The 2012 Honda CR-V is fully redesigned. Highlights include a longer standard features list, restyled sheet metal, an upgraded cabin and better fuel economy.
Honda CR-V Video Review
Comfortable, enjoyable to drive and packed with utility, the previous-generation Honda CR-V was certainly deserving of its status as a top seller in the compact-crossover segment. For the 2012 Honda CR-V, the model gets a redesign that brings spruced-up sheet metal and cabin design, along with content and performance upgrades that should align it even more closely with the wants and needs of its family-focused audience.
Many of the changes seen in the 2012 Honda CR-V aren't dramatic. The 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and five-speed automatic transmission are carryovers, though the powertrain gets tweaks that help increase both output and fuel economy. Width and wheelbase are the same as last year, while the CR-V bucks the "bigger is better" trend by losing an inch in height and length. Within the cabin, legroom is unchanged and cargo capacity sees a slight increase.
One of our chief complaints about last year's CR-V concerned the amount of road noise transmitted to the cabin, and the current model addresses this shortcoming with added insulation that results in a quieter driving experience. Also, ride quality is smoother, thanks to changes in suspension calibration.
On the technology front, the CR-V keeps up with the crowd by adding features like a Pandora Internet radio interface and an SMS text messaging function. Additionally, Bluetooth and a rearview camera are now standard equipment on all CR-Vs and, for the first time, a rear DVD entertainment system is available. Versatility is also enhanced this year with a new folding mechanism for the rear seats that's easier and quicker to use.
As with last year's model, the 2012 Honda CR-V's biggest weakness is the fact that it's available only with a four-cylinder engine; most rivals offer an optional V6. And while acceleration is adequate, it's not quite as brisk as some four-cylinder competitors.
Considering this, some shoppers who often carry lots of cargo or who desire more power might want to consider other highly regarded small crossovers like the Chevrolet Equinox, Kia Sorento, Subaru Forester and freshly redesigned Toyota RAV4. All offer engine upgrades, and the Kia and Toyota also have available third-row seats. However, we think the Honda CR-V's thoughtful mix of family-friendly attributes will continue to make it a great choice for most shoppers. As such, it easily remains one of our top picks in the class.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2012 Honda CR-V is a crossover SUV that's compact verging on midsize. It's available in LX, EX, EX-L, EX-L with Navigation and EX-L with Rear Entertainment System trim levels, and each can be equipped with front- or all-wheel drive.
The well-equipped LX comes standard with 16-inch steel wheels, automatic headlights, keyless entry, full power accessories, air-conditioning, cruise control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, driver-seat height adjustment, 60/40-split rear seats, a rearview camera, a full-color multi-information display, steering wheel audio controls, and Bluetooth phone and streaming audio. All LX models also have a four-speaker sound system with a CD player, a Pandora interface, an auxiliary audio jack and a USB/iPod interface.
EX models add 17-inch alloy wheels, foglights, a sunroof, rear privacy glass, a retractable cargo cover and six speakers for the sound system. Going with the EX-L gets you roof rails, heated side mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, an eight-way power driver seat with power lumbar, leather upholstery, heated front seats and an upgraded sound system with seven speakers and satellite radio. As you'd expect, the EX-L with Navigation adds a navigation system (with voice controls and real-time traffic), while the EX-L with Rear Entertainment System adds a rear DVD entertainment system. Note that the nav system and rear DVD entertainment system can't be ordered together.
Powertrains and Performance
Every 2012 Honda CR-V comes with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 185 horsepower and 163 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 power is sent to the wheels with the most traction. In Edmunds performance testing, an EX-L with all-wheel drive went from zero to 60 mph in 9.4 seconds -- a tad slow for a four-cylinder compact SUV.
EPA estimates for the front-drive model are an estimated 23 mpg city/31 mpg highway and 26 mpg combined. AWD CR-Vs drop slightly to 22/30/25. These ratings make it one of the most fuel-efficient choices in its segment.
The 2012 Honda CR-V is equipped with antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, active front head restraints, front side airbags and side curtain airbags. A back-up camera is standard on all models.
In Edmunds brake testing, a CR-V EX-L came to a stop from 60 mph in 120 feet -- a good distance for a compact SUV.
In testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the CR-V received the best possible rating of "Good" in the frontal-offset, side impact and roof strength tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
To our eyes, this year's CR-V boasts a better-looking cabin than last year's model; its lines are more fluid and organic, and make the previous generation's blocky aesthetic seem basic in comparison. Controls are logically laid out and attractive to look at. The open space between the front seats seen in last year's sub-EX-L models is no more, as all 2012 CR-Vs come with a full front console that ups utility by providing additional storage compartments.
Rear seats in the previous-generation CR-V slid fore and aft, but this year that functionality has been retired to make way for a spring-loaded auto-fold feature that allows you to fold the rear seats almost flat with a simple tug of a lever. Thankfully, rear legroom isn't sacrificed, since the current seat offers as much space for lower limbs in its new fixed position as the old seat did when moved all the way back.
A highlight of the new CR-V is the wealth of tech features that has been added. All models come with a Pandora interface and Bluetooth phone and streaming audio; there's also an SMS text messaging function that allows you to listen to incoming text messages via the audio system and reply with one of six preset responses. Also, for the first time, the CR-V is available with a rear-seat DVD entertainment system.
With the rear seatbacks up, the CR-V can accommodate a healthy 37.2 cubic feet of cargo; fold the rear seat and that figure grows to 70.9 cubic feet. The useful split-level storage shelf seen in previous CR-Vs is no longer offered, though EX models and above now come with a retractable cargo cover.
Though it certainly holds its own against competing four-cylinder-powered crossovers, there's not a whole lot of low-end power in the 2012 Honda CR-V; it's hard to ignore the fact that a V6 upgrade isn't available. On the plus side, the crossover distinguishes itself by offering steering and handling that are sharper and more rewarding than most of the competition's.
A new "Econ" mode dulls throttle response to enhance fuel economy, but the trade-off is compromised acceleration, and this is especially noticeable when traveling up gradients. The 2012 Honda CR-V features a smoother ride and a quieter cabin than last year's model, giving it a more refined feeling overall.
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