2018 Honda CR-V Review Sandy

The 2018 Honda CR-V is ready to play hardball against its compact SUV competition

In the mid-90s, the available vehicle styles could be frustratingly limited. You had your choice of minivans, sedans, bare-bones pickup trucks, and wagons--or, the minimalistic, uncomfortable, and truly impractical lineup of early Jeeps. Adventurous families who wanted to squeeze the most out of their days were forced to choose from a handful of vehicles that were boring in style and in performance.

Enter Honda, and its versatile new "Compact Recreational Vehicle". The Honda CR-V landed on the scene to offer respite from the humdrum lineup of utility vehicles and family cars that just weren't satisfying the needs of a generation that was about to fast-track into a new future of technology and connectivity. It was more flexible and capable than a typical sedan for drivers who needed more space, but it was more practical than wagons--and more attractive by far. It also offered an unheard-of competition to long-standing, boat-like, massive full-size SUVs that were spacious, but that were incredibly expensive and needed incredible amounts of fuel to cart themselves around.

For once, there was a compact, practical, versatile SUV that could carry the family, run errands with ease, and not cost you an arm and a leg. After nearly twenty years of sales, the Honda CR-V nameplate has been bolted onto millions of vehicles. The well-equipped and handsome new 2018 Honda CR-V has built on everything we've loved about this iconic crossover, without leaving behind any of its legendary charm, capability, and durability.

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Where's the spare?

If you've been driving an older Honda CR-V--or had a friend, uncle, or cousin with a trusty old Honda SUV--you probably remember that one of its defining features was the spare wheel hitched securely to the back of the side-opening hatch. While this was neither particularly aerodynamic nor stylish, it was incredibly convenient for drivers who ever needed to change out a flat, and it gave the Honda CR-V its signature rugged character. Eventually, the spare was tucked away under a removable floor panel in the cargo area of the vehicle, and the side-swing hatch was replaced with a more modern upward-opening rear door. While it may have been a necessary change for vehicle integrity, or safety, or efficiency, it's hard not to miss the chunky rear-mounted spare.

After a major model redesign for 2018, the 2018 Honda CR-V doesn't offer any big changes. But that's because it doesn't have to: the sleek, sharper exterior styling and redesigned, roomier interior carry over for the new model-year. While the first collections of Honda CR-V SUVs preferred the boxy, squared-off jawline of the typical utilitarian vehicle, the modern models take Honda's new design language to heart. The new 2018 Honda CR-V delivers a more aggressive, windswept front end complete with LED lighting and an active shutter grille. The rear end is muscular, purposeful, and sits high on 17- or 18-inch wheels. A rear spoiler suggests sportier performance driving.

Only the top-level Touring trim (out of available 2018 Honda CR-V LX, EX, EX-L, and Touring trims) looks discernibly different from the outside. It brings the largest wheels, the most chrome detailing, two chrome exhaust tailpipes, and rain-sensing wipers.

Exterior colors for the 2018 Honda CR-V include Sandstorm Metallic, Molten Lava Pearl, Basque Red Pearl II, Obsidian Blue Pearl, Dark Olive Metallic, Crystal Black Pearl, Gunmetal Metallic, Modern Steel Metallic, Lunar Steel Metallic, and White Diamond Pearl.

A well-crafted interior fit for family--or anyone

Few vehicles can hit the sweet spot of being as good for families as it is for drivers without kids, but the 2018 Honda CR-V, with an intelligent and well-laid-out cabin, does it pretty easily. Compact SUVS for less than $25,000 are not typically known for their interior comfort, but Honda pulled out all the stops with the latest generation, and the Honda CR-V is surprisingly satisfying, even for longer trips.

The redesign for 2018 brought more than just a prettier face--it opened up interior flexibility, and the 2018 Honda CR-V carries over these new specs. Thanks to a clever use of design, the new Honda CR-V gives more cargo room than ever before, boosting storage area behind the second row of seats up to 39.2 cubic feet of space, and storage area behind the front seats (second row folded) to an impressive 75.8 cubic feet of space. For years, the Honda CR-V has been in stiff competition with models like the Subaru Forester and the Toyota RAV4, and its smaller cargo numbers were pretty much the only thing holding it back.

With its new larger interior for cargo, pets, and luggage, the 2018 Honda CR-V is ready to play hardball. Add in some classic Honda features and touches--like customizable center console storage, an intelligent infotainment system, and tons of standard features--we're not sure if the RAV4 or the Forester will be able to keep up anymore.

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Middle-of-the-pack performance, but surprising capability

You don't normally expect a crossover to be an ultra-capable rock-crawling utility vehicle. And, you won't get that in the 2018 Honda CR-V, either. But, the Honda CR-V does come equipped with a few really smart powertrain options--and an 8.2-inch ground clearance--that make it easy to handle confidently and drive practically in just about any environment, and over just about any normal terrain. Don't try to tackle river crossings or approach angles higher than a hefty speed bump or a small log on a trail, but feel free to get a little bold on a gravel driveway or a snowy road.

Honda's new turbo engine was added to the Honda CR-V lineup last year for the redesign, and the 2018 Honda CR-V carries that over, too. A standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine does come standard, with 184 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque, and is a good option for the daily driver who doesn't harbor hopes of prominent passing power on the highway, or rally-esque moves on back roads. If that's you, though, the turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine may be right for you. It's only slightly more powerful--190 horsepower to 184--and offers less torque than the larger 2.5-liter engine, but its responsive and fun feel more than makes up for it.

Both engines are mated to Honda's masterfully-made continuously-variable automatic transmission (CVT), well-acknowledged to be one of the best in the business, and both can be paired to either a standard front-wheel-drive system or an available All-Wheel-Drive System.

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Why the Honda CR-V isn't going anywhere soon

Comfortable to ride out its new updates for another model-year or so, the 2018 Honda CR-V is currently the epitome of what this SUV has always been: smart, simple, reliable, practical, and satisfying. Whether you choose the base model or the bells-and-whistles top trim, you'll be able to enjoy all of the perks of a Honda SUV.

Its larger cargo area, new turbo powertrain, and fresh styling make the 2018 Honda CR-V a new kind of heavy hitter in its segment, and it wouldn't be surprising to see the Honda CR-V start to pull brand loyalists away from long-standing favorites like the RAV4, and toward the siren-like call of affordable convenience and safety.

The Honda CR-V has been selling and outselling since the 90s. It may be changing, but it's definitely not going anywhere, anytime soon.

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