2015 Honda CR-V Touring AWD Review
Don't call it a comeback.
Web2Carz Contributing Writer
Published: May 4th, 2015
Crossovers are a lot like antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Despite our best efforts, the world is now teeming with them. To be honest, they provide a great value, packing the capaciousness of a larger wagon or SUV with the slight sensibility of a more car-based platform. That great value does not go unrecognized by the public; the car we're talking about today, the Honda CR-V, remains one of the brand's best sellers. In fact, the triumvirate of Civic, Accord, and CR-V constitute nearly three-fourths of Honda's sales. Looking at it that way, it's one of the brand's most important vehicles.
Which is why Honda put an unbelievable amount of effort into what amounts to a mid-cycle refresh. With the 2015 CR-V, we're looking at a lot of newness - new looks, new powertrain options, new features, new technology. In a segment that's proliferating as fast as MRSA through a hospital, every single update needs to count. And this one definitely does; we think the CR-V's better than ever before.
Not everyone will notice the interior changes for 2015. However, if you look closely, you'll find a revised center-console layout just past the high-mounted shifter. The interior might have received the least amount of massaging in this update, but it didn't really need all that work to begin with; ergonomically speaking, the CR-V's cabin is pretty great. The HVAC controls are easily accessible without having to dive through touchscreen menus, and the infotainment system is more closely related to the Civic than the Accord. There's no massive dual-screen setup here; the smaller screen up top will display vital information (fuel range, navigation instructions, audio information), with all the human-machine interaction taking place on the main touchscreen. The gauges remain simply laid out, with the tachometer off to the side while the speedometer and a small information screen command your attention from front and center. Material texture is also greatly improved, putting the CR-V in line with much of the competition.
The old CR-V wasn't exactly hard on the eyes, but it's prettier than ever thanks to a heaping helping of cosmetic updates. The front grille now brings the CR-V in line with other new additions to the family, like the upcoming 2016 HR-V, Pilot, and Civic. You can have some trick LED daytime running lights, since it's now officially impossible to buy a car without being offered that option. The rear end gets some loving, too, by way of a thick chrome strip just under the rear window. Honda's also throwing some new 17- and 18-inch wheels into the mix, too. Like we said before, this isn't a full-on new generation, which leaves us quite surprised at exactly how much work Honda put into the 2015 CR-V.
On the Road
This may be the first time that your author has ever written this regarding a mass-market vehicle, but I actually like Honda's CVT in this application. Let's face it - you're not going to be tossing the CR-V around like a sports car, so it makes sense to make every inch of this powertrain work to increase efficiency. The old 2.4-liter motor, for example, has been dropped in favor of Honda's new direct-injected Earth Dreams unit, the same engine that's in the four-banger Accord. Even though torque is up and horsepower stays the same, with the CVT attached, the CR-V's fuel economy jumps up to 27 mpg city / 34 mpg highway in FWD form, and 26 city / 33 highway in AWD. In our experience, we had a hard time achieving the city mileage numbers in our dense urban slogs, but out on the highway, the revs stay low and the emm-pee-gees move on up.
When the engine is doing its best to stay in the efficiency sweet spot, you're greeted with an overall dearth of noise, vibration, and harshness - yet another testament to how well updated this CR-V truly is. The CVT is smooth as silk (far more so than offerings from its domestic, torque-converter competitors), but if you leave the Eco setting activated, it occasionally leaves the engine at such low revs that some deep grumbles and rumbles reverberate their way into the cabin. Otherwise, the powertrain does a great job staying out of your way, which is something that you want in an around-town family hauler.
If you're in the market for a Honda CR-V, it's safe to assume that you want some mix of safety, comfort, and capacity. This compact CUV does all that without becoming needlessly complicated. Hell, even the trim levels don't come with 15 different package options; prices don't start shooting into the sky because you find that you want four different packages that can't be ordered separately from one another. Our CR-V Touring, the topmost trim, costs $31,645, with AWD as a $1,200 option. That trim level gets you navigation, power front seats, a power tailgate, and a suite of safety options that include lane-keep assist and adaptive cruise control. Considering we've seen options take its competitors into the over-$35,000 range, we think Honda's smart to offer its tech in a more sensible way.
Sensibility is the name of the game with this CR-V. It certainly wasn't a bad car in 2014, but with the speed at which new crossovers are appearing, Honda responded with a quasi-new model that's packing everything that buyers are lusting after this year. We wouldn't call it a comeback; we'd call it a calculated attempt to remain at the top of the compact-crossover pecking order.
Specs & Price
Engine: 2.4-liter, direct-injected, naturally aspirated I-4
Transmission: Continuously variable
Drivetrain Layout: Front-engine, all-wheel drive
Power Output: 185 horsepower / 181 lb-ft
Fuel Economy (mpg): 26 city / 33 highway
Base Price: $32,895
As Tested: $33,775 (incl. $880 destination)
Available Features: Rear parking sensors
• For more information such as specs, prices, and photos of the 2015 Honda CR-V, click here: 2015 Honda CR-V.