By Barbara & Bill Schaffer
This is the ?good old days? of the compact sport utility market. Never before have shoppers had such an amazing selection of outstanding smaller SUVs to choose from. Choosing a good one is almost as easy as throwing a dart at a target with a three-foot bullseye from six feet away?it?s hard to miss. The big differential is whether you want a luxury compact SUV, which means prices from about $35,000 to $70,000 or one that?s referred to as an ?affordable compact SUV?, which means prices from about $20,000 to $35,000.
In that affordable range, it?s hard to go wrong with the 2016 Honda CR-V. Certainly Honda?s reputation for building good, high quality and affordable vehicles could weigh heavily on such a decision. Besides, who can argue with the fact that the owners have voted it number one in sales making the Honda CR-V the best-selling SUV in the U.S. for the last decade and also the best-selling entry-SUV of all time.
The basic shape of the 2016 Honda CR-V remains unchanged with the Honda family grille, sculpted sides, swept-back roof line and the tall taillight rear. The attractive body styling is further enhanced by a protective black band around the lower section of the body.
Inside, the dash has a faux stitched treatment along with a sculpted look on some other surfaces. The perforated leather seats give the interior a more tailored appearance, too. The center console, which has a sliding arm rest and a compartmentalized storage area, that can be configured for personal needs and it?s large enough to slip in an original size Apple iPad.
The drivetrain is Honda?s efficient Earth Dream Technology? and includes the 185-hp 2.4-liter four-cylinder direct-injection engine and Honda?s i-VTEC variable valve timing system. The only available transmission is a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) — it works well and helps boost fuel economy, but lacks the ability to shift manually for better engine control. The pair produces a 7.5 second 0 to 60 mph acceleration time and a 117 mph top speed, according to buff magazine tests.
The Honda Real Time AWD (All-Wheel Drive) with Intelligent Control improves traction in the rain, snow, dirt roads and dry pavement. The system operates invisibly sending power instantly to the rear wheels when it senses loss of traction in either front wheel. When the extra traction is not needed the power goes to the front wheels to help maintain the better fuel economy. The EPA rates the latest all-wheel drive version at 25 mpg city, 31 mpg highway and 27 mpg combined. We actually averaged 27.7 mpg according to the CR-V trip computer.
Standard equipment on the 2016 Honda CR-V Touring model, which we drove, includes the Honda Sensing? safety system which adds a suite of the latest safety technologies. Honda Sensing integrates Lane Keeping Assist System and a Collision Mitigation Braking System? that will warn the driver of the impending collision with a pedestrian at speeds up to 40 mph. If a collision is unavoidable the system will brake to help avoid or lessen damage. The system also includes the first CR-V adaption of Adaptive Cruise Control. Honda has a unique blind spot system that activates a rear-facing camera near the passenger side mirror and display the passenger-side blind spot area in real time on the center stack screen. We like the system, but prefer the tradition warning light systems which indicate a vehicle is in the blind spot on the face of both side view mirrors.
Honda?s Advanced Compatibility Engineering? frontbody structure in the CR-V helps absorb frontal crashes. Plus, the latest generation has more than 60 structural changes to stiffen the body structure and collision performance which also improves handling and ride quality.
Five trim levels make up the 2016 Honda CR-V lineup including the LX, SE, EX, EX-L and Touring models. With its standard navigation, Honda Sensing, power tailgate, HomeLink Remote System? and leather seating, the new Touring version has one of the best standard equipment rosters in the category.
Honda has switched the navigation/audio system to a new seven-inch capacitive touch screen display for all models except the LX trim. It works like a smart phone or tablet ? for example, you can make adjustments by swiping a finger across the screen to move the image, or pinching the screen with two fingers to reduce the map size. The same screen is used for the backup system and allows the driver to select different views ? wide, normal and down. While we like most of the functions of the screen we think it needs volume and tuning knobs which are much easier to control than using touch screen adjustments.
The 2016 CR-V pricing starts at $24,645, including the destination charge, for the front-wheel drive LX and goes up to $34,295 for the new Touring trim level with all-wheel drive. AWD is only $1,300 extra on any model. We like the way Honda does its pricing; you buy the trim level that suits your needs and budget ? you don?t buy a level and then have to add a bunch of options.
The 2016 Honda CR-V is easily one of the best compact sport utilities on the market. It has all the good driving qualities, the safety equipment, comfort and durability we?ve come to expect from Honda.