What is it?
The original Honda CR-V invented the compact crossover 16 years ago. Now, it’s back with a fourth-generation hitting U.S. showrooms before year-end, and due to follow on this side of the Atlantic next year.
Few models are more eagerly anticipated. The segment is among the market’s fastest-growing, but the Honda CR-V is also a critical product for the manufacturer which took a critical drubbing for the latest U.S. version of its mainstay Civic – and which has struggled to maintain momentum as the result of production cuts caused by the March 11 Japanese earthquake and tsunami.
What’s it like?
Honda can crow about the 2012 CR-V’s excellent use of space, front and rear with lots of useful storage nooks. Then there are the elegant new 1-touch fold-down rear seats.
On the downside, the interior mimics the latest Civic with too much hard plastic that suggests over-zealous cost-cutting. The exterior is reasonably attractive – from most angles – though the back of the greenhouse is a bit awkward.
The 2.4-litre inline-four engine is smooth and responsive, delivering excellent fuel economy for a compact crossover, even the all-wheel-drive model reaching 30mpg (US) on the motorway.
But Honda seems to have taken a ‘good enough’ approach, opting for port fuel injection where the competition offers direct injection, and a 5-speed gearbox where 6, 7, even 8-speeds are becoming the norm. The maker insists it doesn’t need to spend the extra money to top the rest but what happened to the Honda that once led the world in powertrain innovation
Our single biggest complaint covers the Honda CR-V’s new electric power steering system. It may save fuel but it is disconnected from the road and requires too much sawing as you work your way around the corners. Too bad, as the overall ride is reasonably pleasant with relatively little body roll.
The CR-V is one of Honda’s most consistent models, with few variations between US and European models – unlike Civic, which is completely different. However, there could still be differences when the car appears on this side of the Atlantic, particularly to the suspension and steering settings.
Should I buy one?
Current owners will likely appreciate the functionality and efficiency but the 2012 Honda CR-V will face a tough challenge regaining its sales lead from competitors like the equally all-new Ford Escape (to be sold as the Kuga in Europe).
-Paul A. Eisenstein
Price: £21,000-30,000 (est); Top speed: 118mph; 0-62mph: na; Economy: 31mpg (est); CO2: 202g/km; Kerbweight: 1500kg; Engine type: 2354cc, four-cylinder, inline; Power: 185hp; Torque: 163lb ft; Gearbox: five-speed auto