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The Name Says It All

The 2012 Honda CR-V

Okay, the name really doesn’t say it all. As a matter of fact, it doesn’t say much of anything. Some sources have it as a “compact” or maybe “comfortable” recreational vehicle. Honda’s official press release for the 2012 model refers to it as a “comfortable runabout vehicle.” If any of that is true to what the original designers had in mind, what’s up with the hyphen? There are other theories, many of which are available for your perusal at that bastion of reference works: Wikipedia. It does make for interesting reading, if nothing else.

The new 2012 CR-V is the fourth generation of Honda’s compact, comfortable, crossover/SUV. The first made its appearance for the 1996 model year, with updates for 2002 and 2007. Each new CR-V has improved upon what started out as an already successful Honda recipe—a somewhat attractive, compact, go-nearly-anywhere machine that would reward its owner with years of reliability. The basic Honda mantra. And there’s no real reason to think this one is any different.

I must say, though, that when I first laid eyes on the new CR-V I thought to myself that Honda had finally given in to what seems to be an industry-wide mantra: newer = bigger. The styling certainly makes the 2012 CR-V look like a bit of a mini-minivan, but checking the specs we see that all exterior dimensions are within a hair’s width of the original 1996 model, and they haven’t changed all that much throughout its lifespan. So my hat is off to Honda.

And that size is a good size. Large enough for most small families, with seating for five passengers and room behind the back seat for the kind of stuff that average family is likely to carry. Honda has even managed to squeak a bit more interior space into the new CR-V, pretty remarkable seeing that overall it’s not any bigger outside. New this year is an easy-folding 60/40 rear seat that drops into the footwell for a flat cargo area. It won’t work well for that family of five—unless someone is strapped, Romney-style, to the roof—but for the families of two, three, or maybe even four, there will be more space for more stuff.

All new CR-Vs come with Honda’s 2.4-liter, i-VTEC DOHC four-cylinder engine, rated at 185 horsepower, which is connected to a five-speed automatic transmission. CR-Vs are available with front- or all-wheel-drive; the front-wheel-drives are EPA-rated at 23/31 miles per gallon city/highway, while the all-wheel-drive is 22/30. If you’re the type that likes keeping track of these things while you drive, the CR-V’s dash has indicators for average fuel economy, instant fuel economy, and miles-to-empty. If you somehow manage to run out of gas, don’t blame Honda.

Styling is, of course, subjective. The first CR-Vs were of the smallish-looking Japanese SUV styling school—which is, after all, what they were. This newest CR-V, while not unattractive, looks a bit awkward. Too roundish. Too minivan-ish. At least for my tastes. But there are certainly worse-looking things you could buy. The 2012 CR-V is available in three trim levels: LX, EX, and EX-L, with front-wheel-drive LX pricing starting at $22,495 and the all-wheel-drive EX-L topping out at a starting price of $28,495. None of these are really strippers; the base LX has the aforementioned folding rear seat, USB interface, rearview camera (which will come in mighty handy what with that rear window/D-pillar design), and steering wheel-mounted controls for audio, cruise, and phone. The EX adds a moonroof, 17-inch wheels, and rear privacy glass, while the EX-L also adds heated seats and mirrors, 10-way power driver seat, leather, and dual-zone climate control.

All told, the new CR-V is a nice little package. Equipped with AWD, it should handle just about any family recreational runabout, and get them there comfortably without any worries.

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