Honda’s 2017 continues to be a strong year with new, improved CR-V

Honda is considered one of the more conservative car companies – not politically, but from their car-making philosophy. They don’t take many risks. They sell a lot of vehicles, so they don’t shake the things up too much. But, 2017 is shaping up to be a pretty raucous year, at least for Honda. They seem less conservative after changing up the Civic in a big way. Now they’ve redesigned their best-selling SUV, too. What’s going on with Honda?

My tester this week is the 2017 Honda CR-V – a crossover that has sold more than 300,000 units every year for the last four years. Each year sales increase for the CR-V, so why mess with a good thing? The answer is, because they can and they want to keep it modern and current. With the redesigned CR-V, they achieve all that.

The 2017 CR-V is more aggressive-looking with a sleeker, more distinctive front end. They added chrome to the car, which is always a good thing. The new LED headlamps take on a new horizontal shape that gives this crossover some pizzazz. A rear spoiler and jazzy back end gives the CR-V a sporty look.

The back side of the CR-V is what is most impressive. It looks completely different from last year’s model with long, shapely taillights and chromed-out exhaust pipes.

From an engineering standpoint, Honda is extremely conservative. The base 2.4-liter engine in most of this year’s CRV’s perfectly illustrates that. It’s adequate, but not exciting. But showing that Honda is ready to take some chances, they add a 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine as an option. Thankfully, this was the engine that my tester had. It has 190 horsepower (which is more than the 2.4-liter engine makes). The turbo is noticeable off the line. It’s not quite exhilarating, but more exciting than any past CR-V.

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The continuously variable transmission performs well. Honda’s CVT’s are more enjoyable than most others. I’m not sure how they’ve timed them or tweaked them, but they actually work well with their engines, including the CR-V’s turbocharged four-banger. There is no noticeable turbo lag.

Honda interiors are not known to be class-leading in luxury or touchpoints. In the past, this is where Honda’s conservative ways have been most noticeable. So, I was pleasantly surprised at the vast improvement to the 2017 CR-V’s interior. Soft touch points are found throughout. The seats are plusher than ever.

The redesign of the CR-V allows for even more rear legroom. The CR-V was already known for a spacious back seat, but the 2017 version adds even more head and leg room.

The rear seats now can be folded flat in one swift, easy-to-perform motion. Doing so reveals 75.8 cubic feet of cargo space, which leads the entire crossover segment. This makes the CR-V more functional than ever before, without sacrificing any passenger space. A power, adjustable lift gate makes for easy rear access to all that cargo space.

The infotainment system and technology found in the CR-V is on par with other competitors, but is also nothing new or exciting. There’s the addition of an extra USB and integration with smart phones through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

A great phenomenon going on in the auto industry is turbocharging four-cylinder engines. The outcome is always a gain in fuel efficiency.

That’s the case again with the CR-V which sees gains in fuel economy for this model year. The 1.5-liter CR-V with all-wheel drive has an EPA rating of 27 mpg/city and 33 mpg/highway. I averaged just over 30 mpg in my week with this crossover.

Achieving that 30 mpg milestone in a crossover is always a great accomplishment. The front-wheel drive version will yield even slightly better fuel economy while the 2.4-liter has slightly less. So, to me, it makes sense to get the turbo with better fuel economy.

The 2017 CR-V has four trims. The base LX has a starting price just over $24,000. My tester was the top-of-the-line Touring trim. It had an MSRP of $33,795. It’s competitively priced amongst others in the segment like the Toyota RAV4 and Mazda CX-5.

Cheers to Honda who isn’t sitting back on their laurels and being satisfied with moving units. Rather, they continue to challenge their competition and have helped shake off the conservative stigma somewhat with an exciting product line this year. The 2017 CR-V is a perfect demonstration of that.

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