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2012 Honda CR-V EX-L Review & Test Drive

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Filed under Automotive, Featured, Honda, SUV, Test Drives


All new for 2012, the fourth-generation Honda CR-V embraces a sophisticated and bolder body style, offering more technological first for Honda and increasing fuel economy.  Long established as the ‘benchmark’ vehicle in its class in terms of quality, refinement and popularity, the 2012 CR-V is designed to continue to exceed customer expectations for entry-level CRVs.  Major enhancements improved car-like comfort, a smoother and quieter ride and more innovative features.  New for 2012 includes a more efficient engine design with improved horsepower, available Real time AWD with Intelligent Control System, new for 2012 standard features including an Easy Fold-Down 60/40 Split Rear Seat, Eco Assist, Expanded-View Driver’s Mirror and Motion-Adaptive Electric Power Steering (EPS), intelligent Multi-Information Display (iMID), Pandora internet radio interface, SMS text messaging function, and available DVD Rear Entertainment System that I had in my CR-V EX-L model.

The 2012 CR-V body features a more dynamic and sophisticated appearance while contributing to high fuel economy and amazing interior versatility.  Compared to the previous generation, the new model takes on a more aggressive stance with deeper sculpting of the body lines and a bolder front fascia highlighted by a horizontal three-bar grille and deeply set multi-reflector headlights and round foglamps down below.

The CR-V’s spacious interior layout becomes more accommodating with an improved center console and an overall lower cargo floor height.  The most significant new interior feature is the Easy Fold-Down 60/40 split rear seat that makes accessing the full capacity of the cargo area much more convenient than the traditional manual folding seats.  Each side of the rear seat can automatically fold nearly flat into the front of the cargo area using one of the levers located near the tailgate or a pull-strap positioned on the seat side.  I liked using the two levers more than pulling the strap.

Beyond its new versatile packaging, the CR-V demonstrates new attention to the in-vehicle experience, with sophisticated instrumentation and a standard full-color ‘intelligent’ Multi-Information Display that offers a range of customizable features via fingertip controls on the steering wheel.  Although the floor pan is the same height as in the previous model, the new CR-V has a slightly lower and more car-like seating position, while still retaining an elevated driver vantage point that customers value in this class.  A lower cargo floor improves ease of cargo loading and unloading.

The CR-V’s audio systems offer a new level of connectivity, including a standard Pandora internet radio interface that’s compatible with the iPhone.  There’s also a convenient SMS text messaging feature that, when paired with a compatible phone, can read incoming texts aloud through the audio system and allow you to respond with any of six factory preset text messages.  The Bluetooth HandFreeLink phone interface is standard on all models, and offers intuitive hands-free calling convenience.  And for the first time, the CR-V now offers an available DVD Rear Entertainment System mounted into the headliner with a pull-down screen, wireless headphone and remote control unit.

The all-new CR-V features a sophisticated and smooth powertrain that offers versatile performance for city and highway driving, improved fuel economy and available all-wheel drive for confidence-inspiring capability in low-traction conditions.  Improvements to the CR-V’s 2.4 liter, i-VTEC DOHC 4-cylinder engine for 2012 yield more power-now 185 hp, 5 horsepower more than last year’s model-along with enhanced torque delivery.  A 5-speed automatic transmission is standard.  The CR-V’s EPA estimated city/highway fuel economy rating is new 23/31 mpg for front-wheel drive models and 22/30 mpg with the available Real Time AWD with Intelligent Control System.  Taking a cue from the 2012 Civic, the new ECON operating mode and Eco Assist feature increases the potential for drivers to improve the vehicle’s fuel economy when the systems are activated and utilized.

For those drivers who desire the all-season confidence of all-wheel drive, the new Real Time AWD with Intelligence Control System introduces a high degree of all-wheel-drive sophistication in rain, snow, dirt roads and dry pavement.  The electronically controlled all-wheel-drive system replaces the previous-generation CR-V’s Real Time 4WD, a mechanically-activated ‘dual-pump’ system that required a small degree of wheel slip to activate.  Real Time AWD offers confident capability and user friendliness in a lightweight, fuel-efficient and technologically-sophisticated design.  Also new for 2012 is Hill Start Assist that helps prevent the CR-V from rolling backwards when you switch from the brake pedal to the accelerator pedal while the vehicle is stopped on a hill.  Hill Start Assist automatically activates when the vehicle senses a certain incline and is fully stopped in any forward or reverse gear.

The 2012 CR-V chassis is designed to maximize driving enjoyment, comfort and safety with its fully independent, sport-tuned, MacPherson strut suspension up front, and an independent rear multi-link setup.  Stabilizer bars measuring 20mm in front, and 19mm in the rear helps keep the body from leaning over during spirited driving on curving roads.

Following the 2012 Civic, the new CR-V is the second Honda to use Motion-Adaptive Electric Rack & Pinion Power Steering.  Standard in all models, this sophisticated new system works with the standard VSA and EPS to detect instability in slippery road conditions both during cornering and under braking and automatically initiates steering inputs that prompt the driver to steer in the correct direction.  This advanced new technology supports the driver’s action in operating the vehicle more safety and comfortably.  It felt very natural when steering around curves and gave me a great feel for the road surface.

Also adding safety and more confidence during me drive behind the wheel of the all-new CR-V is the standard heavy-duty, power-assisted, 4-wheel disc brakes; 11.8 in. vented discs up front clamped with dual-piston calipers and 12 in. solid discs in the rear vented with single-piston calipers in the rear.  Standard ABS, EBD, BA and ESC work together to help keep you in control of your direction when braking on slick or wet pavement.

Compared to the 2011 model, the body design is more aerodynamically efficient with a 1 in. lower roofline and numerous refinements.  Even with its sleeker appearance the top-of-the-line CR-V EX-L still offers a generous 38 in. of headroom, and increased passenger volume of 104.1 cu.ft.  The overall packaging approach creates the largest, most functional interior possible for a vehicle of this exterior size and proportion.  A revised doorsill design with an improved step-over angle allows for easier ingress and egress.

Large 17X6.5 5-spoke alloy wheels wrapped with 225/65R17 in. all-season radial tires and bold fender flares emphasize the vehicle’s dynamic presence and capability.  The CR-V’s signature brake lights, which have been a design fixture since 1997 continue with a new theme in 2012 with a more three-dimensional style that further compliments the design and aerodynamics of the new CR-V.

Significant reductions to the impact of noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) throughout the body and chassis improve interior quietness and ride quality.  To achieve this improvement, the 2012 CR-V has great body rigidity, better suspension isolation properties, additional noise insulation and more aerodynamic features including large underbody covers and a rear spoiler.

New on the 2012 CR-V is a driver-side Expanded-View Driver’s Mirror.  The mirror uses a flat reflective plane on the inner portion of the mirror closest to the door, as required by law, while the outer portion uses a convex element to provide a broader field of view.  This adds an additional 5.5-degress of visibility at the outer edge of the mirror’s field of view, which can assist you in detecting other vehicles or road conditions that you might not otherwise see in your side of the mirror.

The interior of the all-new 2012 CR-V aims to redefine what’s possible in the entry-level SUV class with a sedan-like driving position, reduced noise levels, new comfort features, convenient integration with personal technology, versatile cargo storage and high-quality materials.  New technologies include a Pandora internet radio interface, an SMS text reading and response function (with compatible cellphones), through the new intelligent Multi-Information Display, FM Traffic on models equipped with the Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System, and an available DVD Rear Entertainment System (that my model came with).  All models come standard with a new One-Motion 60/40 split rear seat with pull-down armrest and dual cupholders, a large volume center console, an Eco Assist System and a quieter and more refine cabin.

Sophisticated instrumentation includes an average fuel economy indicator, instant fuel economy, miles to empty indicators, an engine oil life indicator and an external temperature indicator.  The gauges include a large centered speedometer with a tachometer to the left and, engine coolant temperature and fuel gauge down below it.  Additionally, a standard full-color ‘intelligent’ multi-information display offers a range of customizable features via fingertip controls on the leather-wrapped/tilt/telescoping steering wheel.

Standard safety features in the all-new CR-V include driver/front passenger airbags, driver/front passenger side airbags, side curtain airbags with rollover sensor, 3-point safety belts for five with front pretensioners/load limiters, side-impact door beams, front/rear crumple zones, tire pressure monitor, and LATCH system for child seats.

Standard features in my CR-V EX-L model not mentioned above include leather-trimmed seats with 8-way powered driver-seat and lumbar control, leather-wrapped shift knob, DVD Rear Entertainment system with 7 in. display, high-power AM-FM-CD audio system with 7-speakers and a subwoofer, Bluetooth audio/hands-free phone, USB audio interface, XM satellite radio, dual-zone climate controls with air-filter, heated front seats, retractable cargo cover, power windows/door locks, grab handles above each door, dual map lights, second row lights and cargo lights, lighted dual vanity mirrors, 12-volt power plug, cruise control, variable-intermittent wipers/washers and rear wiper/washer, floor mats, sunglass holder, pull-out door handles, metallic trim and quality faux wood trim on the dashboard, and rear cargo floor mat.

For Honda CR-V enthusiasts the all-new model is more powerful, more aerodynamic, more refined and more up-to-date with the latest in technological features to bring it up to date as we head into the second decade of the 21st. century.  It is a winner all-around for its driving fun and versatility.



  • Price: $27,745.00 CR-V EX-L FWD
  • Engine: 2.4-liter DOHC 4-cylinder 185 horsepower @ 4400 rpm / 163 ft-lbs. torque @ 4400 rpm
  • Wheelbase: 103.1 in.
  • Total length: 178.3 in.
  • Total width: 71.6 in.
  • Total height: 64.7 in.
  • Ground clearance: 6.3 in.
  • Headroom: f/r-38/38.6 in.
  • Legroom: f/r-41.3/38.3 in.
  • Cargo volume: rear seat up-37.2/rear seat down-70.9 in.
  • Curb weight: 3,424 lbs.
  • Towing: 1,500 lbs.
  • 0-60 mph: 9.4 seconds
  • EPA mileage: 23mpg/city, 31mpg/highway


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