Full 2013 Honda CR-V Review
What's New for 2013
In the wake of last year's redesign, the Honda CR-V carries over unchanged for 2013.
Like the high-school class valedictorian who finds himself swimming in a sea of "A" students on his first day at an Ivy League college, it's easy for even the most impressive small crossover SUVs to get lost in the shuffle. Despite this challenging landscape, the 2013 Honda CR-V earns a well-deserved spot in the hearts of consumers. Much of its appeal is due to Honda's knack for giving most shoppers exactly what they want.
Compact crossovers are often the transportation of choice for those with small families. With ample passenger and cargo capacity and a full complement of family-friendly amenities, the 2013 CR-V is equipped to meet these responsibilities with a cheerful smile. Fuel economy is exceptional, while precise handling and intuitive controls ensure a thoroughly pleasant overall driver experience.
The 2013 CR-V's biggest shortcoming concerns what's under the hood. There's only one engine available, a 2.4-liter four-cylinder. It does provide that exceptional fuel economy, but if you're looking for an engine upgrade, you can't get one here. Also, a manual shift mode for the transmission isn't available, so those who enjoy interfacing with paddle shifters will find themselves out of luck.
One of the more impressive rivals faced by the Honda CR-V is the new Ford Escape, which comes to the table with a wider array of engine choices. Equally desirable are the feature-packed Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, the agile-handling Mazda CX-5 and the comfortable Chevrolet Equinox. Still, despite a campus thick with bright young talent, the CR-V is easily a well-rounded standout, especially for shoppers with family-oriented needs.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Honda CR-V is available in LX, EX and EX-L 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 6-inch 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. On top of this, 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 entertainment system. Note that the nav system and rear DVD entertainment system can't be ordered together.
Powertrains and Performance
Every 2013 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 small crossover 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.
Standard safety equipment on the 2013 Honda CR-V includes antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, active front head restraints, front side airbags and side curtain airbags. All CR-V models also come with a back-up camera.
In Edmunds brake testing, a CR-V EX-L came to a stop from 60 mph in 120 feet -- a short distance for a vehicle in this segment.
The 2013 CR-V earned a perfect five stars for overall protection in government crash tests, scoring five stars for both frontal- and side-impact protection. 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
The cabin of the 2013 CR-V boasts fluid, organic lines and ample nooks and crannies for stowing carry-on items. A logical layout makes controls easy to find and the overall aesthetic is pleasing to the eye. The open space between the front seats seen in the previous generation's sub-EX-L models has been retired, and all 2013 CR-Vs feature a full front console that increases utility by providing a bevy of additional storage compartments.
The sliding rear seats seen in the previous-generation CR-V are no more, but they've been discontinued to make way for an amenity that's perhaps even more useful: a spring-loaded auto-fold feature that allows you to fold the rear seats almost flat by gently pulling on a lever. The current seat offers just as much legroom as the sliding seat did, since its new fixed position mirrors the one held by the sliding seat when moved all the way back.
Abundant tech features are available, with a Pandora interface and Bluetooth phone and streaming audio being offered as standard equipment on all models. The CR-V is also available with 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.
The CR-V also swallows more stuff than its outside appearance would suggest. With the rear seats in place, the CR-V can carry 37.2 cubic feet of cargo; fold the rear seat down and that figure grows to an impressive 70.9 cubic feet.
While its performance relative to that of other four-cylinder-powered crossovers is competitive enough, there's no denying that the CR-V is a bit lacking in low-end power. This makes the absence of a V6 or turbocharged four-cylinder upgrade all the more apparent. Still, the CR-V's mill returns very good fuel economy, and while its five-speed automatic is a little behind the times (just about every other competitor has a six-speed auto), it shifts smoothly and responds decently enough to throttle inputs.
Although a few other small crossovers are more enjoyable to drive overall, the CR-V offers precise steering and commendably steady handling. Ride quality on most surfaces is acceptably smooth, and unlike the previous generation, the 2013 Honda CR-V also boasts a relatively quiet cabin. Overall, the feeling is one of refinement.