The Honda CR-V, a perennial class leader among compact sport-utility vehicles, was redesigned for 2017. We noticed one major improvement right away: its new-for-2017 engine, a turbocharged 1.5-liter Four, doesn’t vibrate at idle. We noticed that disturbing trait in the 2015 model we test-drove three years ago, and research indicated a fair number of owners had the same complaint.
But all was not perfect with the Canadian-built 2017 CR-V Touring with all-wheel drive. Fit and finish weren’t quite up to the standards of previous CR-Vs we’ve driven. Honda has set the bar so high over the years, minor imperfections seem more serious than they really are, even when they don’t affect safety or performance.
Speaking of performance … the CR-V is about as good as it gets in the compact-SUV sector. The engine delivers ample, smooth, quiet power and good fuel economy — 27 mpg city, 33 highway, with all-wheel drive. The CR-V undoubtedly would have a little more snap if it had a conventional gearbox rather than the continuously variable transmission, but Honda’s CVT is more responsive and consistent than most. The car handles well, too, despite a taller stance providing 8.2 inches of ground clearance.
In the past, Hondas had a tendency to be noisier than their competitors, but that has been engineered out. A bit of wind noise and road rumble reached the otherwise silent cabin.
The cargo area and passenger compartment are marginally bigger than in the previous model, but Honda persists in granting rear passengers more knee room than they need – at a cost to tall drivers. Our 6-foot driver would have liked 2 inches of additional legroom. Even with a tall passenger in the back seat, there was plenty of room, at least in theory, to give the driver a little more distance from the pedals.
The leather seats, however, were among the most comfortable we’ve tested. They’re standard in Touring trim.
Our test car had a sticker price of $34,595, about $1,000 more than the last CR-V we tested. The base LX model, with the 2.4-liter normally aspirated Four carried over from 2016, starts at $24,045. At that price point, it’s fairly well equipped: 2-wheel drive; automatic climate control; 17-inch alloy wheels; and rear-view camera. But the extra $10,000 buys a long list of high-tech, performance, safety and luxury features. Among them are a hands-free power tailgate that can be activated by waving a foot under the rear bumper.
The CR-V ranked sixth in the world in sales during this year’s first quarter, trailing only the Nissan Rogue among compact SUVs. Keeping the competition brisk are the Ford Escape, Chevrolet Equinox, Hyundai Tucson, Toyota RAV-4, Kia Sportage and Mazda CX-5.
Government crash-test results are unavailable. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rated the CR-V a Top Safety Pick Plus, with top marks across the board except for headlights and ease of operating the LATCH system for child seats (“Acceptable”).
2017 Honda CR-V AWD Touring
Engine: 1.5-liter turbocharged inline Four, 190 horsepower, 179 lb.-ft. torque
Transmission: continuously variable automatic
Ground clearance: 8.2 in.
Weight: 3,512 lb.
Suspension: MacPherson strut front, multi-link rear
Wheels: 18×7-in. alloy
Tires: P235/60R18 all-season
Max. towing capacity: 1,500 lb.
Seating capacity: 5
Luggage capacity: 39.2 cu. ft.
Maximum cargo capacity: 75.8 cu. ft.
Fuel capacity: 14 gal.
Fuel economy: 27 mpg city, 33 mpg highway
Fuel type: Regular unleaded