Edmonton Journal

Honda gets it right with CR-V update

2015 crossover more powerful, more efficient

- Lesley Wimbush Driving

I can’t remember the last time one of my test cars elicited such a reaction from this tough crowd. Old high school friends, they’ve known me for decades, and have seen what I’ve shown up in — from the sublime to the ridiculous. Most vehicles usually rate a cursory glance, more out of politeness than real interest.

But the 2015 Honda CR-V earned delighted squeals, a thorough going over, and entreaties to “please leave the keys when you go.”

Nice though the sexy convertibl­es, luxury sedans and sports trucks may be, for most of us, they’re a fantasy and not really what we’d seriously consider when it comes to putting hard earned cash on the table.

A vehicle such as this one becomes an integral part of the average family’s daily lives, and versatilit­y, reliabilit­y and keeping their families safe are more important than a fancy set of wheels.

For 2015, the CR-V returns with a reworked fascia, improved interior and a bump in power. It is Honda’s topselling vehicle in Canada after the Civic, and thus any refresh is a big deal.

With a new engine, refreshed exterior and improved cabin, the changes to this major vehicle in Honda’s portfolio are anything but minor. Honda got the blend of functional­ity and economy just right with the CR-V’s 1995 introducti­on, and so any changes are not undertaken lightly. It’s a vehicle that has resonated with buyers, with good reason.

It’s certainly not the most luxurious, nor is it the sportiest or best handling. But with its reputation for reliable longevity, fuel economy and high resale value, the CR-V is one of the best all-rounders in the segment.

My tester, a top-spec allwheel-drive Touring model, isn’t exactly what you’d call stylish, but it’s a fairly handsome beast in chocolate brown. Some sharpening of the features and a bit of chrome embellishm­ent give it a prettier face, while machined alloys on upper trims add a touch of dashing visual drama.

The CR-V’s cabin has always been a touch dreary, although it is one of the most well-planned interior spaces in the segment. It’s much improved thanks to upgrades that include more soft-touch materials replacing some of the hard plastics, a new sliding centre console with armrest, a soft-touch dash with simulated stitching and touch screen with HondaLink telematic interface.

The trick seat-stowing system remains the same, and it’s one of the greatest things about this interior. A simple tug of a loop prompts the rear seats to tuck and tumble into the floor, leaving a flat cargo space. Very simple, especially with an armload of packages.

The changes go more than skin deep. The CR-V’s chassis has undergone more than 60 different points of improvemen­t to increase stiffness and to improve its ability to withstand collision

The previous engine has been replaced by a new 2.4-litre, which has the same amount of horsepower as its predecesso­r, but a bump in torque to 181 pound-feet from 163 gives the CR-V quicker response from a standstill and when passing. It’s hooked up to a continuous­ly variable transmissi­on that has a lot to do with the CR-V’s fuel-sipping frugality. While CVTs are right up there with fried liver and doing taxes on my list of Things I Hate Most, Honda seems to have done a pretty good job of doing away with moaning, groaning and nebulous elasticity that are so often characteri­stic of these gearboxes.

I won’t go so far as to say it’s engaging (it’s not) but it does a perfectly adequate job of hustling the CR-V around to where it needs to go, while keeping the rpms in the optimum place for good fuel consumptio­n.

It does tend to get vocal when the CR-V is pushed hard, but for in-town cruising, this is one smooth powertrain. It’s also responsibl­e for a nice leap in efficiency. Fuel consumptio­n for front-wheel-drive models drops to 8.6 litres/100 km city, 6.9 highway; 9.1 and 7.2 for the all-wheel-drive model. The previous model was rated at 9.0/6.4 for FWD and 9.2/6.6 for AWD.

Others in the segment, such as the Volkswagen Tiguan and Mazda CX-5, are more engaging, and handle better. Some, such as the Nissan Rogue and Jeep Cherokee, have a little more off-road capability. But in this segment, those characteri­stics aren’t quite as important as the ability to knit seamlessly into the daily lives of the busy, average family.

Overview: Overall, one of the best compact CUVs on the market Pros: Practical, reliable, great fuel economy, easy to live with Cons: No turbocharg­ed or larger engine option. Value for money: Good What I would change: Paddle shifters would be a nice touch, more driver engagement and control in slippery conditions How I would spec it: For $30,223, the CR-V SE offers AWD, and still boasts a full list of technology and safety features

 ?? photos: Nick Tragianis/ Driving ?? With a new front fascia and machined alloys, the 2015 Honda CR-V is more handsome than stylish. It also gets more power thanks to its 185-hp, 2.4L four.
photos: Nick Tragianis/ Driving With a new front fascia and machined alloys, the 2015 Honda CR-V is more handsome than stylish. It also gets more power thanks to its 185-hp, 2.4L four.
 ??  ?? Honda’s 2015 CR-V is well planned and now features more luxury and soft-touch materials.
Honda’s 2015 CR-V is well planned and now features more luxury and soft-touch materials.

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