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Honda CR-V: Refreshed for 2020

By Steve Wheeler, June 30th, 2020

The 2020 CR-V is a spacious and versatile family hauler from Honda, long known for its reliability, safety and fuel efficiency. The new CR-V loses a base engine and is left with one power plant for 2020: a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that promises to take you 34 miles down the highway on a single gallon of gasoline.

The CR-V is refreshed for the model year, with new front and rear exterior styling that includes a redesigned (slightly) front bumper and grille, as well as new headlights. Interior redesigns include a new center console with a unique storage box that is open on the front side.

The turbo-4 engine is rated at 190 horsepower and 179 lb.-ft. of torque. The engine makes plenty of power for the 3,529-pound CR-V and delivers it smoothly through a CVT transmission.

The 2020 Honda CR-V is available in LX, EX, EX-L and Touring trims, all of which are available in AWD for an extra $1,500. You can get the Honda for $26,14, or if you go for the top end AWD Touring model, you can drop as much as $35,845.

The new CR-V is a "Top Safety Pick" from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, winning top marks of "good" in every crash tested category. The only dings from the IIHS were for headlights in some trims. Insurance industry testers also found the ease of using child safety latches "acceptable" rather than "good."

Exterior style differences in the CR-V are slight, meaning the CR-V still has a safe, conservative look. It's not flashy, just roomy and comfortable and safe.

During my week with the CR-V, I found it to be sure-footed and planted on the road. Scant body roll was evident in hard cornering, and steering was precise and centered.

Among its vast array of high-tech driver-assist and safety systems is a lane-keeping assist system that does a good job of keeping the vehicle centered in its lane. You can't drive more than a few moments without steering wheel input, but the feature allows the driver a moment with hands off the wheel.

The roomy CR-V is rated for five occupants, and that actually means five grownups, not four with a kid. More than 40 inches of headroom (without a moonroof) in the front seats mean even Shaq-sized drivers can fit. Rear seat headroom is more than 39 inches, and legroom in the back seat is 41.3 inches. Cargo space behind the rear seat is more than 39 cubic feet. That figure balloons to 75.8 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down.

The CR-V cabin is nice enough, with durable materials and soft touch stuff in the right places. There's still some hard plastic, even in the near luxury leather-appointed Touring trim, but that's appropriate at this price point.

I've long had a beef with Honda and any other manufacturer that doesn't have knobs for volume and channel selection on the audio systems. The CR-V has a volume control knob, but channel selection still has to be done on the touch screen or the redundant buttons on the steering wheel. Knobs are more intuitive, safer and just plain better for both functions. Period.

My top-end Touring test car had upgraded headlights, a leather interior, a wireless Qi smartphone charger, premium audio and 19-inch wheels. The 7-inch touchscreen had clear graphics and quick response. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are supported. Honda's Satellite-Linked Navigation system was excellent, although smartphone navigation apps like Waze and others may one day make in-dash nav systems unneeded.

Starting with this year's model, all CR-V trims get the Honda Sensing suite of safety technologies, including forward collision warning, lane departure warning, collision mitigation braking, road departure mitigation, lane keeping assist and adaptive cruise control.

Manufacturers are installing lots of high-tech safety equipment in cars today, and thankfully companies like Honda are making more of them standard equipment.

Specifications

Base price $34,750 (as tested: $35,845)
Curb weight 3,529 lbs.
Displacement 1.5-liter
Engine type turbocharged 4-cylinder
Epa mileage rating 27 mpg city, 32 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 14 gal.
Horsepower (net) 190 at 5600 rpm
Overall length 182.1 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 179 at 2000-5000 rpm
Transmission CVT
Vehicle type 5-passenger compact AWD CUV
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