2018 Honda CR-V Review
2018 Honda CR-V Review
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Edmunds' Expert Review
Dan spent many years covering the go-fast, look-good, get-loud corners of the automotive universe. First, he served as editor of enthusiast magazines AutoSound and Honda Tuning, then as executive editor at SEMA News, the publishing arm of the trade group that produces the annual SEMA Show (yes, that show). As a contributor to Edmunds, he now likes to keep the volume low and the speed limit legal, providing expert car-shopping advice to drivers looking for the perfect match.
- Turbocharged engine delivers a rare combination of thrift and zest
- Roomy interior with cavernous cargo capacity for this class
- Rides comfortably yet handles corners athletically
- Plentiful and thoughtful storage areas
- Touchscreen can be finicky to use and lacks a separate tuning knob
- Base LX's engine is weaker and thirstier than the turbo
- Optional navigation system isn't as reliable as expected
- Comprehensively redesigned last year, the 2018 Honda CR-V carries over unchanged.
The Honda CR-V was redesigned last year and, frankly, we were surprised by how deep the changes went. Rather than phone in some superficial tweaks to a top-selling model, Honda gave it a ground-up overhaul that decisively parted ways with its predecessor. The 2018 Honda CR-V sets a new pace for its rivals to follow.
Calculate my fuel costs
Cost to DriveCost to drive estimates for the 2018 Honda CR-V LX 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl CVT) and comparison vehicles are based on 15,000 miles per year (with a mix of 55% city and 45% highway driving) and energy estimates of $3.11 per gallon for regular unleaded in Virginia.
Monthly estimates based on costs in Virginia
$135/mo for CR-V LX
Avg. Midsize SUV
Among the tricks up this fifth-generation CR-V's sleeve is a turbocharged engine that comes on all trims except for the base LX. With ample low-end torque and a fuel-sipping design — fuel economy climbs as high as 34 mpg highway, according to EPA estimates — the turbo engine is a natural fit in the CR-V.
The 2018 Honda CR-V also benefits from an overhauled suspension that reduces body roll in corners without compromising its historically compliant ride. The wheelbase is longer, the front and rear tracks are wider, and there's even an extra 1.5 inches of ground clearance for those who found that the previous CR-V scraped its stomach too often in light-duty off-roading. All-wheel drive remains an option for those mild excursions into the dirt, as well as for increased stability in wet weather.
Inside, the CR-V follows the latest Civic's lead with a modernized dashboard, a digitally enhanced instrument cluster, and an updated touchscreen that thankfully includes a physical volume knob. There's also more rear legroom than in earlier models and an exceptional 75.8 cubic feet of maximum cargo space that makes the supposedly compact CR-V a legitimate alternative to midsize SUVs.
Add it all up and the CR-V is a strong contender for best-in-class honors, despite tough competition from crossover rivals such as the more rugged Subaru Forester and the more athletic Nissan Rogue.
What's it like to live with?
Want to learn even more about what it's like to own a CR-V? Edmunds bought a Honda CR-V EX-L to find out. It proved to be comfortable, roomy and practical, but not without its flaws. It even required a few surprising repairs. You can read our long-term test coverage to find out why this generation of CR-V became our top-rated small SUV. Note that while we tested a 2017 CR-V, the current 2018 model is fundamentally the same.
Edmunds' Expert Rating8.1 / 10
The 2018 Honda CR-V picks up where last year's fully redesigned predecessor left off. Assertive styling, turbocharged power and a refined interior enhance the popular crossover's traditional versatility and value. It's harder than ever to find fault with this best-seller's formula.
Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our First Drive of the 2017 Honda CR-V EX-L (turbo 1.5L inline-4 | CVT automatic | FWD).
|Overall||8.1 / 10|
With capable if not thrilling acceleration, composed handling and confident highway manners, the turbocharged CR-V is a multidisciplined competitor. If you're looking for a small SUV that doesn't makes compromises for its size, this Honda fits the bill.
Small-displacement turbocharged engines often struggle in SUVs, but not the 1.5-liter engine in the CR-V. It's quicker than most rivals, providing good low-end oomph for scooting through city streets. You won't be nervous on a freeway onramp, and you won't need to slam on the gas to pass slowpokes.
Owners will find linear and progressive responses from the brake pedal during both light and hard stops. In our emergency braking testing, the CR-V's best stop from 60 mph took 116 feet, which falls in line with what we expect from compact SUVs.
Steering resistance builds naturally as you turn the wheel, giving the CR-V a sense of precision and confidence. The wheel also returns to center smoothly, ensuring stability on the freeway. A standout in the class.
The CR-V strikes an admirable balance between handling and ride quality. Midcorner bumps and other road irregularities don't upset it, and body roll is minimal. You can confidently snake up a curvy road without sickening your passengers or unnecessarily triggering the stability control.
Continuously variable automatic transmissions often feel strange, but the CR-V's is among the best. Accelerating from a stop feels natural, but full-throttle acceleration feels a bit odd as the engine speed remains constant. Cruise control doesn't manage speed going downhill, a potential annoyance.
Though it isn't designed for challenging off-road driving, the 7.8 inches (front-wheel drive) to 8.2 inches (all-wheel drive) of ground clearance means you won't have problems with the occasional unpaved road. Hill descent control is not available.
The CR-V's ride is quieter and more supple than ever, and accommodations for front and rear occupants are spacious and inviting. You may hear some engine noise while accelerating up a freeway onramp, but the sound falls on the pleasing side of the spectrum.
The power driver's seat (EX models and up) provides eight-way adjustment, plus four-way lumbar, ensuring a fit for drivers of all sizes. You won't hear complaints during long trips from the backseat unless you have someone in the center. Alas, only the driver gets to adjust seat height.
The CR-V is composed and settled over almost any kind of surface. Impacts happen once and that's it, thanks in part to fluid-filled suspension bushings and Honda's decision to stay with reasonably sized 18-inch wheels. There's plenty of tire sidewall to absorb the bumps, resulting in a smooth ride.
Noise & vibration7.5
You'll notice some wind and tire noise, but the engine is only noticeable when you step hard on the gas — and it doesn't sound bad either. None of it is loud enough to drown out conversations or force occupants to raise their voices.
Drivers sensitive to temperature changes might need to fiddle with the controls more than they prefer since the system doesn't work as well at low settings. Heated front seats are standard on all trims except LX. Rear passengers will appreciate vents on the back of the front armrest.
The interior design improves practicality and offers a welcome dose of style compared to the last-generation model. Owners will appreciate little tricks such as adjusting the opening height for the rear hatch for tight garages and venting all four windows on hot days by holding the unlock button.
Ease of use7.5
The physical controls are very intuitive, but the touch-sensitive buttons can be annoying. Some on-screen buttons are small, and it's too easy to graze the touch-sensitive volume control on the steering wheel. The digital temperature and fuel gauges flanking the speedometer wash out in sunlight.
Getting in/getting out8.5
The wide front and rear door openings provide plenty of head and leg clearance on the way in. The CR-V is a little taller than before, but it remains just as easy to step inside — overlapping doors with narrow sills help. Occupants of all sizes will have little difficulty entering or exiting.
It's simple to put the seat and steering wheel right where you want, and the gauge cluster is easy to see in its entirety. The armrests sit at equal heights, but what looks like a pad for your right knee is actually hard plastic, which might be uncomfortable for the longer-legged.
Never mind the compact part of this SUV's class. Interior dimensions are generally larger than those of rivals, with exception of front head- and legroom, which are by no means tight. Rear seating space is the biggest you'll find in a small SUV. Four full-size adults will fit with zero problems.
The windshield pillars don't obstruct your front view, and it's easy to sense the front bumper's location. Blind spots are minimal, and monitoring is standard on all but the LX. Rear headrests encroach slightly on the rear window but don't obstruct. The backup camera covers a wide viewing angle.
Flowing interior panels and trim inserts show generally convincing quality, as does the leather adorning the seats and steering wheel (EX-L and Touring trim levels). A well-built vehicle in every respect.
The CR-V is a master of practicality. From its enormous and multiconfigurable storage capacity to its many clever compartments, this Honda makes you question if a larger SUV is necessary.
The reconfigurable center console has a deep storage well and a sliding tray that's rubberized and textured. It also doubles as a cover for hiding small valuables. From large cupholders to a phone shelf and deep door pockets, there's a place for your and your passengers' items.
At 39.2 cubic feet, the CR-V's rear storage space is at the top of the class, rivaling room in larger SUVs. The rear seats flip down easily and softly, expanding space to a massive 75.8 cubic feet. A clever height-adjustable cargo floor lets you choose between a flat loading surface or more space.
Child safety seat accommodation8.0
All rear seats have easily accessible LATCH anchors. The large rear passenger area means car seats fit without moving the front seats. Outboard rear seats each have a tether anchor on the rear seatback. The center seat's tether anchor is in the roof, which can slightly obstruct rear visibility.
The CR-V offers a 1,500-pound towing capacity, which is about the norm for the class. It cannot be towed behind a motorhome.
With smartphone integration and advanced safety features standard on the majority of trims (all but LX), the CR-V makes a strong case on paper. Alas, the entertainment system and voice controls can be annoying. But that doesn't matter much if you plug in your smartphone, which is fully supported.
Audio & navigation7.5
Honda replaced the volume slider with a physical knob, but other aspects of the touchscreen's menus still feel clunky and stilted. Smartphone owners with good reception can get navigation for free via Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, so they can think twice about buying the optional navigation system.
Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration are standard on all but the base LX trim. Front and rear occupants get two USB ports each.
Lane keeping assist, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise, forward collision, and blind-spot monitoring are standard on all but LX trims. Collision monitoring throws the occasional false positive during congested city driving, but most systems are otherwise unobtrusive or easily disabled.
Standard voice controls are somewhat cumbersome, such that it's often faster to rely on the physical or on-screen controls. Fortunately, a long press on the voice control button lets you engage the advanced Siri or Google Voice voice recognition system when your smartphone is plugged in.
Which CR-V does Edmunds recommend?
We're torn between the EX and the EX-L. The latter has desirable luxury features such as leather upholstery, a programmable power liftgate and a premium audio system. We liked it enough to buy one for our long-term test fleet. But do you really need those amenities in your compact crossover? If you just need a practical utility vehicle, the cheaper EX offers generous features of its own, including a sunroof, and it comes standard with the same turbocharged engine and a 7-inch touchscreen-based infotainment system.
2018 Honda CR-V models
The 2018 Honda CR-V is offered in four trim levels: LX, EX, EX-L and Touring. The LX isn't exactly bare-bones, but it does have a less powerful engine along with a 5-inch display screen and no sunroof. Step up to the EX and you get a standard sunroof plus a 7-inch touchscreen, a power driver seat and a more powerful, turbocharged engine. The EX-L tacks on items such as leather, premium audio and a power liftgate, while the Touring goes all in with LED headlights, a subwoofer and more.
Opt for the base LX and you'll get a decent roster of equipment, including a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine (184 horsepower, 180 pound-feet of torque) paired to a continuously variable automatic transmission and front-wheel drive, an electronic parking brake, 17-inch alloy wheels, LED running lights, automatic climate control, cruise control, a height-adjustable driver seat, a 5-inch color LCD dashboard display, and a four-speaker audio system with Bluetooth and USB connectivity. Honda's various advanced safety technologies are not offered on the LX, although all-wheel drive is optional as on all trims.
The EX ups the ante with a more powerful turbocharged four-cylinder engine (190 hp, 179 lb-ft), remote start, 18-inch wheels, foglights, heated mirrors, body-colored door handles and spoiler, rear privacy glass, a retractable cargo cover, keyless entry and start, an upgraded driver information center, a sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power driver's seat, and heated front seats.
Infotainment features include a 7-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Audio phone integration, satellite radio, an upgraded rearview camera with dynamic guidelines, numerous advanced safety features (automatic high beams, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning and intervention, adaptive cruise control, and forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking) and second-row USB charging ports.
The EX-L's upgrades include a programmable-height power liftgate, driver-seat memory settings, leather upholstery, a power passenger seat (though it lacks a height adjustment), a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and an eight-speaker audio system with HD radio. A navigation system is optional on the EX-L but not on the lesser trims.
The top-of-the-line Touring boasts LED headlights, dual chrome exhaust tips, roof rails, automatic wipers, hands-free functionality for the power liftgate, ambient interior lighting, a navigation system and a subwoofer for the audio system.
Aside from the EX-L's optional navigation system, there are no factory options for the 2018 CR-V, so the only question is which trim level is right for you.
Reliability Ratings by RepairPal
4.5 out of 5 stars4.5/5Excellent
#5 out of 28 among Compact SUVs
RepairPal Reliability Ratings are based on the actual cost, frequency, and severity of unscheduled repairs and maintenance on make/model data for select 2008-2022 vehicles. The reliability of a specific vehicle may vary depending on its maintenance and driving history, model year, trim, and features.
CostThe average total annual cost for unscheduled repairs and maintenance across all model years of the Honda CR-V from 2008-2022.
for Average Compact SUV
for Average Compact SUV
FrequencyThe average number of times this model is brought into the shop for unscheduled repairs and maintenance in a single year. RepairPal calculates this metric by tracking millions of unique vehicles over multiple years to determine an average number of visits per year (omitting small routine visits, e.g., oil changes).
for Average Compact SUV
for Average Compact SUV
SeverityThe probability that a repair will be a major issue, meaning the repair costs 3x the average annual repair cost for all models. This threshold will be higher for vehicles that have higher labor rates and parts costs (such as a premium brand).
for Average Compact SUV
for Average Compact SUV
powered by RepairPal Based on RepairPal reliability data as of 8/23/2023. Ratings are provided by RepairPal and Edmunds is not responsible for their accuracy.
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4.2 out of 5 stars
Most helpful consumer reviews
5 out of 5 stars
2018 Honda CR-V EX-L 4dr SUV AWD w/Navigation (1.5L 4cyl Turbo CVT)
Owned a CRV way back in '99, generally liked it, but boy was it uncomfortable for the long haul. All these years later I felt I needed another SUV and I'm back in one and I chose it over many competitors both in and out of its class - nothing seemed to compare for overall comfort, fit, finish, value and just plain old attention to detail. Have owned the car since March and though it … doesn't show a lot of miles on the clock we have made a trip to the Outer Banks of NC, a trip to Charleston, SC and a trip to northeast TN from our home in northern VA so you can see it's mostly highway miles. Through the mountains it gobbles up hills like they weren't there and the CVT transmission is not droney as you would think especially as compared to the Fusion hybrid I traded. I have left it in "Econ" mode for most of the time that I've had it. Only when I have loaded it up with people have I switched out of Econ, and that is just to give it a little more ummph off the line - and yes the boost in performance it is quite noticeable. It does tend to be tepid off the line when in Econ. The seats are great, front and back what else can I say. I am 5'11" and 245 with a bad back and knees and I haven't howled one time about lack of comfort when I am driving. Neither has my wife in the passenger seat and she loves the fact that the front seat backs are also heated by the seat warmers. The car is very easy to get into and out of and the doors both front and rear swing wide to accommodate entry and exit. The cargo area is cavernous and the main reason we traded cars. Came out of a Fusion hybrid and the loss of trunk space was more than we could deal with. Yes we took a hit on fuel economy, but not that much and the gain in cargo and overall cabin room is well worth the trade off in economy. The only downside if there is one is that the Infotainment system is fiddly and requires your attention a little too much for my taste. A car is transportation first and "Star Trek" second. Although voice recognition works fine you have to be on your A game to remember the commands properly and this is no different I don't care what brand you drive. As far as my ratings go I have left some areas as OK/NA because I haven't truly been able to honestly comment on it, so it may go up or down. We are preparing for a 6000 mile road trip at the end of August to tour our western states. I will be sure to update at the end of the trip to see if the honeymoon still holds up. Cheers. Update Sep 29, 2018 I promised a follow up after a long road trip we had planned in late August. Here's the nuts and bolts. 7000 miles in 23 days. We started in central Virginia, winding our way across this great nation stopping for a 3 day visit in Omaha, Neb then on to Moab, UT for a visit to Arches and Canyonlands NP. Left there for Cortez, CO and a visit to Mesa Verde NP. From there to Four Corners, then Grand Canyon and onward to Sedona, AZ. After a 3 days visit there headed to Bryce Canyon NP and on northward to Grand Teton NP and Yellowstone. Onward to Mt Rushmore and Deadwood, SD then the long trek back to Virginia. I detail all these places so you can envision the terrain we drove through and know that we drove over some serious mountain ranges requiring good acceleration and great braking as well as good road holding ability. Trust me until you have experienced the switchbacks in Canyonlands and Mesa Verde you won't know what the aforementioned attributes mean. What can I say, the CRV performed flawlessly and exceeded my every expectation. Yes I left it in ECON the whole trip and it never hiccupped once not even over Loveland Pass at over 10000 ft elevation. The only reason anything passed me was because they chose to run faster than I was willing. Would the Honda keep up at 80mph most certainly and more, but 80 is my limit on public roadways and really a bit too much for my taste. The secondary roads that we were forced to use in a lot of instances were not always in the best of shape, but the CRV has not developed one squeak or rattle, nor has the paint suffered from chips and dings - there are some killer suicidal grasshoppers out there as well as blowing dust. I said in my first review that I am 66, 5'11" and 245, bad back and knees and my wife also suffers from back problems. Not a whimper from either of us. The seats are great, period. The interior room is phenominal. We tend to brake for thrift and antique stores and there came a time that I wish the car would fill up so we could drive on! It just seemed to be growing more space! Enough said, but the fuel economy in mountainous terrain, over much secondary road, crawling through the National Parks and cruising at 80mph on the interstate through Montana and South Dakota I have an indicated average of 32.7 mpg. The car now has a tick over 10k miles and its first service under its belt. I just can't heap enough praise on this car. I think they got this one right.
1 out of 5 stars
GAS in Oil - WOULD NOT RECOMMEND -
2018 Honda CR-V EX-L 4dr SUV AWD (1.5L 4cyl Turbo CVT)
Update after 2 years: Dealer updated software to fix the gas in oil. I noticed gas in the oil and returned to dealer to report the condition. The dealer refused to document the condition saying this is what Honda recommends which means they don't truly have a fix. Love the vehicle but wouldn't recommend the engine. I have had 2 hondas that have lasted over 200K. The 2018 CRV is a … ghost waiting to turn into a nightmare. The gas in the oil is real and regardless of Honda claiming is normal that is false. No engine can handle oil dilution without having a premature bearing surface wear problem and oil seal problems in the future. The engine life will be reduced that is a fact. No one can say by how much since the engines don't have enough mileage yet. The other downside is the oil with added gas requires the oil to be changed more frequently. I have smelled gas in the oil with 50 miles on a fresh oil change and with a little over a 1000 miles the oil level is so high it makes you want to change it. I'm afraid the earthdreams engine design will require a major redesign. Look on utube and do some searching you will find everyone is complaining. it is not an isolated event to the cold northern states. It is happening in hot Tx, Mo, Ar, Fla., Tn.... I wish I didn't buy this vehicle. Honda has no fix for the problem.
3 out of 5 stars
We like our CR-V
2018 Honda CR-V LX 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl CVT)
A quality vehicle. We like the steering (precise), road-ability (stable - goes were you point it and stays there), the engine (peppy and quiet), the large storage area and the "fold flat" second row. I could actually sleep in it, and I'm 5' 10". It is tight and solid, without squeaks and rattles. Nice fit and finish. Our gas mileage has been great: 25 around town and on a pokey … 200 mile "break in trip" at 50 - 65 mph we actually got 34. The negatives: the front driver's seat bottom is pretty hard, and short, so the "under thigh" support is lacking, a comfort negative on a long trip. The center console is so wide it makes buckling front seat belts very tight, especially with thick winter clothing. All in all, we're quite happy with our purchase. With only 550 miles on it, the reliability remains to be seen. We also like the CVT transmission, but the reliability of the design also remains to be seen. UPDATE August, 2018: We now have 4200 miles on it. After owning it a few months we began to notice a slight, rapid vibration at 65 mph. It sort of "phased in and out" at about a 5-7 second interval. Rebalancing tires and tire rotation changed nothing. The dealership, because the vibration was so slight, pronounced it "normal" and refuses to pursue it further. My wife scarcely notices it, but it's in there and it irritates me. No factory service bulletins reflect this problem, and no similar complaints are found online. Service manager's "it's all yours attitude" has caused me to take my routine service elsewhere. UPDATE: February 2019. 6,800 miles. The 65 mile per hour vibration I mentioned seems to have mostly gone away. We continue to enjoy the wonderful "goes where you point it - hands off" stability. And it's till tight and solid, fun to drive.
5 out of 5 stars
We surprised ourselves!
William Price, 02/14/2018
2018 Honda CR-V Touring 4dr SUV AWD (1.5L 4cyl Turbo CVT)
We have had a Subaru Outback for 20 years, and have loved it. It has been the most useful and reliable car we have ever owned (and both my wife and I are north of age 65, so we have owned a goodly number of cars). We researched a new car purchase for over a year, and pretty much assumed we would get another Subaru (most likely a Forester, for its compact size and off-road agility). We … have also owned a 2000 Jeep Wrangler since it was almost new, and have done a lot of 4-wheeling. We live in the lower part of the Sierra Nevada mountains, and get a modest amount of snow along with the rain. So, we value good traction in a rural area. But, when we finally test-drove a Forester, we found the ride was a bit stiffer than we liked, the seats were too firm, and entry/exit was a little difficult for my 5'3" wife. Then, we drove the Honda CR-V. We felt it was noticeably more comfortable. Also, it has a plusher interior, and slightly larger cargo volume. We thought it was generally classier looking. (We recognized that the Forester has a half-inch more ground clearance, and possibly slightly better safety technology, notably the rear braking feature.) We really like the Honda's little engine, which has absolutely no turbo lag, and is much more responsive than the old Outback ever was. The technology is excellent, the safety features are most comforting, the Molten Lava Pearl Red paint is very good fun; Folsom Lake Honda is excellent to work with for both purchase and service. We are gratified to learn that Kelley Blue Book and Motor Trend magazine have given the CR-V "best of class" recognition. We have kept the Subaru, but we have a new love.
2018 Honda CR-V video
[MUSIC PLAYING] MARK TAKAHASHI: Small crossover SUVs have been wildly popular, outselling the less versatile sedans for quite some time. JOSH SADLIER: Mark and I brought our two current favorites in this segment, and Will over here brought the RAV4, the current top seller. WILL KAUFMAN: We're going to take a closer look at each of these vehicles to let you know what their strengths and weaknesses are. We've put hundreds of miles on each of these movies on the road, but we thought we'd spare you 12 minutes of us going to buy groceries. Instead, we took our three red people movers to our test track where we could make those disclaimers at the bottom of every ad about closed roads and professional drivers come alive. You may never drive your compact crossover like this, but at least you can rest easy knowing someone has. JOSH SADLIER: We've got the latest Honda CR-V here with the 1.5-liter turbo charged four cylinder engine that you get on almost every version you'll find at a dealer lot. There's the 2.4 that comes in the base LX. I don't know if I've ever seen one of those on the road. It doesn't really seem like something people are going to be interested in because you want the turbo motor, it gets better fuel economy and more power. How are you guys enjoying it so far? WILL KAUFMAN: This back seat is cavernous. There's a lot of room for me to flop around back here. JOSH SADLIER: I've been watching that, yeah. WILL KAUFMAN: But-- I mean, it's huge back here. There's just a ton of room in this car. JOSH SADLIER: Yeah, it is very spacious. This is effectively a mid-sized SUV I would say in terms of usability. MARK TAKAHASHI: I'm not getting a sense of that space, though. I feel like the headliner and the windshields are actually a little close to me. [ENGINE REVVING] WILL KAUFMAN: That's interesting. Oof. Oh wow, there's that noise. Ah, it just sounds like the engine wants to leap out of the engine bay. [LAUGHTER] The CVT just does not do it any favors in the sound department. MARK TAKAHASHI: In its defense, though, no one in their right mind is going to be driving a CR-V this-- JOSH SADLIER: Well, MARK TAKAHASHI: --hard. JOSH SADLIER: That's fair. WILL KAUFMAN: And it does provide a good boost and good fuel economy. I mean-- JOSH SADLIER: It does. WILL KAUFMAN: With the gas motor-- JOSH SADLIER: Well, not right now. WILL KAUFMAN: But with a gas motor, this is the most efficient of the three if you don't want the hybrid. JOSH SADLIER: Now this is the front wheel drive one, which means we're going to be getting under ideal circumstances, 34 MPG highway, which is easily the best of any of these competitors. The others are I think 31 and 30 at the top end. So the fuel economy is definitely a strong suit, at least according to the EPA. Now in the real world, if you're in a boost like I've been here, your results may vary. MARK TAKAHASHI: Here's the thing, though. It's making a lot of tire noise, but it doesn't feel sloppy. JOSH SADLIER: Yeah, I wouldn't call it sloppy. I mean, it clearly does not have much tire for this purpose, but in the real world, having driven this around, I didn't feel like it needed more tire like on a country road or something. So I think this is an extreme situation we're in right now, but I do like the way it responds. The steering, there's no slop in it and it goes where you point it. The thing for me about this car is the transmission. I think if people are not used to a CVT, this can be kind of a rude awakening in that it just doesn't always respond as promptly or as predictively as you might expect if you're used to driving like a traditional automatic transmission. MARK TAKAHASHI: And they don't offer any kind of automatic, do they? JOSH SADLIER: CVTs beauties across the board, yeah. Even with the 2.4, it's still CVT. That's the one thing, I think if people take a test drive and-- again, transmission's fine, what's he talking about? Cool, and then you'll probably like the rest of the car. For me it's a deal breaker. MARK TAKAHASHI: Wow, all right. WILL KAUFMAN: See, I didn't-- in normal driving, I haven't felt that way about this vehicle, because of the CVT, when you're just, you know, cruising in traffic, when you're driving on the freeway, when you're driving around town, the response that I expect from a car, the CVT isn't falling short of that. MARK TAKAHASHI: It's not until you start getting onto a highway, you know, on an on-ramp or something and you really want to get up to speed, does it feel like it's at a disadvantage? JOSH SADLIER: Yeah, and the engine gets really frantic. MARK TAKAHASHI: I think this is better suited to someone who has one or two kids. It's comfortable. It just kind of checks all the boxes. JOSH SADLIER: There's still some road noise there I noticed on a longer drive over the weekend. WILL KAUFMAN: It does seem like for this vehicle, they looked at the old RAV4 and they said, OK, it's going to be just better in every measure. Not necessarily tremendously better, but it's going to be better. It's also the only one that has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. This is the 2018 RAV4, and it's the RAV4 that really started the compact crossover craze way back when. And it's still the bestselling of any compact crossover. In fact, it's the bestselling vehicle in the US next to the pickup trucks that everybody loves to buy so much. But I think part of the appeal of this is that there's nothing complicated about it. There's no other reason you buy it, you don't have to think, oh, I want the one that handles well. You just think, I want the one that will carry all of my people and stuff and I don't want to worry about it. MARK TAKAHASHI: It's not something that I don't think you really aspire to? There's nothing that kind of gets me excited about this car. It's the safe choice. JOSH SADLIER: Yeah. There's actually decent bolstering in these seats. A little more than I expected. Thanks for helping me to feel that with that turn. WILL KAUFMAN: I mean, it is-- it's just a perfectly fine place to spend time. I mean, I agree, there's nothing that stands out here, but that's sort of part of the point of this car, is it just does what it does without any pretension to anything else, and you can get a hybrid power train so you get better fuel economy than any of the others if that's what you're looking for. It's also not a very thrilling engine. The transmission will, even though it's only a six-speed transmission, it will sort of jump around if you're in normal mode and you start asking for a little bit of acceleration. JOSH SADLIER: There's something kind of honest, though, about this power train that I'm drawn to. WILL KAUFMAN: Yeah, it's basically the same power train as the Mazda. MARK TAKAHASHI: Even to be competitive nowadays, you have to overdeliver on a number of fronts-- refinement and comfort and performance. Everything has now gotten to the point where everybody is expecting more. This doesn't really overdeliver, it's adequate in almost every way. JOSH SADLIER: It's an aging product that's kind of hanging in there, but you're right, it's not really going the extra mile. WILL KAUFMAN: The ride and handling isn't bad. It is a little rough around the road than that CX-5, you definitely feel the bumps a little bit more. I mean, it's not sloppy around these turns. MARK TAKAHASHI: It was that little boaty coming out of that last turn, though. I felt a little bit of residual bounces as you set it into the turn. JOSH SADLIER: Yeah, you wouldn't call this the driver's choice. MARK TAKAHASHI: No, no. JOSH SADLIER: But at the same time, I feel like if someone told me, hey, I just bought a 2018 RAV4, it would be hard to argue against that. MARK TAKAHASHI: Oh no, no, no. JOSH SADLIER: Well maybe-- MARK TAKAHASHI: He would say, why didn't you get the 2019 and just wait nine months? JOSH SADLIER: Well, it's an all-new model, you want to give it a year or two to sort things out. MARK TAKAHASHI: Do ya? WILL KAUFMAN: The other thing is, you'll be able to get a really good deal on one of these-- when it's on dealer lots and a few months when the new one's out. JOSH SADLIER: That's a great point. WILL KAUFMAN: This is going to get cheaper. You don't always see sales on Toyotas. MARK TAKAHASHI: Welcome to the best small crossover you can buy today, the Mazda CX-5. It's a little sporty, it's a little more reactive and responsive. Sure it's an SUV, it's a little tippy, but there's only so much you can do in regards to physics, right? WILL KAUFMAN: One of the things that impresses me in this car is the body roll is really well-controlled. JOSH SADLIER: You should try sitting in the middle back here, but I take your point. MARK TAKAHASHI: Well, in addition to better driving dynamics, I think it's also the best-looking in the bunch. JOSH SADLIER: I would agree with that. MARK TAKAHASHI: I mean, it's better to look good than feel good, but this does both. JOSH SADLIER: If you look around at the competition, there's not really another crossover at this price point that actually makes a style statement. Not one that I can think of, at least. MARK TAKAHASHI: It's not over-styled either. I mean, it just-- like the overall shape is really pleasing. JOSH SADLIER: Yep. WILL KAUFMAN: It's also definitely the nicest interior of any of the ones we have here today. MARK TAKAHASHI: Some of these materials we wouldn't have expected to see except for maybe a luxury car last generation. JOSH SADLIER: Yep. MARK TAKAHASHI: And it's got this great infotainment controller here that's kind of the same as you'd expect from BMW, Mercedes, and Audi. And I love that. It's just well-managed, you know? It's easy to drive, it's fun to drive. WILL KAUFMAN: It raises the question, why do you buy a compact SUV? It is because it handles nicely? MARK TAKAHASHI: You know, there are certain people left in the world who appreciate cars that handle well and are sporty. WILL KAUFMAN: But if you're buying one of these, what you need is practicality, right? What you need is to be able to fit stuff and people and just carry things around. I mean, what are the tricks of this car other than it's nice to put around a turn, which, let's face it, most of the only chance you get to do that is a freeway on-ramp. Not every road is our test track. MARK TAKAHASHI: Well, you don't think that this has enough cargo space? WILL KAUFMAN: You've got two kids, especially if they're small, you've got two strollers you gotta throw in the trunk. That's a lot of space right there. This is definitely going to be the worst at moving stuff. MARK TAKAHASHI: Worst? WILL KAUFMAN: There's no other power train option in this car. This is the only one here today-- MARK TAKAHASHI: I don't think it needs more power. WILL KAUFMAN: Well, the power is only part of it, right? The other thing that-- the other thing that the other power train options on the other vehicles offer is not just more power, but more fuel efficiency. You've got a hybrid motor in the RAV4 and you've got the 1.5 liter turbo in the CR-V, both of which are more efficient than what you get in this car. JOSH SADLIER: But I think the point about cargo capacity for me in this segment is I doubt that many buyers are actually folding down the seats and maximizing every last cubic foot that's available. I feel like what they're looking for is a high seating position. Yeah, a convenient hatchback trunk, sure, you can fold down the seats if you need to, but I think it's the style that really pushes this one over the top compared to other cars in the class for the price. Like, you want to look good driving a crossover, I feel like that's part of the appeal. WILL KAUFMAN: This is also the best seating position of any of the ones we have here today for sure. I mean, you feel a little bit more ensconced in the vehicle, you've got armrests that at least for me actually work on both sides. And that's-- I mean, just that, just the feel of sitting down and in this vehicle, there is a little bit of that sportiness to it. And I also think it's just the most comfortable-- these seats to me are the most comfortable of the three we have. JOSH SADLIER: Starting with acceleration, the CR-V turns out to have a pretty significant advantage. We're talking about a second-and-a-half to 60-- seven-and-a-half for the CR-V, nine seconds-plus for the CX-5 and RAV4. What do we think about that? MARK TAKAHASHI: It's crazy. I mean, the CX-5 feels so much faster and livelier, but numbers don't lie. JOSH SADLIER: Braking distance we go from 60 to zero, full panic stop. Once again the CR-V has a significant advantage-- 121 feet in that panic stop versus 130 for the other two cars. When it comes to cargo space, the CR-V has a class-leading 39.2 cubic feet of it behind the second row. That's on par with some mid-size SUVs. MARK TAKAHASHI: Cargo capacity is one of the main reasons people gravitate towards crossovers like these. WILL KAUFMAN: That is really impressive, but on paper, it's within a cubic foot of the RAV4. In the real world, that makes a difference, though. You can see, after the most unexpected game of Tetris ever, JOSH SADLIER: We are down one golf bag, but only one golf bag, so they're pretty much the same. The CX-5, though, I feel like it's a little smaller. Is that-- Mark? Is it smaller? MARK TAKAHASHI: It's smaller. That is what didn't fit in the RAV4, and all of this is what doesn't fit in the CX-5. At 30.9 cubic feet, it's the smallest capacity of the bunch, but that's still a lot of stuff. WILL KAUFMAN: I know the force is the bestselling vehicle in this segment, but it's really starting to show its age. Compared to these other two, it just can't really hold up. We're going after you run this test again and we get the new model in because I think it's going to be a big improvement. MARK TAKAHASHI: And I realize that the CX-5 doesn't have the greatest cargo capacity, but it really appeals to my left brain. I mean, it looks great, and drives even better. JOSH SADLIER: But here's what the right brain says. The CR-V's got the best fuel economy, best cargo capacity, best braking, and best acceleration in the whole test. Case closed. MARK TAKAHASHI: Let us know what you think. Leave a comment below, and if you like what you see, hit Subscribe. And check out Edmonds.com for full ratings and reviews of each of these SUVs. [MUSIC PLAYING]
Mazda CX-5 vs. Honda CR-V vs. Toyota RAV4 Comparison Test
Edmunds editors Mark Takahashi, Josh Sadlier and Will Kaufman do a back-to-back-to-back comparison of the two highest-rated small crossovers: the 2017 Honda CR-V and the 2018 Mazda CX-5. Also added into the mix is the best-selling 2018 Toyota RAV4, which is due to be replaced by an… all-new model later this year. We put these versatile vehicles through their paces to see which one might be the best fit for you.
2018 CR-V Highlights
|Combined MPG||28 MPG|
|Cost to Drive||$135/month|
|Cargo Capacity |
All Seats In Place
|Drivetrain||front wheel drive|
|Warranty||3 years / 36,000 miles|
Our experts like the CR-V models:
- Mitigation Braking System
- Brakes the vehicle automatically if an imminent collision is detected and you haven't responded quickly enough.
- Lane Keeping Assist
- Monitors the vehicle's position in its lane with a camera and automatically corrects your course to prevent inadvertent lane departure.
- Auto High-Beam Headlights
- Activates and deactivates high beams depending on traffic. Honda includes this typically luxury-class feature starting at the EX level.
NHTSA Overall Rating5 out of 5 stars
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
- Frontal Barrier Crash RatingOverall5 / 5Driver5 / 5Passenger5 / 5
- Side Crash RatingOverall5 / 5
- Side Barrier RatingOverall5 / 5Driver5 / 5Passenger5 / 5
- Combined Side Barrier & Pole RatingsFront Seat5 / 5Back Seat5 / 5
- RolloverRollover4 / 5Dynamic Test ResultNo TipRisk Of Rollover16.3%
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
- Small Overlap Front Driver-Side TestGood
- Small Overlap Front Passenger-Side TestGood
- Moderate Overlap Front Test – OriginalGood
- Moderate Overlap Front Test – UpdatedNot Tested
- Side Impact Test – OriginalGood
- Side Impact Test – UpdatedAcceptable
- Roof Strength TestGood
- Rear Crash Protection / Head RestraintGood