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The Honda CR-V is far from exciting to look at; it's a little bulbous and homely at first glance, and the interior styling isn't much more inspiring. But families looking for practicality, frugality, and versatility—but eschewing minivans—will find a lot to love in this roomy crossover.
While the CR-V used to look more like a mini-SUV, with a boxier appearance, more upright stance, and a spare wheel and tire mounted on the back, its last full redesign made it more in line with the softer crossover vehicles. It could now be considered a more compact alternative to minivans—just with hinged back doors and a slightly more rounded roofline.
Although the CR-V doesn't include paddle-shifters or the like, its 180-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and five-speed manual transmission are surprisingly responsive. The CR-V isn't exciting to drive, but it handles confidently, and its available all-wheel drive system works together with the stability control system.
Some vehicles this size attempt to cram three rows of seating in, but the CR-V has enough space for five adults in two rows. The back seat folds down for a completely flat loading floor, and in general the interior—with a low loading floor—feels larger and more usable than that of many other compact crossovers.
The CR-V fits virtually all the practical tickboxes on your shopping list. It has for several years been one of the best-rated vehicles of this size for safety, with top crash-test ratings and Top Safety Pick status from the IIHS. And it's been top-rated for reliability as well as for resale value.
One area in which the CR-V is slightly disappointing is features. If you can live with a basic set of standard features, the base LX, or mid-grade EX, can be quite the deal; but in order to get an essential feature like Bluetooth (hands-free)—or a USB interface—you have to opt for the top EX-L model with navigation.
As the Honda CR-V hasn't significantly changed since the 2007 model year, cited reviews are of vehicles for that model year or newer.
- Smooth, economical powertrain
- Interior space
- Fuel economy
- Excellent safety ratings
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- Dull to drive
- Homely exterior styling
- Obscured rearward vision
- Hands-free interface not widely available