2018 Honda CR-V: A favorite of car experts, compact SUV is a winner

By Mike Blake Carlisle Events
Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Honda CR-V entered the automotive marketplace in 1995, gaining its alphabetical name from its manufacturer’s assertion that it was a Comfortable Runabout Vehicle – CR-V. Launched as a small SUV that dual-purposed as an urban daily driver and an off-road or soft-road vehicle, CR-V has evolved into an elegant and sporty crossover imbued with state-of-the-art tech and entertainment, while upgrading with increased power and better fuel economy.

A favorite among automotive experts, the 2018 CR-V has harvested awards and accolades from a bevy of automotive reporting bodies, including the following:

• The 2018 Honda CR-V was named the Best Compact SUV in the U.S. News & World Report's 2018 “Best Cars for Families” awards – CR-V topped its category for the 4th straight year.

• The editors at Car & Driver magazine awarded the 2018 CR-V the “Editors' Choice” award in the Compact Crossovers/SUV category

• Reflecting Honda's progressive approach to design and technology, the editors at Edmunds.com named the 2018 CR-V the Most Innovative SUV and Car of the Year in the 2018 Edmunds CES Tech Driven Awards.

• It was named overall winner in AutoWeb’s Buyer’s Choice Award for Best Utility Vehicle of the Year.

• And Motor Trend named the 2018 CR-V its 2018 SUV of the Year.

• CR-V also gained recognition from J.D. Power & Associates for U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout; AutoGuide.com as Utility Vehicle of the Year; Wards Auto for Best Interior; and Most-Awarded SUV by Kelly Blue Book.

Fully redesigned last year, its first re-imagining since 2012 – the fifth-generation CR-V saw more than 60 changes to its body in 2017, and added a new chassis, along with more aggressive styling, an elegant interior environment, top-notch fuel efficiency premium cargo space and an available turbocharged engine. With all of those improvements, the 2018 version is presented essentially unchanged, and the experts above seem happy with the decision.

The aggressively styled crossover displays a sophisticated and athletic presence in a footprint that measures 180.6 inches in length, 66.5 inches in height and 73.0 inches in width on a 104.7-inch wheelbase. Curbweight comes in at 3420 for the vehicle I tested, the EX trim.

The 2018 CR-V in EX and higher trims are powered by CR-V's turbocharged 1.5-liter DOHC, Direct-Injected in-line 4-cylinder engine with dual Valve Timing Control. CR-V LX trims are powered by a 2.4-liter DOHC direct-injected i-VTEC engine with Variable Timing Control. Both engines are coupled with an efficient and smooth continuously variable transmission with Honda G-Shift control logic. The 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine produces 184 hp and 180 lbs.-ft. of torque, and the 1.5-liter turbo is rated at 190hp and 170 lbs.-ft. of torque. In AWD, the 1.5 is EPA rated at 25/city, 31/highway and 27/combined mpg. My AWD test ride turbo was driven on the highway, in town and on soft road conditions, and averaged 28.5 mpg, well with range of its EPA rating of 27/city, 33/highway and 29/combined.

On the Interstate, acceleration was confident in all ranges. In track tests, CR-V was slow, but steady, with a zero-to-60mph dash completed in 9.2 seconds en route to a seemingly slow 17.2-second quarter-mile. The ride in all situations was family smooth thanks to the MacPherson strut front suspension and a multi-link rear, both with stabilizer bars. Steering was road responsive, but not auto-cross efficient, with some perceptible understeer.

The 2018 CR-V continues with its refined interior, filled with high-tech, infotainment and premium features. The quiet cabin is comfortable, roomy, and thoughtfully laid out. Interior accommodations come in at 40.1 inches of front headroom and 39.2 in row two; Legroom is 41.3 inches in front and 40.4 inches for the second row; and shoulder room measures 57.9 and 55.6 inches.

Honda incorporates premium active safety, passive safety and driver-assistive features in the CR-V, including Honda Sensing™ technology, offered as standard equipment on EX and higher trims. Utilizing Honda's innovative Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ body structure, the 2018 CR-V has been rewarded with the highest available collision safety ratings, including a 5-star Overall Vehicle Score from the NHTSA and a TOP SAFETY PICK+ rating from the IIHS, including a SUPERIOR rating for frontal crash prevention when equipped with Honda Sensing™.

CR-V is offered in four trim packages in both AWD and 2WD. The Base LX starts at $24,150 (an increase of $105 over last year) and the EX trim I tested starts at $26,950 (up $255) for the 2WD -- and you gain the Turbo engine, Honda Sensing™, Smart Entry and a 7-inch display audio touchscreen. EX-L starts at $29,450 (a gain of $255) adding leather inside, a power liftgate, power seats and auto-rearview mirror. The top-of-the-line Touring trim starts at $32,395 (an increase of $255) in 2WD and picks up a hand-free access power tailgate, full LED headlights, rain-sensing wipers and satellite-linked navigation. My EX in AWD (for $1400 more – saving $100 from last year) based at $28,350. In Molten Lava Pearl (Red), with an Ivory Cloth interior, my CR-V EX added Body side molding for $225 and back-up sensors for $528. With destination and handling charges of $975, my sticker-as-tested was $30,078.

> Visit www.CarlisleEvents.com for more on the automotive hobby.

Mike Blake, former editor of KIT CAR magazine, joined Carlisle Events as senior automotive journalist in 2004. He's been a "car guy" since the 1960s and has been writing professionally for about 30 years.

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