As many a one-hit wonder has found, getting to the top of the charts is a cakewalk compared to how difficult it’s to remain there. The key is to continue innovating without alienating loyal fans, and this applies to automakers as much as some other pop-culture creator. Miscalculate when redesigning a satisfying vehicle and, well, remember the uninspired 2012 Honda Civic? Honda was not going to risk alienating buyers of its top-selling CR-V crossover. With nearly four million units sold since its 1997 debut, it’s little surprise to find that the 2017 Honda CR-V, although entirely new, comes across as more of an exhaustive remix than an entirely new composition.
While the inside is comfortable in terms of design and durability, the level of detail and high quality of materials have been ratcheted up. Kudos to Honda for restraint here–some other makes have succumbed to the impulse to apply because many endings as possible and ended up with The Brady Bunch living-room look, circa 1973.
Cargo room behind the back seat has become 39 cubic feet, two greater than in the prior generation. Folding the rear seats flat makes for 76 cubes of space and may be achieved via handy levers set into the cargo-area walls; even better, the adjustable load floor can be configured to deliver a set floor and storage beneath. Up front, the center console benefits from enhanced cupholders and more storage.
The most dramatic departure from the CR-V’s hit-making formulation can be seen beneath the hood. Similar to the turbo 1.5-liter located from the recent Civic, the CR-V’s has a marginally lower compression ratio (10.3:1 from the CR-V versus 10.6:1 from the Civic) and higher increase pressure to generate 190 horsepower and 179 lb-ft of torque. That is 5 horses more, but 2 lb-ft less torque, than the former 2.4-liter created, nevertheless it’s a significant 16 horsepower and 17 lb-ft greater than this engine generates in the Civic.
A brand new, variable-ratio electrically assisted power-steering installation is aimed for faster response than at the previous-generation CR-V. While the ratio change eases maneuvering in tight spots, we are also happy to report that directional reply and turn-in feel really are somewhat sharper. It’s not just sporty, but coupled with its great straight-line stability and a smooth ride, the new CR-V surely makes for pleasant travel for those concentrated more on the destination than to the next apex.
We measured 0.82 g of grip on the skidpad, where our driver reported moderate understeer. That won’t impress many in a universe where some cars today regularly approach or exceed the magic 1.00-g figure, however it’s a whole lot more traction compared to 0.75 g mustered from the last Toyota RAV4 AWD we analyzed, and it even tops the 0.81 gram of the 2016 Mazda CX-5, long lauded because the spunkiest handler in the compact-crossover pack.
We forecast loyalists like that fellow will be delighted with the new version and its enlarged interior, comfy trappings, increased refinement, and improved functionality. We definitely were, as we put the CR-V at the very top of its course within our 10Best Trucks and SUVs awards. Now we wait to see if the rest of America is as impressed and decides to keep the CR-V near the top of the sales graphs.