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Asian Car BrandsSUV Review: 2020 Honda CR-V - Driving.ca

SUV Review: 2020 Honda CR-V – Driving.ca

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Honda’s long-lived CR-V gets a minor makeover

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There’s something to be said for longevity. It was 23 years ago that the Honda CR-V arrived in Canada, and it’s still one of the country’s top-selling sports cars. It gets a minor makeover for 2020, including a new grille, headlamps, and front and rear bumpers, along with a new multi-level center console.

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That said, Canadians don’t get the hybrid version that just went on sale in the US – a somewhat surprising decision, given that Toyota’s RAV4 comes in both hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions.

You can get the CR-V in front-wheel drive, but only in the base LX trim for $ 28,905. Everything else is all-wheel-drive, a far more popular choice with Canadians, starting with the LX AWD at $ 31,705. It progresses through the Sport, EX-L, and my Touring tester, at $ 41,305. The final step up is the Black Edition, which adds some trim items for $ 42,805 (and I get a smile out of that final five bucks on each of them).

All CR-Vs use a turbocharged 1.5L four-cylinder making 190 horsepower and 179 lb-ft of torque. It includes automatic start / stop, which shuts off the engine at idle to reduce emissions, but it can be temporarily disabled with a button if you prefer. The engine’s mated to a CVT that’s really well-done and feels very much like a conventional automatic. I also like that it’s shifted with a conventional lever, as Honda has been outfittingtoo many of its vehicles recentlywith a ghastly set of push-pull buttons for selecting the gears.

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This little engine feels solid, with smooth and strong cruising performance. That said, it doesn’t feel quick, and if you put your foot down hard, there’s a blink of a dead spot before engine and transmission figure out their strategy and then get everything moving. Still, that’s not really a mark against it, because the CR-V is primarily a people-mover, not a sporty machine. And the up side is a very respectable 8.1 L / 100 kilometers in official testing, and in my week with it, I came in at an equally respectable 8.4. Towing capacity is 1,500 pounds.

It’s a decent vehicle to drive, too, with well-weighted steering, good response, a planted feel around corners, a tight turning circle, and a quiet, comfortable ride. I took it on a five-hour round trip and was impressed with its performance.

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The seats stayed very comfortable during that journey – on the EX-L and Touring, they’re clad in perforated leather, and both the front and rear seats are heated. But while the rest of the cabin is very spacious, including an impressive amount of legroom for the rear-seat passengers, both my passenger and I found the front footwells were narrow. Be sure on your test drive to see if you can adequately move your feet around.

The cargo compartment is very generous, and the rear seats fold flat to accommodate larger items. There’s also a lot of small-item space up front with the new sliding console. Rather than a box completely covered with a lid, as most console cubbies are, this one has a half-lid that doubles as an armrest with an open compartment in front of it. That’s topped by a panel that slides back so you can drop items into the open bin, or forward which closes off the bin so your stuff is hidden. It’s a very clever way to manage the space.

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Honda’s infotainment system isn’t the industry’s gold standard, but it’s much better than many. I’d prefer hard buttons to bring up the menus, rather than the twiddly small icons to the left of the display, but actions are fairly intuitive once you’re into each area, and there’s a dial for volume. That said, I had warm weather this time out; I recall driving one in the cold when the screen took a maddeningly long time to respond to my touch. All trim levels include that seven-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and the Touring includes navigation, satellite radio, and a premium sound system.

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All CR-Vs also include several higher-tech safety assists, including adaptive cruise control, emergency front braking, and lane-keeping assist. Honda pioneered LaneWatch, its version of blind-spot monitoring, which shows a video display in the center screen of what’s alongside the passenger side whenever you activate the right-hand turn signal.

LaneWatch has its pros and cons – you’re more likely to get a cyclist or pedestrian coming up on that side when you’re turning right – but it doesn’t work on the left-hand side; Hyundai’s Blind View Monitor is similar, but displays images from both sides in the instrument cluster. I suspect Honda may share my pro-and-con opinion, because while LaneWatch is standard on the mid-range Sport and EX-L trims, my Touring came with a conventional blind-spot monitoring system, with warning lights in the mirrors and with cross-traffic alert. Also included on the Touring are a hands-free liftgate, LED headlights and fog lights, rain-sensing wipers, wireless charging, and a panoramic sunroof.

A couple of minor points aside, the CR-V is nicely sized, a decent driver, has a wonderfully high-quality interior, and there’s lots of space for your stuff. It has a lot of very strong competition, but it’s up there with them and has definitely and honestly earned its longevity.


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