Car Reviews First Tests

2017 Honda CR-V Touring AWD First Test: The Ultimate Box-Checker?

Honda's Impressive New CR-V is Quicker and Lighter Than Before

Honda's Impressive New CR-V is Quicker and Lighter Than Before

The 2017 Honda CR-V has got it covered. Whatever you want in a suburb-ready compact crossover, the CR-V checks so many boxes, it’s bound to appear on plenty of car-shopping lists, and not just because it’s the best-selling vehicle in its class. The CR-V is a well-rounded performer, like the 2015 model that earned golden calipers as the 2015 Motor Trend SUV of the Year. Now turbocharged on the EX and Touring trims, the 2017 CR-V is quicker and more efficient than almost everything in its class. We track-tested and road-tripped the new 2017 CR-V to find out how well the impressive specs work in the real world and, of course, to speculate on its chances of winning the 2018 SUV of the Year title.

Before that happens, though, we had the 2017 CR-V Motor-Trend-track tested, and found a crossover that would have out-accelerated to 60 mph everything in our 2016 Big Test comparison except the six-cylinder Jeep Cherokee. The all-wheel-drive 2017 CR-V’s 7.5-second 0-60 time is swifter than most will expect from a compact crossover, yet still quick enough that folks who want a Ford Escape 2.0 EcoBoost or Jeep Cherokee V-6 should give it a quick drive around the block. The last-gen CR-V’s naturally aspirated 2.4-liter I-4 sticks around on the base-model CR-V LX, with the 190-hp, 179-lb-ft 1.5-liter turbo-four powering the EX and Touring trims.
2017 Honda CR V Touring AWD front three quarter

A CVT is standard on every trim, and it’s a well-tuned transmission. For a compact crossover, the CR-V Touring we drove felt responsive and smooth around town. Noise levels have been improved—it’s not enough to impress Lexus or Buick owners, but it’s a meaningful improvement, nonetheless. The 1.5-liter turbo-four’s engine sound isn’t going to make you want to kick the shift stalk into the transmission’s Sport mode, but it’s hard to argue with the initial response after a stab of the accelerator pedal. After a short delay likely to maximize fuel economy and not unlike what you’d find in some naturally aspirated crossovers, the CR-V jumps forward. The 2017 model’s 0-30 mph (0-48.3 km/h) acceleration time of 2.8 seconds is noticeably improved over a 2016 CR-V Touring’s 3.3-second time, but not as quick as the 2016 CX-5’s 2.5-second time. To 60, the CX-5 is good for a 7.8-second time, the 2016 CR-V comes in at 8.3 seconds, and the turbocharged 2017 CR-V at 7.5 seconds.

Considering the 190-hp 2017 CR-V with all-wheel drive is good for a 7.5-second 0-60 time, we can’t wait to find out how quick a turbocharged 2018 Honda Accord might be. Increasingly, though, consumers are looking for the extra functionality crossovers offer over sedans, and this has always been a CR-V stronghold. The rear-seat’s plentiful legroom is matched by a drivetrain hump that’s almost nonexistent, increasing the impression of space. As with the last-gen CR-V, the 2017 model’s rear-seatback recline isn’t as easy to use as others in the class that have a lever that’s easily reached on the lower side of the seat; in the CR-V, the control is just the other side of the headrest. As before, the CR-V, Forester, and CX-5 continue to be among the only crossovers in their class that allow folding the rear seats not only from the rear side doors, but also from inside the cargo area itself with the pull of a lever. Not surprisingly to anyone who has driven a CR-V lately, the cargo area is huge and has a low load-floor height (with two heights) for easy loading of stuff. Cargo space with the second-row seats in place is 39.2 cubic feet, or beyond anything in our 2016 Big Test comparison, though the RAV4 comes close at 38.4 cubic feet.

What the RAV4 doesn’t offer (at least, in non-hybrid form) is a more interesting driving experience. The 2017 CR-V feels light on its feet and although it’s still no CX-5 on a winding road, the Honda holds its own. The CR-V’s figure-eight performance of 27.9 seconds at 0.60 g (average) would have been a mid-pack performance in the 2016 Big Test, hampered, our test crew says, by an aggressive stability control system that’s not fully defeatable. Braking from 60-0 mph in 116 feet is decent (a 3-foot improvement over the 2016 model we tested), and fuel economy takes a step forward, too. The 2017 CR-V LX matches the pre-redesign’s EPA-rated fuel economy, at 25-26/31-32 mpg (9.4-9.1/7.6-7.4 L/100km) city/highway with front- and all-wheel drive. With the new 1.5-liter turbo-four, fuel economy moves up to 28/34 mpg (8.4/6.9 L/100km) with front-wheel drive and 27/33 mpg (8.7/7.1 L/100km) with all-wheel drive. Having 27-28 mpg (8.7-8.4 L/100km)in the city is a big deal, and we expect to have Motor-Trend-exclusive Real MPG results on the 2017 CR-V Touring in AWD form soon. The value of Real MPG testing is in providing another data point when considering fuel efficiency. For example, in our Big Test comparison, the 2016 RAV4 managed to outperform its EPA results in our real-world-simulated testing, unlike the 2016 CR-V Touring AWD, which was the largest Real MPG underperformer in the test. Stay tuned to see how the now-turbocharged 2017 CR-V Touring does.
2017 Honda CR V Touring AWD front three quarter in motion 02

The CR-V is a great package, but there are a few issues. After getting out of my far-less-efficient long-term 2017 Kia Sportage EX and spending some time in the 2017 CR-V, I found myself missing the Kia’s center-stack layout. I much prefer the CR-V’s modern design and fake wood trim, but wish the Honda’s screen were one-inch bigger (the Sportage, Tucson, and Escape offer 8-inch center-stack screens). Also, after months behind the wheel of the Sportage, I’ve really come to appreciate that the screen is canted toward the driver. These are details you’ll notice every day, even if you don’t use the Apple CarPlay or Android Auto functionality that’s standard starting on the EX trim. Still, the CR-V wins back plenty of points with the return of a volume knob—though without a tuning knob—and a partially digital instrument cluster that uses space efficiently to show a digital speed readout and other bits of info. After all, how useful is a 140-mph (225.3 km/h) speedometer on a compact crossover?

Also, although the center armrest above the flexible storage area is cushy, the door panels’ armrests are not quite as welcoming. And as with most other crossovers in this class except the Subaru Forester, rear visibility is poor, so it’s a good thing Honda’s active safety tech is standard on the EX and Touring trims. Honda’s package of safety tech includes useful adaptive cruise control (it works in stop-and-go traffic, but I found it to be a tad too aggressive), rear cross-traffic monitoring (loaded Foresters can actually apply the brakes if an obstacle is detected), blind-spot monitoring instead of the LaneWatch rear-facing camera I will miss, road departure mitigation, and collision mitigation braking. Put it all together and, as long as the CR-V Touring’s LED headlights pass the IIHS’ new headlight test, the CR-V should become a Top Safety Pick+. Expect a five-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA too.

It can be tough to distinguish one vehicle from another in the compact crossover class, and judging by our time driving and testing the 2017 Honda CR-V, the competition’s job just got tougher. It’s not that the CR-V does everything well, but just like its predecessor, it’s good or soooo good at so many important things that it’s difficult not to appreciate the Honda. Does the CR-V have a chance at claiming the SUV of the Year title? It surely has a chance and, in the meantime, the crossover is ready to do showroom battle as it likely becomes Honda’s best-selling vehicle.

2017 Honda CR-V Touring AWD
BASE PRICE $34,500 (est)
PRICE AS TESTED $34,500 (est)
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV
ENGINE 1.5L/190-hp/179-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4
TRANSMISSION Cont variable auto
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 3,478 lb (57/43%)
WHEELBASE 104.7 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 180.6 x 73.0 x 66.5 in
0-60 MPH 7.5 sec
QUARTER MILE 15.8 sec @ 89.0 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 116 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.81 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 27.9 sec @ 0.60 g (avg)
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 27/33/29 mpg
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 125/102 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.66 lb/mile