2015 Honda CR-V | Harold Zeigler Newsletter Kalamazoo MI
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Date posted: October 3, 2014

2015 Honda CR-V

Predicting the future direction of Honda’s compact CR-V would have been difficult based on the Civic-derived model that first arrived on our shores for the 1997 model year. The newcomer, selling alongside the body-on-frame Passport (a hastily rebadged Isuzu Rodeo), was a cute compact crossover with four doors and an awkward curb-side hinged tailgate thanks to its Japanese home-market design. The five-passenger CUV offered generous interior room, but its wheezy 2.0-liter four-cylinder, with an output of just 126 horsepower and 133 pound-feet of torque, required 11.7 seconds to bring the 3,153-pound vehicle to 60 miles per hour. Rear drum brakes didn’t help much in the stopping department, but Honda offered safety-minded consumers optional anti-lock brakes on the premium trim.

Nearly two decades after its introduction, the CR-V has matured in spectacular manner. The refreshed 2015 Honda CR-V, now in its fourth generation, is dimensionally within two inches of its ancestor in overall length and nearly identical in height and wheelbase. That consistency of dimension is impressive in this age of size and segment creep, and it stands as a testament to how ‘right’ Honda engineers got the model’s original packaging. Of course, the CR-V hasn’t stood still – nearly everything else about the best-selling compact CUV has improved in leaps and bounds.

But Honda is not the only player in this hotly contested segment today, so the automaker has taken the unusual step of updating its fourth-generation model just a few years after its introduction in an effort to keep it seated on the podium. To learn more about the automaker’s improvements, and form our own impressions, we spent a day driving the CR-V in sunny Southern California.

Ask Honda folks whether they consider the 2015 CR-V to be “refreshed” or simply “updated,” and they will tell you the makeover is internally called a “minor model change.” A moment later, they will further explain that many more things happened to the crossover than usual for such exercises, so the transformation is actually a “major minor model change.” Yet they contradict themselves in the press release, where it is termed a “mid-model cycle redesign.” Whatever terminology the company uses, there’s one thing we do know: the 2015 CR-V has a new look inside and out, a new powertrain, new technology and new features – this is a big deal.

The refreshed (that’s the term we are sticking with) compact crossover has a pretty new face that is brighter and more uplifting, a result of a new front grille, available LED running lights, plenty of additional chrome and styling that ties all of the elements together very cohesively. The sides are defined by new wheel packages, with redesigned 17- and 18-inch alloys. The front looks good, but we are less impressed with the rear, as the new bright chrome bar at the base of the rear window and a thick brushed aluminum lower fascia make its tailgate appear heavy and cumbersome. Thankfully, the automaker has retained the CR-V’s attractive signature reverse and brake lights, which are mounted high on the roof pillar to keep them cleaner and improve visibility.

Inside the five-place cabin, occupants will note improved textures and materials throughout – think premium. The center console armrest is now standard, as are telescoping sun visors that slide to cover the length of the side windows and rear-console ventilation ducts. Honda’s new seven-inch capacitive touchscreen Display Audio telematics interface is also a new offering, which can be bundled with the next-generation of Honda Link, the automaker’s web-based infotainment interface.

There are dozens of improvements to the refreshed CR-V, but don’t think that the changes are all tactile or purely cosmetic. According to Honda, its next-generation Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure received over 60 alterations to improve chassis stiffness and collision performance – the ride is improved and the 2015 CR-V is expected to earn a Top Safety Pick+ rating from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (testing commences next month, with results likely announced in December).

The most important news is found under the hood, where Honda has replaced last year’s 2.4-liter four-cylinder with its Earth Dreams 2.4-liter engine, a newer powerplant already found under the hood of the Accord. While the displacement may be identical, the new engine features direct injection, a forged-steel crankshaft and a pair of chain-driven, counter-rotating balance shafts that offset the four-cylinder engine’s typical harmonic vibrations, allowing it to run smoother. Horsepower is identical (carried forward at 185), but torque jumps from 163 pound-feet to 181 pound-feet, improving both responsiveness and acceleration.

In years past, the engine was mated to a five-speed automatic transmission, but the crossover is singing a new tune with the introduction of a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which is lighter and more compact than the automatic gearbox it replaces. It addition to offering unsurpassed smoothness, it has a 33-percent wider overall ratio spread than the outgoing five-speed to improve efficiency and drivability. As has always been the case, buyers are offered a choice between front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive.

Source: AutoBlog.com

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