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PERFORMANCE | 6 out of 10
carlike on all surfaces
forget drag racing
Car and Driver
on the road, the CR-V isn't powerful
dreading speed bumps and freeway speeds more than usual
Editors at TheCarConnection.com find that the 2009 Honda CR-V handles well, but the four-cylinder engine is a yawn.
The 2009 Honda CR-V coaxes adequate performance from its 166-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, despite the fact that most competitors use larger engines. Overall, the driving experience feels quite refined with the smooth-shifting five-speed automatic.
The enthusiast magazines all mention that the CR-V's four-cylinder engine doesn't have enough power. Motor Trend warns, "On the road, the CR-V isn't powerful—its 166 hp and 9.2-second 0-to-60-mph time (produced by this front-drive version)—will keep you happily abreast of traffic, but will also probably dissuade you from any particularly daring maneuvers." Edmunds is in agreement on this subject: "Engine and transmission can be overwhelmed by hilly stretches of highway," and they warn that "highway passing can be an adventure." Car and Driver sums it up in three words: "forget drag racing."
ConsumerGuide is one of the only outlets to confirm TheCarConnection.com's impressions, noting that "acceleration is adequate around town and in highway passing." MotherProof deems the 2009 Honda CR-V's engine "perky and surprisingly quick."
A five-speed automatic is the only transmission option in the 2009 Honda CR-V. Motor Trend observes, "Our car's five-speed automatic transmission (a rarity in this category that's packed jowl to jowl with four speeds) also has an odd trait: For some reason you can't manually select fourth. But this is probably more a curiosity than a nuisance." Kelley Blue Book reports that "dropping the five-speed manual transmission may be lamented by mileage maximizers, but Honda says that the demand for stick-shift CR-Vs among buyers is low."
An improved all-wheel-drive system is available on the 2009 Honda CR-V, and it works with the stability control system to send power to the wheels where it's needed most. Edmunds says it "only apportions power to the rear wheels when front slippage occurs."
Fuel economy in the 2009 Honda CR-V isn't bad for its class, but the small engine seems like it should be more frugal. Edmunds weighs in: "For 2009, the front-wheel-drive CR-V achieves a 20 mpg city/27 mpg highway rating." MotherProof voices disappointment with its fuel economy: "It has plenty of power while keeping gas consumption down to an estimated 20/26 mpg." However, the test driver reports having "averaged about 16 mpg in two weeks of mostly suburban driving."
Handling in the 2009 Honda CR-V feels stable but not very sporty; the emphasis is clearly comfort and quiet. ConsumerGuide states that the 2009 CR-V is "carlike on all surfaces." MotherProof, whose test driver does not care for the 2009 Honda CR-V's tight suspension, reports that she could "feel every bump" and finds herself "dreading speed bumps and freeway speeds more than usual." ConsumerGuide, however, notes that the "CR-V's suspension comfortably absorbs bumps with minimal float or wallow." Honda's CR-V is more agile than most compact crossovers, according to Edmunds: "it feels light on its feet, with well-weighted steering that provides excellent feedback," they say, and "ride quality is composed and comfortable." Car and Driver likes the "good driving manners," and Cars.com points out it "reacts with an intuitive feel that's rare in non-luxury cars"—though Motor Trend notices "a tendency to periodically 'tramline' on certain surfaces." ConsumerGuide comments that "body lean during fast turns is kept in check."
The 2009 Honda CR-V gets good fuel economy and handles well, but the driving experience isn't particularly exciting.