The Honda CR-V is indeed a comfortable runabout vehicle, as some say its acronym suggests. A four-door, five-passenger crossover, the Honda CR-V comes with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and 5-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard; all-wheel drive is optional.
The 2014 Honda CR-V carries over unchanged from the previous year. Completely redesigned for 2012, the current version is the fourth generation of Honda's popular and widely acclaimed compact SUV. CR-V first appeared as a 1997 model.
The Honda CR-V comes loaded with technology, including Bluetooth-enabled hands-free phone capability and streaming audio. The rearview camera is a multi-angle system that lets the driver choose between a top view and either a 130-degree or a 180-degree view. Automatic climate control, leather upholstery, heated front seats and a premium, 328-watt audio system with subwoofer and XM satellite radio are available. Optional on the top-of-the-line model is a GPS-based navigation system with turn-by-turn directions.
CR-V's 2.4-liter engine delivers 185 horsepower and 163 pound-feet of torque. Fuel economy is mid-pack for the class, with an EPA-estimated 23/31 mpg City/Highway on front-wheel drive models, and 22/30 mpg with all-wheel drive (which Honda calls Real Time AWD). An Eco-Assist feature intended to save fuel adjusts transmission shift points and manages acceleration. When a little more oomph is desired, Eco-Assist can be switched off.
Convenience features include hill-start assist, which applies the brakes when the car is stopped on an incline and releases them when the driver touches the accelerator. The clutch that sends power to the rear wheels on the AWD models has a pre-load function that prevents any initial slippage when moving off from a stop.
We found handling responsive and a ride that's solid without being overly firm. The Honda CR-V is stable, with little body lean in corners, even at elevated speeds.
Inside, pleasantly styled panels and trim pieces complement each other and show a consistent theme. Hard plastic surfaces are everywhere, however. Controls are functional and for the most part intuitive. The screen on the optional navigation system is large and easy to read, though the system takes a long time to start up. The Honda CR-V's low roofline reduces headroom. The rear cargo compartment is not perfectly flat with the rear seats folded.
Safety features include electronic stability control, Brake Assist, side-curtain airbags with rollover sensing, and front-side airbags. The multi-angle rearview camera displays its image on the intelligent Multi-Information Display, or on the navigation system's screen (if so equipped). The 2013 Honda CR-V earned a 5-star overall crash-test score from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, as well as a Top Safety Pick designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Alternatives to the 2014 Honda CR-V include other small crossovers such as the Chevrolet Equinox, the recently redesigned Ford Escape, the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport or Tucson, the sporty Mazda CX-5, and the Toyota RAV4. Toyota entered the compact crossover SUV segment even earlier than Honda, with the 1996 RAV4. For several years, Honda and Toyota were the only members of that vehicle class, which began to blossom further after the arrival of Ford's Escape, launched as a 2001 model.
The 2014 Honda CR-V LX ($22,945) comes standard with cloth upholstery, air conditioning, four-way adjustable front seats plus manual height adjustment for driver's seat, cruise control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with multi-function controls, power door locks, power windows, power mirrors, 60/40-split rear seats, a rearview camera, 6-inch information display, a four-speaker 160-watt audio system with CD player and Pandora interface, auxiliary audio jack and USB port; Bluetooth phone and streaming Internet radio connectivity and 16-inch steel wheels.
CR-V LX AWD adds all-wheel drive ($24,195). (All prices are Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Prices, which do not include the $830 destination charge and may change at any time without notice.)
CR-V EX ($25,045) and CR-V EX AWD ($26,295) models add a power moonroof, foglight, rear privacy glass, a retractable cargo cover, a six-speaker audio system, fog lights and 17-inch alloy wheels.
CR-V EX-L ($27,695) and CR-V EX-L AWD ($28,945) models have upgraded features including dual-zone automatic climate control, leather-trimmed seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift lever, 10-way power driver's seat with power lumbar, heated front seats, seven-speaker 328-watt audio system with subwoofer, satellite radio capability, heated side mirrors and roof rails. CR-V EX-L is the only trim level available with a factory-installed voice-recognition navigation system with turn-by-turn directions in 2WD ($29,195) and AWD ($30,445) variants. Alternatively, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system can be installed in both front-drive ($28,395) and all-wheel drive ($29,645) EX-L models.
Safety equipment includes frontal airbags, front seat side-impact airbags, full coverage side curtain airbags, electronic stability control, ABS, Brake Assist, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, and multi-angle rearview camera. Optional all-wheel drive can improve handling stability in slippery conditions.