2017 Honda CR-V

PHOENIX — Sales of compact crossover utility vehicles are booming; consumers have a seemingly insatiable appetite for them and the segment continues to grow. In fact, utility vehicles now outsell cars. With players like Ford Escape, Toyota RAV4, Nissan Rogue and others continually updating and refreshing their products, competition is keen and the vehicles are only getting better.

Feeling the heat from competitors, sales leader Honda did a major update by introducing the fifth-generation 2017 CR-V, a slightly larger, more powerful, and technologically advanced vehicle. With Rogue and RAV4 nipping at their heels, Honda wasn’t about to be overtaken.

Built on the new Civic platform, the base CR-V LX is fitted with a 184-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that carries over from the 2016 model. Upper trim levels, including our all-wheel-drive Touring model, are powered by the all-new 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that’s used in the Civic, but with 190 horsepower instead of 176. Power came on quickly with both passing and getting up to highway speeds. CR-V uses a continuous variable automatic transmission, the best one we’ve driven.

Handling is noticeably improved over the 2016 model, with less body lean in curves and cornering. The ride is smooth, compliant, quiet and free of vibrations. Simply put, the CR-V is a sweetheart to drive and easy to park.

Inside, our Touring trim level was upscale, with soft-touch materials for the dash and door trim. But, the plastic wood trim has an unconvincing fake appearance. Leather-trimmed heated seats look and feel premium, are very comfortable and supportive with 12-way power driver’s seat and four-way lumbar adjustment. Passengers get a four-way power seat. Rear-seat room is especially generous and the large doors that swing wide make for easy entry.

The infotainment system is accessed via a seven-inch touch-screen that offers both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility with Garmin navigation. We were pleased to see Honda has returned to using a real knob for audio volume controls but, unfortunately, not for tuning. We still aren’t fans of Honda infotainment systems, which have numerous required steps for some common and simple operating functions.

Other luxuries on our top-of-the-line CR-V include a power moonroof, hands-free power rear liftgate (just wave your foot under the bumper to open), remote engine start, 18-inch alloy wheels, blind-spot warning, rear backup camera, push-button start, and a capless fuel filler.

Advanced safety gear with Honda Sensing includes adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow, collision-mitigation braking system, forward-collision warning, lane-keeping assist and road-departure mitigation that alerts and assists the driver if the system determines that the vehicle is unintentionally crossing over detected road lanes. It operates between 45 and 90 mph.

Overall, the 2017 CR-V has definitely taken the compact utility vehicle segment up a few notches. This is an outstanding vehicle that clearly leads the segment and is an easy choice for those shopping for a new vehicle. Now if they would just redo the fussy infotainment system.

Vital Stats

Base Price: Price as Tested: $34,595
Engine: 1.5-Liter turbocharged 4-cylinder
Horsepower: 190-hp
Fuel Economy: 27-MPG City – 33-MPG Highway
Crash Test Safety Ratings: IIHS 2017 Top Safety Pick+, NHTSA 5 Stars

Competes With

Chevy Equinox
Ford Escape
Nissan Rogue
Hyundai Tucson
Toyota RAV4

What Stands Out

Terrific new engine
Safety features and crash test results
A sweetheart to drive

— Jim Prueter