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2019 Honda CR-V Review

The 2019 Honda CR-V rewards owners with fantastic utility and great safety scores.

The 2019 Honda CR-V willingly tolerates what life throws its way. This five-seat compact crossover SUV boasts a roomy, versatile interior, and what it lacks in driving verve it makes up for in impressive crash-test results and excellent real-world fuel economy.

It’s easy to see why the high-value 2019 CR-V earns 6.0 out of 10 on our scale. Even as competitors have inched closer, the CR-V remains highly competitive three years into the current model’s design cycle. 

The 2019 CR-V is available in base model LX, mainstream EX and EX-L, and feature-laden Touring trims, each available with front- or all-wheel drive.

Base CR-V LX crossovers use a 184-horsepower inline-4 paired to a continuously variable transmission (CVT), while EX and higher trims feature a turbo-4 rated at 190 hp. That may not look like a big difference on paper, but the turbocharged engine is the one to have for its strong power delivery and more refined nature. With front-wheel drive, the CR-V can tug a bit at the steering wheel under acceleration. All-wheel-drive CR-Vs have a more neutral handling feel, but no configuration is especially rewarding to drive.

Instead, the CR-V shines inside with supportive seats, great cargo space with a low liftover, excellent outward vision, and a good value equation made even better thanks to standard automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control on CR-V EX and higher trims. EX and higher trims also swap the base model’s dated 5.0-inch screen for a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

With all-wheel drive, a CR-V EX checks in well under $30,000—that’s a great value that makes it a must for any crossover SUV shopping list.

Styling
The 2019 Honda CR-V prioritizes utility over styling.

If you’re shopping for a compact crossover SUV that will stand out in your driveway, a parking lot, or the carpool line, perhaps you might keep looking. The 2019 Honda CR-V doesn’t have an eye-catching, cohesive style inside or out. We dial one point back from average for its dowdy exterior, although its interior is pleasant enough, especially in higher trim levels.

That puts the 2019 CR-V at 4 out of 10 on our scale. 

Up front, the CR-V’s chrome grille sits high above an unadorned gap above the front bumper. Viewed from the side, the CR-V has a nice chrome character line that swoops up into the rearmost roof pillar, where its taillights jostle with a chrome saber on the tailgate.

To its credit, the CR-V doesn’t look basic in base LX trim with its standard 17-inch alloy wheels. CR-V EX, EX-L, and Touring trims swap in dressy 18s and tinted windows for a more upmarket look.

Inside, the CR-V is again about function over form, though the feel is more cohesive. Controls sit high on the dash and the gear lever sprouts out at an easy reach like in a van rather than in the center console like a sedan. Though Honda doesn’t offer warm brown interior hues like its rivals, higher-trim versions have a gold-toned, wood-like trim that adds a pleasantly woodsy feel to an otherwise busy dash and door panels.

Performance
The 2019 Honda CR-V pairs competent acceleration and handling with a luxury-grade ride.

The 2019 Honda CR-V comes in four basic flavors, turbo and non-turbo with either front- or all-wheel drive. None inspire, but the turbocharged engine in 2019 CR-V EX, EX-L, and Touring trim levels provides decent oomph with good fuel economy.

Overall, we rate the CR-V lineup at 5 out of 10. 

Base CR-V LXs use a 2.4-liter inline-4 rated at 184 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque paired to a continuously variable transmission (CVT). There’s nothing inherently wrong with this setup, which delivers good acceleration—except that the 1.5-liter turbo-4 fitted to EX and higher trims is a world away in terms of refinement and real-world performance. The turbo engine’s 190 horsepower and 179 pound-feet of torque belies the fact that its CVT works to keep it in the power band when needed and then delivers a tame experience when not called upon.
The CR-V’s thick-rimmed three-spoke steering wheel hints at a sporty driving experience that’s simply not there—and that’s probably fine for most crossover buyers. This Honda cuts cleanly into corners and is nimble around town. Its steering is fairly quick and light, yet it settles in nicely for straight-line highway cruising.

Front-wheel-drive CR-Vs have a tendency to tug at the steering wheel during hard acceleration, something largely absent with the optional all-wheel-drive system. With 7.8 inches of ground clearance, the 2019 CR-V is ready for a snowy commute or a dirt road to a trailhead, if not an afternoon of mud-plugging.

Perhaps the CR-V’s best performance asset is its smooth ride. Even with the 18-inch wheels on most trims, the CR-V absorbs rutted pavement with aplomb. Its solid structure imparts a high-quality feel we don’t always associate with crossovers that cost less than $30,000.

Comfort & Quality
Great passenger space and a roomy, accessible cargo hold make the 2019 Honda CR-V an excellent crossover SUV choice.

The 2019 Honda CR-V sets a high bar for the way it handles passengers and their cargo. We award it points above average for both front- and rear-seat passenger comfort plus another for its configurable cargo area.

That brings it to a solid 8 out of 10.

The 2019 CR-V’s assets start with a commanding view out from every seat, especially up front. Narrow roof pillars, a high seating position, and a low dashboard work to make the CR-V as confidence-inspiring in an urban setting as it is on the highway.

Up front, the CR-V’s seats—cloth on LX and EX, tough leather on EX-L and Touring—have good support and plenty of adjustment. EX and higher trims feature 12-way power adjustment for the driver’s seat and heating for both front seats. Between the driver and passenger sits a center console with numerous cupholders and storage bins.

The second row is no penalty box thanks to good ingress/egress and excellent space for outboard passengers. Three passengers will fit, as long as they’re not all linebackers.

The rear seat folds in a 60/40 arrangement to expand the CR-V’s cargo area from 39.2 cubic feet to a hefty 75.8 cubic feet on most trims (CR-V Tourings have a cargo area-mounted subwoofer that eats a little space). A low load floor makes chucking heavy items into the back of the CR-V a cinch, and the carpeted floor panel pulls up to reveal a large hidden storage compartment.

The CR-Vs we’ve driven have felt solidly assembled with textures and soft-touch plastics that feel price-appropriate.

Safety
The 2019 Honda CR-V has received accolades from crash-testers and most models have lots of safety gear.

The 2019 Honda CR-V has done well in crash-tests and most versions come well equipped with advanced safety gear. Moreover, unlike many of its rivals, the 2019 CR-V offers great outward vision thanks to its low window line and narrow roof pillars. We rate it at 8 out of 10 on those merits.

Admittedly, our rating is based on the 2018 CR-V—but given that the 2019 model is identical, we expect those scores to carry over.

The NHTSA rates the 2019 CR-V at five stars overall, while the insurance industry-funded IIHS says it’s a Top Safety Pick when fitted with advanced safety gear. The LED headlights on CR-V Tourings rate “Acceptable,” but the halogen units on other trims score “Marginal” according to the IIHS.

2019 CR-V EX and higher trims feature forward collision warnings with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and active lane control. It’s a shame that those features aren’t offered on the CR-V LX, and thus we’d advise skipping the base model.

Features
The 2019 Honda CR-V offers a lot of crossover for the money, as long as you skip the stingy base model.

The well-equipped 2019 Honda CR-V makes shopping easy—perhaps too easy for those who want a car custom-tailored to their specifications. All but the base 2019 CR-V LX deliver tremendous value for the money, which earns the CR-V lineup a 6 out of 10 on our scale. 

What’s missing from the base model feels thrifty to our eyes, at least against the well-equipped EX trim level. The CR-V LX has the basics—power windows and locks, alloy wheels, and Bluetooth—but its 5.0-inch audio system is light on features such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and it’s not available with automatic emergency braking or adaptive cruise control. It’s also saddled with an uninspiring base engine.

Instead, we’d skip a step and go for a CR-V EX or EX-L. They feature a the stronger turbo engine, a 7.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment with Apple and Android, heated front seats, a power driver’s seat, a power moonroof, and 18-inch alloy wheels. Setting the EX-L apart is its leather upholstery, leather-wrapped steering wheel, memory driver’s seat, power tailgate, and optional navigation system.

The CR-V Touring tops the lineup with a high-zoot audio system, LED headlights, and a few more goodies—but probably not enough to command a premium over the CR-V EX-L for most buyers.

The 7.0-inch touchscreen that’s in most CR-Vs has only a single physical button—a volume knob—and instead relies on capacitive switches and its screen. It works well enough, even if its graphics and interface feel clunky compared to some competitors.

Fuel Economy
With its thrifty 4-cylinder engines, the 2019 Honda CR-V is a miserly compact crossover SUV.

Though a hybrid isn’t part of its lineup, the 2019 Honda CR-V is among the least-thirsty compact crossovers on the market.

Overall, the 2019 CR-V rates 5 out of 10 on our scale on account of its ability to bypass most gas stations. 

Our ratings here are based on 2018’s numbers. Once figures are released for the 2019 CR-V from the EPA, we’ll update this space.

Most buyers opt for the turbo-4 engine in CR-V EX, EX-L, and Touring trims, and it’s easy to see why. Not only does it deliver the best performance in the line, it’s also the thriftiest. Front-wheel drive models top the line at 28 mpg city, 34 highway, 30 combined. All-wheel drive dings that slightly to 27/33/29 mpg.

The base engine works harder and drinks more. The EPA says to expect 26/32/28 mpg with front-wheel drive and 25/31/27 mpg with all-wheel drive.

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