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Saturday, May 5, 2018

2018 Honda CR-V Review

2018 Honda CR-V Review
The 2018 Honda CR-V may be light on personality, but this compact crossover checks off every other box. It’s a very smart choice.

The 2018 Honda CR-V crossover SUV is one of America's best-selling vehicles, and it's easy to see why.


For most drivers, the CR-V blends a tall-riding drive with usable interior space, just enough power, and a fuel-efficient powertrain. It adds active safety features on most versions and is brilliantly quiet. 

It’s even a good value, which is why it scores a commendable 7.0 out of 10 on our scale. It’s hard to imagine how anyone could make a better crossover—but we’ve said that about CR-Vs before and Honda continues to impress. 

After a thorough redesign last year, the 2018 CR-V carries over unchanged. It’s offered in LX, EX, EX-L, and Touring trim levels, all with a choice of front- or all-wheel drive.

Most CR-Vs—EX and above—feature a strong 1.5-liter turbo-4 that cranks out 190 horsepower and 179 pound-feet of torque. A continuously variable transmission is the only gearbox on offer. It’s not a powertrain setup that will stoke enthusiasts’ flames, but the CR-V’s turbo engine provides smooth acceleration even with a full load of passengers and suitcases aboard.

CR-V LX trim levels use a 2.4-liter inline-4 rated at 184 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque, but the base engine is a little gruff, its power delivery is peaky and requires a good stab at the throttle, and it isn’t as fuel efficient.

Regardless of engine, the CR-V handles well with direct, light steering, and its suspension soaks up rutted pavement quite well. Sure, it lacks the athletic feel of the Mazda CX-5, but the CR-V’s nimble feel and highway stability make it a match for just about any kind of routine driving.

Base CR-Vs miss out on a slew of safety tech—automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and active lane control—that’s standard on EX and higher trims.

However, all CR-Vs are comfortable inside with nice materials and plenty of room for four average-sized adults. Even the middle seat in the second row is acceptable as long as you’re not transporting a trio of linebackers to practice. The CR-V’s cargo area boasts a usefully low liftover height and minimal intrusions from the wheel wells, but Honda has chosen not to follow some competitors by squeezing a third row back there. We think that’s just fine, since the larger Honda Pilot does that much better.

But for drivers seeking a relatively compact footprint, good fuel economy, and a highly refined feel for around $30,000 or less, the 2018 Honda CR-V is as good as it gets.

Styling
We’re impressed with the 2018 Honda CR-V’s clean, organized interior, but its exterior is a little too quirky.

If there’s one place where the 2018 Honda CR-V misses the mark, it’s in its exterior styling. It’s quirky, but certainly not striking; rivals from Mazda and Kia have proven that family-oriented compact crossovers don’t have to be dull.

On the other hand, the 2018 CR-V’s interior is a home run with well-organized controls and a look that’s upscale at every level. That’s worth a point to us, so the CR-V earns a 6 out of 10 on our scale. 

All CR-V trim levels look about the same outside, aside from the upsized alloy wheels that come on EX and higher trim levels. Up front, the CR-V’s bumper juts out like an underbite not yet tamed by an orthodontist. The grille above is split between chrome and black plastic, with the former flanked by wrap-around headlights. The CR-V’s side profile is more cohesive and we like the way the beltline sweeps upward to create a little more visual heft. At the rear, the high-mounted taillights continue a Honda tradition and aid safety. A chrome eyebrow runs between the two sides for a more upscale feel, but the overall look is more pint-size minivan than rugged four-wheeler.
The CR-V’s interior is what scores this crossover a point above average. Honda mounted all controls up high, including the stubby gear lever. LX trims have a fairly basic audio system, while EX and higher trim levels feature a 7.0-inch touchscreen with a proper volume knob (something the last CR-V lacked).

Cubbyholes are scattered about, particularly in the highly configurable center console.

Performance
The 2018 Honda CR-V has a good ride and a willing turbo-4 engine option.

The 2018 Honda CR-V is a strong-performing crossover, even if it lacks a high-performance engine option like several of its rivals. We like its smooth ride and thus rate it a 6 out of 10. 

The entry-level CR-V LX is the only model in the lineup with a 2.4-liter inline-4 rated at 184 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque. It’s mated exclusively to a continuously variable transmission (CVT) and is offered with both front- and all-wheel drive. The base inline-4 is strong enough, but power comes on only at higher engine speeds. Translation: You’ll need to dig deep into the throttle to motivate the CR-V for much more than stoplight-to-stoplight driving. It’s a little grumbly compared to the 1.5-liter turbo-4 standard elsewhere in the CR-V lineup.

That pint-size turbo engine is rated at 190 hp and 179 lb-ft of torque. It’s not much faster than the base CR-V, but power is ample just off of idle, which makes the 1.5-liter much more usable in any kind of driving. Moreover, the turbo-4 is much smoother and seems to work better with the CVT.

The CR-V’s optional all-wheel-drive system mostly channels power forward unless slip is detected. It’s definitely not an off-roading system, but it works well on slippery terrain and should make a commute home on snow-covered road a cinch.

Though the CR-V has a thick-rimmed steering wheel and a commanding view out, it’s not a sports car by any stretch. The steering is quick and precise, but not communicative. So too is the ride, which is geared more toward comfort than for sharp corner-carving. Still, the 2018 CR-V is pleasant to drive and fairly quiet inside on the highway. Around town, the light steering makes parking easy and it feels even more nimble than its fairly trim proportions would suggest.

Comfort & Quality
The 2018 Honda CR-V is brilliantly packaged inside with far more room than you might expect available for passengers and their gear.

The 2018 Honda CR-V serves as a reminder that its maker is a master of interior packaging. It may be a compact crossover on paper, but the CR-V feels more like a mid-sizer from inside. We’ve given it points above average for its good front and rear seats and for its numerous cargo storage options ready to tuck away everything from juice boxes to mountain bikes.

CR-V EX and higher trim levels include a 12-way power driver’s seat that offers lots of adjustment and long-distance comfort. The standard fabric upholstery feels classy, while the optional leather is surprisingly dressy for this price point. CR-Vs we’ve driven have had a tight, well-assembled feel and interior materials are generally above average for the price point.

The second row has good leg and hip room for adults at the outboard seats. The middle seat is a bit tight, but still good enough for three adults to ride in reasonable comfort.

Where the CR-V really excels, however, is in its ability to store everything else. Numerous bins and pockets in the doors and center console provide plenty of spaces to lose things. Out back, a low liftover height makes loading big items easy. If you need more space—or want to hide things—the carpeted cargo area floor can be removed or it can function as a shelf. The CR-V’s low floor means it can easily store a couple of mountain bikes upright with their front wheels removed.

Safety
The 2018 Honda CR-V offers lots of advanced safety tech and has done well in crash-testing.

The 2018 Honda CR-V has aced most crash tests and almost all versions come standard with some desirable advanced safety tech. We’ve scored it an 8 out of 10 accordingly. 

All 2018 CR-Vs include six airbags, stability control, and anti-lock brakes. EX, EX-L, and Touring trim levels come with the automaker’s Honda Sensing suite of safety equipment: automatic emergency braking, active lane control, adaptive cruise control, and a road departure mitigation system that nudges the CR-V back onto the tarmac if its driver begins to drift. None of the Honda Sensing equipment is available on the CR-V LX, unfortunately.

The IIHS says that CR-Vs equipped with LED headlights and Honda Sensing are Top Safety Pick award-winners. Unfortunately, those headlights, rated “Acceptable” by the IIHS, are only on Touring trims. The halogen units on LX, EX, and EX-L are rated “Marginal.” However, all versions of the CR-V performed well in the agency’s battery of crash tests and the crossover’s automatic emergency braking equipment is highly rated.

Federal testers award the CR-V five stars overall, including five for side-impact and frontal crash-testing. The CR-V, like most crossovers, scores four out of five stars in the calculated rollover test.

Features
The sweet spot here is the well-equipped 2018 Honda CR-V EX; add leather if you want.

The 2018 Honda CR-V comes in four basic flavors, each with a choice of sunny state front-wheel drive or snow-ready all-wheel drive.

Base CR-Vs are well-equipped for the money and this crossover’s infotainment system has a large, clear screen, so we’ve awarded it with 7 out of 10 points. It narrowly misses out on an eighth because although the CR-V Touring is well-equipped, there’s not much customization available here. 

The Honda CR-V LX serves as the entry to the lineup and it’s outfitted with 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic climate control, cruise control, Bluetooth, a rearview camera, and a fairly basic four-speaker audio system. The LX is the only CR-V to come with the 2.4-liter inline-4, while other variants include a turbocharged 1.5-liter inline-4.

The CR-V EX includes heated front seats, a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, keyless ignition, a 12-way power driver’s seat, a power moonroof, an extra USB input, and the automaker’s full suite of collision-avoidance tech (which it brands Honda Sensing). At around $2,500, that’s a heck of a lot of stuff.

Next up is the CR-V EX-L, which adds leather upholstery, a power liftgate, power for the passenger’s seat, a garage door opener, satellite radio, and premium audio. Navigation is optional on the EX-L.

Topping the line is the CR-V Touring, which builds on the EX-L trim with unique wheels, automatic windshield wipers, a hands-free tailgate, and an uprated audio system with a subwoofer.

All-wheel drive runs an extra $1,300 across the line.

The infotainment system fitted to EX and higher trim levels is fast and boasts a crystal clear screen, but we’re not enamored with its graphics and it can sometimes be a little too menu-intensive. Easy CarPlay and Android compatibility is a plus, though, and one you won’t find on many of CR-V’s direct rivals.

Fuel Economy
You’ll find good fuel economy at every level with the 2018 Honda CR-V.

Best case, the front-wheel-drive CR-V with the 1.5-liter engine is rated at 28 mpg city, 34 highway, 30 combined. All-wheel drive drops those figures to 27/33/29 mpg, which is still pretty good. It earns a 7 out of 10 on our scale. 

Only the CR-V LX includes the 2.4-liter inline-4, which isn’t as thrifty as the engine standard otherwise. Stick with front-wheel drive, and the CR-V LX is rated at 26/32/28 mpg; the all-wheel drive version comes in at a still-decent 25/31/27 mpg.

All versions of the CR-V run on regular unleaded gasoline.

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