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The 2013 Honda CR-V remains one of the most popular compact crossover utility vehicles on the U.S. market--as it's been for many years. New-car buyers with a bent toward the practical appreciate its interior space, high-rated reliability, and top safety scores. With a carefully edited set of trim levels and options that makes picking the appropriate model quick, almost intuitive.
Unlike earlier Hondas, the CR-V isn't any more rewarding to drive than its competitors--but that doesn't matter. The CR-V isn't about excitement as much as it's the choice of those who want a safe choice and reliable transportation, hold the dazzle. For 2013, the model that was entirely redesigned the previous year returns without more than a handful of changes. The hundreds of thousands of CR-V buyers each year probably wouldn't have it any other way.
As a compact crossover, the CR-V sits one segment below the mid-size Pilot SUV in the Honda lineup--and the Pilot itself is smaller than the Odyssey minivan. But the CR-V delivers on the "utility" part of the title, offering more interior space and hauling capability for people and their possessions than the Civic, even than the Accord. It's the epitome of compact crossover versatility and space efficiency.
in both exterior styling and performance, the CR-V is fine for a family vehicle, but lacks design pizazz. Its exterior evolved slightly last year, with front and rear styling updated a bit and the front end made noticeably more like that of a car. The cargo floor was lowered a few inches, as was the seating, which opened up more space. Still, the net effect of these inside-out design changes is that the CR-V can appear homely from the outside against stylish, rakish (and space-compromised) entries like the Ford Escape or Kia Sportage.
Compared to other vehicles in its class, the CR-V doesn't steer or handle with much verve. It retains a five-speed automatic at a time when most rivals have moved to six speeds, and its engine forgoes direct injection. What you get for performance is smooth and even--just not all that quick. The CR-V isn't the trail vehicle that some of the hardier crossovers like a Subaru Forester or Jeep Patriot are, but its available Real Time all-wheel drive is a good tool set for snow-covered roads, or even mud.
Part of the lackluster performance is due to Honda fitting taller gear ratios to boost fuel economy. Its EPA ratings land at 23 mpg city, 31 highway with front-wheel drive, or 22/30 with four-wheel drive—making it the most-efficient 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.
But for what families want and need, the Honda CR-V delivers in spades. We think it has simply the best rear seat-folding arrangement of any vehicle in the segment. And that's combined with impressive back-seat comfort and good ride comfort in general. 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 loading is also a snap, as the liftover height is only 23.6 inches. And up front, there's a minivan-like selection of cupholders, cubbies, and cargo trays.
Safety is another high point for the CR-V. In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the CR-V has earned five-star results overall, as well as in frontal and side impact testing. It's also earned top 'good' scores in all tests from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and is a Top Safety Pick. A Multi-Angle Rearview Camera is available and offers three different views (wide, normal, and top) to help you see obstacles (or children).
For 2013, the Honda CR-V keeps pace with the market in terms of connectivity, and it includes a well-rounded feature set. Inside, the simplified, streamlined center console serves it well, with climate controls just below audio controls, and a small, five-inch ‘i-MID’ trip-computer and audio screen just above it all. But note that if you want extras like a navigation system or satellite radio, you may have to move all the way up to the much more expensive EX-L model. There, you get upgraded interior trims, plus leather upholstery, a ten-way driver’s seat, heated front seats, automatic climate control, heated mirrors, and a higher-power (328-watt) audio system with subwoofer.
- Comfortable seating and ride
- Quiet, refined cabin
- Easy-fold rear seatback
- Simple, tasteful dash layout
- Bluetooth connectivity is standard
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- Bland exterior
- Unimpressive interior trims
- Unsettled steering feel