What do you do with the best-selling SUV on the market? If you’re Honda and the vehicle is the CR-V you might be tempted to rest on your laurels and count your money, but for 2015 the CR-V gets a fresh face, better fuel economy and, best of all, a new suite of safety equipment on the top-of-the-line Touring model.
Advanced driver-assistance technology, using a windshield-mounted camera and radar, includes forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist and collision mitigation braking. It also features Honda’s Lane Watch, where a small camera built into the right side rearview mirror displays a video image on the LCD in the center of the dash when the right turn signal is activated. Lane keeping assist helps keep the car centered between lane lines at highway speeds when activated by a button on the steering wheel. The collision mitigation system is able to identify and anticipate collisions, even with pedestrians, and in some cases, activate emergency braking.
Prices range from $23,320 for a front-wheel-drive LX to $32,770 for an all-wheel-drive Touring with leather and navigation.
This year, Honda made more than 60 changes to the CR-V body to increase safety as well as reduce noise, vibration and harshness through better sound insulation and door sealing. The cabin is a little bit quieter than last year. Body structure changes helped improve crash test ratings to a Top Safety Pick from both the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and a Good from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.
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The 2.4-liter, 185-horsepower engine has been tuned to deliver 181 pound-feet of torque, an improvement of 11 percent. Combined with the new continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), this engine feels livelier than last year’s. Honda’s manipulation of the CVT is better than most. Low-speed acceleration is strong, and the transmission changes gear ratios in a way that feels more like a normal automatic. My one beef with the CVT was the way it would let the engine cruise at a measly 1,200 rpm under light loads resulting in a slight shudder now and then. Fuel economy, now rated at 26 miles per gallon in the city and 33 on the highway, is better than last year. I averaged 20.4 mpg in city driving during very cold weather.
The Touring model’s instrument panel has softer, more expensive textures that give the cabin a much nicer look and feel. The speedometer has illuminated arcs on either side of the speedometer that switch from green to blue depending on how the car is being driven. The changing colors deliver visual feedback to the driver, with green being more economical than blue.
The cockpit feels spacious, in part because of the deep dash and sloping windshield. The steering wheel has audio controls on the left side and cruise controls on the right. Front seats have great lumbar and lateral support.
The electronically activated all-wheel-drive system sends power to the rear wheels when starting from a stop and works in concert with the vehicle stability system.
The changes have addressed many of the previous model’s shortcomings. Consequently, the new CR-V has been chosen Motor Trend magazine’s Sport/Utility of the Year.
The test vehicle was an all-wheel-drive Touring model. The base price was $32,770 and the sticker price was $33,600.
Three years or 36,000 miles, with a five-year, 60,000-mile powertrain warranty.
Tom Strongman’s e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org
2015 Honda CR-V AWD Touring
Engine: 2.4-liter, 185-horsepower four-cylinder
Transmission: CVT automatic, all-wheel drive
Wheelbase: 103.1 inches
Curb weight: 3,624 pounds
Base price: $32,770
As driven: $33,600
MPG rating: 26 in the city, 33 on the highway