What We Got
For years the Honda CR-V has been a benchmark in the compact utility vehicle segment. Its competition has stepped up for sure, but Honda has always been quick to give the CR-V updates to keep it competitive. The latest upgrades came for the 2012 model year, so we figured it was a good chance to see how well the latest CR-V stacks up against the competition.
In this case, Honda provided us with a loaded CR-V in the form of an EX-L with Navigation and all-wheel drive. This upper-tier example had an MSRP of $30,825 and offered a taste of most everything available on a CR-V.
The 2012 Honda CR-V was a mix of old and new. Its 2.4-liter four-cylinder was nearly identical to the previous-generation engine and shared across all trim levels. The inline-4 generated 185 horsepower and 163 pound-feet of torque. The five-speed transmission was carried over from 2011, when it was first introduced. New for 2012 was some mildly revised styling and a new all-wheel-drive system. Namely, updates were made to improve responsiveness to traction loss. Overall, this combination of equipment improved EPA fuel economy estimates to 22 city and 30 highway mpg.
Here’s what we found over the course of our 12-month test:
- “The only way to tell the 2012 Honda CR-V is different is to close your eyes. It’s quieter, calmer and more refined. The CR-V used to hate big tires, but now it rides across broken pavement with impressive composure on these 225/65R17 Bridgestone Dueler HP Sport AS tires. There’s still tire harshness in the Honda way, but the suspension no longer seems to crash across seams and holes. The CR-V has come a long way in price (sadly), but it also seems to have come a long way in refinement.” — Michael Jordan
- “Am I surprised that our CR-V isn’t the fastest vehicle in the fleet? Hardly. Its normally aspirated four-cylinder can only do so much. What does impress me is how smoothly it works in nearly every situation. Whether it’s winding up near redline or just cruising along on the highway, the CR-V’s 2.4-liter engine always delivers refined power. It runs out of juice pretty quickly on the highway, but the quick-shifting automatic does a good job of grabbing another gear when it’s required. At lower speeds the shifts are a little less predictable, so it’s not perfect. Overall, it’s a solid setup that matches the personality of this SUV.” — Ed Hellwig
- “The 2012 Honda CR-V’s throttle response is so perfectly intuitive, so perfectly supple that it surprises me if I haven’t driven it in awhile. Yes, that’s right, I’m actually more shocked these days when I drive a car that doesn’t immediately lurch forward at throttle tip-in rather than one that does. This abrupt throttle thing has gotten out of hand. But the CR-V’s gas pedal is so well-calibrated that it doesn’t matter if you take off gently, with a little gusto, or immediately floor it. It’s always smooth.” — Mike Monticello
- “Recent rains made the going easy in this part of Nevada, on account of a near total absence of dust and excellent grip… which is a good thing since we covered all of 150 miles on dirt today…. Mostly, the roads were straight, but a good number of high- and medium-speed corners and more than a few crests and dips were sprinkled along the route to keep things interesting…. Considering our load of four adults, their luggage, and two loaded coolers, I expected I’d have to rein myself in…. This was not the case. The Honda’s suspension does not go all soggy when you add weight. Instead, it seems to come into its own…. I was able to maintain a high pace, upward of 60 mph in places, and through it all the steering was direct and sure. The springs and dampers felt like they were in their sweet spot and the rear suspension still had travel enough to roll through the low places at barely diminished speed, soaking up the compression without coming close to bottoming.” — Dan Edmunds
- “On the open road, more noise intrudes into the cabin than I’d like. Most of it is road noise from the tires, but there’s a fair amount of wind noise that comes in off the large side mirrors. I don’t want to give them up, because I like seeing traffic to my left and right, but the noise is there. Also, there are mountains between here and Scottsdale, and the ordinarily adequate 2.4-liter engine has to work pretty hard on uphill grades. And when the engine is working, the cabin vibe is not so relaxed.” — Erin Riches
- “Those front seats, or should I say captain’s chairs, provided solid comfort with their well-shaped cushioning, two-stage seat heaters, flip-down armrests and adjustable driver-side lumbar support. My occasionally ornery lower back didn’t complain once.” — John DiPietro
- “Cargo management is its forte. The CR-V swallows more stuff than its outside appearance would suggest, 37.2 cubic feet behind the rear seats. That volume presents a very usable shape because a typical carry-on roller bag fits under the cargo cover standing up. This made it ridiculously easy to fit all four of our bags with plenty of room to spare for laptop bags, a camera bag, makeup totes and whatnot. Should you need more space, the handle visible to the left is the release for the rear seatback. What’s more, the CR-V’s cargo loading height is way down there at just 25.75 inches. Little chance of back strain here. When all is said and done, the CR-V has no trouble supporting our family of four on the road for a week with no loss of visibility, no loss of security.” — Dan Edmunds
- “As best I can tell, this is a new feature on the current-generation CR-V: rear doors that swing open nearly 90 degrees. I only discovered this in an empty driveway while shuffling a car seat in and out of the CR-V. It seems like you only discover these things through physical interface with the car. Pushing the door open wider with your foot, thigh or butt until you realize that you’ve either dislodged the hinges or that these doors do, in fact, open 90 degrees.” — Dan Frio
- “Exhibit B is this screen and the matching computerized nanny voice that simultaneously breaks in over the music that says, “The phone has been connected,” or words to that effect. This would be OK if the message popped up just once after I started the engine to confirm that the Bluetooth connection has automatically re-paired itself and is ready to go. Thing is, this message and that frickin’ voice cut in and repeated that notification every 30 minutes (during our drive to Oregon). So far we’ve heard this about 25 or 30 times in the 14 or so road-hours we’ve spent in the CR-V since we left home. Something’s not right here.” — Dan Edmunds
- “You can’t do much with the CR-V’s navigation system when the vehicle is moving, at least not if it involves touching the screen…. However, in a moment of mild desperation and annoyance over the weekend, I tried the voice control. And surprisingly, it works great.” — Erin Riches
Maintenance & Repairs
The CR-V manual outlined routine service at 10,000-mile intervals. At just over 11,000 miles the onboard monitor asked for its first service. This was a unique experience, as we tried an airport parking lot oil change that went from greatest idea ever to a visit to the local Honda dealer for a second oil change. We used our nearby Honda dealership for its second service at 20,000 miles. Over the CR-V’s lifetime we spent $188 for regular maintenance.
One CR-V recall surfaced during our test of the CR-V. It required both front door latches and handles to be replaced. The job was performed in about two hours.
Fuel Economy and Resale Value
Observed Fuel Economy:
EPA estimates for the 2012 Honda CR-V with all-wheel drive were 25 mpg combined (22 city/30 highway). Believe it or not, we averaged 25 mpg over 23,000 miles. Our best single tank returned 31 mpg and our longest distance between fill-ups was 389 miles.
Resale and Depreciation:
Hondas have a history of retaining their value well. The CR-V was no exception. After 23,726 miles of service, Edmunds’ TMV® Calculator valued the car at $25,146 based on a private-party sale. This was expectedly strong at just 18 percent depreciation.
Pros: Good balance of power, fuel economy and drivability from its standard four-cylinder engine, very responsive automatic transmission, excellent cargo versatility, easy-to-use cabin controls, strong resale value.
Cons: Cabin noise is pervasive on the highway, occasional technology quirks from the multimedia center, gets winded easily over mountain passes.
Bottom Line: The Honda CR-V remains one of the top choices in the compact utility vehicle segment thanks to its flexible and fuel-efficient engine, excellent use of space and strong resale value.
Louisville Kentucky Honda Dealer, Bob Montgomery Honda, http://www.bobomontgomeryhonda.com