Auto123 reviews the 2020 Honda CR-V.
The Honda CR-V, the Japanese automaker’s cash-cow compact SUV, first launched in 1997. It’s now into its fifth generation, and it can be said that the model has reached a level of maturity. In most aspects, it rates very, very well – and that’s all you need to know to understand its great appeal with motorists.
Among the features that distinguish this 2020 model from its predecessor are new front bumpers, front grille and headlights, as well as a revised rear bumper. Otherwise, Honda has extended the 1.5L engine that was reserved for the model's premium trim to the entire range.
In addition, safety features are now more numerous and, most importantly, most are included from the base version on up. Note that heated seats and a remote starter are also included in the entry-level CR-V. Canadian drivers will be happy...
On the outside, the Sport model we drove features a set of 19-inch Shark Grey alloy wheels, a chromed dual-exhaust system, round LED fog lights and a power tailgate.
Most noticeable as you install yourself inside is the centre console, which has been redesigned to provide more storage space. Other Sport features include a sunroof, 12-way power leatherette seats, heated steering wheel, sport pedals, USB ports in the second row and 180-watt, 6-speaker audio system.
Overall, the vehicle remains exceedingly comfortable; there's plenty of room inside, and the trunk is big enough for the usual gear lugged around by a family of four. In short, it's the best layout you could hope for from a compact SUV that you don't want to spend a fortune on.
Talk about a sure value...
While the choice of quality vehicles is frankly impressive in the compact SUV category, the Honda CR-V maintains its position, year after year, among the leaders of the group. In fact, for many buyers in the segment - especially those who might be allergic to American products - the choice boils down to two models: the CR-V, or Toyota's RAV4.
Honda's SUV is without question one of the best values in the segment. It's reliable, even safer this year, and comes with a “new” fuel-efficient engine that's no more exciting than before but does the job, without fuss.
The 2020 CR-V starts at $30,620 for the LX-2WD version and prices range up to $44,520 for the Black Edition. Our Sport version starts at $36,920.
The CR-V Sport's cloth/leatherette seats are the first to greet you and properly give the interior a nice look - and they're also comfortable. The steering wheel is also leather-wrapped, as is the gear shifter. The right seating positions are easily found, and the controls are easy to reach.
The base 7-inch screen isn't huge by today's standards, but you get used to it very quickly. We’d even argue that, in this age of oversized, over-complex screens, the CR-V's screen displays enough essential information without creating too much distraction with its content.
One small drawback involves the speed of the screen display; we noted there always seemed to be a slight delay between the button and the display of the control. What’s just a mild nuisance when stopped becomes a bigger problem when you’re the only occupant, and on the highway or in traffic.
On the road
With all the on-board safety systems, the CR-V remains a safe vehicle, to say the least. For example, every time we activated the right turn signal, the Lane Watch camera in the right rearview mirror showed us what's going on in our blind spot - something we found very practical during our week with the SUV.
Add to that front collision alerts, impact-reducing braking systems, lane tracking and lane maintenance, and it's easy to see why the CR-V consistently receives a 5-star rating from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA).
Regarding the powertrain, as mentioned, the 1.5L engine has been bolted to all versions. In the CR-V it develops 190 hp and 179 lb-ft of torque, in conjunction with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). We found the vehicle still lacks power, especially since the marriage of the engine with the CVT is, in our opinion, a near-total flop. We felt the lack of power far too often, and the accelerations, feet to the floor, seemed amorphous and extremely noisy to us.
That said, if you're willing to sacrifice power and accelerating like you’re in an RDX, for instance, you can take comfort in the CR-V’s fuel-economy performance. The model's fuel consumption rating is one of the best in its class, and we averaged 8.2L/100 km... in late winter, and with a mid-week snowstorm to contend with. This did help heal, in part, the grievous wounds we suffered at the powertrain’s relative lack of get-up-and-go.
We’ll also skip much comment on the Sport appellation for this version. There's nothing sporty about it except maybe the 19-inch wheels, if you really want to point at something.
While the vehicle visually blends in with the others in this crowded and fiercely contested, yet visually pretty uniform category, beyond the non-descript appearance the CR-V does a better job than any other at excelling, or at least being competent, in almost every aspect that matters to motorists shopping in this segment.
Compared to the Volkswagen Tiguans, Mazda CX-5s and Subaru Foresters of this world, the CR-V stands out because there is very, very little it doesn't do well. In the eyes of consumers, only the RAV4 gives it a real run for its money. For our part, we liked the interior layout of the Honda. There's plenty of storage space, technology is present in abundance, head and shoulder room is more than satisfactory and you’ll have no problem accommodating a family of two adults and two growing teens for a long road trip.
Interior and cargo space
Few obvious flaws
We like less
An under-powered engine, hobbled by an undistinguished CVT
Nothing Sport-y about the drive
Slight lag in the screen display response