2012 Honda CR-V Review

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Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
April 26, 2012

The 2012 Honda CR-V is a great family vehicle, with a thoughtfully designed and comfortable interior, and improved refinement, but it lacks the confident, sprightly feel present in past CR-Vs.

If you're cross-shopping compact crossover vehicles for family use, you'll definitely want to put the 2012 Honda CR-V on the list.

The main reason: because it has what we think is simply the best rear seat-folding arrangement of any vehicle in this class; and because its seating comfort in general is so impressive. Open one of the back doors, and with one arm and a simple pull of a strap, in a very fluid motion the lower cushion tumbles forward into the footwell, the headrest angles forward, and the rear seatback flips forward, all tucking nearly behind the front seat, to a completely flat position.

The rest of the CR-V's seating arrangement is stellar, and the rear folding system allows better padding and contouring than the thinly padded bench most compact crossovers get in back. Front seats, too, are impressive, both soft and supportive and good for either long trips or the daily commute and errands.

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That's the good. If you're a busy parent, you'll also probably be quite glad that Honda hasn't really changed that much about the overall package of this redesigned 2012 Honda CR-V. It still fits neatly into most compact-car parking spots and has a low cargo floor that doesn’t require a lot of reach or lift.

The CR-V’s exterior has only lightly evolved; front and rear styling has been spruced up a bit, with the front end noticeably more Accord-like. Honda has essentially taken the same package—same wheelbase, same basic silhouette and proportions—but dropped the roof a little bit and modified the positions of the front seats for a more carlike driving position. Also by changing the angle of the rear pillar somewhat, they freed up just a little more rearward visibility.

Inside, the instrument panel gets a simplified, streamlined look with two layers, and it's more carlike, completely avoiding the chunky, overwrought-and-cluttered look of the larger Pilot SUV’s interior, as well as the odd asymmetries of the Civic and the confusing rotary knob of the high-end Accord models. Climate controls are just below audio controls, with a small, five-inch ‘i-MID’ trip-computer and audio screen just above it all, with simple gauges and straightforward switchgear. The center console runs between the front seats and has been redesigned to include cupholders, a tray, two storage compartments, and a USB port.

Cargo capacity is impressive; with the rear seatbacks up, there's an impressive 37.2 cubic feet. A side cargo net is included, and EX levels and above get a removable and retractable cargo cover. Fold the back seats down, and you get a continuous cargo floor that’s 61.4 inches long—although it does have a slight step up at the base of the seatbacks. Honda is proud that it’s dropped the cargo floor—and the liftover height itself—to 23.6 inches.

Honda hasn't changed much about the powertrain; the 2.4-liter i-VTEC four-cylinder remains one of the smoothest fours in this class, with nice, even power delivery all the way up to redline. The transmission has only five speeds—and gear ratios have been made taller this year for better fuel economy—but the flexible engine does just fine with this setup. EPA fuel economy ratings land at 23 mpg city, 31 highway with front-wheel drive, or 22/30 with four-wheel drive—making it the highest-mileage all-wheel- or four-wheel-drive vehicle in this class. Just as in some of Honda's other models, there's a big green 'econ' button on the dash, to engage more frugal parameters for the powertrain and A/C.

The CR-V is no trail ute, but it has the toolset for snow-covered roads, or even mud, with the available Real Time AWD system. Newly reconfigured, it now doesn't require the front wheels to slip before sending power to the rears.

As for the rest of the 2012 CR-V driving experience, it’s absolutely nothing to get excited about. Honda has retuned the suspension for a better ride and reduced harshness, compared to the previous version, added double door seals, and bolstered the body structure, and it’s clear that a lot less road noise makes its way into the cabin. The most significant letdown in the 2012 Honda CR-V is the way it steers. Honda has fitted an electric power steering system to the CR-V, and in this vehicle it fails to give the new model the confident handling feel that we expect from Honda.

As in the new Civic, the i-MID is controlled via a simple directional toggle on the steering wheel. The system is compatible with SMS texting (reading and pre-set replying) and a Pandora app, with the screen capable of displaying cover art, turn-by-turn directions, and a trip computer/fuel economy screen. You can also set the home screen to display personal pictures as wallpaper. The standard wide-angle side mirrors are also the first in any Honda vehicle, and the Multi-Angle Rearview Camera offers three different views (wide, normal, and top) to help you see obstacles (or children). Safety scores are among the best of any compact crossover.

Anyone who’s previously shopped for a Honda in recent years will find the trims offered in the CR-V quite familiar; there are LX, EX, and EX-L trims, with top version of the EX-L available with a Navigation package and rear entertainment system. Bluetooth hands-free connectivity and Bluetooth streaming audio are at last standard on the entire model line, and EX-L models upgrade to leather upholstery, a ten-way driver’s seat, heated front seats, a higher-power (328-watt) audio system with subwoofer, automatic climate control, heated mirrors, and upgraded interior trim. A rear entertainment system with seven-inch display, DVD player, wireless headphones, and remote is optional. Satellite radio is only offered on the EX-L.

7

2012 Honda CR-V

Styling

The 2012 Honda CR-V has been redesigned, but it's so subtle and evolutionary on the outside that you might not even know it.

The CR-V has been completely redesigned for 2012. But to some, its exterior might not even look new. That's because the design has only lightly evolved; front and rear styling has been spruced up a bit, with the front end noticeably more Accord-like.

Honda has essentially taken the same package—same wheelbase, same basic silhouette and proportions—but dropped the roof a little bit and modified the positions of the front seats for a more carlike driving position. Also by changing the angle of the rear pillar somewhat, they freed up just a little more rearward visibility.

Inside, the instrument panel gets a simplified, streamlined look with two layers, and it's more carlike, completely avoiding the chunky, overwrought-and-cluttered look of the larger Pilot SUV’s interior, as well as the odd asymmetries of the Civic and the confusing rotary knob of the high-end Accord models. Climate controls are just below audio controls, with a small, five-inch ‘i-MID’ trip-computer and audio screen just above it all, with simple gauges and straightforward switchgear.

6

2012 Honda CR-V

Performance

The 2012 Honda CR-V provides very little excitement for the driver, though its powertrain is smooth, confident, and fuel-efficient.

With a five-speed automatic transmission at a time when most of the competition has moved to six-speeds, and a carry-over engine that still doesn't reap the benefits of direct injection, the 2012 Honda CR-V might look technologically inferior to some of the other compact crossovers on the market. But that's not at all true with respect to performance--at least the sort of performance that most busy moms or dads expect.

The 2.4-liter i-VTEC four-cylinder remains one of the smoothest fours in this class, with nice, even power delivery all the way up to redline. The transmission has only five speeds—and gear ratios have been made taller this year for better fuel economy—but the flexible engine does just fine with this setup. 

The CR-V is no trail ute, but it has the tool set for snow-covered roads, or even mud, with the available Real Time AWD system. A newly reconfigured version of the system in the 2012 CR-V no longer requires the front wheels to slip before sending power to the rears. When cruising, it completely disengages power to the rear wheels to aid gas mileage.

As for the rest of the 2012 CR-V driving experience, it’s absolutely nothing to get excited about. The most significant letdown in the 2012 Honda CR-V is the way it steers. Honda has fitted an electric power steering system to the CR-V, and in this vehicle it fails to give the new model the confident handling feel that we expect from Honda.

8

2012 Honda CR-V

Comfort & Quality

The 2012 Honda CR-V has a comfortable ride, as well as one of the best rear seat-folding arrangements we've seen; but its materials and trims fall short.

If you want good seating comfort and interior space, and good versatility, but you don't need three-row seating, the 2012 Honda CR-V is one of your better bets on a budget.

The 2012 CR-V still has seating for five, and its interior feels almost minivan-like in how passenger friendly it is. Front seats are buckets that are on the soft side, but supportive enough for a long day. And the rear split bench seat has more generous dimensions and better padding than most in this class; you still won’t fit three adults happily across, but there’s plenty of thigh support, as well as legroom and headroom, to keep everyone happy.

We think that the CR-V has the best rear seat-folding arrangement of any vehicle in this class. Open one of the back doors, and with one arm and a simple pull of a strap, in a very fluid motion the lower cushion tumbles forward into the footwell, the headrest angles forward, and the rear seatback flips forward, all tucking nearly behind the front seat, to a completely flat position.

Cargo capacity with the rear seatbacks up is an impressive 37.2 cubic feet. A side cargo net is included, and EX levels and above get a removable and retractable cargo cover. Fold the back seats down, and you get a continuous cargo floor that’s 61.4 cubic feet long—although it does have a slight step up at the base of the seatbacks. Honda is proud that it’s dropped the cargo floor—and the liftover height itself—to 23.6 inches.

If you're a busy parent, you'll also probably be quite glad that Honda hasn't really changed that much about the overall package of this redesigned 2012 Honda CR-V. It still fits neatly into most compact-car parking spots and has a low cargo floor that doesn’t require a lot of reach or lift.

Honda has retuned the suspension for a better ride and reduced harshness, compared to the previous version, added double door seals, and bolstered the body structure, and it’s clear that a lot less road noise makes its way into the cabin. Ride comfort is on the soft side.

However, hard plastic dash and door materials, along with very simple, economy-minded trims are aspects of the cabin that may prove hard to warm up to. If you want to feel upscale, the CR-V's interior isn't so much the place to be. 

9

2012 Honda CR-V

Safety

The all-new 2012 Honda CR-V--like its predecessor--earns some of the best safety scores in its class.

While the exterior appearance of the Honda CR-V hasn't changed all that much versus last year's model, the new 2012 model is significantly different underneath. Honda has re-engineered the body structure for greater rigidity, and strength--which will certainly help in its occupant protection.

Side-curtain airbags, front side airbags, and electronic stability control are of course included in all 2012 CR-V models. The CR-V's standard wide-angle side mirrors are also the first in any Honda vehicle, and the available Multi-Angle Rearview Camera offers three different views (wide, normal, and top) to help you see obstacles (or children).

The 2012 CR-V has been crash-tested by the federal government, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives it an overall score of five stars. It's also earned top 'good' scores across the board from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)--as well as the IIHS Top Safety Pick accolade.

9

2012 Honda CR-V

Features

The 2012 Honda CR-V can be outfitted quite lavishly--but you no longer have to go for the most expensive models to get connectivity features.

The 2012 Honda CR-V has plenty of thoughtful features, and a well-rounded feature set--although to get some premium items you'll need to step all the way up to top EX-L trims.

Compared to last year's model, the CR-V finally has earned some much-desired connectivity features across the lineup. Bluetooth hands-free connectivity and Bluetooth streaming audio are at last standard on the entire model line, and there's a small display screen in all models, called the i-MID. That's controlled via a simple directional toggle on the steering wheel. The system is compatible with SMS texting (reading and pre-set replying) and a Pandora app, with the screen capable of displaying cover art, turn-by-turn directions, and a trip computer/fuel economy screen. You can also set the home screen to display personal pictures as wallpaper.

Anyone who’s previously shopped for a Honda in recent years will find the trims offered in the CR-V quite familiar; there are LX, EX, and EX-L trims, with top version of the EX-L available with a Navigation package and rear entertainment system. EX-L models upgrade to leather upholstery, a ten-way driver’s seat, heated front seats, a higher-power (328-watt) audio system with subwoofer, automatic climate control, heated mirrors, and upgraded interior trim. A rear entertainment system with seven-inch display, DVD player, wireless headphones, and remote is optional. Satellite radio is only offered on the EX-L.

7

2012 Honda CR-V

Fuel Economy

The 2012 Honda CR-V is one of the most fuel-efficient vehicles its size, but its tall gear ratios mean that it's not reproducible everywhere.

Honda has significantly improved the EPA fuel economy of the CR-V this year, compared to previous versions, but it's worth keeping in mind how they did it. The five-speed automatic transmission has significantly taller gear ratios than before. What that means is that if you live around relatively level terrain, you'll notice substantially improved mileage; but if you regularly drive in hilly terrain, it's likely you won't see that sort of improvement and might even notice the transmission hunting around more between gears.

EPA fuel economy ratings land at 23 mpg city, 31 highway with front-wheel drive, or 22/30 with four-wheel drive—making it the highest-mileage all-wheel- or four-wheel-drive vehicle in this class.

Just as in some of Honda's other models, there's a big green 'econ' button on the dash, to engage more frugal parameters for the powertrain and A/C.

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April 15, 2017
2012 Honda CR-V 2WD 5-Door EX-L w/Navi

Good value per Cost $

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Pros: Good SUV confortable and good quality. Cons: seats arms damaged.
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August 25, 2015
2012 Honda CR-V 4WD 5-Door EX

We love our 2012 crv.

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Very happy we bought new and have had no issues. One thought factory tires were not good on snow put new tires on last fall much better know. Love the all wheel drive.
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May 3, 2015
2012 Honda CR-V 2WD 5-Door EX

A Huge Value in a Small Package

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Honda has successfully created a compact crossover that is huge on the inside yet small on the outside, making it an appealing choice for a tall everyday driver who is fuel conscious and appreciates a... + More »
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April 13, 2015
For 2012 Honda CR-V

Functional, comfortable and a pleasure to drive.

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I was not looking for power, so the I-4 works just fine. Regularly getting 30-plus MPG with AWD. Styling is contemporary for a midsize SUV. Interior is roomy and very functional. Very comfortable for a... + More »
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Styling 7.0
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Safety 9.0
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