2012 Honda CR-V Long Term Road Test

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2012 Honda CR-V: Ready for Roadtripping

June 13, 2013

2012 Honda CR-V

The wife and I just took a "let's get the heck out of L.A." road trip. We were looking for something relaxing, so we went with San Luis Obispo for an overnighter. It was about a 400-mile round trip, as it included a side trip to Solvang. The latter is a quaint Danish town located in the wine country of Santa Ynez valley. It's only about 130 miles north of L.A. The CR-V was available, and as expected was an amiable ally during our journey.

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2012 Honda CR-V: Mammoth Road Trip

March 7, 2013

2012 Honda CR-V

The 2012 Honda CR-V served as transportation for my recent road trip to Mammoth for a ski weekend.

It was a good choice. We didn't really need the all-wheel drive, as only a smidge of new snow fell while we were there. But it's nice to have that bit of confidence in your back pocket when you're five hours from home.

With just two of us onboard, there was plenty of room for our skis and stuff. The CR-V is a comfortable and relatively quiet place to spend a five hour drive, although road noise was a bit higher than expected.

While the CR-V has always seemed to have adequate enough oomph for getting around the general L.A. slog, out on the two-lane sections of U.S. 395, where power is required to pull out and pass 18-wheelers, the CR-V proved a bit of a dud.

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2012 Honda CR-V: Manual Shifting

January 28, 2013

2012 Honda CR-V

That Honda's CR-V uses a five-speed automatic transmission while its primary rivals, the Ford Escape and Toyota RAV4, use six-speeds isn't ideal. That the five-speed lacks a manual gate, shift paddles and rev-matching abilities is inexcusable.

Here you can see that the only way to lock the transmission in a gear is to pull it down into 2 or 1 or use the D3 button. None of these options is as elegant or as easy as a rev-matched downshift would be using a paddle or a manual gate.

Josh Jacquot, Senior editor @ 16,062 miles

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2012 Honda CR-V: Unlike Pilot, Drives Like a Honda

January 15, 2013

2012 Honda CR-V

I spent a great deal of time over the holidays in a Honda Pilot and discovered that it perfectly embodies the Honda tradition of vehicle packaging excellence. It's actually much shorter in length than a Mazda CX-9, for instance, but has more useable interior space, along with an abundance of little cubbies, bins and other clever storage solutions.

However, the Pilot drives absolutely nothing like a Honda. It feels more like an Expedition, with monumentally slow steering, roly poly body motions and a center of gravity that feels located a good three feet above the roof.

The CR-V, on the other hand, definitely feels like a Honda. Perhaps not like those hallowed Hondas of old that make certain folks weep at the thought of CRXs and mid-90s Civics with those funky one-armed headrests. But it definitely has that dynamic DNA — responsive steering, a relatively nimble handling feel — while also having an interior that's quite cleverly packaged.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 15,363 miles

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2012 Honda CR-V: Can You Tow it Behind a Motorhome?

January 14, 2013

2012 Honda CR-V

You can tow any car behind a motorhome if you bring a trailer. But that's not the preferred method. The ideal scenario is pictured above: a so-called "dinghy" vehicle rolling behind on its own four wheels, ready to be unhooked and driven around on side trips while the motorhome sits parked with its awnings unfurled and its sliders popped out in full relaxation mode. The extra towed weight, loading time and storage hassle of a trailer puts an unwelcome damper on such proceedings.

This activity goes by many names: dinghy towing, flat towing and four-down towing to name a few. As you can imagine there are mechanical implications for the car involved.

Automatics tend to be less compatible than manuals, in large part because of the way some of them are lubricated. Some all-wheel drive systems can hack it, others cannot. The only way to know for sure is to dive into the owner's manual.

The only transmission offered in the 2012 Honda CR-V is a five-speed automatic, but the drivetrain comes in front-drive and all-wheel-drive versions. The latter is more versatile for this sort of usage because it can tackle sightseeing terrain that's a bit dodgier.

But can it be done? Does the 2012 Honda CR-V make a good dinghy?

The answer is yes. Any 2012 Honda CR-V can be safely towed behind a motorhome, be it a front-drive or AWD version. The one caveat is this: the front-driver can also be towed with its front tires on a dolly, if you're into that sort of thing, but the AWD models cannot — only four-down dinghy towing for that one. But that's OK. That's what we're after.

As usual, Honda wants you to do things in a particular way to stay within the bounds of your warranty and avoid damage.

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2012 Honda CR-V: Throttle Response Done Right

January 10, 2013

2012 Honda CR-V

The 2012 Honda CR-V's throttle response is so perfectly intuitive, so perfectly supple that it surprises me if I haven't driven it in awhile. Yes, that's right, I'm actually more shocked these days when I drive a car that doesn't immediately lurch forward at throttle tip-in rather than one that does. This abrupt throttle thing has gotten out of hand.

But the CR-V's gas pedal is so well-calibrated that it doesn't matter if you take off gently, with a little gusto, or immediately floor it. It's always smooth. Which makes the daily drive less of a hassle.

Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 15,343 miles

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2012 Honda CR-V: Road Trip to Arizona

December 21, 2012

2012 Honda CR-V

I took a quick 800-mile trip to Arizona in our long-term 2012 Honda CR-V last week. My destination was Scottsdale and while there I would drive the revamped 2013 Toyota RAV4, so it made sense to get some context by spending some time with the RAV4's chief rival, which also happens to be the best-selling SUV in the U.S.

You already know I'm a fan of the CR-V's cabin, which is unspectacular at a glance but somehow manages to check all the boxes anyway. There's a lot of space in here, the visibility is excellent, and I love all the storage compartments that surround the cockpit. For me, the CR-V still has a big advantage over the RAV4 in storage areas, and overall, I prefer its more conservative cabin design.

On the open road, more noise intrudes into the cabin than I'd like. Most of it is road noise from the tires, but there's a fair amount of wind noise that comes in off the large side mirrors... I don't necessarily want to give them up, because I like seeing traffic to my left and right, but the noise is there. Also, there are mountains between here and Scottsdale, and the ordinarily adequate 2.4-liter engine has to work pretty hard on uphill grades. And when the engine is working, the cabin vibe is not so relaxed. Is the RAV4 significantly more serene on the highway? Well, in Arizona it was, but until we drive one here in Southern California, I'll reserve judgment.

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2012 Honda CR-V: Smooth for a Four-Cylinder

December 20, 2012

2012 Honda CR-V

Am I surprised that our CR-V isn't the fastest vehicle in the fleet? Hardly. Its normally aspirated four-cylinder can only do so much. What does impress me is how smoothly it works in nearly every situation.

Whether it's winding up near its redline or just cruising along on the highway, the CR-V's 2.4-liter engine always delivers refined power. It runs out of juice pretty quickly on the highway, but the quick-shifting automatic does a good job of grabbing another gear when it's required. At slower speeds the shifts are a little less predictable, so it's not perfect.

Overall, it's a solid setup that matches the personality of this SUV. In other words, it's a typical Honda.

Ed Hellwig, Editor @ 11,811 miles

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2012 Honda CR-V: Would It Be Better With a CVT?

October 09, 2012

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There's nothing wrong really with the five-speed automatic transmission in our long-term 2012 Honda CR-V. You can pick on it for only having five forward gears instead of six like many rivals, but it shifts smoothly and so far has helped us to a 25 mpg average (which also happens to be the CR-V's EPA combined rating).

But now I've experienced Honda's continuously variable transmission as paired with a new, direct-injected 2.4-liter engine in the 2013 Accord, and it's really good. Not only is it quite tolerable for a CVT, as it's programmed to mimic conventional upshifts when you lift off the gas so that engine rpm drop back in a more "natural" way, it's far more responsive in passing situations on the freeway. And the 2013 Accord is a second quicker to 60 mph than last year's model.

There were several instances over the weekend in which I wished the CR-V could respond more quickly to throttle inputs. Acceleration is adequate in the Honda but no more, and its track numbers (9.4-second 0-60, 16.8-second quarter-mile at 83.0 mph) reflect that.

In the broader context of the CR-V as a sensible small family hauler, the current drivetrain is livable, but I can't help thinking I might prefer it with the new CVT. I would guess I'll eventually get my wish but probably not until the next generation of the Honda CR-V.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 8,405 miles

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2012 Honda CR-V: Old-School Automatic

September 25, 2012

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Our longterm 2012 Honda CR-V's five-speed automatic is a relic of a bygone era. It could use an additional cog if for no other reason than to not drop so far off the power following an upshift. Also, it's got a pushbutton lockout for 4th and 5th and old-school D2 and D1 selections on the console selector. I won't bother to bring up the non-revmatched downshifts when you use it, either (oops, too late). And no manual mode? What is it, 1991?

Niggles aside, it's not a bad gearbox. Just behind the times, that's all.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

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2012 Honda CR-V: Yes, It's Official, I Am the Demographic

September 10, 2012

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I drove our long-term 2012 Honda CR-V for two weeks before I got married, and so, with fondness, I selected it as my weekend car. I am a fan of this compact crossover, and true to its reputation, not because it does anything particularly well.

I know I could get more power and torque in a Ford Escape, a Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, or anything in this class with a V6. I know I'd prefer the steering and handling in the Mazda CX-5.

Yet, there's something about the way everything works together in this Honda that I just like. Throttle response is respectable. The automatic transmission shifts smoothly and feels kind of sophisticated for this class despite having only five forward gears. The ride quality is good, better than any previous CR-V, and it's composed over rough patches of freeway. And while this thing doesn't feel sharp and sporty through corners, it feels steady, capable, easygoing.

I also like sitting in the CR-V. The driving position is good for me, an adult of average height and weight, and there's a sense of space you don't get in other crossovers in this class.

I do have one complaint after my weekend in the Honda CR-V, though.

These reflector-type halogen headlights are dim. And they are as good as it gets, even on this $30,825 EX-L model. HIDs, or at least projector-beam headlights, need to happen.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 7,361 miles

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2012 Honda CR-V: The Green Button

August 24, 2012

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The green 'Econ' button in our longterm 2012 Honda CR-V is for people who probably don't need it in the first place. Pressing it simply remaps the throttle calibration, deadening its response, and reduces the occurrence of the air conditioning compressor kicking on and allows the cruise control greater speed variation.

Engaging 'econ' won't provide a free lunch to a leadfoot since if you want to accelerate at a given rate you'll simply press the pedal further to achieve it. Plus, wide-open throttle is still wide-open throttle. The aircon thing still applies, sure, but it is possible its fuel economy upside would be lost in the noise.

Those who are truly interested in extracting the most fuel economy out of their car would likely already be driving in a fuel-efficient manner -- gentle acceleration, using engine braking to slow, anticipate traffic signals, turning off the a/c, etc. -- so pressing Econ won't do anything they're not already doing.

It may even be the case that people think that pressing Econ is a license to treat the throttle even more aggressively than they would have otherwise. Therefore I declare the green Econ button little more than show, especially when you consider the showy 'Econ' stickers on the rear-most side windows...

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

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2012 Honda CR-V AWD: Oregon Coast Highway

August 07, 2012

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The Oregon coast is a great place to visit. Every roadside pullout is stunning and it almost seems as if there's a law requiring picturesque towns to be placed 25 miles apart, with a handful of outlying homes sprinkled between each. But don't be in a hurry because the locals most certainly are not.

Coast highway 101, though smooth-textured and generally well maintained, tends toward sinuous where it hugs the seaside cliffs and is often contorted due to incessant land movement downslope toward the sea. Oftentimes it's a challenging road that tells a lot about the worth of a given suspension calibration on roads that are less than perfect. Despite this fact it gets little attention from automaker suspension engineers because it's so remote. Pity.

Above is the Battle Rock parking lot in Port Orford.

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2012 Honda CR-V: Have You Seen Me?

July 23, 2012

cr-v_house.jpg

Of course, the answer is, no, you haven't seen our long-term 2012 Honda CR-V for the last week, because I've been on vacation with it. It wasn't anything like a heroic road trip, rather the week of insanity leading up to my wedding. Honestly, I've lost count of how many times we went to Target.

By the end of it, though, I'd racked up 600 miles of driving, all in Southern California. I hauled everything from family members to cases of wine to my own wedding dress, so yeah, mundane stuff. But I can't think many other vehicles I'd rather use for constant errand-running.

I've had trouble warming up to small crossover SUVs in the past, so either I'm getting old and soft, or this is a really good one. The ride quality is comfortable -- significantly more so than the previous two CR-Vs -- and the driver seat is well shaped, supportive and suitable for extended waits in unexpected traffic. The steering is darn good, too, especially for an electric setup. It's stable and unobtrusive on the highway and nice and precise around town.

The only thing I don't like about it is the same thing I didn't love about the previous CR-V...

...the drivetrain. The engine is weak in the grunt department (though at least it's smooth), and the transmission is slow to come up with downshifts (but again, smooth when it does shift). The thing is, the rest of the package is so strong, it's hard to give it much grief for this. More stories of the mundane coming soon!

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 2,961 miles

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2012 Honda CR-V AWD: Oregon Coast Highway

August 07, 2012

2012_Honda_CRV_1600_college_tour_moonrise_2.jpg

The Oregon coast is a great place to visit. Every roadside pullout is stunning and it almost seems as if there's a law requiring picturesque towns to be placed 25 miles apart, with a handful of outlying homes sprinkled between each. But don't be in a hurry because the locals most certainly are not.

Coast highway 101, though smooth-textured and generally well maintained, tends toward sinuous where it hugs the seaside cliffs and is often contorted due to incessant land movement downslope toward the sea. Oftentimes it's a challenging road that tells a lot about the worth of a given suspension calibration on roads that are less than perfect. Despite this fact it gets little attention from automaker suspension engineers because it's so remote. Pity.

Above is the Battle Rock parking lot in Port Orford.

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2012 Honda CR-V: Have You Seen Me?

July 23, 2012

cr-v_house.jpg

Of course, the answer is, no, you haven't seen our long-term 2012 Honda CR-V for the last week, because I've been on vacation with it. It wasn't anything like a heroic road trip, rather the week of insanity leading up to my wedding. Honestly, I've lost count of how many times we went to Target.

By the end of it, though, I'd racked up 600 miles of driving, all in Southern California. I hauled everything from family members to cases of wine to my own wedding dress, so yeah, mundane stuff. But I can't think many other vehicles I'd rather use for constant errand-running.

I've had trouble warming up to small crossover SUVs in the past, so either I'm getting old and soft, or this is a really good one. The ride quality is comfortable -- significantly more so than the previous two CR-Vs -- and the driver seat is well shaped, supportive and suitable for extended waits in unexpected traffic. The steering is darn good, too, especially for an electric setup. It's stable and unobtrusive on the highway and nice and precise around town.

The only thing I don't like about it is the same thing I didn't love about the previous CR-V...

...the drivetrain. The engine is weak in the grunt department (though at least it's smooth), and the transmission is slow to come up with downshifts (but again, smooth when it does shift). The thing is, the rest of the package is so strong, it's hard to give it much grief for this. More stories of the mundane coming soon!

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 2,961 miles

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2012 Honda CR-V: A Compliant Ride Even If It's Not That Quiet

December 07, 2012

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Drive a BMW X3 for a couple days and then hop into our long-term 2012 Honda CR-V, and you will notice a difference -- in the available torque for merging and passing, cabin noise levels, styling and, well, pretty much everything. And no wonder, given that it costs over $20K more, the Bimmer crossover had better offer some advantages over the $30,000 Honda.

But for the local highway conditions peculiar to Southern California (which is a peculiar place by anyone's measure), I find the supension calibration and tire package on the 2012 CR-V more agreeable.

Whereas our Sport Activity package-equipped X3 feels busy, and almost frenetic, as its short-sidewalled 245/45R19 (102V) all-season, run-flat Goodyear tires attempt to pound the 405 freeway into submission, the CR-V is relaxed and better at absorbing the grooves and expansion joints on this silly but iconic commuter route. Of course, with the big sidewalls on the Honda's 225/65R17 go-flat Bridgestone Duelers, you'd expect that.

You'd also expect the CR-V to concede every handling and braking test to the X3, and indeed it does -- the Bimmer slaloms at 64.4 mph, the Honda at 60.7. The X3 manages 0.80g on the skidpad versus 0.76g for the CR-V.

Braking is maybe the most interesting comparison, as both end up in the 120s -- which is maybe a little better than you'd expect of a Honda and a little worse than you'd expect of a BMW. CR-V: 129 feet. X3: 123 feet.

Returning to my freeway commentary, though, there's no denying the CR-V is louder than the X3. Even with its quieter tires, there's more road noise coming into the cabin, plus some significant wind noise, too. I still think it's better than previous CR-Vs, but is it good enough for a crossover SUV priced around 30 grand?

Well, I'm driving the long-term CR-V to Phoenix next week, so I'll have ample opportunity to consider that.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 11,581 miles

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2012 Honda CR-V: Perception Vs. Data

November 22, 2012

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Traffic was awful on the way home the other night. Most nights at this hour, I can usually get a clear run home to Orange County. But this is Thanksgiving week. Traffic moved, but cars packed the lanes. Just a lot of people on the road at that hour, and everyone has their own interpretation of flow of traffic.

You've got the box truck clogging the #3 lane. Or mid-90's Elantra Guy running up on bumpers, trying out different lanes, willing himself to get there, somewhere, before you do. And there's the old dame in the fast lane that keeps 18 lengths between her and the car ahead. And there's no closing that gap with her. When she sees those brake lights up ahead, she's right on top of hers.

So I got to know the CR-V brakes, including one event that induced some squeal and sent my bag tumbling from the passenger seat.

I started thinking that the brakes felt pretty good, that the pedal felt consistent and instilled some confidence. Then I remembered I was driving a Honda, which further surprised me. Honda has had moments, but brakes have never been among the company's traditional strengths.

In track testing, our long-term all-wheel-drive CR-V's braking results fall below the average, stopping from 60 mph in 129 feet on its Bridgestone Duelers. That's well below most small crossovers, which average 123 feet. But our long-termer's number is also at odds with an earlier test of a new AWD CR-V. That car, equipped with Continental Cross Contacts, stopped from 60 mph in 120 feet. That's about the distance you can expect from a Mazda CX-5, Toyota RAV4 and the Ford Escape all-wheel-drive models.

I'm curious to talk to my colleagues on the test team about the discrepancy after the holiday break. In the meantime, while I like the CR-V's brake feel, I won't be overly confident driving it this weekend.

Happy Thanksgiving all.

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor

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2012 Honda CRV AWD: Unafraid of Dirt

October 16, 2012

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Recent rains made the going easy in this part of Nevada, on account of a near total absence of dust and excellent grip. Resident mountain biking ace Josh Jacquot calls this sort of just-right damp soil by the name of Duncan Hines brownie mix, though the sandier patches out here trend slighty towards oatmeal cookies. Whatever, our 2012 Honda CR-V ate it up, which is a good thing since we covered all of 150 miles on dirt today, maybe more.

Mostly, the roads were kind of straight, but a good number of high- and medium-speed corners and more than a few crests and dips were sprinkled along the route to keep things interesting. The low places almost always presented us with an inviting mud puddle, and there were a few places where stones had been washed into the road.

Considering our load of 4 adults, their luggage, and two loaded coolers, I expected I'd have to rein myself in and tiptoe through the dips to keep out of the rear bump stops.

This was not the case. The Honda's suspension does not go all soggy when you add weight, instead it seems to come into its own, as if this was the situation it was built to serve. And so I was able to maintain a high pace -- upwards of 60 mph, in places -- and through it all the steering was direct and sure, the springs and dampers felt like they were right in their sweet spot, and the rear suspension still had travel enough to roll through the low places at barely-diminished speed, soaking up the compression without coming close to bottoming.

Note to self: remember to close the sunroof as you approach a mud puddle in this situation, otherwise your backseat passengers will be wearing tiny flecks of it. Sorry Linda and Rodger.

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Edmunds Insurance Estimator

The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2012 Honda CR-V in VA is:

$114 per month*
* Explanation
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