We’ve spent many hours, in fact weeks, behind the wheel of the fourth-generation Honda CR-V since its redesign in 2012. If we could sum up our overall impression in one sentence, it might be, “We don’t really like the styling, but we love the way it makes us feel!” Certainly, there are CR-V competitors with more power, sportier styling, more stuff and lower pricing, but we’ve found the CR-Vs overall package of roominess, utility, ride comfort, handling, fuel economy, feature content, and reputation for reliability is difficult to beat.
The fact that the CR-V doesn’t offer a turbocharged four-cylinder engine or a larger V6 or a six-speed automatic transmission or a manual shift option isn’t of huge importance to the majority of CR-V buyers, particularly parents with children under 18, a prime demographic for the CR-V. These owners are more concerned with good fuel economy, all-weather traction, vehicle reliability, a comfortable, roomy cabin with a back seat that’s easily accessible for installing child seats, and a spacious cargo area that’s easy to load. The CR-V scores well in all these areas.
Despite a ground clearance of 170 mm in both FWD and AWD models, the CR-V’s step-in height is low and the doors open almost 90 degrees. I especially like how the doors close over the bottom sills to prevent dirt and slush buildup which could otherwise soil the bottom of pants and stockings when getting in and out. The doors are big though, and a little heavier than you might expect.
Speaking of dirt, the CR-V’s black bumpers, black wheel arches and black lower sills help hide dirty splashes, asphalt sprays, and rock chips thrown up around the lower parts of the vehicle. In vehicles with body-coloured bumpers and sills, these areas can look untidy.
Though it’s a compact crossover, the CRV has a roomy cabin with plenty of headroom and legroom for four adult passengers and the occasional fifth occupant in the middle rear seat. Sitting ‘behind myself’ in the rear seat, I estimated I had about four inches of kneeroom and three inches of headroom. The front seats are raised for adequate rear foot room and the rear floor is flat, even in 4WD models where you might expect a driveline hump.
The CR-Vs front seats are large and comfortable, but only the driver’s seat has a height adjuster – power adjustments including power lumbar are available on upper trim levels (EX-L and Touring). At the rear, the outboard seats are almost as comfortable while the middle rear seat is firmer but tolerable. The CRV has lower anchors and top tethers for three rear child seats.
The CR-V’s driving position is elevated and outward visibility is generally good although the rear window is a bit high and there is a bit of a blind spot behind the third side window. If there are no passengers in the rear seat, the three rear head restraints tilt forwards so as not to obstruct the driver’s rear view.
2014 Honda CR-V Touring, front seats, rear seats, driver’s seat. Click image to enlarge
The 2014 CR-V isn’t available with Honda’s exclusive LaneWatch camera which shows a view of the right-hand blind spot in the centre screen when the right turn signal is activated, but it’s likely this will be offered in the 2015 model. Our tester did have a rear-view camera which can display three different views behind the vehicle when in Reverse gear: normal, wide-angle and top-down, all of which make reversing into a parking spot much easier and safer. All CR-Vs have heated side mirrors and a rear wiper with an intermittent wipe setting and a rear washer and defroster.
While the base LX and EX trims have fabric seats with a manually height adjustable driver’s seat, EX-L and Touring trims include leather seats and a 10-way power driver’s seat with power lumbar, rake, height, and tilt adjustments. However, the front passenger only gets the manual fore-aft and recline functions. All CR-Vs have front seats with folding inboard armrests and seat heaters with a choice of two temperatures.