2018 Honda CR-V Continues to Please

When Honda redesigned its popular CR-V for 2017, the result was a vehicle that delivered numerous improvements to what had been the top-selling compact crossover utility vehicle in the United States. Now, with about a year of sales completed, Honda has just released the 2018 CR-V.

It comes with no major changes. The noticeably bolder styling is retained, as is the upscale passenger cabin. Under the hood, all but the base LX models end up with a slightly more powerful version of the engine used in the upper trim level Civics. That means the EX, EX-L and the Touring model Honda had previously loaned us for review are powered by a turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 190 horsepower.

Working through a CVT (continuously variable automatic transmission), this engine delivers lively acceleration and reasonable fuel economy. A sprint to 60 miles per hour takes just 7.8 seconds while our fuel economy, in a week of mixed use that included more bouts than usual with gridlocked traffic in Hartford, came to 29 miles per gallon. Working against this drivetrain is just a touch of turbo lag when acceleration is first called for and a bit of engine droning on wide-open-throttle runs.

As was the case for 2017, the base 2018 LX model makes do with the previous generation’s normally aspirated 2.4-liter four that is less powerful and less economical than the newer, and smaller, 1.5-liter motor. It, too, works with a CVT.

The ride and handling earned high grades with the redesign. The CR-V is fun to drive thanks to its quick, precise steering, limited lean and good grip in corners. As for riding qualities, the suspension absorbs bumps, both big and small, nicely.

Inside, the CR-V should be roomy enough to prompt some folks who are shopping for a midsize crossover to reconsider. The front cabin is spacious with supportive seats. Our Touring model offered power adjustment for both driver and passenger, with the driver’s seat featuring 12-way adjustability, including four-way power lumbar support.

The second-row seat is also adult friendly, with a surprising amount of leg and headroom. As for cargo, the new CR-V can carry 39.2 cubic feet of stuff with the rear seats up. Fold these seats and this capacity rises to 75.8 cubic feet.

The digital speedometer is easy to read and most controls work logically. Unfortunately, the infotainment system continues to frustrate. The touch screen does not always respond, which can be distracting and frustrating. The navigation system is also a little reluctant to respond from time to time.

With last year’s redesign, a knob for controlling volume appeared on the audio system, replacing a rather finicky touch screen control that Honda had used before.

While the Honda CR-V carries a slightly higher starting price than many competitors, it should be noted that it is also larger on the inside. Standard equipment includes an infotainment system with a five-inch screen, a four-speaker stereo system with USB inputs and Bluetooth connectivity, and a rearview camera.

Stepping up to the EX trim level adds a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, SiriusXM satellite radio reception, push-button starting and the Honda Sensing safety systems. These models also include the turbocharged engine that makes the CR-V quicker than most of the competition and more fuel-efficient than every other non-hybrid or non-diesel compact crossover.

Its virtues have made the Honda CR-V appealing in the past. With the arrival of the 2018 models, that appeal should remain consistent.

 

Paula Says:

 

Beyond being extremely pleasant and capable, this latest 2018 Honda CR-V features an impressive array of safety enhancements in the EX and higher trim levels. Included on this list are an effective active cruise control with low-speed follow, a lane keep assist system that will provide mild steering corrections if a driver begins to drift over a lane marking without signaling and, say goodbye to Honda’s LaneWatch. Starting with last year’s model, the CR-V now features blind spot alert with cross traffic warnings. Too bad base model LX buyers can’t have any of these enhancements, which earned a “Superior” rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and contributed to the 2017 CR-Vs equipped with Honda Sensing earning the Institute’s Top Safety Pick+ award.

This latest generation CR-V is very easy to drive. The seating is high enough to give a good view of the road ahead, but not so high as to make getting in and out difficult. The view to the rear is limited, a problem that is common in cars today, but here it is offset by the standard backup camera. I would put this CR-V high on the shopping list of anybody in the market for a compact, or even a midsize, crossover utility vehicle.  

 

2018 Honda CR-V: Starting at $24,150 plus $940 for destination charges. AWD adds $1,400 to the starting price.

Engines:                                          2.4                                                      1.5

HP                                                      184                                                    190

Torque                                            180                                                    179

EPA FWD                                        26/32                                               28/34

EPA AWD                                       25/31                                               27/33

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