2012 Honda CR-V: Road Trip to Arizona
December 21, 2012
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.
The Honda's five-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly through it all, but I can't deny that I prefer the six-speed automatic you'll be able to get in the RAV4. That transmission has one more overdrive gear to keep things quiet on the highway, but more importantly, it has a Sport mode that gives you quicker downshift. Of course, as I noted in that story, the RAV4 has the same 25 mpg combined rating as our all-wheel-drive CR-V, so no advantage there -- at least not until we do some fuel economy testing.
Apart from wanting a bit more power and maybe another gear, I enjoyed my travels, though, but then, I always enjoy road trips. Still, the Honda CR-V goes down the highway well. It's stable, and I never felt like I was fidgeting with the steering to keep it pointed straight ahead. The ride is comfortable, too, and just about ideal for a crossover SUV -- I can't imagine anyone complaining that it's too firm.
I'll share fuel economy numbers and a few more thoughts in my next installment.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 12,746 miles