2012 Honda CR-V: First Drive Page 3

November 16, 2011

As for the rest of the 2012 CR-V driving experience, it’s absolutely nothing to get excited about. The gist of it is that the CR-V isn’t a car that asks you to drive it fast, but in normal driving you should be happy. 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. 

Steering with less confidence

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 it fails to give the new model the confident handling feel that we expect in a Honda—even if the CR-V’s body control is good. The system feels overly light on center, it's hard to anticipate in tight corners, and it unwinds in what feels like an uneven fashion. We were fortunate to have a 2011 CR-V model nearby and verified the astonishing difference back-to-back; the CR-V used to be one of the better-steering vehicles in its class, but we can’t say this for the 2012.

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 models get a power moonroof, rear privacy glass, 17-inch alloy wheels, a passenger-seat armrest, seatback pockets, intermittent wipers, upgraded upholstery, a tonneau cargo cover, and a security system. EX-L models are the way to go for those who want more of a luxury feel, as they get leather upholstery, a ten-way driver’s seat, heated front seats, a higher-power 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

Up to snuff on connectivity, safety

Otherwise, we like a number of thoughtful features and ideas inside the CR-V. 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, and officials said that other apps may be on the way. The screen will also display cover art, turn-by-turn directions, or a trip computer/fuel economy screen, and you can 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).

Honda is also offering more dealer-installed accessories for the CR-V this time—items like back-up sensors, roof rails, running boards, a cargo organizer or tray, and remote engine start.

The 2012 CR-V is scheduled to go on sale in mid-December, with prices likely only slightly higher than the 2011 model.

In all, the CR-V fails to stand out in the market in the way that the last-generation model did when it was new. But it remains one of Honda's stronger efforts in packaging and practicality, and for those who want some seating comfort and some packaging magic without much driving excitement, all in an affordable vehicle, the 2012 Honda CR-V remains one of the best compromises.

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