Granted, the current 4th generation naturally aspirated CR-V can be rather sport-like for a compact SUV, so why change the engine and transmission option? There’s a couple of answers to that question, the foremost being combined fuel economy, and the second, taming the search and high rev tendencies of CR-V’s continuously variable transmission (CVT.)
Best average MPG in segment
For 2017, Honda CR-V beats Toyota RAV4 and all contenders in the compact crossover class with a segment topping combined 30 MPG in front wheel drive turbocharged trim, 4 MPG higher than a comparably equipped normally aspirated RAV4, and +2 City MPG / +1 Highway MPG when compared to the normally aspirated 2016 CR-V FWD. Granted, an added 1 to 4 MPG will not make or break a purchase deal in today’s low cost fuel environment. So, let’s look to Honda’s turbocharged 1.5 Liter fuel injected VTEC engine for a performance improvement or two.
It’s where the torque comes on that makes the difference
When I first experienced the substantial torque on demand difference that is Honda’s low displacement turbocharged engine of choice was behind the wheel of the reinvented 10th generation Civic. It’s not so much the measurable increase of torque over that of a normally aspirated engine, but where the turbocharged torque comes into play, and stays through the rev-range. Read my 2017 CR-V first drive impression here.
Through advanced turbocharging, the engine’s maximum torque output kicks in just above 2,000 RPM (launch) and stays in play throughout the engine/transmission shift cycles. In the case of a CVT transmission, the ever-available peak torque eliminates much of the CVT’s tendency to “high-rev” while pairing to the engine’s output.
With high-torque on demand, driving hills and grades require little to no shifting. With fewer changes in RPM, less fuel is consumed. While there’s quite a bit more to the engineering magic than that, In effect, a turbocharged 4-cylinder gasoline engine seamlessly performs more in line with a greater displacement V6.
Enter CVT Transmission G-Shift Logic
The evolution of CVT transmission technology continues with the advent of (segmented) G-Shift Logic. For 2017 Honda greatly improves on a fuel saving shift technology with G-Shift ™ Logic. By effectively ‘segmenting the CVT into a more conventional automatic transmission shift pattern, Honda effectively tames the high-winding CVT, making for a quieter drive and ride experience.