The Honda CR-V turned from an ugly duckling into a beautiful swan a long time ago. But the all-new 2017 version of the company's top-selling compact crossover is yet again another amazing transformation. Now it's angling to become a sleek bird of prey that will devour all competitors.
After winning acclaim as perhaps the best all around family SUV on the market, the next generation CR-V is suddenly bristling with muscular sheet metal, advanced technologies, and a stylish interior that will fool you into thinking you're driving a genuine luxury crossover, at least in the top-of-the-line Touring trim level, like our test model.
The biggest news is the availability of the turbocharged 1.5-liter inline four cylinder engine originally introduced in the Civic. It supplements that normally-aspirated 2.4-liter inline four carried over from last year as the base engine. Although the horsepower and torque ratings are practically the same, the power comes quicker in the turbo engine, making it feel stronger while still delivering decent mileage.
Also newsworthy is the return of a volume knob for the stereo, a response to customer complaints that Honda had gone to far moving control functions onto touchscreens and steering wheels. There's still no tuning knob, however, which will displease some buyers.
The overall ride of the 2107 CR-V is greatly improved, too, with a firmer suspension and more responsive steering. And it has added 1.5 inches in ride height to increase its admittedly modest off-road capabilities.
Interior room is also increased, including in the back seat, which was already one of the most generous on the market. Our felt much larger on the inside that most other compact crossovers, more like a midsize, in fact.
And the company has poured on the available safety features the Honda Sensing package that includes adaptive cruise control, collision warning and mitigation, blind spot monitoring, and lane departure warning.
Looking at the aggressively designed 2017 Honda CR-V, it's hard to remember that the first generation debuted in 1997 as one of the original "cute utes" that offered families the practicality of a larger SUV for less money — but little else. Together with the first Toyota RAV4, they paved the way for the car-based crossovers that are now dominating auto sales, however.
As much as anything, the new CR-V is all about balance. It gives families more of what they want in a crossover without overpowering or under-delivering in any particular area.
2017 Honda CR-V
Base price: $24,045
Price as tested: $34,595
Type: Compact crossover
Engines: 2.4-liter 4 (184 hp, 180 lbs-ft); turbocharged 1.5-liter (190 hp, 179 lbs-ft)
Transmission: Continuously Variable
EPA estimated mileage: 27/33
Overall length: 180.6 inches
Curb weight: 3,307 to 3,492 pounds
Final assembly: Alliston, Ontario, Canada