Before my current (and third) bun in the oven made its presence known, the Honda CR-V was at the tip-top of my dream-car list. Practicality is one of my better traits, and with the CR-V's roomy cabin space, versatile cargo area and stylish exterior, I could easily see my family of four enjoying this car for years. Luckily, I was able to snag it for a test drive while my family was still indeed a family of four.
For 2012, Honda completely redesigned the CR-V, and its new design with increased aerodynamics and better fuel economy suited my family even better than I could've imagined.
After hopping behind the wheel of the new CR-V, I was shocked by how at home I felt. The layout and technology reminded me a lot of the 2012 Civic, which I test-drove. With the CR-V's 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, it never struggled to carry my family, and its suspension made the ride smooth, not bouncy or rough. It was peppy enough for driving around town and on the freeway.
The base CR-V with front-wheel drive has a starting MSRP of $22,495. My top-of-the-line EX-L with all-wheel drive, navigation and leather seating cost $29,975.
The redesigned 2012 CR-V was given a slightly edgier look. The previous generation had a rounded, somewhat bland exterior, but the updated exterior has a dynamic side profile and takes some cues from its larger sibling, the Odyssey minivan, with an angled swoosh-like rear quarter window.
The SUV's step-in height is only slightly higher than that of a sedan, but it was still manageable for my 3-year-old. Its higher stance was perfect for buckling both of my rug rats into their child-safety seats and didn't stress my back when one of them was less than cooperative, which at ages 1 and 3 is almost always.
The five-seater doesn't have a power liftgate, so my lazy self had to shut the rear cargo area manually — something I'd almost forgotten how to do. Don't be fooled, though, it was easy enough. Even without that convenience I was still happy to load my groceries into the ample cargo area, and I appreciated that there wasn't a massive lip to lift my cargo up and over. While my bulky stroller took up a good portion of the cargo area, there was still enough room for a grocery run, as well.
If your second row isn't taken up by child-safety seats, the 60/40-split bench folds to create a flat surface of 70.9 cubic feet.
The 2012 CR-V is powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers 185 horsepower and is paired with a five-speed automatic transmission. Thankfully in these days of stomach-turning gas prices, the CR-V has increased its fuel economy to 23/31 mpg city/highway for front-wheel-drive versions and 22/30 mpg for all-wheel drive. It still uses regular fuel. My all-wheel-drive tester averaged 24 mpg for my weeklong test of mostly city driving.
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Great
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Good Times
While I loved the redesigned exterior's styling, the CR-V's interior left me scratching my head. The only design aspect that stood out was the ugly, cheap-looking marbleized plastic dash trim. The interior was gray and accented with more bland, dark gray plastic. The styling, or lack there of, was lost on me. However, the practical side of me kicked in when I realized how easy it was to clean with merely a baby wipe. As with most things in parenthood, practicality wins out every time for me.
On a more positive note, the leather seats were comfortable, and legroom was spacious enough to accommodate my long-legged family of four. The CR-V may be considered a compact crossover, but it gave us more legroom than some larger three-row SUVs that I've tested lately. Heated leather seats came standard on my EX-L test car as well as a power-adjustable driver seat. These features aren't available on the lower LX and EX trims.
Practically speaking, the interior was well laid out. It had a clean line that kept the CR-V's abundance of technology from overwhelming. Honda's navigation system along with its intelligent-Multi Information Display screen are among my favorites for their intuitive design and ease of use.
The i-MID 5-inch screen is separate from the navigation screen; it sits at eye level and provides the information you're looking for without having to look away from the road. If you opt for the navigation system, the i-MID screen will display turn-by-turn directions. It also can display text messages or personalize your ride with downloaded photos. Accessing your music is made easy, as well. You have the ability to stream music or a favorite radio station from Pandora via your smartphone or plug in your MP3 player via the USB input.
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample
The 2012 Honda CR-V has been named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. To earn this safety nod, a car must receive the top score of Good in front, side, rear and roof-strength crash tests. It's also received an overall score of five stars out of five in crash tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It earned five stars in front and side crash tests and four stars of five in the rollover crash test.
Both our forward- and rear-facing child-safety seats fit well in the CR-V's backseat without compromising the front-row occupants' legroom too much. The CR-V comes equipped with two sets of lower Latch anchors that made installing car seats easy. The seat belt buckles were stable enough to allow easy fastening for little ones in booster seats. Find out how the 2012 CR-V did in Cars.com's Car Seat Check here.
The CR-V's standard safety features include front-wheel drive, four-wheel-disc antilock brakes with brake assist, an electronic stability system with traction control and six airbags, including side curtains for both rows. One of the nicest features is that a backup camera comes standard on all trim levels. All-wheel drive is optional.
Get more safety information about the 2012 Honda CR-V here.
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