What Did We Buy?
Twenty years ago when SUVs like the Chevy Tahoe and Ford Explorer began to overrun American roads, the Honda CR-V cut a niche for itself as a smaller alternative to the large fuel chuggers. Smart interior design atop a Civic chassis let the CR-V tackle most tasks demanded by a family of four while maintaining a lively driving experience and a reasonable fuel bill.
That the CR-V has remained in production for 20 years with only minimal changes to the formula is a testament to how well Honda nailed the original design. Buyers have responded by making the CR-V the reigning best-seller among compact crossovers.
There are a few new tricks up the 2017 Honda CR-V's sleeve for this fifth-generation model. An optional turbocharged engine is the big one. Previous generations offered just one four-cylinder engine. Now there's a choice between either the base 2.4-liter four-cylinder or the optional 1.5-liter turbocharged engine.
Less obvious is all the new hardware underneath. It's still based on the Civic, but it's a larger chassis that rides slightly higher. Revised styling keeps it modern-looking on the outside while upgraded connectivity technology assures that it feels modern on the inside.
All of which makes the new CR-V a formidable competitor. Where we might've expected Honda to make only modest updates to an already hot-selling vehicle, the automaker responded with an Olympian long jump to get in front of its rivals.
How far in front? That's what we hope to find out over the next 12 months and 20,000 miles.
What Options Does It Have?
The CR-V comes in five familiar trim levels: LX, EX, EX-L, EX-L with Navigation, and Touring. All-wheel drive is an option on all trims.
We opted for an EX-L with Navigation, which gives us the new turbo engine (190 horsepower, 179 pound-feet of torque), a continuously variable automatic transmission, 18-inch wheels and a sunroof, along with additional upgrades such as leather upholstery, heated front seats, a power liftgate, a 7-inch touchscreen tech interface, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility, an 8-speaker audio system and a navigation system.
Also included on the EX-L is a suite of safety and driver aids, such as a rearview camera with dynamic guidelines, automatic high beams, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning and intervention, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking. The adaptive cruise in our recent long-term Civic drove us a little nuts, although we liked that you could toggle between adaptive and standard cruise modes. We're curious to see if it's calibrated any better in the CR-V.
Buying our CR-V was dead easy, given Honda's no-options pricing. Aside from the navigation system that's offered on the EX, you simply pick the trim level with the features that best meet your needs. We considered an all-wheel-drive model to match up with our Escape, but not many were available in our area.
We settled on a front-wheel-drive EX-L with an MSRP of $31,135. After negotiating with Galpin Honda in nearby San Fernando, we bought it for $29,700 before tax.
Why We Bought It
Automakers don't typically get in the way of a sure thing. We write in our review of the new CR-V that we would have understood if Honda made a few subtle design changes and called it a day. But instead the company took a proactive approach, seeking to keep its competitive advantage through a bold overhaul.
That's no small risk for a company's second best-selling product, especially in a hypercompetitive compact crossover class with excellent alternatives from Chevrolet, Ford, Mazda, Nissan, Toyota, and just about every other automaker. Crossovers, compact and otherwise, are now officially the preferred choice for American buyers, outpacing even midsize family sedans.
We'll put the CR-V through the usual trials with our dogs, kids, surfboards, bikes, plants, lumber, coolers and camping gear. And thanks to our long-term Ford Escape, we'll have a great reference point along the way.
Follow the CR-V's progress on our long-term road test page for our latest thoughts and impressions of this 2017 Honda CR-V.
Edmunds purchased this vehicle for the purpose of evaluation.