The 2012 Honda CR-V styling will have to abandon the impassive look of the third-generation CR-V and become more expressive if Honda wants it to look fashionable next to flamboyant newcomers like the recently redesigned 2011 Hyundai Tucson and 2011 Kia Sportage and the all-new 2012 Ford Escape. The vast majority of CR-Vs sold in the U.S. are assembled at Honda’s plant in Ohio, but this crossover is marketed in some 160 countries and the fourth-generation’s styling is likely to take inspiration from the animated shapes of Hondas sold in Europe and Asia. Honda would be wise to not sacrifice interior roominess in the name of swoopy styling, however...
2012 Honda CR-V Reviews, Redesign And Release Date The 2012 Honda CR-V is the best crossover for you if you want the all-new version of a benchmark compact SUV.The 2012 Honda CR-V will be fully redesigned for the first time since model-year 2007. Honda’s guarding details about the 2012 CR-V until nearer its release, but expect more adventurous styling, additional features, and improved fuel economy. The 2012 model probably will be a little larger than the 2007-2011 CR-V but remain a five-seat, four-door wagon based on the same under-skin structure as the redesigned 2012 Honda Civic compact car. Should you wait for the 2012 Honda CR-V or buy a 2011 Honda CR-V? Wait for the 2012 CR-V. Honda’s motivated to recapture the compact-crossover sales leadership that slipped away from it as the third-generation CR-V aged. So the 2012 CR-V should benefit in a host of ways from an energized design team. Buy a 2011 CR-V if you want to take advantage of close-out sales on a compact SUV that still appeals for roominess, reliability, and road manners. 2012 Honda CR-V Changes Styling: The 2012 Honda CR-V styling will have to abandon the impassive look of the third-generation CR-V and become more expressive if Honda wants it to look fashionable next to flamboyant newcomers like the recently redesigned 2011 Hyundai Tucson and 2011 Kia Sportage and the all-new 2012 Ford Escape. The vast majority of CR-Vs sold in the U.S. are assembled at Honda’s plant in Ohio, but this crossover is marketed in some 160 countries and the fourth-generation’s styling is likely to take inspiration from the animated shapes of Hondas sold in Europe and Asia. Honda would be wise to not sacrifice interior roominess in the name of swoopy styling, however. It should not abandon the packaging acumen it demonstrated with the 2007-2011 CR-V, which had mid-pack exterior dimensions but an airy cabin and a cargo hold that were among the most spacious in the class. By sharing Civic’s platform, the 2012 CR-V will continue to qualify as a crossover. Crossovers combine an elevated, SUV-like body with a car-type understructure. This one-piece “unibody” construction is in contrast to pickups and older-style SUVs that employ truck-type engineering in which the body is attached to a separate frame. Unibody design isn’t as suited to heavy-duty hauling, but its lighter weight benefits ride, handling, and fuel economy. Note that the Acura RDX compact crossover from Honda’s premium division also shares CR-V’s basic unibody structure, though it has different styling and a more powerful engine. Mechanical: The 2012 Honda CR-V will continue its basic formula of a four-cylinder engine working through front- or all-wheel drive. Sources suggest Honda will essentially carry over the third-generation CR-V’s engine for the first few years of the new design, then transition to a new powertrain as part of a mid-cycle update, probably around model-year 2015. That would mean the 2012 CR-V would reprise a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that would again be rated around 180 horsepower and 161 pound-feet of torque. (Think of torque as the force that gets you moving, horsepower as the energy that sustains momentum.) That would allow the 2012 CR-V to retain a competitive horsepower number but would keep it behind the class curve for torque. The 2012 CR-V would also remain off the pace if Honda chooses to continue fitting a five-speed automatic as the sole transmission. Top new rivals use more efficient six-speed automatics. CR-V’s default drivetrain layout will Page 1 2012 Honda CR-V Reviews, Redesign And Release Date again be front-wheel drive, which puts the weight of the engine over the wheels that propel the car. That benefits wet-pavement traction. AWD will continue available at extra cost as a grip-enhancer on snow or loose surfaces. It’ll again be a crossover-typical system that normally operates in front-wheel drive and automatically reapportions power to the rear wheels when the fronts begin to slip. CR-V’s design brief will never include severe off-road duty, but Honda would enhance the next-generation’s backwoods mobility by fitting it with a driver-selected switch to lock AWD into a 50:50 front-rear split at low speeds. Many rivals offer such a feature. While the 2007-2011 CR-V wasn’t known for responsive acceleration, it was a compact-crossover benchmark for sharp handling and composed ride. That leadership is likely to continue, given Honda’s suspension-design expertise, though some reduction in wind and road noise is necessary to keep the fourth-generation CR-V in line with more refined new rivals. Features: The 2012 Honda CR-V also could benefit from a new philosophy toward features. Not that it’ll lack the most popular basics: such amenities as a navigation system, Bluetooth hands-free cell-phone connectivity, USB iPod interface, leather upholstery, automatic dual-zone climate control, power moonroof, heated front seats, and a backup camera will return. But Honda needs to reassess a policy that reserves many of these features for the most expensive models in the CR-V lineup. The competition’s egalitarian approach is a selling point, and the trend is to make features such as USB linking standard and a navigation system optional on even entry-level models. Honda ought also to consider filtering into the CR-V such gee-whiz technology as lane-departure-warning, adaptive cruise control, even automatic parallel-parking. These have been the province of premium brands, but a few mid-priced crossovers are beginning to offer them, and more will follow as buyers reorient to smaller cars and SUVs but refuse to lower expectations about available features. To Honda’s credit, it’s never skimped on CR-V safety, and the 2012 model will continue standard with such vitals as an antiskid system to combat sideways slides. Hopefully, Honda won’t backslide on the 2012 CR-V’s cabin design and décor, either. This SUV’s always been a benchmark for high-quality interior materials, seat comfort, and ergonomics. 2012 Honda CR-V Prices Prices for the 2012 Honda CR-V won’t be announced until shortly before the model goes on sale. But the CR-V traditionally has been priced at the upper end of its category, a competitive set that includes the likes of the Ford Escape and Toyota RAV-4 but is a tier below premium compact crossovers such as the Audi Q5 and Mercedes-Benz GLK. Behind the CR-V’s pricing structure is Honda’s policy of eschewing individual options in favor of an escalating terrace of models with a regimented set of standard features. That policy simplifies ordering and improves assembly quality. But it sometimes compels buyers to shell out for a more expensive model just to acquire one or two desired features. It’s also inflated CR-V base prices versus the competition, though in fairness, once most rivals were optioned up to compare directly with a CR-V counterpart, the price difference was very modest. Expect the 2012 Honda CR-V model lineup to reflect past CR-V rosters. That means three basic levels of trim: LX, EX, and EX-L. Honda Page 2 2012 Honda CR-V Reviews, Redesign And Release Date occasionally has extended the line to four models, but usually to sustain interest near the end of a generation’s lifecycle when it adds, say, an SE (Special Edition) version. Given CR-V’s pricing history, expect the 2012 CR-V LX to start around $23,000 with front-wheel drive and around $24,200 with AWD. (Price estimates in this review include the manufacturer’s destination fee; Honda’s fee for the CR-V was running around $710). The 2012 Honda CR-V LX standard equipment list should include power windows, locks, and mirrors, a tilt/telescope steering wheel, cruise control, height-adjustable driver’s seat, 40/20/40 split folding rear seatbacks, and remote keyless entry. Figure the 2012 Honda CR-V EX to be priced around $25,200 with front-drive and $26,400 with AWD. Expect the 2012 EX to again include all the LX equipment, plus a power sunroof, alloy wheels, and steering wheel audio controls, among other features. Estimated price for the 2012 Honda CR-V EX-L is $28,000 with front drive and $29,200 with AWD. The 2012 EX-L should again build on EX-level equipment by adding, among other features, leather upholstery, power driver’s seat, automatic climate control, and heated front seats and outside mirrors. If Honda again confines the navigation system to the EX-L, it would mean the return of a top-line CR-V “EX-L with navigation” model priced around $30,100 with front-drive and around $31,300 with AWD. 2012 Honda CR-V Fuel Economy EPA fuel-economy ratings for 2012 models had not been released in time for this review, but Honda will strive to improve upon already laudable ratings for the next-generation CR-V. To again be among the best-in-class, the 2012 Honda CR-V would need ratings of around 23/31 mpg city/highway. Whether they reach or exceed those numbers, expect the 2012 Honda CR-V fuel-economy ratings to top those of the outgoing model, which was rated at 21/28 mpg city/highway with front-wheel drive, 21/27 with AWD. 2012 Honda CR-V Release Date The 2012 Honda CR-V should be in showrooms by autumn 2011. What's next for the 2012 Honda CR-V Honda would do well to heed critics – some within its own ranks – who say its cars and crossovers need to recapture the spirit of innovation and style that fueled the company’s original success in the U.S. We don’t hold that Honda lost those values over the past decade or so, but we do agree that its products ought to be more visually appealing. And there’s little doubt it needs to loosen up about features accessibility; a USB interface and across-the-board availability of a navigation system, for example, are the new price of admission in every category in which Honda competes – including compact crossover SUVs. We can expect the next-generation CR-V to maintain the outgoing model’s pleasing handling, efficient packaging, and impressive ride control. If Honda does carry over the third-generation powertrain, it must find a way to boost torque, improve transmission behavior, and increase fuel Page 3 2012 Honda CR-V Reviews, Redesign And Release Date economy. It’ll be difficult to redesign a CR-V that’s both larger and lighter, but that’s the formula for higher mileage – along with slicker aerodynamics, a greater range of transmission gearing, and lower rolling-resistance tires. One way to give the CR-V more muscle without lowering mileage ratings is with diesel power. Honda offers the CR-V overseas with a turbocharged four-cylinder diesel, which furnishes substantially more torque than the 2.4-liter gas engine and promises 40-mpg on the highway. Some reports had a diesel slated for the 2010 Honda CR-V, but the slumping economy and relatively high diesel-fuel prices tabled that plan. Honda could revive the diesel for the fourth-generation CR-V – likely as part of the mid-cycle freshening. A turbocharged gas four-cylinder or a gas-electric hybrid are also future CR-V possibilities. A V-6 engine is not part of the CRV’s personality or in line with Honda philosophy. 2012 Honda CR-V Competition back to top Nissan Rogue: Like CR-V, this five-seat compact crossover has just one powertrain, but its teaming of a torquey four-cylinder with a continuously variable transmission makes for lively acceleration bolstered by sharp handling. Rogue isn’t as roomy as the CR-V, or as nicely finished inside. But pricing is competitive and a 2011 mid-cycle update to styling and features positioned it for an expected model-year 2014 redesign. Ford Escape: This is the SUV that dethroned the CR-V as America’s best-selling compact crossover and it did it with a creaky, decade-old design (OK, styling, pricing, and features were competitive). The 2012 Ford Escape, however, is a crossover of a different color. It’ll be an aggressively shaped compact SUV that draws from Ford’s global engineering talent. It promises levels of performance, refinement, and tech innovation that should give fits to any rival, including the 2012 CR-V. Toyota RAV-4: Still one model year away from a full redesign, the 2012 RAV-4 should nonetheless be on any compact-crossover shopping list. It boasts fine performance from a four-cylinder engine and is among the few in this class to also offer a V-6 (can you say hot rod?) and seven-passenger seating (can you say cramped third row?). Styling that mimics that of a traditional SUV will look a bit old-school next to newer, curvier competitors such as the Escape and Hyundai Tucson. But the lame-duck 2012 RAV-4 will give up nothing to any rival for solid comfort and rewarding road manners. Page 4
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