2012 Honda CR-V EX-L review: 2012 Honda CR-V EX-L

The stereo also played music from an iPod, a USB drive, satellite radio, and through Bluetooth audio streaming. Although the interface showed complete library options for an iPod, the USB interface merely showed music organized in files and folders, as the system does not parse ID3 tags for files on a USB drive. The Bluetooth audio streaming was very good, as it showed complete track information on the main LCD and the I-MID.

Another area where Honda pushed the tech beyond that of the previous generation is the Bluetooth phone system. Along with reading a paired phone's contact list and making it available through voice command, the system can read out incoming text messages. But few phone makers actually support the protocol that allows the text integration, so it only works with a handful of phones.

Unchanged in the CR-V is the power train, which remains a 2.4-liter four-cylinder mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. Although it's a very solid set of components that makes the CR-V an easily drivable car, it is also an area where Honda could use some advancement.

The engine produces 185 horsepower and 163 pound-feet of torque, while getting an EPA rated 22 mpg city and 30 mpg highway. With some of the new efficiency technologies being adopted by other automakers, Honda could have improved these numbers.

Last year, Honda announced its Earth Dreams Technology initiative , which will give the company a set of more efficient engines. That initiative should have a big impact on the next CR-V update, which would likely occur in three to five years.


The CR-V is not a serious off-roader, but its all-wheel-drive system will give it some help in slippery conditions.

The CR-V really does not need more power, but could benefit from better fuel economy. Hitting the gas from a stop light, its 185 horsepower takes it quickly off the line. CNET's review car came with all-wheel drive, so there were no front wheel chirps. Trying for a fast run to 60 mph from a stop, the car moved reasonably, but clearly would not be setting any records. Again, the CR-V's mission seems to be moderation in all things.

Honda went to an electric power-steering system for this update, and it is difficult to tell the difference from the older hydraulic system. It takes a little effort to turn the wheel at different speeds; just enough to make it feel like you are driving. The turning radius is not spectacularly tight, but neither is it too wide.

The suspension delivered reasonably comfortable ride quality on city streets and the freeway. Taking it down one particularly battered country road, it could not mask out the bumps, but it was very tolerable.

On the normal sort of urban and suburban roads that CR-Vs will spend 99 percent of their time, the car proved a very easy driver, with no particular faults and no real high points. The only driving where I found some surprise at its capabilities was on a twisty mountain road.

Taking it through a set of curves, it was able to maintain decent speeds of 40 to 50 mph without tire screeching or much sway. Through these turns I employed a little trail braking when it seemed like a good idea, but the car handled well enough that I could have pushed it even harder.

In sum
Honda has not advanced its engine technology in the 2012 CR-V. With so many competitors pushing into more efficient power trains, Honda has some catching up to do. However, the all-wheel-drive system is a bonus, and the car proves so easily drivable it is hard to fault it.

For the cabin electronics, Honda really needs a more cohesive strategy. The dashboard is a mish-mash of different features that feel like they have been added haphazardly. Honda is keeping up on the feature front, the Pandora integration being a good example, but just barely.

The interface design for the cabin electronics is not pleasing on the main LCD, but looks great on the upper I-MID. For its exterior, the CR-V looks fine, although it is a bit homogenous. Where it really stands out is its practicality, with easily accessible seats and a roomy cargo area.

Tech specs
Model 2012 Honda CR-V
Trim EX-L
Power train 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, five-speed automatic transmission
EPA fuel economy 22 mpg city/30 mpg highway
Observed fuel economy 23.1 mpg
Navigation Optional flash-memory-based system with traffic
Bluetooth phone support Standard
Disc player MP3-compatible single CD
MP3 player support iPod integration
Other digital audio Pandora, Bluetooth audio streaming , USB drive, auxiliary input, satellite radio
Audio system 328-watt, seven-speaker system
Driver aids Rear-view camera
Base price $29,795
Price as tested $30,605

What you'll pay

Pricing is currently unavailable.

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Where to Buy

2012 Honda CR-V EX-L

Part Number: CNET101418799

MSRP: $27,045.00

See manufacturer website for availability.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Trim levels EX-L
  • Body style SUV
  • Available Engine Gas
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