Have you ever met someone’s newborn for the first time and found yourself fumbling for a way to describe it, only to eventually settle with, “They broke the mold after they made this one.” Now, verbally descriptive tap dances like this one are sometimes necessary at the launches of new cars, especially with SUVs which so often can only be described as “utilitarian” at best (and "homely" at worst). Too bad you can’t describe a baby as “utilitarian” and get away with it.
Thankfully, this was not the case when Honda pulled the covers off the production-ready 2012 Honda CR-V. Just by looking at the CR-V’s elegant and athletic exterior lines, it’s easy to imagine Home Depot and mall parking lots overrun with these top selling SUVs over the next couple of years. Honda should have no trouble selling the 200,000 plus units it intends to market annually, most of which will be assembled here in the U.S. at their East Liberty, Ohio plant.
Additional assurance of the CR-V's success is a price point anticipated to start at $21,000 and max out at $30,000. No, there won't be any V-6 versions or turbo models at initial launch, but to be quite frank the CR-V has never needed such frippery and really doesn’t now. This SUV is meant to be a reliable, comfortable, fun to drive, and spacious family carry-all. Nothing has changed for 2012, except now it’s brought some sexy into the mix. The new 2012 Honda CR-V hits dealers starting December 15th, 2011.
The 2012 Honda CR-V is powered by an updated 2.4 liter 185 horsepower/163 lb. feet of torque 4-cylinder mated to a 5-speed automatic with new low friction technology that, in addition to reducing running resistance in AWD models, results in a best-in-class fuel economy rating of 22 city/30 highway. Front wheel drive CR-V models return 23 mpg city/31 mpg highway, which is about average for the segment.
Out on the road, the 2.4 liter 4-cylinder offered plenty of get-up and go during our drive route in and around San Diego. Highway speeds and passing power were dispatched with ease and an amazing amount of drivetrain refinement that you don’t typically find in competitors. The Honda’s 4-cylinder is also much more eager to rev and offers an overall sportier sound than most 4-cylinder compact SUVs.
Interior wind and road noise levels are noticably more muted than in the last generation model, which wasn't exactly "noisy" to begin with. Given the luxurious leather trim inside our top of the line EX-L Navigation model with the excellent i-Mid system screen placed at the top of the dash at eye level (controlling audio/Bluetooth and various other driver information functions), the overall feel is one of a premium refinement. The i-Mid system also serves double-duty as a screen for the back-up camera that comes standard with all models.
Cargo hauling ability is also improved in the 2012 Honda CR-V with the interior pièce de résistance: fold-flat second row seats which compress in one fluid motion with one pull of a lever in the cargo compartment. The acrobatic motion of the entire system is no less than truly symphonic. With the rear seats folded flat there is as much as 61.6 cubic feet of cargo room available. Perfect for the shop-a-holic hoarder in your family.
Given the number of compact SUVs that we drive around here, we can pretty safely say that the 2012 Honda CR-V easily maintains its reign as the one to beat. It is attractive and stylish in a way that no other small SUV currently achieves, offers class leading fuel economy and interior space efficiency, and is (most importantly) incredibly fun to drive.
Honestly, it’s hard to come up with any negative things to say about the new 2012 Honda CR-V because the company clearly thought this one through - very thoroughly. What we can say is that other compact SUV contenders better look out - the CR-V is back and it’s better than ever. This is one baby won't struggle to fawn over.
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