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Honda CR-V: Just call this compact crossover SUV old reliable

When it debuted in 1997, the Honda CR-V was a trail blazer, a car-based sport utility vehicle that people instantly loved. And because the CR-V was universally admired, it quickly placed other manufacturers in copy-cat mode.

Although it's been 16 years, the CR-V remains a popular compact crossover SUV and is annually rated among the top sellers in its class.

What's so good about the CR-V? It offers responsive handling, a comfortable ride, ranks near the top in safety testing, gets good gas mileage (23-31 mpg), and is extremely reliable. The price ($22,795 - $27,545) is also comparable to its rivals.

2013 Honda CR-V

  • Performance: 2.4-liter, four cylinder, 185 horsepower
  • Mileage estimate: 23-31 mpg
  • Price: $22,795 to $27,545
  • Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles; drivetrain 5 years/60,000 miles; corrosion 5 years/unlimited

Since the CR-V went through a redesign in 2012, virtually nothing has changed with the 2013 model.  But there were significant changes a year ago that impacted the CR-V both inside and out.

The exterior definitely was altered. The CR-V became sleeker in overall appearance, which prompted some industry experts to compare it to the Volvo XC60 crossover. The CR-V's front end is now sloped, the grille is larger, and the headlight size reduced. The back end has what's been described as a "vertical taillight theme" that was copied from a previous CR-V design.

Changes for the interior include a roomier cabin, larger trunk (37.2 cubic feet), and a major change with the center console, which is now much larger and ranges from the armrest to the dashboard

We're always proponents of a logically laid out control panel and Honda delivered one with the CR-V. Another selling point is the rear seats now fold flat, creating a fairly large cargo space of 70.9 cubic feet.
Why every manufacturer doesn't have the seats fold flat is a mystery. Another solid feature is the convenient stow-away areas that are always a nice touch. 

If there is a common complaint with the CR-V, it's the lack of choice in performance. There's only one engine available for the three trim models - a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder that generates 185 horsepower and 163 pound-feet of torque. The CR-V has been clocked going 0-60 mph in 9.4 seconds, which is slower than some competitors.

However, in driving the CR-V for a week, the lack of power didn't seem a real problem, even on steep hills. But that isn't the case when driving in Econ mode, which comes standard in all three trim models. The gas mileage is naturally improved with the ECON button engaged, yet the vehicle is sluggish in situations when more acceleration is required. It would be a good idea for the CR-V lineup to include an upgraded engine.

While the CR-V lacks overall power, it makes up for the deficiency with its handling. This SUV is easy to maneuver and fun to drive as well. The steering is responsive, the braking power is very good, and the CR-V absorbs uneven road surfaces admirably. It delivers a fairly quiet ride as well.

There are some worthy competitors in this class - Toyota RAV4, Mazda CX-5, Ford Escape, Chevrolet Equinox, Nissan Rogue and Hyundai Santa Fe. Despite the competition, the CR-V remains at or near the top because it continues to deliver quality in practically every category.

Weidel on Wheels author Jeffrey Weidel is an award-winning writer from the Sacramento region who has reviewed automobiles for more than two decades. He can be reached at
Follow him on Twitter at @jeffweidel.

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