Let’s get on thing straight, the 2015 Honda CR-V isn’t an SUV. It’s an SUV. In other words, no, it’s not a “sport-utility vehicle.” Rather, it’s “suburban-utility vehicle.” What better to hustle the kids off to daycare, dash to the office, run past the supermarket, zip in to the dry cleaners, pick up the kids, throw something in the microwave and…there’s a PTA meeting tonight, isn’t there?
Of course, when they’re not being called “cute utes,” the Honda CR-V and its ilk are called crossovers, or CUV, for crossover-utility vehicle, an awkward term invented to differentiate the car-based sport-utility from the original truck-based SUV.
The Honda CR-V has since its beginning—the CR-V dates back to 1996—been based on the Honda Civic platform, which has largely defined its size. It’s not a big SUV, nor does it play one on TV. It’s the compact platform, however, that makes it suburb-friendly.
Being based on the Civic platform, means it’s nominally front-wheel drive. The all-wheel drive versions are adaptations of the front-drive systems and operate in front-wheel drive mode until added traction is needed. It’s fully all-time all-wheel drive, however, with no driver-lockable center differential.
Also like the Civic, the CR-V has classic MacPherson struts up front with multi-link arrangement in the rear. New for 2015 are 18-inch wheels, though only for the new top-of-the-line Limited edition. All tother trim levels have 17-inch wheels, and both size wheels are a half-inch wider, giving the 2015 CR-V a slightly wider track.
The 2015 Honda CR-V is a mid-cycle update of a model that began its fourth generation in 2012. Like most such updates, the 2015 CR-V gets a redo of the front and rear ends, with a new grille, headlights, bumper and skid plate, plus the now-obligatory LED running lights up front.
Not surprising from Honda, the CR-V has only on choice of engines. It either an all-new 2.4-liter direct-injection DOHC i-VTEC inline 4-cylinder or, well , the same engine. The new engine doesn’t make more power than its predecessor, both rated at 185 horsepower, but the newbie produces 181 lb-ft of torque. The engine’s predecessor made only 163 lb-ft. As Honda notes, that’s an 11-percent increase.
A lot of changes to the engine had to do with reducing internal friction with, for gearheads only, micro-polishing the journals on the forged-steel crankshaft, putting a low-friction molybdenum coating on the piston skirts in a special dot-pattern, and plateau honing the cylinder bores (it’s a two-stage process, essentially), along with offsetting the
Not just torquier, the engine is lighter, thanks to a new engine block design along with a new plastic cam cover and what Honda calls “a more efficient accessory belt design.” Little things add up, and less weight means improved fuel economy.
The new engine is mated to a new continuously variable transmission. Honda has equipped it with “G-design Shift” that’s tight enough that it doesn’t have the yoyo effect characteristic of many CVT’s. We had to double-check the information on the transmission because it felt all the world like a conventional automatic, with steppiness and more of a feel of distinct ratio.
The 2015 Honda CR-V isn’t what most people would consider “fast.” There’s only so much 185 horses can do. However, the newfound torque makes the CR-V feel peppier around town, with less need to push down on the gas pedal as much to keep up with traffic. The engine is Honda smooth and will rev out happily, not that most CR-V drivers will ask it to do that.
About the engine’s fuel economy: The 2015 Honda CR-V trip computer has a variety of functions, including tracking fuel economy in several different ways. Our overall driving netted 23.5 mpg in mixed driving in a hilly area. The trip computer can record several consecutive intervals, and we noted that before us, the CR-V had one driver who achieved 29.0 mpg over 118 miles, another who recorded 14.3 mpg over 118 miles, and a third, who drove a 24.6 mpg over 473 miles. We don’t know who these drivers were, or how and where they drove, but we present the numbers for your general edification. Take it or leave it.
We found the infotainment—Honda’s interface—to be cantankerous, at least to the novice user. We’d tell you how, but in the spirit of BMW’s systems, we don’t remember from time to time how to make it work. No doubt with the multi-information display, a seven-inch touchscreen on our Limited, and the secondary screen in a slot carved into dashtop, can provide tons of information. We just wish it were a little more intuitive to get there.