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2015 Honda CR-V Touring First Test

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 9/15/2014 Frank Markus, Motor Trend Staff

Honda's had to take a couple of mulligans lately. When the ninth-gen 2012 Civic launch fizzled, the car was given a 2014 do-over with much-needed styling and powertrain upgrades. Similarly, the fourth-gen CR-V launched that same year missed the small overlap crash-test boat and drew some harsh criticism for being less fun to drive than its rivals (due in part to its quaint old five-speed automatic), so it's getting a 2015 reboot. The final crash test results aren't in yet, but Honda swears on a stack of first-edition autographed copies of "Unsafe at Any Speed" that it'll now earn a Top Safety Pick+ rating.

What we can tell you after spending a week with the 2015 CR-V is that the driving-fun quotient is back up to Honda specification, and the performance is competitive. Powertrain revisions responsible for this transformation include a new "Earth Dreams" 2.4-liter engine that gets direct injection and a bump in compression from 10.0:1 to 11.1:1. (The lighter block is a new die-cast design with the same bore and stroke.) Peak horsepower is unchanged at 185, but happens 600 rpm earlier (at 6400), while torque jumps from 163 lb-ft at 4400 rpm to 181 lb-ft at 3900 rpm. That's a by-the-numbers way of saying it'll not only be quicker but it'll feel like it isn't working as hard.

© Provided by MotorTrend That engine is hooked to a continuously variable automatic much like the Civic's, about which we've sung nothing but high hosannas to date. Here, too, it makes the very most of the engine's newfound grunt, shaving a useful 0.6 second off our last AWD CR-V's 0-60 time, bringing it from back-of-the-pack to mid-pack at 8.6 seconds (the 2.5-liter Subaru Forester needs just 7.5 seconds). And while many modern CVTs insist on always revving up and down through six fake ratios, when you floor the CR-V it wastes no time with such nonsense and goes straight to the power peak. In normal driving, its G-design Shift Logic behaves a bit more like a conventional stepped-ratio transmission.

© Provided by MotorTrend Start spinning the steering wheel, and a host of chassis improvements combine to make the CR-V seem to perform better than its middle-child numbers suggest -- the CR-V's 28.3-sec, 0.59-g average figure-eight result is a half-second quicker than its predecessor, but slots between Forester's 27.9/0.62 and the Nissan Rogue's 28.9/0.58. The suspension is pretty thoroughly rethought, with a new front subframe and lower control arms, revised spring and damper rates all around, and new bushings, anti-roll bars, and geometry (a half-degree less camber and 0.6-inch wider track front and rear). The steering ratio tightens from 16.7:1 to 15.6:1. The result is one nimble, sprightly little CUV that dances over the tops of most road imperfections, and changes directions pretty eagerly without undue body roll. The combination of a more powerful brake booster and bigger 225/60R18 tires (Touring trim grade only) reduces 60-0 stopping distance from 126 to 121 feet.

It's good to see Honda stepping up to invest so much expense and effort in a mid-cycle refresh when there appears to be no compelling sales reason to do so -- the CR-V remains the top-selling vehicle in its class and ranks as the best-selling entry CUV of all time. Stay tuned to find out if that investment pays off with a top ranking in its next Motor Trend comparison test.

© Provided by MotorTrend© Provided by MotorTrendView more than 90 additional OEM photos of the 2015 Honda CR-V on the second page of this review.

2015 Honda CR-V AWD
VEHICLE LAYOUTFront-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV
ENGINE2.4L/185-hp/181-lb-ft DOHC 16-valve I-4
TRANSMISSIONCont. variable automatic
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)3591 lb (58/42%)
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT179.4 x 71.6 x 65.1 in
0-60 MPH8.5 sec
QUARTER MILE16.7 sec @ 86.0 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH121 ft
MT FIGURE EIGHT28.3 sec @ 0.59 g (avg)
ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY130/102 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB0.67 lb/mile

2015 Honda CR V Touring© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Honda CR V Touring

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