- Simple and tasteful, inside and out
- Cabin is refined, quiet
- Best seat-folding mechanism
- Comfortable seating for at least four adults
- Standard Bluetooth
- Styling isn't adventurous
- A bit plasticky inside
- Steering feel lacks proper feedback
The 2014 Honda CR-V isn't exactly sprightly, but it nails efficiency on a few levels and finally brings more features to the family-wagon fight.
It's easy to see why Honda's CR-V has been one of the top compact crossovers in America for most of the past decade. It caters to families with safety features and ratings above par, and ensures its passengers and cargo will all find enough room to coexist peacefully.
Essentially unchanged for the 2014 model year, the CR-V is aimed at buyers who need space, reliability, and safety and put a priority on them over dazzling styling or handling. With the Honda, you get a carefully edited set of trim levels and options, and a single drivetrain, with a choice of front- or all-wheel drive. It makes the shopping process quick and easy, at least.
With the CR-V, which was last fully redesigned for 2012, Honda has one of the best-selling compact crossovers, though its interior volume ventures near mid-size territory. That helps the CR-V deliver 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.
The raw space is laid out efficiently, and Honda fits it with 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.
That cleverness doesn't translate to exterior styling, or to 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.
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. 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 mpg with all-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.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 (although it's missing the top-notch small-overlap score that the Civic sedan achieves). A Multi-Angle Rearview Camera is available and offers three different views (wide, normal, and top) to help you see obstacles (or children).
The 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.
2014 Honda CR-V
Simplicity rules inside, while on the outside some might find the 2014 Honda CR-V a little too nondescript.
If you're not the type to follow the intricacies and evolution of new-car styling from year to year, in all likelihood today's 2014 Honda CR-V looks much like that of a couple of years--or perhaps, even five years ago. Yes, the CR-V still doesn't have the rakish profile and arched roofline of the Ford Escape; but it has more of what families need because of it.
With its last full redesign, for 2012, the CR-V got what looked like a light evolution on the outside, with spruced-up front and rear styling. Only when you really get close to the details do you see that with the last round of changes the roof dropped slightly, the rear pillar thinned out and got a little steeper.
What results is a crossover that looks down-to-business, but not necessarily pretty. The silhouette is a little bulbous and ungainly from some angles, but all about practicality, it seems--and that all makes sense taking a look inside. In cabin layout, it's both attractive and straightforward—although up close some of the details reveal themselves as either done on a budget or with kids and spills in mind.
We also appreciate how Honda has kept the CR-V out of their drive to push interior design in new, 'edgy' directions that don't always work. For instance, it avoids the chunky, overwrought-and-cluttered look of the larger Pilot, as well as the odd asymmetries of the Civic--and you won't find the confusing layout from Accord models, with two levels of screens, here. On most models, there's a small, five-inch 'i-MID' trip computer and audio screen, with audio controls and climate controls just below.
2014 Honda CR-V
The 2014 Honda CR-V is confident and smooth, even though excitement is sorely lacking.
The 2014 Honda CR-V has performance that largely fits its mission. It's perfectly adequate for families, with no V-6 or turbocharged engine. But we have to caution that the whole driving experience is a little lacking in excitement.
Nearly every other compact crossover you might cross-shop now includes either a direct-injection engine or a six-speed automatic transmission--or both--but the CR-V is a little behind the times, with its older-tech engine and five-speed automatic.
That said, those shouldn't be barriers at all for considering the CR-V. 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. Shifts are smooth, and the transmission will downshift quickly when needed—which is rather frequently, as the taller ratios that Honda subbed for the current generation (for better fuel economy) leave the engine a little less at ease in its upper gears.
Sportiness isn't really part of the driving experience. Handling is safe, but a soft suspension and tall tire sidewalls are there fro ride quality, not for carving canyon roads. The electric power steering is the only letdown against expectations; it's just not as nicely weighted as other systems and requires more frequent small adjustments.
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.
2014 Honda CR-V
Comfort & Quality
You'll find loads of interior space and very smart seat-folding; yet materials and trims might be a disappointment to some.
If you need a relatively roomy vehicle, with the parking space of a compact car, the 2014 Honda CR-V is one of the best picks on the market for families on a budget--especially if you don't need a third-row seat.
The CR-V packs in a lot of space. There's seating for five, but it feels almost minivan-like considering the comfort and seating position plus the excellent seat-folding arrangement, as well as the especially low cargo floor.
Front seats are soft buckets; you'll find enough support for all-day drives, but not much side support if you're on curvy roads. You won't quite fit three adults across in back, but the contours and the height are right for two adults to be content in the outboard positions (with enough legroom and headroom).
The rear seat-folding arrangement in the CR-V is better than than that of nearly any other compact crossover. With one arm and a simple pull of a strap, in a very fluid motion, the back seat's lower cushion tumbles forward into the footwell, while the headrest angles forward and the rear seatback flips over it--all going to a completely flat position, tucked ahead of the front seat.
We don't necessarily advise cross-shopping by the numbers for passenger and cargo space (they don't often correspond to real, usable space), yet cargo space with the rear seatbacks up is an impressive 37.2 cubic feet. Fold the back seats down and you get 61.4 cubic feet, with a continuous cargo floor (albeit with a slight step at the base of the seatbacks). There is one very important number, though: The liftover height itself is 23.6 inches; that's as low as that of a station wagon, yet you have the tall roof and high body in which to pack the cargo of your choice.
The CR-V wears its frugal nature on its sleeves--meaning that some might be a little bit disappointed with how basic and thrifty the interior feels. Hard-plastic trim and door materials aren't all that detail-oriented, while upholsteries all seem focused more on the diapers-and-spills set than on aesthetics.
Ride quality is impressive in the CR-V, with most road harshness filtered out--thanks to the last redesign's improvements in the body structure, door sealing, and noise insulation.
2014 Honda CR-V
The 2014 Honda CR-V gets mostly top ratings from both major U.S. safety agencies, but the IIHS small overlap test leaves room for improvement.
The Honda CR-V has long been among the top-rated compact crossovers for safety, and for 2014 it remains so--although there's at least one score that keeps it from being at the top in all respects.
The CR-V has earned top 'good' scores in all tests from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and is a Top Safety Pick. But it hasn't earned the IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus accolade, as its 'marginal' score in the new small-overlap frontal test is an indication that there's definitely some room for improvement. Honda achieved top results in that test with its Civic, so we think it's only time before the CR-V sees some structural changes for better protection.
In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) testing, the CR-V has earned five-star results overall, as well as in frontal and side impact tests.
Side-curtain airbags, front side airbags, and electronic stability are standard on the entire lineup, along with wide-angle side mirrors. And to help you see obstacles (or children, there's an available Multi-Angle Rearview Camera, offering three different views.
2014 Honda CR-V
Available infotainment systems are on par with those found elsewhere--although you still need to move to the top EX-L to get some extras, like satellite radio.
The Honda CR-V isn't all that trendsetting for features, although it does keep pace with the market in connectivity and entertainment and have a well-rounded feature set that's not missing any basics. Although the CR-V isn't quite up to snuff on value against some of its rivals, as you do need to step up to the pricier EX-L model in order to get satellite radio or a navigation system.
But Honda hasn't ignored some items that are expected today--like Bluetooth hands-free connectivity and streaming audio. They're both standard on the entire model line, and the control display (i-MID clearly displays information, while you can toggle through its displays from the steering wheel. This system can handle SMS texting (reading and pre-set replying) and has a Pandora app, with the screen capable of displaying cover art, turn-by-turn directions, and trip computer data. You also have the option to display wallpaper (your personal pictures).
Trim levels of the CR-V will be familiar to anyone who's shopped for a Honda in recent years. LX, EX, and EX-L trims span a reasonably wide range of equipment, with the navigation system and rear entertainment system reserved for the top version. At the top of the lineup is a rear entertainment system with seven-inch display, DVD player, wireless headphones, and remote. Those EX-L models also get some upgraded interior trim plus leather upholstery, a ten-way driver’s seat, heated front seats, automatic climate control, heated mirrors, and a higher-power (328-watt) sound system.
2014 Honda CR-V
Mileage ratings for the 2014 Honda CR-V are among the highest mileage in its class, but tall gear ratios don't always translate that to real-world driving.
The 2014 Honda CR-V is one of the more fuel-efficient models in its class--without six- or eight-speed transmissions, or direct injection.
Yet there's a bit of a back story as to how the CR-V pulls that off. with the CR-V's last redesign, Honda made the gear ratios taller for the five-speed automatic transmission. If you live in mostly level terrain, that translates to substantially better gas mileage—as reflected in the EPA ratings of 23 mpg city, 31 highway with front-wheel drive, or 22/30 with 4WD. Although if you regularly drive in hilly terrain, or do a lot of passing or merging, you'll probably never see that kind of real-world improvement.
You'll get somewhat better mileage in front-wheel-drive models; though those with the so-called Real-Time AWD system fully disengage the rear wheels when cruising, to help save fuel.