Despite the arrival of many new competitors, the CR-V still has a sizeable piece of the market pie. It enjoys good reviews and name recall from female buyers and is often in the top three choices of anyone perusing this segment.
At their event, Honda proudly presented the new CR-V. Still clearly bearing the 3rd generation body, changes made to the vehicle were very subtle.
In the exterior, new bumpers look similar to the optional Modulo kit offered as an option in the last generation. The scratch-proof black cladding has also been decreased, granting a larger painted surface on the car. You'll note the lower black line, making the vehicle appear visually lower.
17 inch wheels now come standard and boast a more 3 dimensional design as opposed to the last model's. Finally, there's the split grille which is easily the most noticeable of the changes.
The subtle changes continue inside with a new integrated stereo unit. Much like its siblings, the City and Accord, it sports an integrated central knob for easier navigation. There's also a standard USB port for MP3 players or iPods. The CR-V is also one of the few cars with movable front arm rests. In this iteration, they are slightly wider and grant more elbow room. Of course, another option is the black leather seats.
It may not be apparent but Honda has gone to some pains to re-engineer its suspension. The caster of the suspension has been adjusted to a more vertical position. This grants better handling response and with less effort than the previous. Adjustments have also been made to its dampening for a softer ride. The traction control and torque distribution of its real-time all-wheel drive have also been tweaked.
In fact, part of the event featured a purpose-built course to test these improvements. A slalom course was designed to feature the improved handling. For traction, or lack thereof, a wet tarp was used to simulate slippage on one side of the vehicle. To make the difference more obvious, Honda provided a previous model 2.4 liter 4x4 CR-V for comparison against the current one. The slalom showed the newer model needed less effort to turn. On the wet tarp test, the newer model accelerated out with much less drama. Indeed there is some difference, although it would hardly be perceptible to the average driver, where it not for the purpose-built course.
Other than that, much of the CR-V remains the same. It's still a comfortable and economical car. It's easy to drive and offers loads of space for front and back passengers. Touches like armrests and good interior fittings make it feel a class above, even in the 2.0 S. The stiff ride reveals itself on bumpy city roads. On smooth highways, though, it is wonderfully stable and comfortable. No changes to the engines mean that the 2.0 liter is best enjoyed as a manual (the auto feels sluggish) and the 2.4, should your budget permit, is the model to aim for.
Overall, the changes are minimal, and hardly diminish nor improve any opinions of the CR-V. Considering the CR-V's strong reputation, there doesn't seem to be a need for a drastic make-over. These changes will easily keep it going strong until the next generation.