Car Reviews: 2012 Honda CR-V Test Drive

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Honda Hottie

I preface this weeks Car Reviews post with the fact that I wanted to dislike the CR-V. Years ago my husband had one for a work vehicle (I worked there too, that’s how I was allowed to drive it), and I found it to be gutless and meh – although I did know that the fuel economy and inner space appealed to him, I (vainly, and think of who I was a the time, a childless TV producer who thought she was pretty hot stuff) thought it was  a “nerdmoblile.”  But now I know that today’s nerd is tomorrow’s hottie, or CEO, and the same applies with the CR-V. And for 2012, the new styling of the CR-V makes it a hottie, I think.

Well now that you know a little too much about where my thought processes come from, I hand it over to MY hottie Mr. HBWT. Honda CRV reviews are seemingly always positive, let’s see if he concurs…

2012 Honda CRV Review & Test Drive:

Yay:
-Interior cabin space, layout, and comfort
-Fun and easy to drive
-Fuel economy

Nay:
-4 cylinder engine not a powerhouse
-Fully equipped CR-V msrp

I did not understand the CR-V and it’s appeal.  Pre 2012 it looks like an egg on wheels, and pre 2007 it looks like a little school bus (to me neither ringing endorsements).  When you look at them and then see how much they are, for both new and used (the value they hold used is mystifying) , they just don’t convey value or styling or luxury. And yet, despite all of this, they are EVERYWHERE and their owners and professional reviewers seem to love them. I was, therefore, looking quite forward to getting a CR-V for a week to see if I could grasp what all the hub-bub was about.

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New Styling At The Rear

Inside the CR-V is the quintessential compact sport utility in the SUV food chain – a five seater (there is no 3rd row option even though they may have been able to judging by the somewhat comical attempts like the similarly sized Outlander and RAV-4) with great cabin and rear cargo space befitting it’s egg-like shape.  The cabin is not cluttered with various mouldings jutting into you and, with the aid of the tilting and telescoping wheel, there is tons of room in both the front and second row.  All of the instruments and controls are nicely laid out, and the fancy-pants touring model we had featured the dual screen (one above the other set in the dash)  is downright neat-o and very easy to use especially for navigation mode. The folding second row is a tad odd (similar to our Cherokee) but doesn’t seem to cut that much in to useable cargo space.  The CRV inside is clean and neat – very practical and utilitarian. And in our touring  model the heated leather seats are like flying first class – once you taste it it is hard to go back to coach (or fabric).

Before I head outside I wanted to pop quickly under the hood – as the standard 2.4l 4 cylinder engine seems to be at the heart of much of what is beloved and disliked about this car.  It is great on gas – there is no doubt – and also avoids the necessity that other manufacturers have of adding a turbo or demanding the use of premium gas (a deal-killer to me with it being $0.15  more per litre).  It is no rocket, though, and the smaller engine definitely earns its keep passing on the highway and slipping and sliding through traffic in the city. With that said, though, I never felt frustrated by it – it did what it needed to do – and I respect Honda for sticking with a common power plant in all of the CRV variants. If you want a bigger engine, and vehicle for that matter, get a Pilot.

Both my wife and I are heavy on the pedal and never get as advertised fuel economy (perhaps none do) and most of our driving is in the city stop and go. For this CRV we still got a respectable 11.7 l/100km in the city in the AWD and a much better 9.5 on the highway.  I still haven’t driven anything that can touch the Orlando‘s 10.5 actual in the city – it is FWD only mind you yet felt peppier than the CRV – but the CRV was really good and definitely close enough for me. Visibility in the CRV is good all around though it does seem to share that fickle blind spot in the rear pillars that is so common in these vehicles.

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The only car people stopped us in parking lots to ask about…

Being wrong about most things most of the time (according to my 6 year old daughter – with eye roll and all – “uhhhh…  DAD!”), it is no biggie for me to eat a little crow and that is what I have to do about a statement I made in an earlier review about styling.  I still think the Rav-4 is the most SUV looking small SUV (which I like) and I stand by that, but the 2012 CRV is also much sharper than its predecessors and I like its new look – especially in the blue of our tester (though it is basically the same interior space and dimensions as the 2011).

The CRV is very practical, rates highly in safety and crash tests, is a well thought out small suv, is great on gas, and is comfy and fun and easy to drive.  My only real gripe about the CRV is a well appointed one like we had is pushing 40k (like the Rav4) and is really nice but I am still not sure THAT nice.  That price range is pushing into much more spacious entry level mid size SUVs that are not that much worse for fuel economy – like the Mazda CX9 (which I loved and stuck at 15L/100km in the city – not much more than our CRV at almost 12) and the Pilot that sport a highly useable 3rd row seating and seem like substantially more vehicle for the money.   With that said I can see how, amongst its peers with similar trim levels and pricing, the masses have gravitated to Honda. And a great feature of this car is that if you need to upgrade in the next few years you don’t have to sweat taking a bath on re-sale.

I now see why this is such a champion in its class – cue clouds parting and ethereal rays shining upon me. “Uhhhhhh….  DAD!.” There is hope for me yet.

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The styling of the 2012 CRV is awesome. I am not so in love with the styling of the earlier models that we will probably end up buying. But seeing as I’m now a practical mother instead of a hot shot hottie, I can eat the styling this time around. Coming up we’re looking at the Mitsubishi Outlander, the brand new Mazda CX-5, the Kia Sorento and now the Suzuki Grand Vitara. Right now, for the combination of space, fuel economy, and styling, the CRV is the frontrunner, let’s see if it stays that way!

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2 Responses to Car Reviews: 2012 Honda CR-V Test Drive

  1. Jeremy Branham at 00:30 #

    I have a 2005 Honda CRV. I actually like it. My biggest complaint is the really bad fuel economy. Glad to see the 2012 gets much better. I don’t think the newer look is that bad. Based on my experience, I would get another one.

    • Corinne at 22:38 #

      You’re right – it is not THAT great on gas considering it’s a four cylinder…

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