ASSOCIATE EDITOR JAKE LINGEMAN: I’m not a huge fan of the CR-V, as most enthusiasts probably aren’t, but it’s a fine car for commuting duty. There’s just nothing remarkable about it.
I take that back, the power feels pretty good pushing this thing around. I was surprised to see that it only has 185 hp. I didn’t have any trouble hitting gaps in freeway traffic or getting ahead of someone at a red light, but it just isn’t fun.
I need some “soul” in vehicles, and the CR-V isn’t big on that. It’s big on utility and efficiency; those are just two things I don’t care about.
Competing cars like the Ford Escape and Kia Sportage probably do have more tech, but this is still a Honda, meaning it’ll probably run to 200,000 miles, and I really think it feels like more car for the money.
There are lots of options for buyers looking for a small SUV/crossover. I would definitely recommend driving them all before you make a choice.
ASSOCIATE EDITOR GRAHAM KOZAK: After rotating through a selection of forced-induction vehicles (ranging from the Mazda Mazdaspeed 3 to the Lincoln MKZ) it’s nice to be behind the wheel of something naturally aspirated even if it is a comfortable-if-bland crossover like the 2013 Honda CR-V EX-L Navi.
The smooth, somewhat powerful-feeling 2.4-liter I4 was really the only part of the vehicle that jumped out as particularly good — not that the other parts were bad, per se. Overall, the ride was comfy thanks in part to cushy seats and a soft suspension. Taking a corner quick (well, quick for a crossover maybe), I immediately realized that this wasn’t the marginally more tightly sprung long-term Mazda CX-5.
But then, that car feels like its little 2.0-liter SkyActiv engine is pulling hard (a 2.5-liter is now available for the 2014 model year, though) when you step on the accelerator, and combined fuel economy is only about 3 mpg higher, all for just a few hundred dollars less. So each car has its upsides and downsides. They weigh exactly the same amount, by the way. Weird.
As far as tech is concerned: I feel perfectly at home with “complicated” systems like those found in Fords or German luxury cars, but I personally don’t need a lot of in-car entertainment to feel satisfied (I don’t typically synch my phone, for example).
So the CR-V was an acceptable middle ground between the rather incoherent two screen setup on our long-term 2013 Honda Accord EX-L and the really basic equipment on many Mazdas. Though non-infotainment tech like keyless entry — the little things you forget about until you don’t have them — are oddly lacking for a car in this price range.
2013 Honda CR-V EX-L Navi
Base Price: $31,025
As-Tested Price: $31,025
Drivetrain: 2.4-liter I4; AWD, five-speed automatic
Output: 185 hp @ 7,000 rpm, 163 lb-ft @ 4,400 rpm
Curb Weight: 3,426 lb
Fuel Economy (EPA City/Highway/Combined): 22/30/25 mpg
AW Observed Fuel Economy: 25.6 mpg