By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 3/4/2011
When the Honda CR-V first appeared in 1997, the CUV landscape had a far different look than it does today. Then, the market offered very few compact four-wheel-drive wagon/CUV crosses, and the new Honda was the head of a very small class. These days, small crossovers are all the rage, offering the tall ride height and cargo carrying ability of a mid-size SUV, ample ground clearance and the sure-footed traction of all-wheel-drive. Yet, while many of its competitors have grown larger and thirstier, the CR-V remains true to its roots, which may explain why it continues to top the compact CUV sales chart year after year.You'll Like This Car If... You May Not Like This Car If...
There's little pizzazz in practical. If you chafe in sensible shoes, a compact crossover may not be the right fit for you. If you're looking to venture off-road, the CR-V's part-time 4WD system is no match for the Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive system found in the more capable Subaru Forester.What's New for 2011
For 2011 a fourth trim level, the Special Edition (SE), is added to the CR-V line up. SE models feature 17-inch alloy wheels, steering wheel mounted controls for cruise and audio, rear privacy glass, and a 160-watt AM/FM stereo with in-dash six-disc CD changer and six speakers.Driving It Driving Impressions
On the road, the 2011 Honda CR-V has a well-integrated feel. The four-cylinder engine is right-sized for daily driving duties and the automatic transmission shifts smoothly. The only interruption to the quiet inside the cabin is some noise from the engine in high-demand situations, such as when the transmission kicks down to a lower gear for passing. Beyond that, there's not much road noise and little wind noise, even when the moonroof (standard on EX and EX-L) is open. The CR-V has a cushioned ride that belies its size and handling is stable and predictable. Visibility is good in all directions, even to the rear. The four-wheel-drive system is automatic, requiring no input from the driver, and shifts up to 70 percent of available torque from front to rear wheels as needed for improved traction.Favorite Features
Refined Ride Quality
A compact car with a big-car ride, the CR-V has a composed feel, easily rolling over rough roads without ruffling the passengers.
Sensible Size, Flexible Floor Plan
Right-sized, real-world dimensions and a highly adaptable interior are two reasons why the CR-V is Honda's biggest seller worldwide.
The 2011 Honda CR-V's defining feature is a highly flexible floor plan. Split rear seats fold easily and tumble forward. Doing so increases cargo capacity from a generous minimum of 35.7 cubic feet to a maximum of 72.9 cubic feet. The lift-over height in back is low, and the second-row seats recline slightly while the headrests have been designed for a visibility-enhancing low profile when not in use. Rear-seat travel is adjustable fore and aft, but long-legged folk may find the front seats don't have enough travel to fully accommodate them. All trim levels feature comfortably wide fold-down, inside armrests and, although rear-seat legroom is not as generous as in pervious generation CR-Vs, those under six feet can still fit front and rear simultaneously. The CR-V's dual-dial dash is an easy read, controls and switchgear are all within arm's reach and simple to operate and inside storage areas abound.Exterior
The first two generations of the CR-V made their marks by combining exceptional utility with enviable reliability. They were high function, but low fashion. The current CR-V, however, has turned all that around. Honda aims to lay claim to that portion of the new buyers flocking to this segment who are style-conscious; to that end, the 2011 Honda CR-V's still-practical package is wrapped in a decidedly fashion-forward design. The side view is dramatically different than most boxy SUVs, with an elliptically-shaped greenhouse. Up front are slash-cut headlamps and a laid-back windshield, while around back is a large rear hatch with no hatch-mounted spare tire to complicate entrance. Ground clearance is a generous 6.7 inches.Notable Standard Equipment
The 2011 Honda CR-V is offered in four trim levels: LX, SE, EX, and EX-L. Standard across the board is a tire-pressure-monitoring system, 17-inch wheels, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, an MP3/auxilliary audio input jack, speed-sensitive volume control and a "conversation mirror" on the back of the sun visor. LX and EX models have a retractable center tray table between the front seats, while EX-L versions have a fixed, floor-mounted console. Two covered storage containers are included–-the larger of which is big enough to hold 24 CDs. EX and EX-L models gain a folding, removable, dual-level shelf in the cargo bay for added storage options, while the EX-L has a 10-way power driver's seat including power lumbar support, dual-zone automatic climate control and an upgraded audio system, with 270 watts of power, a six-disc, center console-mounted CD changer, seven speakers (including subwoofer), USB input and a digital audio-card reader.Notable Optional Equipment
Honda's Real Time four-wheel-drive system is available on all trim levels. A GPS navigation system with a large, six-and-a-half-inch screen, voice recognition, Bluetooth and rearview camera function is offered on EX-L models.Under the Hood
The 2011 Honda CR-V has a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 180 horsepower and delivers its 161 pound-feet of torque across a wider power band than previously. The four-cylinder engine is linked exclusively to a five-speed automatic transmission. The omission of a five-speed manual transmission – formerly standard equipment on previous generation CR-Vs – may be lamented by mileage maximizers, but Honda says that the demand for stick-shift CR-Vs among buyers was just too low.
2.4-liter in-line 4
180 horsepower @ 6800 rpm
161 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/28 (2WD), 21/27 (4WD)
The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price for a two-wheel-drive CR-V LX starts close to $22,500, while the 4WD EX trim starts around $26,000. A fully-loaded EX-L with leather and navigation tops out just over $30,500. A look at the Fair Purchase Price on kbb.com shows what others are paying for the CR-V in your area, so be sure to check it out before you buy. Among the models cross-shopped with the CR-V are the Nissan Rogue, Ford Escape, Subaru Forester, Mitsubishi Outlander, Kia Sportage and the Jeep Compass. All compare favorably with the CR-V on features per dollar, but can't match the track record for reliability that the Honda enjoys. The CR-V still retains the best five-year resale values in the segment.