2011 Honda CR-V: Compact Crossover Measures Up
By Mike Blake, Carlisle Events
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Filling the niche well in the popular compact crossover-SUV market, the Honda CR-V is currently the No. 14 best-selling vehicle in America. CR-V was one of the first vehicles to tackle the small SUV market when it was launched in 1996, and nearing the end of its third generation, made very few changes for 2011.
A popular family vehicle, CR-V is built in East Liberty, Ohio. It is a compact alternative to minivans, but much more attractive, with its rounded roofline, raked front windshield, horizontal single-slat chrome grille, short, sculpted hood, rounded non-symmetrical side window design, and curved rear.
New for 2011 is the CR-V SE (Special Edition) and little else, as Honda made a plethora of enhancements in 2010. This puts CR-V trims in five model choices, each offered in either front-wheel-drive or Real Time 4WD.
CR-V measures a compact 179.3 inches in length, 66.1 inches in height and 71.6 inches in width on a 103.1-inch wheelbase with a ground clearance of 6.7 inches. The vehicle is light for the segment, at 3430 lbs. for the EX-L model I tested, with a 58/42 front/rear distribution.
Under the hood, CR-V is fuel-efficient with its 180hp aluminum alloy 2.4-liter inline-4 engine that produces 161 lbs-ft of torque and is EPA rated at 21mpg in the city, 27mpg on the highway and 23mpg overall for the 4WD version, about 1 mpg less than the 2WD. A week of mixed-use tests didn’t quite hit the estimate, but CR-V did manage to achieve a 21.7mpg average over about 550 miles on highways, city streets and soft roads.
On the highway, CR-V was sluggish, and passing requires patience and strategy. On the track, times were predictably slow, at 9.3 seconds for a zero-to-60 trek and 17.1 seconds for the quarter-mile.
However, handling was good for its class, with relatively little body yaw during twisties, though there is some noticeable top-wobble. Steering is improved over the model I tested last year and reacts well when asked, while braking is confident. Most road imperfections are smoothed out sufficiently with MacPherson struts, coil springs and anti-roll bar and multilink rear with coil springs and anti-roll bar. Road sounds and wind noise are apparent and the driving experience suffers a bit from that lack of sophistication.
Off road, well, CR-V is a soft-road vehicle best left for the town, the highway and gentle country roads. Fill the ample interior with vacation gear, football or hockey equipment or groceries and CR-V is cargo heaven.
My Urban Titanium Metallic (Silver) CR-V was matched to a Gray interior which emphasizes functionality and style. The front row storage areas are designed to accommodate items such as a handbag between the seats. For comfort, there are driver’s and front passenger’s center-folding armrests. A center console replaces the retractable center tray table on the CR-V EX-L with navigation.
My CR-V EX-L added leather-trimmed seats and armrests; heated front seats; body colored side mirrors and door handles; XM® Radio; a USB Audio Interface; and auto on/off headlights. Available on the CR-V EX-L is the Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System with Voice Recognition and rearview camera, which also adds a premium audio system with 7-speakers including subwoofer and Bluetooth® HandsFreeLink®, center console storage unit and a 6-disc CD changer in the center console.
In the cabin, vision is excellent from shoulder to shoulder with good viewable instrumentation. The interior is roomy, measuring 38.9 inches of row-one headroom with 38.5 inches in row two, legroom is 41.3 inches up front and 38.5 in the second seats and shoulder room comes in at 56.9 and 56.0. Cabin niceties include a climate control system with air filtration, back-up camera, a large flip-up LCD screen, keyless entry, tilt and telescopic steering column, cruise control, power windows with auto-up/down driver's window, power door and tailgate locks, AM/FM/CD audio system with four speakers and fuel economy meter.
With perfect front and side crash-test ratings and 4 stars out of 5 in rollover tests, CR-V scores high in safety with its Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ body structure, Vehicle Stability Assist™, and a pedestrian safety design in the front of the vehicle. Also installed are side-curtain airbags with a rollover sensor; front side airbags with a passenger-side Occupant Position Detection System; active front seat head restraints; an anti-lock braking system with Electronic Brake Distribution and Brake Assist; and a Tire Pressure Monitoring System.
CR-V has five available trim packages. The 2011 lower-end CR-V in LX trim starts at $21,895 and the top-of-the-line EX-L, as was my test vehicle with Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation, has a base of $28,845 (including two-grand for the Navi) for 2WD automatic. My test ride was in 4WD, which raised the price to $30,905. A roof rack added $297, tailgate spoiler was $295, door visors added $185, Moonroof visor was $153, body side molding cost $236, chrome exhaust finisher added $52, fog lights increased the sticker by $327 and destination and handling added $810 for a final sticker price as tested of $32,448, but discounts are available.
> Visit www.CarlisleEvents.com for more on the automotive hobby.
Mike Blake, former editor of KIT CAR magazine, joined Carlisle Events as senior automotive journalist in 2004. He's been a "car guy" since the 1960s and has been writing professionally for about 30 years.
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