2017 Honda CR-V Touring Review

Honda’s best-selling, price-conscious CR-V crossover is all-new for 2017 with a fresh design and a turbo engine, but will CUV shoppers care about the underwhelming power and performance?

Honda was ahead of the turbocharging curve when its upscale Acura brand put a turbo motor in the RDX compact crossover in 2007, making it the only vehicle in North American Honda and Acura lineups with a forced-induction engine.

Ironically, the second-generation RDX switched to V6 power in 2013 just as most of Acura’s competitors (along with what seemed like every automaker in the industry) moved to turbocharging in an effort to save fuel without sacrificing performance.

Turbo returns to the 2017 CR-V

Turbocharging has returned to a Honda-built crossover with the fifth generation CR-V, which replaces a 2.4-litre engine in the outgoing version with a 1.5-litre turbo four-cylinder introduced in the Civic.

Despite its small displacement, that engine is a star of the current Civic lineup, lending the well-known model a sophisticated feel that has helped it remain Honda’s best-selling vehicle in Canada.

…while strong value and thrifty fuel economy deserve the priority they enjoy here, it wouldn’t have taken much to make the CR-V memorable for the way it drives, too.

While Honda had been better about keeping the CR-V up-to-date through the first part of this decade than it did with the Civic (probably because crossovers and SUVs have been more profitable than cars for years now), we were curious to see if this little turbo motor would make the same positive impression in this compact crossover.

2017 Honda CR-V touring review sideview

New CR-V Interior and Exterior Impressions

A car always makes its first impressions with its appearance, and we like what Honda has done with the CR-V’s look. While the overall shape is recognizable from the previous-generation model, new styling takes things upscale, with horizontal taillight elements that help make the rear end look wider.

The interior is all-new, too, centred around a tablet-like touchscreen, but with the welcome return of a volume knob to Honda infotainment systems and a digital gauge cluster reminiscent of that in the S2000 roadster.

Cargo space

Honda says that interior offers 51 litres more total volume than the previous-generation model and an extra 53 mm of rear-seat legroom. We believe the latter claim, as the second row feels very spacious. Accommodations up front feel more snug than we remember in the old car, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, and we’re willing to accept it as a quirk of the new design.

2017 Honda CR-V touring review rear cargo

2017 CR-V Touring: As Tested

Our top-of-the-range Touring tester includes leather seating and woodgrain trim on the dash and doors that didn’t look convincing, even if it is real wood.

Power and Performance

CVT Transmission and 190-hp Engine

Regardless of trim, the CR-V comes standard with a continuously variable automatic transmission like the ones used  in the Civic and four-cylinder Accord models. But where those impress with quick responses that emulate a traditional fixed-ratio automatic, the CR-V’s felt sloppier in its operation and slower to react when it came time to gain speed.

Given the CR-V’s popularity as a family vehicle, we can see that last fact motivating sales of this car more than the availability of a stronger engine would do.

Honda tuned the 1.5-litre engine for 190 hp and 179 lb-ft of torque in the CR-V, an extra 16 hp and 17 lb-ft compared to the same engine in standard Civic specification. That’s not nothing, but neither is the CR-V’s nearly 300-kg weight penalty which, combined with the lazier transmission, makes the engine feel comparatively out of its depth despite the fact that those power figures are perfectly competitive for this class of vehicle.

2017 Honda CR-V touring review rear design

CR-V Fuel Economy

If the CR-V’s performance is only adequate, it makes up for that with impressively low fuel consumption in highway driving. Our test vehicle averaged 7.2 L/100 km in one stretch of a road trip from Ottawa to Toronto along Ontario’s busy Highway 401. Honda’s estimates for the CR-V with AWD (standard in all models but the entry-level LX) are 8.7/7.2 L/100 km (city/highway).

2017 Honda CR-V Configurations

That LX trim is a $27,000 vehicle that comes with heated front seats, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration, remote engine start, backup camera, dual-zone automatic climate control, passive keyless entry and alloy wheels.

A car always makes its first impressions with its appearance, and we like what Honda has done with the CR-V’s look. While the overall shape is recognizable from the previous-generation model, new styling takes things upscale, with horizontal taillight elements that help make the rear end look wider.

By the time you get to the Touring model, you’re staring down a $38,000-plus price that includes navigation, LED headlights, panoramic sunroof, automatic wipers, blind-spot monitor and hands-free tailgate, features exclusive to that trim. It also brings heated rear seats and leather upholstery along with active safety items like automatic emergency braking with forward-collision warning, radar cruise control, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist and road departure mitigation. Notably, those safety features are standard for less than $30,000 in the LX AWD model.

Also check out: 2016 Honda HR-V Review First Drive

2017 Honda CR-V touring review interior

Conclusions

Given the CR-V’s popularity as a family vehicle, we can see that last fact motivating sales of this car more than the availability of a stronger engine would do. Still, the Civic and Accord stand out in their respective classes for the performance-based personality they possess, and while strong value and thrifty fuel economy deserve the priority they enjoy here, it wouldn’t have taken much to make the CR-V memorable for the way it drives, too.

Head over the the US or Canadian CR-V sites to learn more.

2017 CR-V Specs:

Engine: 1.5L four-cylinder, turbocharged

Power: 190 hp

Torque: 179 lb-ft

Transmission: Continuously variable automatic

Brakes: Four-wheel disc

Steering: Electric power-assist rack-and-pinion

Suspension: McPherson strut (front); Multi-link (rear)

Fuel economy, ratings (l/100km, city/highway): 8.2/7.2

Fuel economy, observed (l/100km): 7.2

2017 Honda CR-V Price

The new CR-V starts at US$24,045 / C$26,890. Our Touring version as tested rings in at US$32,495 / C$38,290. 

Below are all MSRP prices for 2017 models:

LX – US$24,045 / C$26,890

EX – US$26,795 / C$35,000

EX-L – US$29,295 / C$37,400

Touring – US$32,495 / C$40,100

Photos:

Chris has been writing professionally about cars since 2004, in print and online. He lives in Ottawa with his wife and two feline tyrants. In rare quiet moments, he can be found travelling or playing one of his way-too-many guitars. Chris is also a journalist member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).