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2017 Honda CR-V: Small Multimedia Change Leads to Big Win

2017 Honda CR-V

CARS.COM — For 2017, Honda redesigned its popular compact crossover and the fifth generation CR-V’s updates are significant. It’s bigger, more fuel efficient and gets a host of advanced safety features. One small change stood out in a big way, however, and it’s one we’ve been complaining about on Honda vehicles for years. Cue the applause: The CR-V’s Display Audio system now has a volume knob.

Related: 2017 Honda CR-V: Our View

We’re fans of the CR-V, but the 2016 model earned weak scores in our 2016 Compact SUV Challenge because of its frustrating multimedia system. Its touch-sensitive volume panels, located to the left of the screen, were a poor substitute for a volume knob. Editors said the panels required too much attention to use while driving and was overly sensitive. Equally frustrating, muting the sound took two steps: one to engage volume control, one to select the mute button. The touchscreen itself didn’t impress us, either, with editors complaining about screen lag, an unintuitive menu interface and surprisingly basic graphics for a high-resolution display.

The revised system solves some of those gripes. The new 7-inch Display Audio panel has a more modern look; it sits upon the console like a personal tablet. It’s standard on EX models and higher trims; base models use a smaller 5-inch screen without a knob.  

First, a large, handy knob for power and volume takes its rightful place to the left of the screen, making volume and muting no-brainers (as they should be). Second, the graphics have a crisper, more modern look and the menu layout has been revised for more intuitive operation. Lastly, Honda finally has a solid smartphone integration system; Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality is standard on the 2017 CR-V with the 7-inch screen, though it’s unavailable with its smaller screen. The previous HDMI-powered HondaLink smartphone connectivity system did not impress us with its limited apps and requirement of a pricey digital converter.

The CR-V’s revised system and new volume knob are a step in the right direction, but we’re going to be greedy and ask for more. Other vehicles in Honda’s lineup still use the old, knob-free system, like the 2017 Honda Civic pictured below. What gives?  The new system with volume knob is in the redesigned-for-2018 Honda Odyssey, but Honda rep Jessica Howell Pawl was mum on when it’d make its way through the rest of the lineup. Hopefully, it’ll be soon. The people have spoken, and apparently the people like knobs.

2017 Honda Civic