Honda isn't coy at all when describing its CR-V, which has been part of the lineup since 1997. It's simply "America's best-selling SUV."
Actually, it's a "compact crossover SUV," as Honda itself proclaims, promising the merits of several body styles in a single vehicle. Crossovers have stolen the limelight from conventional SUVs in recent years, partly because of their higher fuel-economy ratings and more carlike driving characteristics. Competition to the CR-V is led by Toyota's RAV4, which has a similarly long history, plus a long list of more recently introduced models from both domesetic and import-brand manufacturers.
For 2010, the CR-V gets a freshened front fascia that incorporate a new grille and bumper. The hood has been reshaped, along with the back bumper. Alloy wheels on EX and EX-L models have switched from a 7-spoke to a 10-spoke design. Models equipped with Honda's navigation system now include Bluetooth HandsFreeLink.
Under the hood, Honda's 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine has gained 14 horsepower - now rated at 180. EPA-estimated fuel economy has increased by 1 mile per gallon: now 21 mpg city and 28 mpg highway for front-wheel-drive models, and 21/27 mpg for those with Real Time 4WD. All CR-V models have a five-speed automatic transmission.
Automatic on/off headlights now are included on the EX-L edition. All front seats have one-inch wider center armrests. Radio controls have been modified, and new seat fabric textures are used. New inside door handles have a rubberized grip handle.
Built on a 103.1-inch wheelbase, the CR-V measures less than 15 feet long overall. Cargo volume behind the rear seat total 35.7 cubic feet, growing in 72.9 cubic feet with the back seat folded. A dualdeck cargo shelf is installed on EX and EX-L models. The sliding 60/40-split second-row seat has a 40/20/40 folding seatback.
Safety features includes antilock braking, Vehicle Stability Assist (electronic stability control), side-impact airbags, and side-curtain airbags with rollover sensing.
Only a few moments behind the wheel are needed to observe that the CR-V qualifies as excellent all around: solid, stable, well-made, and easy to drive. Despite being priced toward the upper end of the compact crossover scale, it's easy to see why the CR-V continues to attract buyers, even amid all the current competition. Add Honda's reputation for overall reliability, and the CR-V is a crossover that needs to be considered by all but the most budget-minded shoppers.
Quiet? You bet. Smooth-running? Definitely. Only in acceleration does the CR-V lag behind some of the competition, despite the power increase for 2010. Even if performance is on the mild side, it's wholly adequate for a crossover SUV. In mixed driving (largely urban), a CR-V delivered nearly 21 mpg.
CR-V pricing starts at $21,545 (plus $710 destination charge) for the front-drive LX model. Topping the line, the EX-L 4WD Navi model (with navigation system) stickers for $29,745.
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