What's New for 2010
The 2010 Honda CR-V receives its first slate of significant changes since being redesigned four years ago. The engine is enhanced with 14 more horsepower and 1 more mpg, the exterior and interior have been given minor detail changes, and Bluetooth and a USB audio port are added to the options list.
"It needs more power." This label has stuck to the Honda CR-V like industrial Velcro for as long as this compact crossover has been sold. Though its four-cylinder engines have been upgraded throughout its three-generation lifespan, never has a loaded-down CR-V been able to scale long grades without breaking a serious sweat. The 2010 Honda CR-V's four-cylinder gets a welcome infusion of power, but a V6 option like so many of its competitors offer remains an unfulfilled desire.
Yet this power outage has never seemed to hurt the humble CR-V, a compact crossover that is now the best-selling SUV in the country. Credit a long list of attributes that most consumers value over "It needs more power." Safety? Crash test scores don't get much better. Versatility? Seventy-three cubic feet of maximum cargo capacity and innovative storage solutions are at your disposal. Comfort and convenience? The backseat reclines and slides, while features like power heated seats, navigation and an iPod interface are options. Quality? Honda's reputation for reliability is still one of the strongest in the business. Drivability? The CR-V offers some of the most responsive handling in its class. These all make the CR-V easy to recommend in a year where it gains a mild face-lift inside and out, plus a few additional optional features.
However, there are areas that should give you pause and warrant a trip to a rival dealership. "It needs more power" is, of course, one of them. While sluggish acceleration may not be a big deal for you in this congested world, it's important to note that engine upgrades in the Chevy Equinox (V6), Subaru Forester (turbocharged four-cylinder) and Toyota RAV4 (V6) provide more thrust with negligible fuel economy penalties. Road noise is also an issue with the CR-V, and some may find its ride to be on the firm side. The Equinox and Subaru Outback in particular are more serene highway cruisers.
The compact-to-midsize crossover category seems to gain a member every single day as manufacturers clamor to get a piece of the action. While choices are abundant, we suggest sticking with the aforementioned models and the 2010 Honda CR-V, which remains just as strong an entrant today as it was when it helped pioneer the segment back in the 1990s. It may still need more power, but for more than 100,000 crossover buyers every year, the CR-V will be more than enough.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Honda CR-V is a crossover SUV that straddles the line between compact and midsize. It is available in LX, EX, EX-L and EX-L with Navigation trim levels, and each can be equipped with front- or all-wheel drive.
The LX comes standard with 17-inch steel wheels, keyless entry, full power accessories, air-conditioning, cruise control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, driver seat height adjustment, 40/20/40 sliding and reclining rear seats, a retractable front center tray table and a four-speaker stereo with CD/MP3 player and auxiliary audio jack. The EX adds 17-inch alloy wheels, a sunroof, rear tinted glass, a dual-level cargo area, steering-wheel audio controls and a six-speaker stereo with six-CD changer.
The EX-L adds automatic headlights, heated side mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, an eight-way power driver seat, leather upholstery, heated front seats, a fixed front center console and a seven-speaker stereo that includes a subwoofer, USB audio jack and satellite radio. The EX-L with Navigation adds a (surprise!) navigation system along with voice control, Bluetooth and a rearview camera.
Powertrains and Performance
Every 2010 Honda CR-V comes with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 180 hp and 161 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed automatic and front-wheel drive are standard, while all-wheel drive is optional. The latter sends power to the front wheels exclusively until slippage is detected, at which point the car transfers torque to the wheels with the most traction.
In terms of fuel economy, the CR-V is about average for the segment; EPA estimates for the front-drive model are an estimated 21 mpg city/28 mpg highway and 24 mpg combined. AWD CR-Vs drop slightly to 21/27/23.
The 2010 Honda CR-V is equipped with antilock disc brakes, stability control, front side airbags and side curtain airbags. A back-up camera is available on the EX-L with Navigation, and Honda dealers can install parking sensors on lower trim levels. In our brake testing, a CR-V EX-L came to a stop in a tidy 119 feet, which is above average for this segment.
In government crash testing, the CR-V achieved a perfect five stars for side protection. Last year's model achieved a perfect five stars for frontal protection in the government test, while achieving the best possible rating of "Good" in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety frontal-offset and side crash tests. It achieved the second worst rating of "Marginal" in the IIHS's new roof strength test.
Interior Design and Special Features
The CR-V's cabin is both functional and attractive. Gauges are clear, controls are where you'd expect them to be and materials quality is good. Parents will appreciate the wide-opening rear doors, the sliding and reclining backseat, the two-tier cargo area and the lightweight rear liftgate, all of which ease the process of loading small children and the many items that go along with them. A "conversation mirror" built into the overhead console's sunglasses holder enables front seat occupants to keep an eye on the backseat without turning around. Unfortunately, there is less room for a rear facing child seat than in rival vehicles like the Equinox.
Luggage capacity with the seatbacks up measures 35.7 cubic feet and we're also big fans of the split-level cargo area, which essentially doubles the amount of smaller, grocery-sized items you can carry. With the split-level divider stowed and the rear seats folded, the CR-V can hold an impressive 73 cubic feet of cargo.
The increase in power for 2010 makes the Honda CR-V more competitive against other four-cylinder-powered crossovers; however, there's no getting around the fact that there's no upgrade available for those who value the thrust of a strong V6. Nevertheless, the CR-V sets itself apart with remarkably nimble handling thanks to a relatively firm suspension and sharp steering. Even braking is quite good, which is unusual for a Honda. The ride is slightly busier than the norm and the noise from wind and road are excessive, making the 2010 Honda CR-V feel a little less polished and sophisticated than some competitors.