Honda's compact CR-V SUV has been manufactured by the Japanese automaker for over 20 years now. Falling in-between the HR-V and the Pilot in Honda's lineup, the CR-V was introduced in the '90s as a practical alternative to the mid- and full-size SUVs that were popular during that time. Loosely derived from the Honda Civic, the CR-V became an instant success with its economical powertrain, sedan-like ride quality, and available all-wheel drive. It's spacious cabin and cargo area make it a comfortable five-seater, with competitive pricing that's helped garner its loyal fan base.
What It Used to Be
When the first generation CR-V went on sale in the U.S. in 1997 it was available in only one trim, powered by a 2.0-liter straight four putting out 126 hp with the option of front- or all-wheel drive. It's recognizable by its plastic cladding covering the front and rear bumpers, and fender wells. In the U.S., the CR-V also got a plastic black grille to match. Upon consumer complaints that the CR-V wasn't powerful enough, Honda gave its engine a boost to produce 147 hp, without comprising fuel economy or price.
Bigger and heavier is how the CR-V entered its second generation after a full redesign based on the 7th gen Civic. Engine output was increased to 156 hp, while still retaining previous fuel economy ratings thanks to the i-VTEC system. Handling and ride quality also improved with a more rigid chassis and suspension upgraded to front MacPherson struts and rear reactive-link double wishbone. A mid-cycle facelift gave the compact crossover 16-inch wheels, new taillights, and new headlights with separate bulbs for low and high beams. Steering wheel-mounted audio controls, an outside temperature gauge, and XM Satellite capability helped update the interior.
For the third generation, the CR-V received an improved version of the K-series 2.4-liter engine also found in the Accord and Element. A rear liftgate was added, and the spare wheel was moved to the floor, resulting in a lower center of gravity. There was no more manual offering in the U.S. market, with the takeover of a new five-speed automatic that boasted higher mpg ratings and smoother shifting. Optional navigation and Bluetooth also helped modernize the interiorl.
What It Is Today
The fourth generation CR-V is the most powerful, efficient, and versatile one yet. Its 2.4-liter 4-cylinder is quick and thrifty with a smooth-shifting CVT delivering a pleasant ride. Ample interior space is able to comfortably seat five passengers, with a generous 37.2 cubic feet of cargo volume behind the second row. And, 60/40 split-folding rear seats help make the CR-V even more versatile, boosting space to 70.9 cubic feet when collapsed. A feature-packed cabin caters to the tech-minded, while several optional driver-assist programs caters to the cautionary. While the compact crossover segment has exploded with choices for consumers, the CR-V is still one of the best when it comes to well-roundedness, being easy to drive, family-friendly, attractive, and spacious.
Here's what the 2016 Honda CR-V has to offer:
- The 2016 CR-V is offered in five trim levels, with the base starting at just $23,745.
- A 2.4-liter direct injection i-VTEC inline-four produces 185 hp, paired to a 5-speed automatic transmission.
- The CR-V is offered in both two-wheel and all-wheel drive models. The 2WD CR-V gets 26 mpg city and 33 mpg highway, while the AWD is rated at 25 mpg city and 31 mpg highway.
- A spacious interior boasts 104.1 cubic feet of passenger volume.
- Standard features include: 16-inch steel wheels, multi-angle rearview camera with guidelines, remote entry system, cruise control, Bluetooth, Pandora compatibility, and USB interface.