Honda CR-V, 2012: New design, more power, more features, same top SUV

| | ,

It’s hard to imagine the Honda CR-V is 18 years old. But with its sibling, the Element, discontinued, the CR-V is now the Japanese manufacturer’s entry-level Sport Utility Vehicle.

There’s plenty of competition in the SUV segment, so for 2012, the CR-V was redesigned. The exterior has deeper sculpting, a bolder front fascia and a more overall aerodynamic look. More standard features, increased horsepower and one mpg improved mileage estimates also debuted with 2012 edition.

The Honda CR-V still gets defined in two ways. Does the CR-V mean Compact Recreational Vehicle or Comfortable Runabout Vehicle? Official Honda marketing materials reference both definitions, and it doesn’t really matter.

More important: Since its debut, the CR-V has been at the popularity forefront of the SUV segment, and it’s now available in LX, EX, and EX-L models all with either front or all-wheel drive but without further options.

The Weekly Driver Test Drive

The EX-L model, my tester for the week, extends the base LX model, which despite its entry-level price, features a substantial standard features list: interior air filter, tilt/telescopic steering wheel w/radio controls, height-adjustable driver seat, split folding rear seat with fore and aft adjustment, power mirrors/windows/locks with remote, digital-media player connection, USB port, internet radio, wireless cell-phone link and a rearview camera.

Honda CR-V, 2012: New design, more power, more features, same top SUV 3
All Images © James Raia/2012

A power sunroof is among a few items added to the most expensive EX model, and logically the EX-L models offers the most equipment: leather upholstery, heated front seats, heated power mirrors, satellite radio and a navigation system.

Like all CR-Vs, my EX-L had 185 horsepower (five more horsepower than in 2011) and a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine with the only available transmission, a five-speed automatic.

The leather seats and navigation system were particularly appreciated during my week with the SUV. It included nearly 600 miles of driving, dominated by a 400-mile, round-trip weekend trek from Sacramento to Fresno.

One of the shortcomings of the CR-V is the engine noise and wind noise. Leather seats promoted the CR-V from utilitarian status to near luxury. The leather seats also seemed to work as sound buffers.


Standard rearview camera.

Good interior storage space.

Intuitive navigation system and dual-level readout

Marbled gray plastic interior trim.

Honest gas mileage averages (28.3 mpg over 563 miles).

Exterior color: Opal Sage Metallic.


Substantial wind noise

Average acceleration.Honda CR-V, 2012: New design, more power, more features, same top SUV 4Facts & Figures: 2012 Honda CR-V

Acceleration: 0-60 mph (unavailable).
Airbags: 6.
Fuel Economy: 22 mpg (city), 30 mpg (highway), 26 mpg (combined), five-speed automatic transmission.
Government Safety Ratings: NTHSA (out of five stars): Overall (5 stars), Front (5 stars), Side (5 stars), rollover (4 stars); IIHS: Frontal Offset, good; Side impact, good; Rear Crash, good; Roof strength, good.
Horsepower: 185.
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $29,795.00.
Manufacturer’s Web site:
Price As Tested: $30,605.00.
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 3 years/36,000 miles; Powertrain, 5 years/60,000 miles; Corrosion: 5 years/unlimited mileage.

What Others Say:

“The CR-V would appear, then, to fall short of its highly styled, technology-laden competitors from Korea — and the forthcoming new Ford Escape. LED daytime running lights aren’t available, there’s no direct-injected turbo engine option, there are no ventilated seats or double-pane sunroof, and you’ll have to stick a metal key into an ignition slot to start this car. That leaves the CR-V to compete instead on its inherent goodness — and that’s precisely where it shines.” — Automobile Magazine.

“CR-V continues to excel for its ‘just-right’ blend of comfort, refinement, passenger room, and cargo versatility. An edgier look for 2012 makes it stand out from the competition.” — Consumer Guide.

“However, we think the Honda CR-V’s thoughtful mix of family-friendly attributes will continue to make it a great choice for most shoppers. As such, it easily remains one of our top picks in the class.” — Edmunds.

What The Wife Says:

“I really like the fact that it gets better gas mileage and it offers a smoother ride than my (2009) CR-V.”

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:

“Since its debut, the CR-V has done so much right and at a fair price. Honda still trails the industry with its 3-year/36,000 miles bumper-to-bumper warranty, but that’s not a strong enough reason to discourage a potential CR-V buyer. It’s an ideal multi-use SUV — family needs to cargo versatility.”

Subscribe For Latest Updates

Sign-up for the free Weekly Driver newsletter for new car reviews, news and opinion

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Support independent journalism. Many of us are undergoing pay cuts and decreased hours. Shop on Amazon using this banner, and The Weekly Driver receives a small commission at no cost to you.

Advertising Disclosure: is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to


Counterfeit airbags concern prompts NHTSA consumer alert

If sex sells, 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe commercial works


Leave a Reply