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.