2017 Honda CR-V 1.5T AWD Touring – Road Test Review – By Ben Lewis


 

An exciting new twist with the 2017 CR-V.  Five of them, in fact!~

Honda’s really got us spinning with the all-new CR-V. And while it already was one of the very best, they’ve done a lot of things – big and small – to make sure it keeps its leadership position.

 

Twist 1: It will turn heads:

CR-V’s have always been modern, contemporary vehicles, but not Wowzers. Until now. First of all, the new CR-V looks noticeably bigger, and it is. Give partial credit to the smaller HR-V being offered so its big brother can stretch out.

The wheelbase is punched out 1.6-inches, and overall its longer, taller, and wider. It’s also more aggressive, with swept back headlights (awesome LED ones on our Touring tester) sporty mesh grille and fogs. Active grille shutters also close up for more aerodynamic cruising.

Come ‘round the side and you’ve got muscular fender flares sitting atop stylish 18” alloys. At the back, a rear spoiler, LED tail lamps and dual exhaust pipes, finish off the tasty design. And we have to mention the color of our car, a Dark Olive Metallic, was stunning. It can look black in certain lighting, but when the sun hits it, blam! It looks rich and special.

Twist 2: It turns back seat drivers into happy campers.

While the CR-V has always been pretty comfy, that longer wheelbase and better packaging means 2-inches more rear legroom, and it’s noticeable. Real adults – tall ones even – will find plenty of legroom, and good supportive seats. The seatbacks even recline.

Carrying gear?

You’ve got a power tailgate (hands-free on the Touring), and cargo space is impressive too – 39.2 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 75.8 down, thanks to fold-flat rear seats. It easily outspaces the RAV4, Sportage, even Grand Cherokee.

Twist 3: It’s a huge turn for the better up front.

If you’ve been in the new Civic, you’ll notice the same dash in the CR-V. It’s a fresh, modern design, and the center digital display in the dash (so long round speedo and tach!)  features an all-new Driver Attention Monitor that gives you an audible and visual alert if it detects drowsy driving behavior. Interesting, since the interior is anything but sleepy.

The controls are all Honda –simple, easy to use, with a quality feel. The large 7-inch touch-screen display is bright and clear. It also shows some clever thinking, with a Multi-angle Rearview Camera with three views: normal, top-down, and wide angle, that should bring joy to nervous parkers and abused garbage cans everywhere.

Best of all – THE VOLUME KNOB IS BACK! If you want proof of a manufacturer really listening to its customers, here you have it. A lovely, tactile, easy-to-use volume knob. We predict this will sell the CR-V alone. But if it doesn’t, you have cool stuff like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, UBS ports front and rear.

Also worth mentioning, our top of the line Touring was beautifully turned-out with rich leather on the seats, steering wheel and shifter, and a heated, 12-way power driver’s seat with an unusual (for this class) 4-way power lumbar support. This is a very easy vehicle to get comfy in.

Twist 4: It’s got Turbo!

OK, a Turbo CR-V might have sounded crazy a few years ago, but Honda offers a honey in the 1.5-liter turbo 4. It’s the same motor offered in the Civic Sport, but strangely enough has 10 more hp here, hitting the dinger with a robust 190.

Perhaps Honda knows that a heavier, AWD vehicle will need some extra oomph. And while it’s not the little rocket or manual-trans Civic Sport was, that little 1.5-liter is all heart, and it moves the CR-V along quickly, quietly and smoothly. The EPA says figure on a 29 mpg combined estimate, we got closer to 26. Still very good.

The standard CVT automatic does a good imitation of a traditional automatic, with little of the laggy motor-boat feeling we’ve noticed in other manufacturer’s CVT’s. It’s well suited to the SUV/family hauler mission the CR-V is designed for.Which is not to say it’s boring. Honda really worked to make the CR-V a good drive, and the suspension is notably tighter, well-controlled, and the steering has new-found precision.

If you want a sports car in an SUV suit, the Mazda CX-5 would still be your vehicle, but the CR-V will put a smile on an enthusiast’s face, while offering a great feeling of confidence to any driver.

Confidence is delivered in a big way with the Honda Sensing suite of safety features. Adaptive Cruise Control with low-speed follow, Lane Keep Assist, Road Departure Mitigation (helps keep you in your lane) and Collison Mitigation Braking (hits the brake if it senses a possible collision). In the previous CR-V we were impressed with how well this worked, and it’s the same here.

You can get on the freeway, set the adaptive cruise and lane assist, and basically watch in wonder as it keeps itself in clear of traffic and in your lane, even around gentle curves. It doesn’t like you taking your hands off the wheel (which we would NEVER recommend), and flashes nasty things and shakes the wheel if it detects you’re playing autopilot.

Well we’re not at self-drive yet, but Honda shows how well this technology is coming along. And frankly, when you’re tired, distracted, or just dealing with heavy traffic, the system is superb, and goes a long way to reduce stress.

Twist 5: It won’t tie your wallet in knots.

And because Honda is Honda, you get a nice stair-step of well-equipped models to fit your budget. The base LX doesn’t get turbo (you get the Accord’s 180 hp, 2.4L 4-cylinder – a solid workhorse), but dose serve up useful stuff like climate control, power windows and that 3-view Rearview Camera. You even get some eye candy, including LED running lights and 17-inch alloy wheels. At $24,045 a no-brainer for an affordable SUV. Add $1,300 for All Wheel Drive.

Step up to the EX my friends, and you get the sweet and swift turbo engine, 7-inch audio display, smart entry system, power moon roof, and most importantly, the Honda Sensing system. As tempting as the LX is, we’d pop the $26,695 to get the added confidence and Turbo!

Next up, the EX-L plushes out with Leather, Power tailgate, Power seats, auto-diming rear mirror and more. For you: $29,195.

The top of the line Touring model like our tester adds Hands-free access tailgate, LED headlights, rain-sensing wipers, big ticket items like Navigation, and cool stuff like white ambient LED interior lighting. The Touring start at $32,395. Ours had the only available option – all-wheel drive – and came in at $34,595 including $900 for destination and handling.

OK, the 2017 CR-V may not have as many twists as the legendary Nürburgring, but it’s a pretty exciting package. Handsome new looks, loads of space, a notable upgrade in comfort and conveniences, a great safety package (available on all but the base model), turbo power, excellent ride and handling, and that sweet, sweet, volume knob.

And it’s a Honda, so you should expect years of service, excellent reliability and good resale, too.

Still best in class. Nicely done. Now it’s your turn.

 

About The Author

Ben Lewis grew up in Chicago, and after spending his formative years driving sideways in the winter – often intentionally – moved to sunny Southern California. He now enjoys sunny weather year-round -- whether it is autocross driving, aerobatics, or learning to surf.