster. There aren’t any settings for the all-wheel-drive system – it’s always on, and automatically chooses which wheels to spin. In other words, Honda doesn’t think CR-V owners need specific off-road modes, and we agree. In the rainy or snowy conditions that the CR-V is likely to encounter, the set-and-forget Real Time AWD makes perfect sense.
Most 2017 CR-Vs will be equipped with Honda Sensing, a suite that includes safety technology like collision mitigation, lane- and road-departure mitigation, adaptive cruise control, and lane-keeping assist. Instead of using Honda’s LaneWatch system, which displays an image from the right side of the car on the central LCD display, the 2017 CR-V gets a more traditional blind-spot warning that flashes an illuminated image on the side mirrors. And if all these safety systems sense that you’re tired or not paying attention, you’ll get a coffee cup icon on the dash reminding you to take a rest or get caffeinated.
It would be nice if these safety packages were standard across the board, but instead they come as part of the EX equipment grade that starts at $27,595. Buyers of the $24,945 LX model get a rear-view camera, but the Honda Sensing suite is notably absent.