2012 Honda CR-V Review
By Evan Griffey of MSN Autos
"Why mess with a winner?" You hear this phrase uttered all the time, but for two different reasons. Some people use it to justify not making change: "Why the heck would we mess with the formula when we have a winner on our hands?" Others use it to complain about change that has already been made that they are unhappy with: "That's terrible. Why mess with something that was perfect?"
When Honda approached the redesign of its CR-V, it did so with caution. Honda didn't want to mess with the formula that made the CR-V the best-selling crossover/small SUV in America, but it also didn't want to run the risk of the all-new CR-V being called staid.
Wisely, Honda designers retained the vehicle's striking silhouette, yet elected to work on the edges by incorporating the front and rear lamp assemblies into the sides of the body. They then added Honda's new three-bar grille up front and set off the profile by sharpening the CR-V's distinctive rear side glass before putting their pencils away. The resulting all-new 2012 CR-V makes a distinctive visual statement. It also has a little more power, slightly better fuel efficiency, added storage capacity and a deluge of standard technology.
But is it better than the previous model? Did Honda do the right thing by messing with a winner?
Stepping up to the EX trim delivers 17-inch alloys, a power moonroof, two additional stereo speakers and some color-matched exterior trim.
The line-topping EX-L adds leather to the equation, as well as a 328-watt audio system while opening the door to on-board satellite navigation, a rear-seat DVD system and other upscale options. CR-V pricing ranges from $22,295 for a front-wheel-drive LX to about $30,000 for an all-wheel-drive EX-L.
Under the Hood
Under the technology banner we find Bluetooth connectivity, Pandora Internet radio, SMS text messaging, and a 5-inch, color LCD intelligent multi-information display (i-MID) with a rear-view camera. All this tech gadgetry is standard issue on every CR-V. Bluetooth, the hands-free interface between driver and smartphone, is a known commodity and becoming a common standard feature, but the other tech tidbits are up-level.
Pandora is a free music service where users open an account online and create numerous personalized Internet "radio stations" based on favorite songs or artists. Users can choose among their stations and listen on their computer, but they can also download a free Pandora application to have their stations on their smartphone. The CR-V has the interface to play Pandora-generated music on the CR-V audio system.
The text-messaging feature reads incoming messages aloud over the audio speakers and allows the driver to reply with any of six preset messages, or call the sender hands-free. The message will appear on the i-MID screen only when the transmission is in Park. The system works with SMS-capable smartphones such as the Blackberry, Droid X and others. The iPhone 4 does not support this feature.
The CR-V's information superhighway runs through the i-MID. All relevant audio-system data, fuel-economy indicators, rear-view back-up camera images, texting, XM radio, Bluetooth info, clock, compass, trip computer, warning screens for door-ajar, tire-pressure monitoring, general maintenance intervals, etc., appear on the easy-to-see i-MID. The i-MID also features a customizable wallpaper display so users can download their own images to the display via the USB port.
Back in the 3-D realm, Honda addressed comfort and convenience with a clean interior. The main cluster features a singular dial, the speedometer, but the center of the dial is an LED display that shows average miles per gallon, temperature and the main and trip odometers. It is flanked by half-circle readouts for the tachometer, water temperature and fuel level gauges. Honda also places the shifter on the lower portion of the dash, which opens up room for the CR-V's cavernous center armrest storage bin. The gauges are placed for easy viewing, the seats are outstanding, and the fit and finish is excellent. We were also taken with the quick-release lever that remotely folds down a portion of the 60/40 rear seat for quick cargo expansion. It's a spring-loaded mechanism, not some slow-moving series of electric motors. The rear seats recline and the CR-V delivers 37.2 cubic feet of cargo room with the seats up and 70.9 with the seats folded flat.
On the Road
Right for You?
(As part of an automaker-sponsored press event, Honda provided MSN with travel and accommodations tofacilitate this report.)
Evan Griffey served as an editor of Turbo & High Tech Performance, a pioneering publication about sport-compacttuning. Today Griffey freelances for Import Tuner, Sport Compact Car, Car Audio and Siphon.