Test Drive:   2012 Honda CR V Touring car test drives reviews honda
2012 Honda CR-V Touring. Click image to enlarge

More Honda CR-V reviews on Autos.ca

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Honda Canada

Review and photos by Jonathan Yarkony

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2012 Honda CR-V

As soon as we had firm dates for a test drive of the 2012 Honda CR-V, we immediately thought it would be a perfect candidate for a comparison test. No segment is hotter than small crossovers, and we were quickly able to line up a handful of worthy candidates that would test the mettle of the brand new CR-V. Well, that challenge was met and the CR-V came out on top, so we think it deserves our undivided attention.

While the Ford Escape is the sales champ in this segment, the Honda CR-V is one of the original “cute-utes” that launched a thousand imitators, arriving on the scene in the mid-90s along with the Toyota RAV4, with the Escape only arriving in 2000. While many laughed at these vehicles in those days (and justifiably so, with models like the Suzuki X90 and goofy convertible RAV4), Honda, Toyota and Ford were the ones laughing at competitors scrambling to catch up when gas prices spiked and people flocked to compact cars and utility vehicles, trading their “sport” in for “crossover” nomenclature. Even the luxury brands are waking up and getting into the compact crossover utility vehicle (CUV) segment with Acura, Audi, BMW, Infiniti, Mercedes, and Volvo all represented.

Test Drive:   2012 Honda CR V Touring car test drives reviews honda
Test Drive:   2012 Honda CR V Touring car test drives reviews honda
2012 Honda CR-V Touring. Click image to enlarge

Impressively, sales of the CR-V were up in 2011 even though it was late in its life cycle, with this 2012 model waiting in the wings (pun intended). Honda sold over 25,000 CR-Vs in 2011, behind only the Escape and the much larger, yet cheaper, seven-seat Dodge Journey, among compact utility vehicles. While the Escape’s dominance is a little mystifying considering it went essentially unchanged for so long, the success of the Journey and CR-V is no surprise. These are well-designed vehicles that give the people what they want at prices that make it easy for dealers to close the sales.

The CR-V also banks on Honda’s reputation for reliability, engineering, and fuel economy, whether or not the facts back it up. Dispute it as much as you want, there are no shortage of consumers out there that will walk into a Honda dealership and buy the vehicle that suits their needs without ever considering another brand. The CR-V offers a just-right size and mix of features and performance that can stand up to cross-shopping scrutiny with the best of them.

While this reviewer is partial to boxy, utilitarian designs, there is no denying the CR-V’s sleek looks. A sophisticated grille and headlight affair lead into an aerodynamic shape, and sharp creases break up the monotony of the door panes. The window line pinches together towards the rear and the taillights wrap around the wedge to give the D pillar an arrowhead shape, which some might find awkward, but nonetheless lending the CR-V some suggestion of coupe like raciness.

Test Drive:   2012 Honda CR V Touring car test drives reviews honda
Test Drive:   2012 Honda CR V Touring car test drives reviews honda
Test Drive:   2012 Honda CR V Touring car test drives reviews honda
Test Drive:   2012 Honda CR V Touring car test drives reviews honda
2012 Honda CR-V Touring. Click image to enlarge

The tailgate bulges to accommodate a little bit of extra space, enough to reach 1,054 litres of trunk space and 2,007 litres of max cargo volume. Adding to the usefulness of the cargo space are handles on the trunk walls that drop the 60/40 split rear seats to an almost completely flat load floor with low liftover height, and secondary brackets to secure the cargo cover out of the way with the seats down.

Rear seat space is generous, with plenty of legroom, hip room, head room, and a completely flat floor, though the seat bottoms are low and flat and wouldn’t be comfortable for adults over long distances. They would likely be fine for youths of any age, though, and child seat installation is straightforward, with the LATCH anchors easy to access without being immediately visible. The AWD Touring model we drove was covered in serviceable leather that looked like it would be easy to clean and maintain, and the finely executed stitching was a nice touch.

The front seats were very comfortable, being power adjustable for driver and passenger, and both with a centre armrest and perfect height for easy entry. Combined with the tilt and telescoping adjustability of the steering wheel, the seats provided an ideal driving position for people of all heights (with testers ranging from five-foot-nothing to six-one). Visibility was also good, with tall side windows, and back-up cameras and large mirrors more than made up for the chunky D pillar. The driver-side mirror also featured a canted outer edge with extra visibility to help alleviate one’s blind spot.

One aspect of the CR-V that received almost universal praise was the interior design, particularly the gauge cluster. A large speedo with a floating wand surrounds the trip computer, with the transmission gear indicator and tach wrapped around it on the left. To the right of the speedo is space for any warning indicators and the engine coolant temp and fuel gauge. The combination of simplicity, elegance, and clarity just hit the right note.

The steering wheel was covered in leather and featured media, stereo and cruise control functions. The dash was hard plastic, as was the mottled grey trim separating the upper and lower dash and the metallic satin effect plastic accenting the transmission gate and door pulls, but it offered visually pleasing contrast and didn’t make the mistake of trying to imitate something more expensive. Just good, plain, and – likely – durable plastics.




About Jonathan Yarkony

Jonathan Yarkony is the Senior Editor for Autos.ca, a Brampton-based automotive writer with eight years of experience evaluating cars and an AJAC member.