As many a one-hit wonder has discovered, getting to the top of the charts is a cakewalk in comparison to how difficult it is to stay there. The key is to keep innovating without alienating loyal fans, and this applies to automakers as much as any pop-culture creator. Miscalculate when redesigning a satisfying vehicle and, well, remember the uninspired 2012 Honda Civic? Honda wasn’t about to risk alienating buyers of its top-selling CR-V crossover. With almost four million units sold since its 1997 introduction, it’s little surprise to find that the 2017 Honda CR-V, although entirely new, comes across as more of a thorough remix than an entirely new composition.
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This fifth-generation CR-V, again built on a platform shared with the Civic, is slightly larger in every key dimension. The wheelbase is up to 104.7 inches from the previous model’s 103.1-inch measurement, overall length is up 1.2 inches to 180.6, width increases by 1.4 inches to 73.0, and height raises by 1.4 inches to 66.5. (Front-wheel-drive CR-Vs are 66.1 inches tall.) The rear spoiler and LED daytime running lights are now standard kit, while the choice of rolling stock is 17- or 18-inch aluminum wheels, skipping the steel 16-inchers that used to serve on base models. The AWD Touring example tested here wore the 18-inch wheels shod with 235/60 Hankook Kinergy GT all-season rubber.
While the interior is familiar in terms of layout and ergonomics, the level of detail and quality of materials have been ratcheted up. Seats in the top-level Touring version are upholstered in leather that fits, feels, and looks better than most entries in this price class, and reserved faux-wood accents mingle nicely with a small amount of chromed plastic and brushed-satin finishes for a contemporary vibe. Kudos to Honda for restraint here—some other makes have succumbed to the urge to apply as many finishes as possible and ended up with The Brady Bunch living-room look, circa 1973. Cargo room behind the rear seat is now 39 cubic feet, 2 more than in the previous generation. Folding the rear seats flat makes for 76 cubes of space and can be done via handy levers set into the cargo-area walls; even better, the adjustable load floor can be configured to provide a flat floor and storage beneath. Up front, the center console benefits from improved cupholders and more storage.
In addition to all this interior goodness, we particularly appreciate the reintroduction of a rotary volume knob to the center stack as part of the 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system. Honda’s infotainment touchscreens require patience, and we’re pleased that operating one of the most essential functions has been “dumbed down” for the greater good. Equally encouraging is the effort to reduce interior noise levels; we measured 69 decibels at a steady 70-mph cruise, a 2-decibel decrease in ambient interior noise levels over a previously tested 2015 CR-V Touring AWD. Complete review on www.caranddriver.com, by Michael Simari