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Undefeated Champ

Honda's popular CR-V is the most popular compact SUV today.

In the last10 years, Honda has sold 2.3 million CR-V's; last year the CR-V was the most popular compact SUV sold in the U.S. For 2015, the CR-V has numerous improvements that include a new engine, better gas mileage, responsive handling, plus more safety features, and redesigned exterior styling.

vehicle

The 2015 Honda CR-V with the new Earth Dreams 2.4-liter engine, gets an improved 33 mpg. Honda Motor Company photo

CR-V trims begin with the base LX, then EX, EX-L, and top-of-the line all-wheel-drive Touring, which was our test drive. All models offer two- or four-wheel drive.

While the EX is the best seller, Touring takes safety to a new level, with standard features like adaptive cruise control; forward collision warning; mitigation braking; lane keeping assist; and Honda's unique LaneWatch, which displays on the seven-inch dashboard touch screen what is on the passenger's side of the vehicle when making a right turn or switching lanes to the right.

The 2015 CR-V has earned top safety and crash ratings. U.S. News & World Report magazine named it the most affordable compact SUV among 24 in the market. Motor Trend magazine anointed the CR-V SUV of the year.

Replacing the oft-criticized five-speed manual transmission, CR-V now uses a smooth-shifting continuous variable transmission linked to a new Earth Dreams 2.4-liter engine. This modification adds 11 percent more torque and averages three more miles per gallon. However, more muscle is often desired for quick highway passing.

The ride is cathedral quiet, except upon maximum acceleration, especially in Sport drive mode. Retuned front MacPherson strut and rear multi-link suspensions cushion the ride, while handling remains nicely reactive with rack-mounted electric power steering.

Outside, running lights are now LED. The front fascia's grill swoops upward with less chrome. A power liftgate with a smaller rear window differentiates the rear.

Inside, the Touring model allows two-seat memory positions, good for people who share the vehicle. There is a new, more comfortable configurable console with ample storage spaces, a sliding sun visor, and a conversation mirror. Display Audio allows on-screen manipulation for navigation and HondaLink®, the in-vehicle infotainment system. Premium materials, like leather seats, give an upscale vibe, and techies can access apps and receive on-screen text messages.

Rear seats drop 60-40 easily, and cargo space is generous with a spare tire under the low-threshold trunk deck.

Likes: Mileage, handling, versatility, ride, quiet, value
Dislikes: Power
Bottom Line: Good in so many areas; going to be hard to dethrone.
Tom Crosby is a contributor from Charlotte, N.C.

November/December 2015 Issue


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