2010 Honda CR-V EX-L 4WD Navi review: the minivan of compact SUVs

2010 Honda CR-V EX-L 4WD Navi

2010 Honda CR-V EX-L 4WD Navi

Think of the 2010 Honda CR-V as the minivan of compact SUVs. Not in terms of sliding doors or interior volume because the CR-V doesn’t have the first and the second is good for its class but well short of a minivan’s.

Rather it is the Honda CR-V’s personality that we find minivan-like. While some compact SUVs, such as the Hyundai Tucson, have gone sporty, or others, such as the Suzuki Grand Vitara, maintain true off-road capabilities, the 2010 Honda CR-V seems happily domesticated, pleased to be modestly togged and be one low-range transfer case short of junior lumberjack.

2010 Honda CR-V EX-L 4WD Navi dash

The 2010 Honda CR-V EX-L 4WD Navi has a relatively conventional dash, though with a high-mounted shifter. (click to enlarge)

The 2010 Honda CR-V did receive modest updates this year, mostly a new front fascia and reshaped hood up front and a new bumper contour in the back. Under the new hood comes a welcome 14 additional horsepower, bringing the total to 180, while also increasing fuel mileage by one mpg for both highway and city on front-wheel and all-wheel drive models.

The 2010 Honda CR-V also benefits from a variety of interior upgrades, from rubberized door grip handles to folding arm front rests that are an inch wider than before, items that only an owner of an earlier CR-V would notice but make the vehicle better. Audiophiles will appreciate the new USB port–handily located within the upper “glove box”–that allows using vehicle controls to access music from “compatible devices.” (Stone Age types who still listen to CDs will find an even more old fashioned cartridge-type CD changer in the central armrest).

2010 Honda CR-V EX-L 4WD Navi back seat

The 2010 Honda CR-V EX-L 4WD Navi back seat is undistinguished but good for the kids. (click to enlarge)

Otherwise the Honda CR-V continues to be its pleasant utilitarian self. Despite the CR-V’s relatively short overall length, Honda boasts that the CR-V has sufficient interior volume to qualify as a full-size sedan. Its high H-point (height of the occupants seats) means lots of leg room in the rear as well as the front.

The shifter, located on the CR-V’s center stack, frees up visual and real space normally consumed by a center console. The fore-and-aft shifter pattern for the five-speed automatic (manual gearbox not available) reads P-R-N-2-1, with D-3 on a button on the side of the handgrip. It’s hardly sporting, but then there’s that whole minivan personality thing.

Big space is indeed a big consideration for anyone who buys a vehicle of this type, and the cargo volume of the CR-V delivers. And Honda being Honda, the Honda CR-V has a couple of nifty features. One is a horizontal shelf that can either be used as that–with a max capacity of 20 lbs.,– or placed at a higher level to serve as a cargo cover.

2010 Honda CR-V EX-L 4WD Nav

2010 Honda CR-V EX-L 4WD Nav (click to enlarge)

The second row seats fold and tip forward up against the front seats. It consumes front-to-rear depth but it leaves a completely flat load floor. Constant readers will know that seatbacks that fold forward only to leave a front half of the load floor tilted upwards are a major complaint around these here parts.

Speaking of folding, acceleration from the 2.4-liter four won’t fold your ears back but the Honda CR-V won’t make uphill high-speed merges too awfully terror-inducing. Climbing hills and even Interstate upgrades will have the five-speed automatic calling a lower gear into service as the engine’s power peak isn’t until 6800 rpm with a 4400 rpm torque peak.

The Honda CR-V’s ride is best describe as firm but there’s no payback in handling. Understeer is strong and although the CR-V doesn’t lean in corners, it doesn’t particularly want to go around them either. Swing wider or slow down, them’s the choices.

2010 Honda CR-V EX-L 4WD Nav

2010 Honda CR-V EX-L 4WD Navi (click to enlarge)

Our observed fuel economy, at 19.9 mpg, fell short of the EPA estimate for an all-wheel drive 2011 Honda CR-V of 21/27/23 mpg city/highway/combined. Our testing condtions however were sub-freezing and hilly, both we’ve found to decrease general fuel mileage. Prices for the 2010 Honda CR-z range from $21,545 for the 2010 front-drive CR-V LX to $29,745 for the 2010 CR-V EX-L 4WD Navi, as we tested.

In the snow, which we were fortunate to have while testing the all-wheel drive Honda CR-V, the front wheels can be felt to slip momentarily before the rear wheels join in. The CR-V is nominally front-wheel drive, the rear wheels along for the ride until all-wheel drive is needed. That said, the Honda CR-V is fully capable in the slippery stuff and we easily skirted a driver in a BMW gingerly backing down a snow-covered hill while his female companion gave him directions. Suddenly a minivan personality doesn’t seem so bad.

The Honda CR-V isn’t sporty. A driver’s driver should look elsewhere. And it’s certain that it’s not a car for picking up babes–unless of course that BMW gets inextricably lodged in a snow bank. However, anyone secure in one’s neighborhood standing, requiring interior and medium cargo capacity, and not minding hanging around with the minivan-driving soccer moms, the 2010 Honda CR-V is worth a look.