By Joe Tralongo, Contributing Editor
KBB Expert Rating: 9.7
If ever there was an overcrowded field in play, it belongs to the compact SUV. The 2016 Honda CR-V is but one of many players here, doing battle with such stalwart competitors as the Toyota RAV4, Ford Escape and Chevrolet Equinox, as well as newer competitors such as the Hyundai Tucson and Jeep Cherokee. While each has its own merits, Honda’s 2016 CR-V seems to excel in every area that means the most to compact- crossover SUV consumers. Detractors will rightly point out that, unlike the Subaru Forester, the CR-V can’t really go off-road, and that cutting-edge safety features are only offered on the most expensive trims. But consumers don’t seem to mind these slights, and record sales numbers year after year appear to confirm it.
Whether you’re just starting a family or finishing up with one, the 2016 Honda CR-V makes a great choice. Available all-wheel drive (AWD) is perfect for traveling in snow, and you’ll find little to complain about in the areas of fuel economy, reliability and resale figures.
If image is as important as ability, the CR-V may not shine. The Jeep Cherokee offers cool features like a panoramic moonroof and true off-road ability, while the Hyundai Santa Fe is a stylish challenger offering more luxury and tech. Need a 3rd-row seat? Nissan’s Rogue is the solution.
KBB Expert Ratings
After a major makeover last year, changes to the 2016 Honda CR-V compact-crossover SUV are limited to a new SE trim. Positioned above the LX, the SE features 17-inch alloy wheels, a 2-tone finish, rear privacy glass and a security system.
If when you think “compact SUV” what comes to mind is a basic utility vehicle used for hauling gardening tools and screaming kids, the 2016 Honda CR-V crossover SUV will...
... come as a revelation. The driving experience in a CR-V feels very car-like, with a smooth ride, precise handling and a cabin that isolates wind and road noise with surprising efficiency. Over smooth surfaces, the CR-V naturally feels calm and controlled, but even when the road gets dicey, Honda’s little people-mover remains unflappable. In corners, the CR-V exhibits minimal lean, and the steering’s excellent feedback allows for confident high-speed maneuvers. At the heart of the CR-V is a 2.4-liter engine with 185 horsepower on tap. With the help of a very capable CVT automatic, the CR-V can accelerate briskly, even with four people on board. Good fuel economy is also along for the ride, as is available Real Time AWD.
DIRECT-INJECTED 2.4-LITER ENGINE AND CVT
Honda’s 2016 CR-V SUV features a 2.4-liter direct-injection engine teamed with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Together, they help the CR-V return near class-leading fuel economy, as well as robust acceleration. It’s one of the best CVTs we’ve tested.
TOURING TRIM LEVEL
Although it costs the most, in this case the Touring trim is actually worth every penny. Along with its long list of luxury and in-car entertainment equipment, the Touring trim includes the Honda Sensing system that brings collision avoidance, adaptive cruise control and lane-departure warning, among other features.
Those familiar with the previous CR-Vs will find no surprises in the 2016 model. There’s a big audio display, upgraded trim and textures, a large center console and rear A/C vents. The front seats are supportive and properly adjustable, while the rear seats offer plenty of room for adults and easily fold down to sort-of flat for hauling the bigger things of contemporary family life. The 2016 CR-V’s interior strikes us as entirely functional without being boring and completely modern without being weird, and that’s a nice blend, day-in and day-out.
CR-Vs have typically offered good outward vision through generous windows, and the 2016 Honda CR-V is no exception. Compared to other SUVs in the segment, the CR-V provides a less-obstructed view of the world, which makes it safer on the road and more easily maneuverable in tighter spots. The fresh exterior moves the CR-V visually upscale, an impression reinforced by additional chrome, and it also seems to have a greater presence. The up-level Touring trim rides on 18-inch wheels and tires, which fill out the fender wells more completely and generally enhance the appearance.
A strong value statement, Honda’s 2016 CR-V's LX base model includes (inhale): air conditioning, power windows, power locks, cruise control, a tilt/telescoping steering column, steering-wheel-mounted controls, a multi-function center console, the 2.4-liter engine with CVT, 60/40-split fold-down rear seat, 160-watt 4-speaker audio system, Bluetooth, a USB interface, exterior temperature indicator, Smart Key/Start, rear A/C vents, and sliding sun visors (exhale). Standard safety features include dual-stage front airbags, front side airbags, side-curtain airbags with rollover sensor, Vehicle Stability Assist, Electronic Brake Distribution, Brake Assist and a multi-angle rearview camera – the last is standard on all Honda vehicles for 2016.
The CR-V EX adds speed-sensitive and variable-intermittent wipers, auto-on headlights, fog lights, a security system, 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, a power moonroof, 6-speaker audio, and a variety of trim items. The EX-L adds leather, dual-zone A/C, automatic climate control, roof rails, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, heated mirrors, XM radio and 7-speaker audio. The Touring trim adds 18-inch alloy wheels, HomeLink, mirror turn signals, driver memory seat, a power tailgate, and Honda's Collision Mitigation Braking System. The choices of front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive (FWD, AWD), or navigation, are built into the trim levels.
Honda’s 2016 CR-V has a direct-injected, 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine with a continuously variable automatic transmission with a Sport mode. The engine makes 185 horsepower, the same as in 2014 except at a lower engine speed, and 181 lb-ft of torque – good for acceleration – up from 163 lb-ft in the 2014 model and, again, at a lower engine speed. Thus, the latest CR-V has snappier acceleration and superior all-around performance. The CVT acts like a conventional automatic. It will hold a “gear” ratio, which is helpful in mountainous terrain.
185 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
181 lb-ft of torque @ 3,900 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 27/34 mpg (FWD), 26/33 mpg (AWD)
The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of the 2016 Honda CR-V LX model with front-wheel drive is $24,475, the EX is $26,725, the EX-L is $29,175, and the Touring is $32,825, including destination charges. All-wheel drive is an additional $1,250. A fully loaded Touring model with AWD will be around $34,000, but its comprehensive equipment level makes a strong value statement. For comparison, a base Nissan Rogue S is right around $24,000, a base Toyota RAV4 S is about $23,000, and a base Ford Escape S is near $24,000. But the equipment levels are not equivalent, so compare carefully. The Honda CR-V and RAV4 SUVs have historically maintained quite high residual values, with the Rogue and Escape somewhat lower. Before finalizing your purchase be sure and check the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area have been paying for their new Honda CR-Vs.