2012 Honda CR-V: Baby Buggy
October 8, 2012
So I'm recommending the 2012 Honda CR-V to people with young families all the time. Along with the Ford Escape and Mazda CX-5, it is my favorite of the new breed of compact utilities. And as with every Honda, the CR-V is a miracle of space-efficient packaging, a perfect container for grown-ups, small kids and all the stuff that comes with that stage in life.
The trouble is, I cannott drive the CR-V to work.
It's partly the route that I drive, as this portion of the San Diego Freeway is famously over-used and worn out. Even after recent resurfacing, the road crests noticeably on each overpass across the surface streets. The CR-V bounds over every crest as if it were some kind of baby buggy of the 1950s. It even kicks at little at the back, which is the classic sign of stiff springs in the rear that don't have as much rebound damping control as you'd like.
Ironically enough, this is the kind of ride behavior that always cursed utility vehicles that were based on pickup trucks (like the original Ranger-based Ford Explorer), which is part of the reason that preferences shifted to more comfortable, controlled crossovers on car platforms (like the new, Flex-based Ford Explorer).
I shouldn't complain, really. The CR-V's freeway ride isn't that bad. Plus, it's not like you can suspend the laws of physics, because when you calibrate springs stiff enough to carry the load of five people and all their stuff, you'll get a package that's not exactly suited to one person. This is why your basic heavy-duty pickup truck with an empty cargo bed seems to spend so much time in the air rather than on the ground as you drive it down the road at a high rate of speed ? stiff springs for cargo capacity, not enough damping to control compression or (especially) rebound.
But even so, this reminds me that there's something about the way that Honda does its ride tuning that I don't get along with. For me, the only Honda that really suits me is the Acura ILX, which indeed has up-rated (and expensive) dampers as part of its suspension package.
Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com