NOVI, Mich. – When the Honda CR-V went on sale in 1997, competition was scarce. The small utility vehicle was one of only two on the market.
Now as the market for small crossover utility vehicles grows, Honda told us that 21 CUVs will be on sale by 2015.
Since its introduction, the CR-V has been at the top of the sales list. And to stay there, Honda has redesigned the 2012 CR-V and it went on sale at the end of last year.
At the time of its debut, Honda had not announced pricing but its The new Honda CR-V has been improved in three areas: value, fuel economy and styling. Staffers said they expected CR-V’s sticker to remain pretty much the same. In other words, a 2012 Honda CR-V will start at $22,295.
There are five trim levels and all of them are powered by a 2.4-liter four cylinder engine mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. The vehicle has 185 horsepower and it makes 163 foot-pounds of torque.
On our test drive through this rural area, I found the CR-V’s engine sufficient. It was quiet and authoritative. Its transmission was smooth and gear shifts were practically imperceptible. The engine was part of the added value that Honda talked about in developing its new CR-V.
There are two-wheel and all-wheel-drive versions of the CR-V. And both drive trains get better gas mileage than the models that they replace. The AWD version gets 22/30 mpg in city and highway driving while the 2WD model gets 23/31 mpg in city and highway driving. Honda said the former is best in class while the latter is near the top of its class.
Techniques like reduced engine friction, better aerodynamics and the fuel efficient 5-speed automatic also lent a hand in improving fuel efficiency. So did the switch from hydraulic power steering to electronic power steering. It saved weight by eliminating the hydraulic pump and that too increased fuel efficiency.
Still, it led me to my only quibble with the new model. I really could not feel the road through the steering column. It’s a characteristic that is inherent in electric power steering systems. But you have to really look for it. I think the average driver won’t even notice.
The exterior of the 2012 Honda CR-V appeared curvier than that of the model it replaced I think because of the arching side window frame. While the length of the wheel base was unchanged, the over length decreased by one-inch as did the height.
Honda said the 2012 CR-V weighs about 50 lbs. less than the model it replaces, performance is improved and it has lower NVH (noise, vibration and harshness). The vehicle has the latest equipment including Internet radio and vehicle texting which employs voice to text technology.
The second row of seats will fold flat with the pull of one lever; it has a multi-range rearview camera which includes a top view and side view mirrors that give a wide angle view.
On paper and on a quick test drive, the 2012 Honda CR-V seemed much improved and that’s saying something since the model it replaced was one of the best small CUVs in the segment. I can’t wait to test drive it for more than a few hours to see how it handles the rigors of day in day out driving.
Frank S. Washington is editor of AboutThatCar.com.