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Friday, May 10, 2013

2013 Honda CR-V

The 2013 Honda CR-V hits all the right marks for cost-conscious families—with its interior layout and safety ratings both best-in-class—although it doesn't feel as sprightly as former CR-V models. Comfortable seating and rideQuiet, refined cabinEasy-fold rear seatbackBland exteriorUnimpressive interior trimsUnsettled steering feel STYLEENGINEDRIVE-TYPEINVOICEMSRP LX 2WD 5dr LX AWD 5dr EX 2WD 5dr EX AWD 5dr

The Honda CR-V remains a tried and true choice for pragmatic shoppers. For them, it's a perfect vehicle with a spacious interior, unmatched safety and reliability, and just enough options to get by without overcomplicating things. Some may find it hard to get excited about this Honda crossover, but the formula's an undeniable success.

The CR-V returns for the 2013 model year with relatively few changes--a good thing, since it's long on satisfaction already, if short on dazzle. Smaller than the Pilot SUV and Odyssey minivan but packed with a lot more utility than the Civic or even the Accord, the CR-V is the zenith of compact-crossover space efficiency and versatility.

Cutting right to the chase, and to what families want and need, the 2013 CR-V has what we think is the best rear seat-folding arrangement of any vehicle in this class. And that's combined with impressive back-seat comfort and good ride comfort in general. Open one of the back doors, and with one arm and a simple pull of a strap, in a very fluid motion the lower cushion tumbles forward into the footwell, the headrest angles forward, and the rear seatback flips forward, all tucking nearly behind the front seat, to a completely flat position. Cargo loading is also a snap, as the liftover height is only 23.6 inches. And up front, there's a minivan-like selection of cupholders, cubbies, and cargo trays.

The other high point for the CR-V is safety. In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the CR-V has earned five-star results overall, as well as in frontal and side impact testing. It's also earned top 'good' scores in all tests from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and is a Top Safety Pick. A Multi-Angle Rearview Camera is available and offers three different views (wide, normal, and top) to help you see obstacles (or children).

That's the good. The bad depends on what kind of discerning (or demanding) shopper you are, because in both exterior styling and performance, the CR-V is fine for a family vehicle, but lacking pizazz for those with upmarket tastes or any kind of performance sense. Its exterior last year evolved only slightly, with the front and rear styling spruced up a bit and the front end made more noticeably carlike. Meanwhile, Honda dropped the cargo floor a few inches, as well as the seating, which opened up more space, but the net effect of this inside-out design move is that it can appear a little homely from the outside compared to stylish, rakish (and space-compromised) entries like the Ford Escape or Kia Sportage. Inside, the simplified, streamlined serves it well, with climate controls just below audio controls, and a small, five-inch ‘i-MID’ trip-computer and audio screen just above it all.

Performance is the other down side compared to other vehicles in this class. The CR-V doesn't steer or handle with much verve; has a five-speed automatic at a time when most rivals have six-speeds; and Honda has skipped direct injection here. That said, what you get is smooth and even, just not all that quick. Part of the blame is that Honda opted for taller gear ratios for better fuel economy: EPA fuel economy ratings land at 23 mpg city, 31 highway with front-wheel drive, or 22/30 with four-wheel drive—making it the highest-mileage all-wheel- or four-wheel-drive vehicle in this class. Just as in some of Honda's other models, there's a big green 'econ' button on the dash, to engage more frugal parameters for the powertrain and A/C.

The CR-V isn't the trail vehicle that some of the hardier crossovers like a Subaru Forester or Jeep Patriot are, but its available Real Time all-wheel drive is a good tool set for snow-covered roads, or even mud.

For 2013, the Honda CR-V keeps pace with the market in terms of connectivity, and it includes a well-rounded feature set; the only caution, for those who like to add some extras like a navigation system or satellite radio, is that to get them you may have to move all the way up to the much more expensive EX-L model. There, you do get a few upgraded interior trims, plus leather upholstery, a ten-way driver’s seat, heated front seats, automatic climate control, heated mirrors, and a higher-power (328-watt) audio system with subwoofer.

Comfortable seating and rideQuiet, refined cabinEasy-fold rear seatbackSimple, tasteful dash layoutBluetooth connectivity is standardBland exteriorUnimpressive interior trimsUnsettled steering feel

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