Most of the alternatives to the 2013 Honda CR-V include both a six-speed automatic transmission and direct-injection engines, but the CR-V may seem a little behind the times with its five-speed automatic and lack of DI. In truth, those shouldn't be barriers at all for considering the CR-V; it offers performance that's perfectly adequate for families—without the need for a V-6 or a turbocharged engine—but the whole driving experience does lack excitement.
The CR-V's engine, a 2.4-liter i-VTEC in-line four-cylinder, remains one of the smoothest fours in this class, with nice, even power delivery all the way up to redline. The transmission shifts smoothly and will downshift quickly when needed—which may be more frequently if you're trading in a late-model CR-V as Honda recently made gear ratios taller for better fuel economy.
If you're counting on the CR-V to get you out to a trailhead or campsite, it'll probably be good for the task if the going isn't too tough (the CR-V really isn't meant for off-roading). Models with the so-called Real Time AWD system are very capable on snow-covered roads, or even mud, and the system doesn't require the front wheels to spin before sending more power to the back. Also, to help save fuel, the system fully disengages the rear wheels when cruising.
Altogether, the 2013 CR-V simply doesn't provide a very exciting driving experience. Handling is safe, but suspension softness and tall tire sidewalls are oriented for ride quality, not for carving canyon roads. The only real letdown compared to other vehicles in this class—as well compared to what we've come to expect from Honda—is the electric power steering, which isn't as nicely weighted as systems in the previous CR-V and requires more frequent small adjustments during normal driving.