FIRST DRIVE: 2015 Honda CR-V Touring Review
Honda breathes new life into its popular crossover.
Web2Carz Contributing Writer
Published: October 10th, 2014
There was nothing really wrong with the three-year old current-model Honda CR-V, but Honda, knowing how on fire the compact SUV/crossover market is right now, is intent on grabbing as much market share as it possibly can, which is why it gave the 2015 CR-V some 60 changes, even though it's already among the best-selling small SUVs on the market.
The most significant and impressive improvements come in the form of the new Touring trim level, which breaks the $30,000 barrier by coming loaded with every piece of tech known to mankind.
In fact, there are so many new things on the 2015 CR-V - new engine, new transmission, new brake master cylinder, new front and rear fascias, new center console, and the new Touring level - that this CR-V is almost an entirely new animal, even though it looks and feels very much the same.
Although it seems unchanged at first glance, the CR-V's exterior has undergone a massive transformation. The headlights and grille have been completely redone, to better bring the CR-V in line with Honda's current design language, and it gives the car a leaner, slightly meaner appearance.
The rear end has also been completely redone, with new trim pieces giving the back a boxier, more masculine look. This is undoubtedly the result of some market research showing that some people found the old back-end had too feminine a shape. The new caboose is far less stylish, which should appeal to the more pedestrian tastes of many crossover-shoppers, but it's not a bad look at all, really.
It does seem like Honda missed a bit of an opportunity to add a measure of utility by actually widening the opening, but for the sake of keeping costs low, the CR-V's rear merely looks like it offers more utility, unless you consider a power tailgate to be utilitarian.
The Touring trim also adds LED running lights, another addition meant to keep Honda in line with the very latest auto fashions. Other trims get the LED surrounds without the actual running lights.
While not as radically redesigned as the exterior, the interior of the CR-V got plenty of upgrades as well. The most significant of these is the addition of a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment/navigation interface.
For some reason, the CR-V retains the rather pointless small screen at the top of the dash, rather than adapting Honda's current, and perfectly satisfactory, two-screen system, currently found in both the Accord and the Civic. The new touchscreen is crowded and its buttons are too small. It's clear Honda needed to add such a system to the CR-V to keep it relevant, but we wish they would have found a less tacked-on-seeming solution.
The instrument cluster has been adapted from the current Accord/Civic design as well. The speedo is large and clear, with enough room in the center to display the many different safety feature indicators, and it's bracketed by the same two green parentheses that turn white if you begin to drive in an eco-unfriendly manner.
The newly redesigned center cupholder/storage area has been upgraded to better fit today's electronic gadgetry, and as a nice touch, a second USB input was added to the storage bin.
The new center console also adds rear air vents to the CR-V, another usually more upscale feature that shows that Honda is keeping careful watch of its competitors.
On the Road
The good news is, the 2015 CR-V has got some of the most advanced active safety features on the market, which alone makes the CR-V Touring worth the extra bulk to the monthly payment.
Almost all of what Honda is calling "Honda Sensing" has already appeared on the 2015 Accord Touring, with one rather major exception. This CR-V is the first vehicle to feature Honda's updated lane-keeping system (not to be confused with LaneWatch, the side-view-mirror-mounted blind spot camera), which first appeared on the Insight.
Combined with lane-departure alerts, forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, a collision-mitigation braking system, and the aforementioned LaneWatch, Honda Sensing is one of the most advanced safety systems on the market.
Although it doesn't amount to full autopilot (the lane-keeping system nudges you to keep you in your lane, but doesn't take full control), Honda does promise that their safety suite (available only on the Touring version), and specifically their collision-mitigation braking system, will help the CR-V avoid a crash at speeds of up to 40 mph. Beyond that speed, it does what it can, but you're basically on your own.
Among the most major changes to the 2015 CR-V are the addition of Honda's rather ingenious EarthDreams engine, with its adaptive cylinder technology, and the quite-good-for-a-CVT continuously variable automatic transmission.
Unfortunately, all this technology, while doing wonders for fuel efficiency and safety, can't make a crossover not drive like a crossover. That shouldn't matter, of course, because no one is buying a CR-V hoping for a street racer.
Honda has done its best to ensure that the CR-V will continue to dominate the crossover market, at least before crossovers and small SUVs become as passÃ© as large SUVs have.
More than anything else, though, the 2015 CR-V proves that, once again, Honda continues to set the industry standard for safety and quality. It's an excellent crossover made better. What more could you want?
Specs & Prices
Engine: 2.4-liter inline-four with variable cylinder management
Transmission: Continuously variable automatic
Drivetrain Layout: Front engine, four-wheel drive
Power Output: 185 hp / 181 lb-ft
Fuel Economy (mpg): 26 city / 33 highway
Price (base): $32,770
Price (as tested): $33,600 (includes $830 delivery fee)
Available Features: Rearview camera, Bluetooth, USB audio, push-button start, LaneWatch, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, collision avoidance braking alert, heated front seats, power tailgate, 7-inch touchscreen with navigation.
• For more information such as specs, prices, and photos of the 2015 Honda CR-V, click here: 2015 Honda CR-V.