The 2012 Honda CR-V logo

TorqueNews review of the 2012 Honda CR-V

The Honda CR-V was the 13th bestselling vehicle in the US last year and the second bestselling SUV behind only the Ford Escape and after spending some time in the 2012 CR-V, it is clear why this is one of America’s top selling models.

The 2012 Honda CR-V features an all-new design that is substantially more aggressive than the previous generation of the popular Honda compact SUV. This redesign for 2012 gives the CR-V a sportier look while also helping the new ute to look more like a small SUV and less like a crossover/wagon-type vehicle.

The Exterior
Out front, the 2012 Honda CR-V wears a facelifted nose that protrudes away from the vehicle in the middle with a blade-like 3 bar grille that blends back into the large, angular headlights. Below the centerline of the front fascia is black cladding the angles sharply towards the underside of the vehicle with foglights mounted in the outer edges of this lower fascia area. The hood is longer, lower and wider looking than the bonnet of the outgoing CR-V, with this hood meeting up with a more slippery windshield that improves aerodynamics.

Along the side, the 2012 Honda CR-V gets big, bold wheel arches that are far more pronounced than the outgoing SUV, trimmed with a wide, flat area that gives the CR-V a very proud stance. There is a little more wheel gap than the previous generation but it is an SUV and the amount of wheel gap adds to the sporty feel of the new ute. Where the previous CR-V will more flat sided, the 2012 CR-V has a side that begins with the wheel arches but blends down into the door area only to flow right back out to the rear wheel openings while a sharp body line runs through the exterior door handles.

Out back, the 2012 Honda CR-V EX-L is very similar in basic design to the outgoing model with taillights that run from the top of the roof down along the rear pillar to the middle of the rear face. These huge lenses still flank a large rear window but for 2012, the window is more upright with a squared-off form that offers better rear visibility for the driver. As is the case with the rest of the vehicle, the rear end is very angular with hardened lines running from the taillights in to the license plate location. Where the previous CR-V sported a chrome plate bracket, that chrome is gone for 2012 with a predominantly black trim piece running along the lower length of the rear glass.

The Interior
The 2012 Honda CR-V EX-L that we tested was fitted with the Navigation package so there was very little that our test ride wasn’t equipped with – and it was hard not to notice. First off, the Honda Navigation for which the trimline gets its name is mounted high on the center stack and this touch screen incorporates the voice controlled navigation system and the premium audio system. Below that touch screen is the dual zone climate control panel that offers easy temperature control for the driver and front passenger. Above the nav screen and set forward a bit on the dash is a smaller screen that contains a variety of fuel economy figures. The navigation touch screen is very easy to understand and use but for those who arent in love with the touch screen design, you can do pretty much everything with the buttons, knob and the joystick around the screen.

The 2012 Honda CR-V EX-L comes with steering wheel mounted controls that allow you to change the audio settings or change the fuel economy screen with your left thumb while using your right thumb to handle the cruise control duties. There are also addition buttons located lower on the left side of the leather wrapped steering wheel to activate the voice controls and to use the integrated hands-free phone system. behind the steering wheel is a simple gauge design that is more than adequate with a large speedometer flanked by a tachometer on the left side with the temperature and fuel level gauges on the right side. In the middle of the large, central speedo is a readout screen that offers information like instant fuel economy, fuel range and trip mileage.

The key concern with a compact SUV is interior space and in that category, the 2012 Honda CR-V EX-L is very impressive. The leather front seats feature high and low heat settings but more importantly, they are incredibly comfortable. For someone who spends a great deal of time in the car on the road, the 2012 CR-V offers a seating position for the driver and front passenger that is easy to enjoy for hours on end. There is tons of leg and knee room for the driver and front passenger along with offering ample headroom and elbow room for those seated up front. For those female drivers, the center console is big enough to tuck away a medium sized purse with a smooth rolltop design to the lid of this center compartment.

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The rear seating area of the 2012 Honda CR-V EX-L is nearly as massive as the front with more than enough room to comfortably seat two six foot tall adults – meaning that there is plenty of room for a pair (or even a trio) of kids. The rear seats arent quite as plush as those up front but they are comfy, with a fold-down center armrest including cupholders for rear riding passengers. These rear seats have a 60/40 split design and with them in the upright position, there is a great deal of cargo space in the rear cargo area. The wide body and stance of the CR-V allow for very small wheel flares in the rear cargo area so it will hold larger boxes and when you don’t need to keep the back seats upright for passengers – folding the seats down makes for a massive amount of cargo space.

The Drive
The 2012 Honda CR-V EX-L is powered by the same 2.4L 4-cylinder 16-Valve DOHC engine featuring the Honda i-VTEC system to make 185 horsepower and 163lb-ft of torque. This engine is mated to a standard 5-speed automatic transmission and my test vehicle was fitted with standard front wheel drive. This drivetrain affords the owner the ability to tow up to 1,500 pounds and while we didn’t get a chance to test the towing capacity – we did get to put the CR-V through the ringers around town and on the highway.

Around town, the 2012 Honda CR-V EX-L accelerates strong when you put the hammer down and helps make for easy merging into busy 50mph traffic or getting away from a stoplight in a rush to get into the next lane over. Under hard acceleration, the CR-V gets right up to cruising speed with crisp, positive shifts but when driving around casually, the automatic transmission is whisper quiet and very smooth from gear to gear. On the highway, the CR-V cruises very comfortably at (or just above) a 70mph speed limit but when you need to pick up some speed to blow around traffic, the CR-V isn’t shy to vastly exceed the posted speed limit…in theory…of course.

The ride of the 2012 Honda CR-V is smooth with the expected amount of suspension stiffness that you will get from any compact SUV. You can feel the road through the steering wheel but even on the rough highways around Detroit, the CR-V was smooth at those speeds along with being very steady at highway speeds. Even at higher speeds, the CR-V was stable on the long sweeping turns but around town – the 2012 CR-V was surprisingly capable in cornering on the back roads and in tight areas.

The 2012 Honda CR-V EX-L carries EPA fuel economy ratings of 23 miles per gallon around town, 31mpg on the highway and a combined figure of 26mpg overall. I found these figures to be dead-on, as over the course of several tanks of gasoline and about 800 miles, I averaged 26.9mpg. I should point out that while I generally get pretty good fuel economy, I do not do it by driving like a little old lady. The 2012 CR-V yielded just shy of 27mpg when being driven fairly hard with cruising speeds on the highway ranging from 75-80mph and “around town” speeds typically being around 55mph…so my excellent fuel economy was not reliant on driving no more than 55mph on the open road. Overall, while some will gripe about Honda’s fuel economy figured, I was impressed by the fuel economy offered by the new CR-V considering the size and spaciousness of the compact SUV.

The Final Word
The 2012 Honda CR-V EX-L with Navigation as tested carried a price under $30,000 but inside, it seems as though few expenses were spared. The CR-V offers gobs of room and comfortable seats for front and rear riding passengers while all of the controls are well within the reach of the driver for easy adjustments on the fly. The interior setting has enough goodies to be looked at like a borderline luxury model but with a price under 30k, it is far cheaper than some similarly equipped compact SUVs. The CR-V packs enough power to allow you to keep up with traffic but it does so while still offering almost 27 miles per gallon over the course of a tank of gas.

The CR-V offers great fuel economy for an SUV, a luxurious interior, a sharp exterior and a low price – explaining why it has long been one of the bestselling vehicles in the US auto industry.

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