Driving Impressions

By January 10, 2014

Honda doesn't push the performance envelope with the CR-V, but the powertrain is competent and efficient. Shifts are smooth, and one barely notices that there are only five gears, while most of the competition has moved up to 6-speed transmissions. Road and tire noise are decently muted, although pavement type plays a huge role in terms of unwanted sounds.

The 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine benefits from dual overhead cams and four valves per cylinder to generate 185 horsepower at 7000 rpm and 163 pound-feet of torque at 4400 rpm. Fuel economy is an EPA-estimated 23/31 mpg City/Highway (22/30 mpg with all-wheel drive). Regular gasoline is recommended, so there's no need to buy more-expensive Premium.

Ride quality is well controlled, with pavement irregularities mostly masked and minimal body lean in corners, even at speeds that activate the electronic stability control system. Honda credits this in part to its Motion-Adaptive Electric Power Steering, a system shared with the Honda Civic. This system complements the electronic stability control by helping stabilize the CR-V during heavy braking. It introduces a degree of corrective steering input to mitigate understeer (when the vehicle tends to go straight instead of turn, called plowing) or oversteer (when the vehicle wants to turn more than the driver intends, sometimes resulting in fish-tailing or spinning).

Hill-start assist engages the brakes when it senses the CR-V is stopped on an incline, then releases them as the driver presses the gas pedal. The AWD system also knows when the vehicle is stopped. It primes the hydraulics that send power to the rear wheels, to quicken response by lessening slippage during engagement when the driver accelerates.

An Econ mode, which drivers can select by pressing a green button emblazoned with a leaf, imposes a more restrained shift pattern on the transmission and a less aggressive acceleration mode. We felt the difference on the test drive. Honda won't say how much of an improvement drivers can expect in fuel economy with the system activated, only that it's noticeable. In other words, your mileage may vary.