Roomy, fuel-efficient and loaded with family-friendly features, the 2014 Honda CR-V is our top choice among compact crossover SUVs.
There is a very good reason the Honda CR-V has been the best-selling SUV for several years. Actually, there are numerous good reasons, as the CR-V offers a mix of practicality, comfort, usability, fuel economy, driver involvement, reliability and low ownership costs that simply hasn't been matched by any other compact crossover SUV. If you're in the market for such a family vehicle, the 2014 Honda CR-V needs to be on your test-drive list.
Really, the best word to describe the CR-V is "easy," because that's certainly what it makes your life. It's easy to drive, park and see out of. Its big backseat and large doors make it easy to load the kids, while a pair of handles in the trunk allow you to easily flip that seat forward for items too big to fit in the otherwise ample cargo area. In this age of complicated electronics interfaces, the CR-V may not boast trendy graphics, but its controls are simple and yes, easy to figure out. Honda even makes it easy to pick out your CR-V, as there's only one engine, three trim levels and no options save for navigation and rear-seat entertainment systems on the top trim. That method may not appeal to everyone, but it certainly makes the car buying process simpler.
However, it must be said that it's hard to get excited about the 2014 Honda CR-V -- it certainly isn't the most emotional choice. Its exterior styling is bland (bordering on ugly for some people), and much the same can be said of its cabin, where the materials aren't as high-quality as in some rivals. Then there's the matter of its lone engine choice: an efficient but humbly powered four-cylinder that will leave shoppers in search of more guts heading to a different SUV.
If any of this gives you pause, we recommend taking a look at the Chevy Equinox, 2014 Ford Escape, Hyundai Santa Fe Sport and 2014 Mazda CX-5. The Jeep Cherokee and Subaru Forester are also strong alternatives. Yet when it comes to picking the sensible, practical choice, nothing comes remotely close to the 2014 Honda CR-V.
The 2014 Honda CR-V is a five-passenger crossover SUV available in LX, EX and EX-L trim levels.
The LX comes standard with 16-inch steel wheels, a blind-spot mirror, full power accessories, keyless entry, a rearview camera, cruise control, air-conditioning, a height-adjustable driver seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a 60\/40-split-folding and reclining seat with trunk-mounted fold handles, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack, an iPod\/USB audio interface and Pandora Internet radio control.
The EX adds 17-inch alloy wheels, a sunroof, foglights, body-colored mirrors and door handles (instead of the LX's black plastic), rear privacy glass, a cargo cover and a six-speaker sound system.
The EX-L has all of that, plus roof rails, automatic headlights, heated mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, eight-way power driver seat with two-way power lumbar, heated front seats, leather upholstery, satellite radio and a seven-speaker sound system that includes a subwoofer.
To the EX-L, you can add either a rear-seat entertainment system or a navigation system that includes a touchscreen, voice controls and real-time traffic.
Although the 2014 Honda CR-V's four-cylinder engine offers competitive performance for this class, there's no denying that it's light on low-end power and feels strained when you're driving in the mountains. This makes the absence of a V6 or turbocharged four-cylinder upgrade all the more apparent. If you want more power, you're going to be buying something else. The CR-V's five-speed automatic and its lack of manual shift control is a little behind the times (just about every other competitor has a six-speed auto), but it shifts smoothly, responds decently enough to throttle inputs and fuel economy is still very good.
Even though we find small crossovers like the CX-5 and Escape more enjoyable to drive overall, the CR-V offers precise steering and commendably steady handling. Ride quality on most surfaces is acceptably smooth, and unlike the previous generation, the 2014 Honda CR-V also boasts a relatively quiet cabin. Overall, this is a very refined crossover SUV.
Every 2014 Honda CR-V comes with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine good for 185 horsepower and 163 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed automatic transmission is also standard, though buyers have a choice of front- or all-wheel drive on all models. In Edmunds performance testing, an EX-L with all-wheel drive went from zero to 60 mph in 9.4 seconds. This is average for the segment.
EPA-estimated fuel economy is 26 mpg combined (23 mpg city\/31 mpg highway). With all-wheel drive EPA estimates drop to 25 mpg combined (22 mpg city\/30mpg highway). We've observed that these estimates tend to be accurate in real-world driving, unlike those of several competitors.
The 2014 Honda CR-V comes standard with antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags and a rearview camera.
In Edmunds brake testing, a CR-V EX-L AWD came to a stop from 60 mph in 120 feet, which is average.
In government crash testing, the CR-V received a perfect five stars for overall, front and side crash protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave it the best possible rating of "Good" in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof strength tests. The Honda got the second-lowest "Marginal" score in the IIHS small-overlap frontal-offset test, but this is a new test in which few small SUVs have scored well.
The Honda CR-V's cabin boasts ample storage bins for stowing items both big and small. The large center console bin between the front seats is even big enough to hide many purses away from thieving eyes. The logical layout of the controls is another way in which the CR-V is highly user-friendly, but the overall design is uninteresting and various plastics are subpar. Rivals like the Escape, Equinox, Santa Fe Sport and CX-5 all have interiors with a more premium look and feel.
Abundant tech features help the CR-V stand out, though: A rearview camera, Pandora interface, and Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity are standard equipment on all models. These are options on most competitors and, in some cases, not available at all.
In back, you'll find a useful spring-loaded auto-fold feature that allows you to fold the rear seats almost flat by gently pulling on a lever. When raised, the seat offers an abundance of legroom and plenty of space for a rear-facing child seat. The CR-V also swallows more stuff than its outside appearance would suggest. With the rear seats in place, the CR-V can carry 37.2 cubic feet of cargo; fold the rear seat down and that figure grows to an impressive 70.9 cubic feet. Few competitors beat that.
Abundant passenger and cargo room; good fuel economy; user-friendly controls; ample standard tech features; strong crash test scores.
No available engine upgrade; some cheap cabin materials; transmission lacks a manual mode.