2017 Honda CR-V: Monthly Update for October 2017
by Dan Frio, Automotive Editor
Where Did We Drive It?
It was a banner month for our 2017 Honda CR-V. Usually we might add 1,300 to 1,600 miles to its odometer (we always aim for about 1,700 miles), but with road trips to Las Vegas and loads of local commuting miles in October, we exceeded 2,000 miles. This rare chance to stretch its legs didn't improve the CR-V's lifetime average mpg, so we're still stuck somewhat below the EPA rating. Given the stop-and-go traffic this crossover SUV normally endures, however, we consider it acceptable.
Along the way we had some mixed episodes with the CR-V's connected tech, and we're really trying to come to terms with the car's transmission. Can the continuously variable transmission (CVT) really be that much more fuel-efficient than a traditional six- or eight-speed automatic?
What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
We added 2,156 miles in October, many of them with social media manager Laurel Carden at the wheel for a trip to and from Las Vegas. It was a rare chance for the CR-V to stretch its legs. The rest of those miles were largely of the commuter variety.
We averaged 28.8 mpg for the month, the best we've averaged since April (when we averaged 30.9 mpg, our best month of the test so far). It wasn't enough to budge the needle on our lifetime average, which still stands at 27.4 mpg. Now that we're closing in on 15,000 miles, it looks as if this is about what we can expect of a CR-V that roams the wilds of Southern California. It also makes the EPA rating of 30 mpg combined look optimistic.
We did have four tank-fills in October that exceeded the EPA number, so there's that. But overall, we're still coming up short. As they might say in Des Moines, the CR-V just doesn't "test well" in Hollywood.
Average lifetime mpg: 27.4
EPA mpg rating: 30 combined (28 city/34 highway)
Best-fill mpg: 38.9
Best range: 425.5 miles
Current odometer: 14,096 miles
Maintenance and Upkeep
We took the CR-V in for a oil and filter change, tire rotation and multipoint inspection, an interval that Honda calls a B1 service. We took it to Rancho Santa Margarita Honda and were in and out of there in about 90 minutes (we opted for the complimentary wash). We were also $93 lighter, which seems a bit rich for a Honda minor service.
"I've come to like almost everything about this CR-V except — wait for it — the CVT. It baffles me that Honda can nail just about every other aspect of this car — comfort, interior quality and design, utility — then saddle it with this elastic mess of a transmission. The CVT's slow response forces you to recalibrate your expectations of when your foot requests power and when it arrives. It will respond with some urgency when you mash the pedal, but the powertrain sounds so awful doing it that you'll avoid it.
"Experience has shown us that these are hard transmissions to get right, and that the best examples we've driven are often attached to bigger engines that make big power. But when lashed to high-strung, torque-less four-cylinders, CVTs often struggle.
"The trade-off for fuel efficiency will be worth it for some people. We're averaging 28.1 mpg combined. That's short of the EPA-claimed 30 mpg combined, but it's a number I suspect many people would accept from a compact SUV." — Dan Frio, automotive editor
"I rely heavily on Waze for my daily commute, so connecting my phone to any vehicle I drive is important. What's more important than being able to connect my phone? Using its functions in the car. Cue Android Auto. Since Android Auto became available in 2015, the promise of having it replace almost every vehicle infotainment function is basically the holy grail: all music, navigation, contacts, and messages accessible via the head unit. I love it when technology works to make your life better. Until it doesn't, which is what happened.
"For the first 15 minutes of the commute into work, the head unit and Android Auto worked fine. Then it seemed like the head unit was possessed. The automatic brightness setting would go from day mode to night mode then go completely dark. I couldn't see anything. Nothing I pressed on-screen worked. It was just blank.
"I pulled over and unplugged the phone. It worked for a minute, then started wigging out again. I turned off the car, unplugged the phone, and it worked — for another 15 minutes. Frustrated, I pulled over and parked since I was on an unfamiliar route and relying on Waze to navigate me through traffic. I rebooted the phone, turned the ignition off, and waited until everything came up again. That seemed to cure Android Auto's ills." — Rex Tokeshi-Torres, vehicle testing technician
"I started out for Las Vegas after a team dinner, so it was late and dark when I set off. I was a bit sleepy after a long day of bonding, but excited for my destination and ready to experiment with all the technology. Almost immediately, I discovered the Driver Attention Monitor [which looks for signs of fatigue] and made it my mission to keep it full at four bars. I was mostly successful, but at one point it dropped to three bars, so I pulled off to pick up some snacks and it reset to full.
"Overall the infotainment system did the job, but it wasn't super intuitive. The screen seemed to be mostly fingerprint smudge-resistant, and the voice commands were very responsive and understood me perfectly. The biggest issue I had was with the navigation. It seemed to get lost when I was out in the desert. This happened on my way there and on the way back.
"Because the drive was long, I had an opportunity to play with lane keeping assist and adaptive cruise control. Both worked really well and helped keep me focused and driving safely." — Laurel Carden, social media manager
"Overall the interior is fantastic. The seats are comfortable, and the headrest was in the right place for my 5-foot-5 height. My favorite part was the full coverage from the sun visors. I drove home west from Vegas, following the sun the entire way. No matter where the sun was, the visors provided coverage. That usually never happens.
"The CR-V fit all my luggage in the trunk, and I pack heavy. There was also room in the center console for a 75-ounce water bottle and my purse. That was fantastic!" — Laurel Carden