The Honda CR-V is the best-selling CUV in America, and during the couple days we spent driving the new CR-V along the beautiful California coast, Honda didn’t let us forget it. The new 2017 Honda CR-V is better in basically every way. It’s more attractive, offers more space inside, includes a new turbocharged engine in EX and higher trims and expands the use of Honda Sensing, the company’s suite of driver assist technology. On paper, it is definitely better than the 2016 version, but we were curious to see if what’s true on paper transitions to the road.

2017 Honda CR-V

While there was never any way we could deny the fact that the 2016 CR-V was one of the best CUVs out there, we never found ourselves falling in love with it. Maybe it was its boring looks or its annoying lack of a volume knob, but no matter how hard we tried we just didn’t think it was all that great. After spending some time in the 2017 Honda CR-V, we have to say we’ve finally fallen for this vehicle. It’s good, really good. And it makes sense in ways that only Hondas make sense.

Restyled, Revised, and Just Really Good

Honda CR-V

Honda has a way of making practicality interesting. A perfect example of this is the cargo area of the new CR-V. First off, it’s been expanded to 39.2 cubic feet, but what we really found impressive was the two-position, removable rear cargo floor panel that can be moved lower for more cargo space or up for a flat load floor. Also, the power liftgate is programmable, meaning you can set it to open at a certain height. This is important for shorter drivers who may not be able to reach a liftgate to close it when it’s fully opened.

2017 Honda CR-V

The rest of the cabin features similar nice additions, including an extra 2-inches of leg room for the rear seats and an available 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system with an actual volume knob (low trim levels get a 5-inch display audio system). The infotainment system is smooth and easy to use, with little lag and a detailed navigation system. The audio system is good, but not amazing. It should offer plenty of range for most people.

Honda CR-V

The model we drove was a Touring trim level with AWD. It had heated leather seats and all the bells and whistles. Overall, the cabin was full of high-quality materials. Even the fake wood trim looked nice. The fit and finish on the dash, door panels and A-pillars was superb and the seats very comfortable. We like that Honda didn’t slap piano black plastic all over the dash (there is one small strip of it) although there was a lot of cheaper-looking hard plastic around the shifter and by the cup holders. Aside from that, it’s a well-put-together cabin.

It Drives Better Than Ever 

Honda CR-V

We’ve always thought of the Mazda CX-5 as the best driving CUV out on the road for the money, but the new Honda CR-V gives that vehicle a serious run for its money. In the twisty California canyon roads, the CR-V handled wonderfully, with little body roll and good road feel. The revised steering is much more precise than the previous CR-V, which helps inspire confidence in the corners. There’s also brake torque vectoring to improve turn in. This works by braking the inside wheels during a turn, which helps bring around the other side of the vehicle.

2017 Honda CR-V

The all new chassis design includes wider front and rear track widths, front MacPherson strut and rear multilink suspension. Honda provided us with the opportunity to drive the 2016 CR-V directly after driving the 2017 model, and it’s easy to tell how much of a difference the new chassis makes in the corners and on straight stretches of road. The 2017 CR-V features fluid-filled suspension bushings. These make the ride smoother and quieter than the outgoing model. Speaking of road noise, the cabin of the CR-V was exceptionally quiet. We’re used to quiet cars, but for the money, we’d be willing to bet that the CR-V is one of the quietest CUVs out there. You get very little wind noise and even less tire noise while cruising around or whipping through a canyon.

2017 Honda CR-V

The driver assist features on the highway are extremely nice. Honda’s old Lane Watch camera-based blind spot system was replaced with a blind spot sensor system that alerts you before you change lanes when someone is hiding in a specific zone around the vehicle. The adaptive cruise control operated flawlessly, and the system is able to slow down quite a bit on its own. This made cruising on congested parts of the highway a breeze. The lane keep assist feature works well, but it isn’t a substitute for your attention as the system has issues with dotted lines. For the most part, though, all the driver assist technology was pretty damned good.

Improved but Not Perfect

Honda CR-V

The 2017 CR-V is a significant improvement over the 2016 model, but that doesn’t mean it’s not without a few shortcomings. The glossy touchscreen collects fingerprints like crazy and is also positioned perfectly to blind you with sunlight every so often. This isn’t too big of an issue, but in certain situations, it can be a real pain.

Additionally, there’s no manual shift mode in the CR-V. The CVT transmission does a good job, but some people are going to want the option. Also, we noticed little to no change when shifting into “S” or Sport mode. The wonderful Honda PR folks said there should be a difference in how power is delivered, but if there was any change, it was extremely slight. The same goes for Eco mode. If there was a change in power delivery, it was hardly noticeable.

Honda Will Sell Tons of These

2017 Honda CR-V

The new CR-V is better than the old one, and the old one was really good. The fact that we’re still in CUV mania means Honda will sell boatloads of the 2017 model. The addition of the 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine will only help the CR-V’s case (Honda will still sell the LX with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder), but we’d expect the new technology, improved exterior styling and interior packaging to be the real boon for consumers. Power in a CUV is important, but it’s not really as important as all that other stuff. Safety equipment, infotainment, comfort—the new CR-V has improved all of it, and that’s what’s going to make it sell like hotcakes.

We don’t know how long the crossover craze will continue. We are sure of one thing, though: Honda will continue to dominate this segment. People seem to be extremely happy with their CR-Vs. They like sitting up higher, and they like that the CR-V offers all the amenities and driving characteristics that they’re used to in a sedan or coupe. Switching from a car to a CUV makes sense for a lot of people. As much as we’re not a fan of the rise of the CUV, we do get it, and as far as CUVs go the 2017 Honda CR-V is the cream of the crop.  

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