A Crossover for Shorter Odysseys | 2012 Honda CR-V

May 2014 View more

NMAG0812_ForTheRoadHonda builds a great minivan. Named for an epic poem full of mythical creatures and godly wrath—admittedly more compelling than pulling carpool duty—the Odyssey boasts up to eight seats, prodigious space, and an ease of use that makes minivans in general the go-to choice for many parents.


But what if a minivan is not how you see yourself? Are you and your crew destined to complete your odyssey in the cramped quarters of a sedan, or behind the wheel of a large SUV?

Not hardly. Honda has redesigned the 2012 CR-V crossover, its stalwart anti-minivan. The new CR-V retains the old model’s best qualities, all wrapped in a more modern looking package. And although it’s shorter than some mid-size sedans, the CR-V makes the most of its footprint—which means that for day-to-day excursions, the CR-V carries five people and their gear in comfort.

The CR-V’s back doors open 90 degrees for easy access by kids, adults, or adults carrying kids. The cargo space takes cover under a roll-back cloth shade—unlike the hard shell of models past—and has tie-down rings for securing big loads. Taking a cue from bigger SUVs, the CR-V has easy-pull handles at the back of the cargo area that release and fold the second-row seats for maximum storage space. Better still, the swing-up rear hatch feels feather light, and closes easily with one hand.

The CR-V’s second-row seats no longer slide forward and back, but they do recline a bit, and most passengers will find the legroom and knee room adequate for even long trips. If young kids will be occupying that space, the driver will most likely enjoy that classic of minivan features, the wide-angle mirror that unfolds from the CR-V’s headliner, just north of the optional sunroof.

Up front, the CR-V’s controls are easy to navigate. A small display screen is set deep into the top of the dashboard. An overhang shields it from the sun, so the display (radio during forward motion, crisp rear-view camera picture during back-up maneuvers) remains perfectly visible, even with the sunroof open to the mid-day sun.


An optional DVD entertainment system is a nice feature, but feels anachronistic in this age of streaming video and handheld devices. Worse, the DVD player takes up a lot of real estate in the otherwise perfectly functional, deep center console. As a consolation, a roll-top lid makes the bin easily accessible to either driver or passenger.

The CR-V is ultimately a tool for reaching from point A to point B, and in that regard it comports itself well. The 185-horsepower, four-cylinder engine and five-speed transmission create smooth acceleration. While the engine and transmission carry over from the previous model, fuel economy is up a bit (23 mpg city, 31 mpg highway) thanks to some engineering tweaks.

An “ECON” button to the left of the steering wheel limits the throttle to improve fuel economy, and rewards the driver with a green leaf symbol and matching green lights around the easy-to-read gauge cluster.

The CR-V’s best driving attribute is its smooth suspension, which soaks up the road’s indignities while still offering the driver some degree of sportiness. Combined with comfortable and supportive seats, and a well-insulated cabin that banishes the clatter of idling buses and other aural assaults, the CR-V delivers a peaceful roadtrip experience.

For 2012, the Honda CR-V will cost you from $22,495 for the front-wheel-drive LX, to $29,995 for the all-wheel-drive EX-L with leather seats and a navigation system. The engine and transmission are the same across the line; the lowest priced all-wheel-drive model starts at $23,745.

 Photos courtesy of Honda