Through five generations and more than 20 years, the Honda CR-V has become a fixture on American highways and byways through a winning combination of practicality, value, and affability. It has consistently been among the top-10 best-selling vehicles in America—across all segments—and chances are you know someone (or three) who owns one. Yet the CR-V has never been better than it is with the release of the all-new 2017 model.
Indeed, the latest CR-V is the compact crossover SUV distilled to its near-perfect essence, blending engaging dynamics, master-class interior practicality, and a pleasing demeanor into a deeply satisfying whole. The CR-V has direct, eager steering and a compliant, well-controlled ride with exemplary body discipline, and no compact crossover so ably combines useful features, safety and convenience technologies, and storage solutions with driving satisfaction as does this Honda.
Power for most versions comes from an amiable 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder making 190 horsepower and 179 lb-ft of torque, the latter available at low rpm to enable scooting around in traffic. And there’s nothing wrong with the base model’s direct-injected 2.4-liter four, an engine we like in the 10Best Cars–winning Accord, where it operates with smoothness and an eagerness to rev. Both mate to a continuously variable automatic transmission, which isn’t our favorite kind of gearbox, but Honda’s is among the best of its type. It’s programmed to imitate a conventional step-gear automatic to avoid full-throttle mooing and is otherwise imperceptible in regular use, staying in the background and letting the engine do its work of shuttling you and your stuff hither and yon.
Inside, the interior is surprisingly stylish and features nicely sculpted and supportive front seats, as well as spacious rear accommodations with plenty of room for adult-sized passengers’ knees, heads, and feet. The rest of the cabin is stuffed with clever and thoughtful touches that won’t blow you away on their own but which are deeply appreciated in daily use. The adjustable-height floor in the rear enables a flat loading surface, for example, and the single-release latches on the walls of the cargo area fold the rear seats. The dual 2.5-amp rear-seat USB ports ensure no device goes uncharged, while the configurable center console flips, slides, and stows. The rear doors open to nearly 90 degrees, the better for ingress or the loading of, say, a baby into a child seat. And so on.
This also is the best-looking CR-V ever—certainly since the first-generation model. But whereas the original CR-V was cute and dainty, with its hatch-mounted spare tire, puny wheels, and spindly pillars, this new one is a purposeful, chunky piece that sees Honda’s cybernetic design language finally turned handsome. The exterior is expressive and tasteful, with LED lighting, functional aerodynamic detailing to aid fuel efficiency (check out the Kamm-tail-like trailing edge of the rear fenders), and a just-right amount of brightwork.
The 2017 CR-V gets so many things right that it’s hard to imagine a more well-rounded package. We welcome any vehicle that might prove us wrong, but if this Honda represents the zenith of the compact crossover SUV, well, we could certainly live with that.
2017 Honda CR-V
VEHICLE TYPE:front-engine, front- or all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door hatchbackBASE PRICE:$24,945–$33,695ENGINES:DOHC 16-valve 2.4-liter inline-4, 184 hp, 180 lb-ft; turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve 1.5-liter inline-4, 190 hp, 179 lb-ftTRANSMISSION:continuously variable automaticCURB WEIGHT (C/D EST):3300–3500 lbFUEL ECONOMY:EPA combined/city/highway driving: 27–30/25–28/31–34 mpg
2017 10Best Trucks and SUVs: Return to Overview
As this year marks the inaugural 10Best Trucks and SUVs competition, we couldn't follow our usual 10Best procedure of limiting the invitees to the previous year's winners plus vehicles that are new or significantly updated. Therefore, we also invited some competitors based on our previous experiences, including (but not limited to) comparison-test results. As with 10Best Cars, a competing vehicle must have a base price of less than $80,000 and be on sale by January 31, 2017. Unlike 10Best Cars, our Trucks and SUVs awards are given out by category. Next year, we will invite the returning winners, new and/or significantly updated models, and the models that were unavailable for evaluation this year.
For the compact SUV segment we invited the following:
Toyota RAV4/RAV4 Hybrid