CARS.COM — Honda’s redesigned fifth-generation 2017 CR-V is a better compact SUV by almost every measure, as it needed to be to defend its position at the top of the hottest-selling category in the SUV-crazy U.S. market. The Honda CR-V was a clear winner in Cars.com’s 2015 Compact SUV Challenge, but dropped to third behind two more recent compact SUV redesigns in our 2016 Challenge. In terms of fuel economy ratings, however, the 2017 is a winner. But great ratings in lab testing are one thing, real-world mileage another. So we set out to see how the Honda CR-V performs on the street and on the freeway.
Related: 2017 Compact SUV Driving Ranges
One of the 2017 CR-V’s biggest changes was a new standard engine for all but the base model, a version of the turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder first used in the redone Civic compct sedan, mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission. To move the larger CR-V — heavier by about 600 pounds — the turbo is tuned for a bit more low-end torque and 190 horsepower, 16 more than in the Civic. The new engine drops the CR-V’s zero-to-60-mph time by 1.5 seconds from the 2016, says Honda. It’s still no performance car, nor is it designed to be, but you feel the added power in fast freeway merges or passing. And it feels a lot peppier around town.
But for buyers of these family vehicles, fuel economy is important, and the new powertrain boosts the Honda CR-V’s EPA mileage ratings. The new engine is rated 27/33/29 mpg city/highway/combined with all-wheel drive and 28/34/30 mpg with front-wheel drive (compare to some key rivals here). That improves on the ratings of 25/31/27 mpg with AWD and 26/32/28 with FWD for the base model, which carries over the 2.4-liter non-turbo engine formerly standard in all CR-V models. Helping you get more mileage out of every gallon of gas are active grille shutters, more aerodynamic styling and design components that improve airflow under the car.
For our road testing, the 2017 CR-V was a top-of-the-line Touring model with all-wheel drive, and we didn’t make it easy.
Street miles included a combined 137.1 miles of stop-and-go hops in New York City and Washington, D.C., which have the dubious distinctions of ranking fifth and second, respectively, for time spent going nowhere fast in a recent survey of traffic congestion in U.S. cities.