Review of: 2017 Honda CR-V AWD 5dr Touring
2017 Honda CR-V: All-new and all-good
By Jil McIntosh
Feb. 1, 2017
One of Canada’s most popular vehicle segments is the compact SUV, and it’s one where Honda wants to keep a tight hold. For 2017, it updates its CR-V into an all-new fifth generation.
There’s an all-new body and chassis, with new exterior styling. The interior gets an upgrade, and the CR-V now carries its first-ever turbocharged engine, a unit borrowed from the new Civic.
It starts with the LX trim level, at $26,690 in front-wheel drive, and $29,490 in all-wheel drive. All other trims are all-wheel only: the SE, EX, EX-L, and my tester, the top-level Touring, which chimed in at $38,090 before freight and taxes.
Pros & Cons
- + Rear seat comfort
- + Volume knob placement
- + Driveability
- - Some odd exterior styling touches
- - Navigation only available in top-end model
- - gas gauge
In addition to a wheelbase that’s 40 millimetres longer than before, along with higher ground clearance, the CR-V also grows slightly longer, taller, and wider.
While it’s still not a show-stopper design, it’s well-proportioned and handsome. The headlights, fitted with LED exclusively on the Touring, integrate well into a thick chrome grille bar that makes the trucklet look wider. Fog lights are standard on all but the base LX trim level, as are 18-inch wheels, while the Touring adds a panoramic sunroof in place of the smaller glass panel on the EX levels.
Also added to the Touring are rain-sensing wipers (which, like all of them from all automakers, get confused in drizzle or light snow), dual exhaust with chrome tips, and a hands-free power liftgate that opens when you put your foot under the bumper.
Go to fuel up and you’ll find a capless filler, a handy and convenient feature that’s showing up on several models these days.
I’m still not quite at peace with the way the taillights stick out sideways in a three-quarter view, but like the headlights, they also wrap nicely around a central chrome bar. But what’s up with that awful “Turbo” sticker on the rear window? Didn’t we get our fill of those pasted on cars in the 1990s?
While the basic overall dash design remains similar, it’s been cleaned up considerably. It looks far more mature and upscale, with less clutter in the instrument cluster (although the fuel gauge, which lights just one bar that moves down the row, can be a little hard to read at quick glance) and the outdated screen that used to sit atop the dash has been swapped out for a set of climate control vents. The new steering wheel looks a lot better, too.
With the shift lever on the centre stack, more of the centre console can be dedicated to storage. And that’s what happens, with a deep box that takes up the rear half of the box and can be accessed either by the lift-up lid or a lower sliding lid. Small items can be dropped into an open cubby in front of the cupholders.
I took the CR-V on a four-hour drive, and the supportive seats stayed comfortable the whole way. They’re lightly bolstered for comfort, but not so much that getting in and out is an issue. The stretched wheelbase provides an additional 53 millimetres of rear-seat legroom over the last version, and you shouldn’t hear any protests from taller passengers back there. Those rear chairs fold easily and go flat to increase the cargo space, and on the Touring, they’re heated as well.
I know I wasn’t the only one complaining about Honda’s stereo interface, which employed an awkward-to-use volume slider on its flat glass front. And Honda listened! There’s now a dial to turn it on and adjust the volume, and while it may seem minor, it’s the little things that count.
All trim levels use a seven-inch touch screen that includes Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Siri, while the EX-L and Touring also throw in satellite radio. The Touring exclusively comes with navigation, which can’t be added to the other trim levels.
There are a few new electronic nannies on the CR-V for 2017. Adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, collision mitigation braking, automatic high-beam headlights, and a lane departure warning that can also help nudge you back are standard on all AWD models but, oddly, are left off the base LX front-wheel model (perhaps those who don’t want AWD are better drivers?).
Honda’s Lane Watch, which uses a camera to look down the passenger side and broadcasts the results in the infotainment screen, is missing on the LX but included on the EX and EX-L. The top-line Touring, meanwhile, gets a blind spot monitoring system. Both have their pros and cons. The blind-spot system looks at both sides of the vehicle, while Lane Watch is only on the passenger side. On the other hand, Lane Watch gives drivers a clear view of the sidewalk and curb area, where pedestrians and cyclists may be coming up to the intersection. (Which is why, if you don’t have such a system, you should be checking your mirror every time you turn a corner, no matter what you drive.)
While I’m not really a fan of adaptive cruise control, the CR-V’s version is fairly smooth. But a trip through nasty weather highlighted a problem with most of the current systems: when salt and slush covered the front sensor, the cruise control and forward collision warning stopped working. I wouldn’t have used cruise in the snow anyway, but would have liked it once the weather cleared and I was back on dry roads. Automakers are going to have to figure this out before anything “self-driving” gets into winter weather.
The all-new 1.5-litre turbo engine cranks out 190 horsepower, along with 179 lb.-ft. of torque that stays steady between 2,000 and 5,000 rpm. It’s standard across all models in Canada, but in the U.S., those who choose the base LX get a carried-over, naturally-aspirated 2.4-litre four-cylinder.
It’s mated to a CVT that does a really good job here, quietly and without any rubber-band feel. The CR-V doesn’t feel particularly quick on acceleration, but that’s an illusion, no doubt in part because the quiet cabin doesn’t let in any engine growl. If you’re not paying attention, it’ll swiftly move into triple-digit speedo numbers before you know it. It’s smooth and linear, at least in its normal setting. There’s also an eco setting, which damps down hard on the throttle response and isn’t pleasant to use.
The CR-V takes regular-grade fuel, and at published rates of 8.7 L/100 km in the city and 7.2 on the highway. I averaged 8.1 L/100 km in cold-weather driving.
The steering is precise and predictable, and while this isn’t the type of vehicle you’d take out and toss into the corners just for something to do, it handles curves without losing any of its composure. The ride is dialed in just right: firm enough that it never feels wallowy, but not so much that it’s rough and uncomfortable. The all-wheel system runs primarily in front-wheel, transferring power to the rear on acceleration or when needed to maximize traction on slippery roads.
Ranging from $26,690 to $38,090, the CR-V runs about mid-pack with its competitors. When you’re cross-shopping, remember that you may have to add extra options to some competitors to match the Honda’s features.
That rock-bottom price for Honda’s 2WD LX is higher than that of the lowest-priced Ford Escape, Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage, for example, but it’s lower than that of the Toyota RAV4 or Chevrolet Equinox. At the higher end, the top-level Escape Titanium starts at $33,799 and the Equinox at $34,870, but “all-in” top trims of the RAV4, Tucson, and Sportage can go as high as $39,665.
The CR-V has always been a decent driver, and this remake pushes that up a couple of notches. It rides and handles well, and the interior is roomier and better-looking. It’s been a fixture on the top-ten best-selling list in Canada for a while, and I expect this new version will stay there as well.