By Steve & Tamami Laser
We saw the CR-V for the first time at the 1995 Tokyo Motor Show. Based on the Civic, it was small, sporty looking with the spare tire mounted on the tailgate and inexpensive. The concept of a “crossover” was still fresh since most SUVs from that era were based on trucks. By the time CR-V reached the U.S. two years later, it was already a sales success. Now in its fourth generation, Honda sells more than 300,000 CR-Vs annually in the U.S. making it one of the most popular crossovers.
The fourth-generation CR-V was launched for the 2012 model year, so it’s time for Honda to make some changes for 2015. It receives a new front fascia, grille, headlights and bumper that give it a sportier and more integrated appearance. The rear bumper is also new while a larger chrome molding rests above the license plate pocket.
Other exterior changes that vary by model include new LED daytime running lights, alloy wheel designs including newly available 18-inch wheels, upgraded outside mirrors with turn signals and a power tailgate that’s available on CR-V for the first time.
Standard on the Touring model, the tailgate can be opened by pressing a button inside the vehicle mounted to the left of the steering wheel, or from the outside using the remote smart key fob. A close button is located on the underside of the tailgate that’s accessible when the tailgate is open.
CR-V gains a new engine and transmission, improvements to the chassis and brakes, the new top-line Touring model, more creature comforts on the inside, new safety and convenience features, audio systems and connectivity.
CR-V is a crossover descended from Civic mechanicals, yet for 2015 it receives Accord’s 4-cylinder powertrain. This 2.4-liter engine, part of Honda’s “Earth Dreams Technology™” family, features direct injection and other upgrades to give it an 11 percent increase in peak torque to 181 lb-ft compared to last year’s engine while its rating of 185 horsepower is unchanged.
CR-V gains the Continuously Variable Transmission from the Accord, replacing last year’s five-speed automatic. Honda says the new CVT, along with the engine’s direct injection and friction reduction contribute to increased fuel economy estimates of 27 city/34 highway and 29 combined mpg compared to last year’s rating of 22/31/26. Fuel economy with all-wheel drive also increases to 26/33/28 mpg from 22/30/25.
When activated by the driver, an “ECON” button on the instrument panel, part of CR-V’s Eco Assist™ system, alters the drive-by-wire system’s throttle response curve, the cruise control (if activated) and the air conditioning system to help improve fuel efficiency.
CR-V’s interior looks more upscale with new chrome and silver accents, a center console with sliding armrest and rear air ducts, sliding sunvisors for all models and woodgrain accents for EX-L and Touring.
A new seven-inch display audio system on EX and above lets users “swipe, tap and pinch” the touchscreen like a tablet or smartphone to control functions. Available HondaLink™ Assist can help request emergency assistance for drivers when a compatible phone is paired through Bluetooth® HandsFreeLink® and Siri Eyes Free Link.
Standard internet-sourced music and media options, such as Pandora® are built into the display audio interface with the ability to create personalized stations, tap to “like” songs, and view album artwork on the screen. EX-L and Touring include the display audio with integrated Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System™ and continuously updated traffic information.
Powered by a user’s smartphone, HondaLink™ features include Connect App for location and weather services, Navigation App that includes 3D mapping and continuously updated traffic information, Aha™ App for access to Internet radio and Twitter and Facebook updates, and Launcher App to find and organize Honda-approved third-party apps to view on the display audio screen. The connection between the system and the user’s smartphone is made through the USB interface or a new HDMI interface.
Other changes include a 10-way power driver’s seat, heated front seats and smart entry/push-button start on EX and above, auto-dimming rearview mirror on EX-L, and Adaptive Cruise Control, driver’s memory seat, and HomeLink on Touring. Also standard on EX and above is Honda LaneWatch™ that uses a camera on the right-side mirror to display a wide-angle view of the “blind spot” onto the audio screen when the right turn signal is activated.
For a compact crossover with two rows of seats, CR-V offers excellent cargo solutions. With the rear seats in place, we loaded up the back with a month’s worth of supplies from our local big-box membership store and still had room to cover it with the retractable cargo shade.
Our four-footed friends enjoyed riding in the CR-V after we installed our aftermarket (not Honda-approved parts) hammock shield and cozy doggie beds. It’s always a good idea to properly restrain your pets before taking them on a journey.
New safety features for CR-V that are standard on Touring include Forward Collision Warning, Collision Mitigation Braking System™, Lane Keeping Assist System, Lane Departure Warning and Adaptive Cruise Control.
With all these upgrades, CR-V pricing has increased a bit with the entry level LX front-drive model offering an MSRP of $24,150 while the Touring all-wheel-drive tops out at $33,600 including destination.
We drove our test CR-V Touring AWD for a week on all types of roads, up steep hills and on light-duty off-road trails. Our conclusion: This is the most sophisticated and best driving CR-V in the model’s 20-year history.
It’s easy to see why the CR-V is so successful. It looks great with the new styling upgrade, is fun to drive with the new powertrain borrowed from the Accord, has a comfortable interior with unexpected luxury, offers high-tech features and connectivity and is priced right.
For more information on the CR-V, visit Honda.com or your Honda dealer.
Honda CR-V press fleet vehicle provided by Honda North America. (Prices and vehicle information applies to models sold in the U.S. at the time of publication. All information including prices, features and specifications is subject to change without notice by the automaker.)
Story, photos and videos ©2014 CarNichiWa.com