In 2017, the Honda CR-V underwent a complete overhaul — something this aging crossover needed to remain at the top of its class in sales. As with any successful vehicle, Honda was careful not to try and revolutionize the CR-V. Instead, it just gave it a slightly more modern look and fixed some of the complaints buyers had.
I recently got behind the wheel of this new crossover in the form of the 2018 CR-V Touring. Was it a perfect seven days of glory? No, but I can appreciate what Honda’s done to make the CR-V better than ever.
Probably my favorite change is under the hood. Yes, the base CR-V still has the ancient 2.4-liter i-VTEC engine, but my Touring model came with the new 1.5-liter turbocharged four-pot. This pushes the CR-V’s horsepower up from 184 ponies to 190, while its torque falls from 180 pound-feet to 179. But what really makes this engine special is the accessibility of said power: the horsepower peaks at 5,600 rpm and the torque peaks from 2,000 rpm. To max out the 2.4-liter, you’d have to ring it out to 6,400 and 3,900 rpm, respectively.
I also appreciated the new CVT transmission with G-Shift Control, which eliminates rubber-banding and makes it shift more like a traditional transmission.
This powertrain teams up to deliver an impressive 28 mpg city, 34 mpg highway, and 30 mpg combined. By the end of my week with this peoplemover, I was sitting right at 30 mpg, and I was definitely not babying it.
What’s more, despite being a higher-strung turbo engine paired with a CVT gearbox, the CR-V drove surprisingly smooth. This combo often results in jumpy performance and choppy acceleration, but the CR-V felt great at all speeds. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that the CR-V is most comfortable on long, straight stretches — it’s not a fan of the twisty stuff, if that really even matters.
Inside, the CR-V continues its occupant-friendly ways with all sorts of roominess. Its rear seats boast 40.4 inches of legroom, 38.3 inches of headroom, and 55.6 inches of shoulder room. On top of that, it can haul an impressive 37.6 cubic feet of cargo room with the seats up. Fold the seats, and there’s 75.8 cubes of room. If there is one part of the cargo area I can complain about, it’s the width. My wife and I regularly buy this one piece of furniture that we resell, and it fits in our RAV4 Hybrid with the seats up. To our surprise, the CR-V’s cargo area was far narrower, and the item wouldn’t fit.
On top of being roomy, the seats are super comfortable and would pose no issue on long trips. In fact, I drive to Miami and back — about 600 miles — in a day for an acting gig, and my back and bum never felt the least bit stressed. The infotainment system also is slick and easy to use, and its physical volume knob was a welcome sight. There was also plenty of storage room for all my pocket-dwelling items, like cellphone, keys, pens, and loose change.
Being the Touring model — the range-topping CR-V — my tester came with all the bells and whistles. It included navigation, SiriusXM, a 330-watt audio system with nine speakers, LED headlights, and loads of safety features like adaptive cruise, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, and more. This latter group of safety equipment helped it earn the IIHS’ Top Safety Pick designation.
While there were a few minor complaints about the CR-V, it’s all-in-all a great vehicle and will continue to be at or near the top in crossover sales. Let’s just hope Honda doesn’t let this design linger too long this time around.
Starting MSRP: $24,150
MSRP As Tested: $34,050
- Peppy 1.5-liter and slick CVT
- Excellent fuel economy
- Massive cabin and cargo area
- Plenty of interior storage
- Lots of safety gadgets
- Sloppy in the corners
- Not overly fun to drive
- Blends in with everything else on the road
- Price builds up quickly